Student Provocateurs
Cycle 1 Reflection and Future Plans (Updated)
By Bradford Davey
February 28th, 2007

As I reflect back on the progress so far and the work to come, it has given me a new understanding of the cycles that I have gone through.  As I write about my first cycle it has become clear through reflection that it represents a combination of many ideas and smaller actions.  The first set of actions came very early in the project’s infancy and was focused on the question,  “Could interest be generated in a film project for kids that had them not only making a film but creating discussions?”  This mini-cycle came full circle with the visit to Casey Farm and the initial meeting and emails with Deb Barone, the middle school teacher at Lawn Avenue School in Jamestown, RI.  Reflecting on this course of action, analysis, and reflection, it was exciting to see how the project generated enthusiasm quite readily.  Members of the this educational community saw the merit for such a project as a means to engage students in using technology to communicate their ideas and to delve into the science, economics and societal behind organic farming.

The second set of actions began with the question as to whether the students could become excited about and understand the importance of a film project that was designed to provoke dialogue among adults.  Reflecting on these actions, it is clear that the students are excited, engaged, and able to see themselves as Student Provocateurs.  The initial meeting with the class was exciting and stimulating.  Their questions revealed a clear desire to be successful and a strong sense that what they are doing is important.  They watched the film I made, read the organic bill of rights, and were working on choosing a topic for their film.

We come now to the present, reflecting back on the entire process, rolling the first sets of actions, “sub-cycles” if you will, into one larger cyclical reflection and progress report referred to as “ Cycle 1” from here on out.

What do you want to change and why?
Cycle 1 for my Action Research Project entitled, Student Provocateurs, was creating a film to change how students think about filmmaking and filming. I created an edgy, in-depth film on filming to get students excited about this medium as a tool for provoking people to think and discuss something that is important to them.

Cycle 1 question
What would happen if students could use film like they use words – to find their own voices and to provoke others to think about important issues? What if they were able to develop the story line and to think of themselves as provocateurs instead of documentary makers or reporters? My hypothesis is that, given filmmaking skills, a model, the technology and most importantly, the permission to be creative and design their own film to provoke discussion, students will find this interesting enough to commit to it, follow through, and be successful. Teachers, administrators, and parents will also see this as a worthwhile educationally, worthy of support, and a valuable experience for developing students’ thinking and communication skills.

What I did
I began by researching filmmaking, extending my own understanding of the media, the genres and the tools. In some cases I learned how to talk about things I already do as a videographer. In other cases, I learned new skills. I researched other film projects with students, wrote about film projects I have done with students, and analyzed provocative methods and purposes in films. These activities gave me lots of ideas and at the same time confirmed that Student Provocateurs was a unique approach.
AppleMark
But what would the students make a film about?  What would be provocative in their minds and engage their teacher?  Who would I involve since I no longer have students every day?  A trip to the local farmers’ market gave me a seed of an idea.  What about organic farming? It was the perfect way to combine my interest in science and health, and with the food crises and controversies in the news in the last few years, it certainly was fertile ground for provoking discussion.

Not 10 minutes away was Casey Farm, a very special organic farm devoted to education as well as farming and under the care of the New England Historical Society.  A meeting with Mike Hutchinson made it clear this was a place to start. The farm had a regular group of volunteers that included teachers and students.  A visit with one of those teachers, Deb Barone, in a nearby town confirmed that I was on the right track. She was interested, and dare I say, excited.  After an additional planning meeting, she began to build the project into her schedule, think about involving parents, and plan when and how to speak to the school administrators.

It seemed that the students needed a model, so I decided to create a film for the students, making every step transparent and weaving video skills with narrative about the reasons for different filming decisions. You can view this film at my Action Research web site at http://cadres.pepperdine.edu/ar/davey, as well as read a complete narrative about the process to date, including a time line of the progress and work to come, a blog with a running personal account of the work, and more.

How you know what happened (evidence collected)
How do I know that Deb Barone found this worthwhile?  She planned to do it, talked to her principal, scheduled meetings with me, invited the parents in, invited me into talk with the parents and students, and talked with the students about it.  She rearranged her curriculum - no easy task.  She needed permission from the school to change the curriculum for one of her classes and not the others, and she got it. She wanted parents to be supportive, from driving students to the farm to film, to returning the media permission forms so she invited them all to hear me talk about the project. All the students chose to participate. All the permission forms were returned. Parents have offered to drive students to the farm.

