This article was originally published in the International Literacy Association’s magazine, “Literacy Today”
The power of literature to provoke thought, evoke emotion and address important social issues are all reasons why poetry, essays and novels are at the heart of ELA curriculum. By adding cinematic works to our literary canon we can expand the concept of literature and make analysis skills meaningful and relevant to our students.
The best way to build empathy for other people is to listen, and I feel that one of the most engaging ways to do this is through authoring and publishing digital stories.
Most teachers have little experience with these types of projects, so I led a group of teachers on a trip to Guatemala this summer where they learned the art and technique of producing video documentaries. Inspired by the Humans of New York blog, teacher participants interviewed the Mayan people of Guatemala to understand their lives and culture.
At the end of the trip, I produced an ebook that documents our experience, includes the finished projects, and details the lesson for the documentaries so you can do a similar project with your students.
Michael is an award-winning media arts teacher, speaker and consultant in Los Angeles.