In their transition from Lower School to Middle School, Chapin’s Class 4 students have been facing changes, challenges, and opportunities, from new friends and teachers to more homework and responsibility. Recently, Class 6 used their filmmaking skills to create stop motion short films about the different scenarios their younger peers may encounter in Middle School and beyond. These films were presented to Class 4 at a special Film Festival held in the Assembly Room.
Leading up to the Festival, Middle School Technology Department Head Trude Goodman worked with her Class 6 students to brainstorm topics for their films that would offer helpful suggestions to the Class 4 students. They decided upon themes dealing with honesty, time management, changing friendships, organization, confidence, respecting teachers, transitioning between classes, listening, and being an upstander.
Each group was assigned one of these topics and then got to work! They wrote their scripts and used recycled materials (provided by Ms. Goodman) and objects brought in from home to decorate cardboard boxes that would serve as their sets. Some groups used Barbies or American Girl dolls as their “actors,” while others creatively used modeling clay, action figures, and paper cutouts.
Next came the challenge of filming their movies using iStopMotion software. “Filming was hard because we had to be careful about how we moved the objects,” one student explained. Stop motion captures one frame at a time and requires the manipulation of physical objects to create the illusion of movement. Most scenes took several tries and lots of adjustments to get just right, but the students agreed that while the stop motion process was challenging, it was also a lot of fun!
After much hard work during many classes, the Class 6 filmmakers were ready to share their finished short films with their audience. “That’s my sister!” one Class 4 student proudly exclaimed as she saw her older sibling appear on screen.
In one group’s film about time management, two friends were assigned a project in class that wasn’t due until the end of the week. The friends had to decide if they would put off working on their projects until later or start them early. One procrastinated all week and did her project at the last minute, resulting in sloppy work she was embarrassed to present to the teacher. The other started her assignment the day it was given. She finished early, was proud of her project, and was able to relax and have fun afterwards. The film was a great reminder of the importance of managing your time effectively and holding yourself accountable.
Another organizational-themed film creatively depicted a backpack magically cleaning itself out by removing old papers and trash from its pockets. “If only these things could organize themselves. But they can’t. You have to do it!” the film concluded.
In a third film a student ate his friend’s brownie and lied about it when confronted, but his friend saw the crumbs on his shirt and told the teacher. The student was sent to the principal’s office and was grounded at home. “We are very disappointed that you lied to us,” the principal said. As the film ended, a message was shared on the importance of honesty. “He shouldn’t have taken the brownie in the first place, but since he did, he shouldn’t have lied about it. If he had told the truth from the beginning, he probably would have gotten a lesser punishment,” the narrator explained.
Other films included words of advice on topics like changing friendships – “By the time you’re in Class 6, you might be friends with someone you didn’t really know before.” “It’s all about perception. Use this as a chance to meet new people and make new friends.” “Friends change and that’s fine. Everyone goes through this at some point. You will make new ones!” – and being an upstander – “Being an upstander means standing up to someone doing something wrong and saying ‘Stop. What you are doing isn’t right.’”
At the conclusion of the Film Festival, and after a big round of applause, a group of Class 6 students held a brief panel discussion. They described the process of making the films and answered the Class 4 students’ burning questions about everything from script writing to stop motion techniques. Not only did this collaborative event give the Class 4 students advice on ways to improve their Middle School experiences, it also afforded Class 6 the valuable opportunity to use creative films, and their confident voices, to help their younger peers.