What would happen if students could use film like they use words – to find their own voices and to provoke others to think about issues they think are important?  What evidence do I see that they can and will? Well, here’s what they have come up with so far: (taken from email sent from Deb Barone)
January 27th, 2007
Quick questions…
The kids have come up with an idea but I wanted to run it by you before we went too far.
First, they have chosen…A Childs Right…from the organic bill of rights…
The story takes place at Casey Farm when two former class mates meet.  They were friends in middle school
Now it is some years later (to be determined)
They revisit their past and in doing so look over their lives and their connection to Organic
One has been relatively healthy while the non-organic has had a series of health issues
What do you think?  Where do we go from here?  They are very excited and working very hard!
I hope this is something that is workable film wise.

February 7th, 2006
Great…the first visit will be exploratory…and thank you for contacting the farm…that was on my to do list.
I can get the buses for those days. I am trying to work it out to minimize the cost of them…so I will let you know. Whom should I say will pay for the buses?
 How many students should be working on sound, lighting etc…is there a better amount that seems to work?
 Also, I will get back to you with some dates for you to come in…some for next week and then we have vacation (for a week)…but are you around the following week of 26th?
 Kids are presently calling local farms and asking/interviewing over the phone…these may later be filmed. and become part of their film….but now they are collecting info.
 The children have some interesting questions but I will ask them of you when we meet next time…..they are very passionate about this and have some concerns
later Deb

Additional evidence for the effect of the project on the students and the project overall will come from film footage that is being collected of the project.  Every aspect of the students work is being documented on film, from their day-to-day activities, to my time with them in the classroom, to our future trips to Casey Farm. Their video work, their challenges and triumphs will go into a documentary film, created by me, that is intended to serve as a reflection on  the process of bringing to life the Student Provocateurs project and a testimonial to the work and dedication of the students and all those involved.

Reflection
It is clear that there is interest in a project like Student Provocateurs,.  There is excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment among the students.  Deb has gone aboveand beyond what I ever expected. In incorporating the film project into her class, she has completely changed her science curriculum to encompass the Student Provocateurs project.  The Organic Center has funded the project to a large extent and has been a powerful source of information and support.  I interviewed the president of the Organic Center for the initial video. So, reflecting on the project to date, what do I think now about next steps?

The next month will bring together the creative ideas of the students into a script and storyboard.  This will be a critical step in creating a provocative film.  Their initial work suggests that this is a very obtainable goal but it should still be recognized as a critical juncture in the film project.  Additionally, the project will also depend on their ability to utilize the available technology to produce the film.  We have not yet worked purposefully with the cameras, sound, or lighting, and they have not been introduced to the computer editing software.  It is important to me that they not only create a powerful idea but are able to see that idea come to life through the medium of film.

 

How I thought it would go….and where to now?
It has been very interesting for me to work through this with another teacher and her students. Since I have done projects like this in the past, I know how to do it, but to work with someone else has required a new role and different skills on my part. The layers of metacognition have multiplied as I think about how Deb is thinking, how the students are thinking, how I am thinking about their work, how I am thinking about how to document the process as well as create a product myself, how I am thinking about how to help the students document what they are doing as well as create a product and so on. While at times, it feels overly complicated, I have become convinced that these layers have enhanced the communication among all of us, and greatly improved the quality of everyone’s work (including my own). So, how did I think it would go? I thought I would have to do more to “sell” the idea. I had no idea how much work I would be doing, thinking that since I was not in the classroom, I would be doing less. No way! I have spent more time thinking than doing, and that was exactly what was needed. The reflection requirements of the action research model have served me and this project well.

Deb and I created a detailed schedule to guide the project activities. We are in constant communication, so the schedule changes to meet our emerging needs. Here is our current version.

