"Of all the stages of life, adolescence is the most volatile – full of promise, energy, and because of newly achieved freedom and potency, substantial peril. In its freshness, adolescence is attractive. In its enthusiasms, it can be exhausting. For most people, it is pivotal: it is the time of life when we find out who we are becoming, what we are good at, what and whom we like. What happens in these years profoundly affects what follows.” — Theodore Sizer
Thirty college students, fifteen high school students, three faculty members and one teaching assistant began this project searching our memories for stories of who we were when we were thirteen. What did we learn? What was good, bad, ugly?
We talked about broken hearts, learning that “boys are dumb” and “girls are mean.” We talked about learning to drive, working as a team, and hanging out. We heard about piercing a lip with a crochet needle, making a duct tape wallet, and cooking popcorn on a stovetop (also know as “how NOT to set your house on fire”). The aspect that seemed most surprising to the college students was how strategic and diplomatic they needed to be in their “story sharing and gathering” phase of the project.
In sharing our failures, frustrations as well as our triumphs we realized that those experiences lay the foundation for our understandings and the life we are living today.
To see the video above: Marc’s Park
This project is about evening the playing field. In an effort to bring high school and college students together as collaborators, we use a point of similarity upon which to build: the universally awkward adolescent experience.
We used this shared experience as a starting point to collaborate and create a series of visual responses in the form of short stop-motion animation videos. We worked to understand the structure of our narratives and learned how to create stop motion animation.
Them we moved on to the structure of our narratives, do they have beginnings, middles, and ends? Is there an element of surprise or unexpectedness or humor we can include or emphasize? How can we take a lesson learned or experience and translate it into a short stop motion piece? Can our stories share a moral or enlightening message? We talked about what stop motion is, how it is achieved and how production values, editing, lighting and music can bring our stories to life.
This may be a multi-day process! (We did this in about three weeks, with a screening in week four.)
Have a conversation about adolescent experiences. What is/was good? Bad? Ugly? Difficult? Amazing? Hear from everyone: college students, high school students, teachers, assistants, etc. Everyone was a teenager at some point!
Introduce students to stop animation. Use the slide presentation (below in this post) if you wish! Discuss the importance of process, production value, editing, lighting and music in bringing stories to life.
Meet in small groups to talk and share ideas and stories for the prompt, “Something I Learned When I Was Thirteen”
Pair students strategically: group college students with good social skills with high school participants that tend to be more shy.
Task college students with leading groups in “finding the story.” Have the groups determine a narrative arc: do these expressions of experience have a beginning, a middle, and an end?
Together within small group, create a storyboard. Consider pacing: how does the story move over time? Decide on props. What objects will tell your story? Plot each frame and decide how your props will act to create a narrative. Have high school students act as writers/directors. Have college students act as “producers,” supporting high school students with technical and creative planning.
Using props and a table-top “set,” have each group create a series of still images that change incrementally over time. When seen in sequence, the images should appear to animate.
Use Photoshop to map color corrections to images.
Use iMovie to string together sequences of stills. Add credits and intro and outdo graphics. If students wish to, incorporate music.
Share! Present final videos on the internet, through social media, or host a screening at school to share the videos with other students. Have high school students lead a discussion with their peers on the experiences they share in their videos.
Check in with students on their feelings about collaborating to produce a final product. How do multiple voices benefit the creative process and the final products? How do multiple voices make it more difficult? What did they learn about working together? Discuss the experience of turning a conversation into a tangible outcome.
Megan McGinley’s presentation
this is/was animated…