Photo by Jenny Dunn

Junior Kris Kneisley captures footage of fellow classmate actors junior Dillon Thompson and sophomore Katie Liechti for an American history video based on President Kennedy and the space race. Students are using technology more and more in the classroom for activities such as movie making.

Class presentations used to be focused on the use of dioramas and posters and eventually PowerPoints. However, with new technology, students are able to use advanced software and equipment to find creative ways to visually share information.

In classrooms throughout Hiawatha High School, students have been given the opportunity to present to their peers through movies, but not the kind you buy at Wal-Mart. Students are actually writing, directing and producing their own movies to share in the classroom.

James Farnen, sophomore and junior English teacher, is in favor of this instructional technique.

“We live in an increasingly visually stimulated culture which makes things like movie making more appealing,” said Farnen. “It’s challenging in the beginning because there’s a lot to learn using a new software, but students seem to engage more while doing it.”

Moviemaker is the most common program used by students. It is easily accessible as it can be found on the school laptops.

When students are assigned a project and are given options on how they can present it to the class, it’s not uncommon to see them choosing a more technologically visual approach. Freshman Aly Shamburg is one of these students. The students were directed by their English teacher to come up with a preview for a book. The students were given the choices of a skit, a song, a comic skit, or a movie, all to be performed or presented to the class.

“I chose to make a movie because I thought it would be the best way to convey the book,” said Shamburg. “The movie made it easier to explain everything I wanted to get across.”

In history class students were given an assignment to research something significant in American history ranging from the 1960s to present day. They were able to choose how they wished to present their project. Kris Kneisley, a junior in the class, chose a movie project that allowed him to bring in professional camera equipment owned by his father.

“I want to pursue directing or writing for movies in the future,” said Kneisley. “I think this is one of the first steps to get there.”

His project partner, junior Dillon Thompson, plans to major in media communications in college, and enjoys the opportunity to begin honing these skills now.

“I’m glad I was able to write and follow through with my own script,” Thompson said.

New technology has made a large impact on the way both students and teachers look at education.

“I feel that technology has brought about greater innovation and enhancement of pedagogical practice over the past twenty years,” said Brent Krauter, a history teacher who is working on his master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology. “It has subsequently altered the way people approach learning today.”

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