Schedule and next steps


Purchase computer and camera


First week of January

Students watch “Making Your Movie”



January 15th

Visit Students for first time at Lane Avenue School


January 18th

Documentary footage capture

January 18th – June 6th

Student choose movie topic



January 22nd

Begin script writing


January 23rd

Begin story board



February 5th

Mid script review



February 8th

Mid story board review



February 14th

Camera practice



February 14th

Finish script



February 21st

Finish story board



February 29th

iMovie software practice



February 29th

Begin filming



March 1st

Trip 1 to Casey Farms


March 7th

Trip 2 to Casey Farms



March 28th

Trip 3 to Casey Farms



April 4th

Final filming and film review



April 4th

Film download to computer



April 5th

Begin film editing



April 6th

Film editing



April 13th

Film editing



April 20th

Student mid film editing review

April 27th

Student film editing review



May 3rd

Student final editing week



May 7th

Student final editing review



May 14th

Student film review



May 15th

Student final edits



May 21st

Public showing advertising



May 21st

Public showing advertising



May 28th

Public showing



June 4th

Student film copies to students

June 4th

Public interviews


June 4th

Student Interviews


June 5th

Student Interviews


June 6th

Documentary film production



June 7th

Final Documentary film production


June 11th

Documentary showing to students



June 14th

Exhibitions



June 20th – 22nd

The next steps are focused on the production of the film itself.  The students have generated the idea, are finishing writing the script and storyboard, are researching the topics in greater depth, and learning to use the camera and other equipment.  Finalization of the script is our main focus.  The story boarding will come next as we consider scene selections for the script and make our first exploratory visit to Casey Farm on March 7th.

Beyond these concrete steps, I believe it is important to continue to emphasize the importance of the students as provocateurs not merely filmmakers.  The lack of this emphasis was clear from the discussion with other members of my learning circle during our time in Florida at FETC.  What separates this film work from other projects that I have done is getting the students to become a powerful voice on a subject they feel is valuable and worthy of greater public discussion.  Student Provocateurs provides students with an opportunity to realize the power of their voices through film and to use it responsibly.

It is clear from their story idea that students are taking on the role of provocateurs. As they are researching the topic, they are looking for information and ideas that will engage adults in thinking differently about their lives. As the script develops, they will weave the story to provoke thought. As they do the exploratory visit and create the storyboard, they will be looking for camera angles, lighting and sound techniques that support the provocative look and feel they want.

Of course, I can’t help looking even further ahead. Deb and I talk more and more about the editing and public showing. We’ve even talked about where to go from here in the coming years, with her students and others. The Organic Center is looking closely at this as a model for educational outreach, and there are 10 areas on the Bill of Rights. I wonder, are all action research projects like this? Do they all get out of hand, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, and begin to wonder how you will have time for anything else?

 

Student Provocateurs
Cycle 1 Reflection and Future Plans (first draft)
By Bradford Davey
February 9th, 2007

As I reflect back on the progress so far and the work to come, it has given me a new understanding of the cycles that I have gone through.  I am writing about my first cycle but I contend that it is best described as my third cycle.  The first cycle came very early in the project’s infancy and was focused on the question,  “Could interest be generated in a film project for kids that had them not only making a film but creating discussions?”  This cycle came full circle with the visit to Casey Farm and the initial meeting and emails with Deb Barone, the middle school teacher at Lawn Avenue School in Jamestown, RI.  Reflecting on this first cycle of action, analysis and reflection, it was exciting to see how the project generated enthusiasm quite readily.  Members of the this educational community saw the merit for such a project as a means to engage students in using technology to communicate their ideas and to delve into the science, economics and societal behind organic farming.

The second cycle began with the question as to whether the students could become excited about and understand the importance of a film project that was designed to provoke dialogue among adults.  Reflecting on this cycle, it is clear that the students are excited, engaged, and able to see themselves as Student Provocateurs .  The initial meeting with the class was exciting and stimulating.  Their questions revealed a clear desire to be successful and a strong sense that what they a re doing is important.  They watched the film I made, read the organic bill of rights, and were working on choosing a topic for their film.

We come now to the present, reflecting back on the entire process, rolling the first two “sub-cycles” if you will, into one larger cyclical reflection and progress report referred to as “ C ycle 1” from here on out.

What do you want to change and why?
Cycle 1 for my Action Research Project entitled, Student Provocateurs, was creating a film to change how students think about filmmaking and filming. I created an edgy, in-depth film on filming to get students excited about this medium as a tool for provoking people to think and discuss something that is important to them.

Cycle 1 question
What would happen if students could use film like they use words – to find their own voices and to provoke others to think about important issues? What if they were able to develop the story line and to think of themselves as provocateurs instead of documentary makers or reporters? My hypothesis is that, given filmmaking skills, a model, the technology and most importantly, the permission to be creative and design their own film to provoke discussion, students will find this interesting enough to commit to it, follow through, and be successful. Teachers, administrators, and parents will also see this as a worthwhile educationally, worthy of support, and a valuable experience for developing students’ thinking and communication skills.

What I did
I began by researching filmmaking, extending my own understanding of the media, the genres and the tools. In some cases I learned how to talk about things I already do as a videographer. In other cases, I learned new skills. I researched other film projects with students, wrote about film projects I have done with students, and analyzed provocative methods and purposes in films. These activities gave me lots of ideas and at the same time confirmed that Student Provocateurs was a unique approach.
AppleMark
But what would the students make a film about?  What would be provocative in their minds and engage their teacher?  Who would I involve since I no longer have students every day?  A trip to the local farmers’ market gave me a seed of an idea.  What about organic farming? It was the perfect way to combine my interest in science and health, and with the food crises and controversies in the news in the last few years, it certainly was fertile ground for provoking discussion.

Not 10 minutes away was Casey Farm, a very special organic farm devoted to education as well as farming and under the care of the New England Historical Society.  A meeting with Mike Hutchinson made it clear this was a place to start. The farm had a regular group of volunteers that included teachers and students.  A visit with one of those teachers, Deb Barone, in a nearby town confirmed that I was on the right track. She was interested, and dare I say, excited.  After an additional planning meeting, s he began to build the project into her schedule, think about involving parents, and plan when and how to speak to the school administrators.

It seemed that the students needed a model, so I decided to create a film for the students, making every step transparent and weaving video skills with narrative about the reasons for different filming decisions. You can view this film at my Action Research web site at http://cadres.pepperdine.edu/ar/c9/davey/, as well as read a complete narrative about the process to date, including a time line of the progress and work to come, a blog with a running personal account of the work, and more.

How you know what happened (evidence collected)
How do I know that Deb Barone found this worthwhile?  She planned to do it, talked to her principal, scheduled meetings with me, invited the parents in, invited me into talk with the parents and students, and talked with the students about it.  She rearranged her curriculum - no easy task.  She needed permission from the school to change the curriculum for one of her classes and not the others, and she got it. She wanted parents to be supportive, from driving students to the farm to film, to returning the media permission forms so she invited them all to hear me talk about the project. All the students chose to participate. All the permission forms were returned. Parents have offered to drive students to the farm.

What would happen if students could use film like they use words – to find their own voices and to provoke others to think about issues they think are important?  What evidence do I see that they can and will? Well, here’s what they have come up with so far: (taken from email sent from Deb Barone)
January 27th, 2007
Quick questions…
The kids have come up with an idea but I wanted to run it by you before we went too far.
First, they have chosen…A Childs Right…from the organic bill of rights…
The story takes place at Casey Farm when two former class mates meet.  They were friends in middle school
Now it is some years later (to be determined)
They revisit their past and in doing so look over their lives and their connection to Organic
One has been relatively healthy while the non-organic has had a series of health issues
What do you think?  Where do we go from here?  They are very excited and working very hard!
I hope this is something that is workable film wise.

February 7th, 2006
Great…the first visit will be exploratory…and thank you for contacting the farm…that was on my to do list.
I can get the buses for those days. I am trying to work it out to minimize the cost of them…so I will let you know. Whom should I say will pay for the buses?
 How many students should be working on sound, lighting etc…is there a better amount that seems to work?
 Also, I will get back to you with some dates for you to come in…some for next week and then we have vacation (for a week)…but are you around the following week of 26th?
 Kids are presently calling local farms and asking/interviewing over the phone…these may later be filmed. and become part of their film….but now they are collecting info.
 The children have some interesting questions but I will ask them of you when we meet next time…..they are very passionate about this and have some concerns
later Deb

Additional evidence for the effect of the project on the students and the project overall will come from film footage that is being collected of the project.  Every aspect of the students work is being documented on film, from their day-to-day activities, to my time with them in the classroom, to our future trips to Casey Farm. T heir video work, their challenges and triumphs will go into a documentary film, created by me, that is intended to serve as a reflection on the process of  bringing to life the Student Provocateurs project and a testimonial to the work and dedication of the students and all those involved.

Reflection
It is clear that t here is interest in a project like Student Provocateurs, .  There is excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment among the students.  Deb has gone aboveand beyond what I ever expected. In incorporating the film project into her class, she has completely changed her science curriculum to encompas s the Student Provocateurs project.  The Organic Center has funded the project to a large extent and has been a powerful source of information and support.  I interviewed the president of the Organic Center for the initial video. So, reflecting on the project to date, what do I think now about next steps?

The next month will bring together the creative ideas of the students into a script and storyboard.  This will be a critical step in creating a provocative film.  Their initial work suggests that this is a very obtainable goal but it should still be recognized as a critical juncture in the film project.  Additionally, the project will also depend on their ability to utilize the available technology to produce the film.  We have not yet worked purposefully with the cameras, sound, or lighting, and they have not been introduced to the computer editing software.  It is important to me that they not only create a powerful idea but are able to see that idea come to life through the medium of film.

 

How I thought it would go….and where to now?
It has been very interesting for me to work through this with another teacher and her students. Since I have done projects like this in the past, I know how to do it, but to work with someone else has required a new role and different skills on my part. The layers of metacognition have multiplied as I think about how Deb is thinking, how the students are thinking, how I am thinking about their work, how I am thinking about how to document the process as well as create a product myself, how I am thinking about how to help the students document what they are doing as well as create a product and so on. While at times, it feels overly complicated, I have become convinced that these layers have enhanced the communication among all of us, and greatly improved the quality of everyone’s work (including my own). So, how did I think it would go? I thought I would have to do more to “sell” the idea. I had no idea how much work I would be doing, thinking that since I was not in the classroom, I would be doing less. No way! I have spent more time thinking than doing, and that was exactly what was needed. The reflection requirements of the action research model have served me and this project well.

Deb and I created a detailed schedule to guide the project activities. We are in constant communication, so the schedule changes to meet our emerging needs. Here is our current version.

Schedule and next steps


Purchase computer and camera


First week of January

Students watch “Making Your Movie”



January 15th

Visit Students for first time at Lane Avenue School


January 18th

Documentary footage capture

January 18th – June 6th

Student choose movie topic



January 22nd

Begin script writing


January 23rd

Begin story board



February 5th

Mid script review



February 8th

Mid story board review



February 14th

Camera practice



February 14th

Finish script



February 21st

Finish story board



February 29th

iMovie software practice



February 29th

Begin filming



March 1st

Trip 1 to Casey Farms


March 7th

Trip 2 to Casey Farms



March 28th

Trip 3 to Casey Farms



April 4th

Final filming and film review



April 4th

Film download to computer



April 5th

Begin film editing



April 6th

Film editing



April 13th

Film editing



April 20th

Student mid film editing review

April 27th

Student film editing review



May 3rd

Student final editing week



May 7th

Student final editing review



May 14th

Student film review



May 15th

Student final edits



May 21st

Public showing advertising



May 21st

Public showing advertising



May 28th

Public showing



June 4th

Student film copies to students

June 4th

Public interviews


June 4th

Student Interviews


June 5th

Student Interviews


June 6th

Documentary film production



June 7th

Final Documentary film production


June 11th

Documentary showing to students



June 14th

Exhibitions



June 20th – 22nd

The next steps are focused on the production of the film itself.  The students have generated the idea, are finishing writing the script and storyboard, are researching the topics in greater depth, and learning to use the camera and other equipment.  Finalization of the script is our main focus.  The story boarding will come next as we consider scene selections for the script and m ake our first exploratory visit to Casey Farm on March 7th.

Beyond these concrete steps, I believe it is important to continue to emphasize the importance of the students as provocateurs not merely filmmakers.  The lack of this emphasis was clear from the discussion with other members of my learning circle during our time in Florida at FETC.  What separates this film work from other projects that I have done is getting the students to become a powerful voice on a subject they feel is valuable and worthy of greater public discussion.  Student Provocateurs provides students with an opportunity to realize the power of their voices through film and to use it responsibly .

It is clear from their story idea that students are taking on the role of provocateurs. As they are researching the topic, they are looking for information and ideas that will engage adults in thinking differently about their lives. As the script develops, they will weave the story to provoke thought. As they do the exploratory visit and create the storyboard, they will be looking for camera angles, lighting and sound techniques that support the provocative look and feel they want.

Of course, I can’t help looking even further ahead. Deb and I talk more and more about the editing and public showing. We’ve even talked about where to go from here in the coming years, with her students and others. The Organic Center is looking closely at this as a model for educational outreach, and there are 10 areas on the Bill of Rights. I wonder, are all action research projects like this? Do they all get out of hand, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, and begin to wonder how you will have time for anything else?

 

 
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