Amplifying Voices – Oh, Canada!

Friday, April 21st, was at once a relief, a celebration, and a fruitful realization of 8 months of planning.  It was our Grade 4 Film Night Celebration at the Aylmer Old Town Hall.  My students and I took over the historic venue for an hour.  It was a multi-modal, multi-literacy, multi-art, multi-media performance and premiere.  If you bear with me, I’ll walk you through how I envisioned the evening and how my students realized that goal.

Aylmer Film Night INVITE 2017

As our invitation summarizes, the evening for our visitors would start with a visit to the green screen lobby where a number of students armed with iPads gave you a selection of background images to select from.  These images came from our research time at the Aylmer Public Library and the Aylmer Museum.  Step back in time!

Visitors included parents, siblings, seniors from the community and collaborators (the VON, the Public Library, the Museum, Town Council and the 150 Committee, inspiring teachers and administrators, local historians, and the Mayor).  After saying cheese, they were greeted by a clothesline of identity poems using digitally manipulated images from around the community taken on iPads.

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They were then invited to enter the auditorium by a student greeter (perhaps after receiving your VIP pin) and were able to choose a seat to best take in the show.  Visitors likely looked up and saw the giant union jack painted on the ceiling, reminding them of the age of the theatre (what an amazing venue! – thank you Town of Aylmer Canada 150 Committee)!

At show time, the students and I did a little pep talk in the lobby, recognizing the unique opportunity we had to share our voices in the community.  We were introduced, took the stage, said hello, and sang a song we wrote especially for the night.

Click here to watch our ‘Canada 150: Explore – Create – Reflect & Connect’ song.

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It felt so great to sing it outside of our rehearsal situations (thank you for your patience, neighboring teachers).

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In my classroom I talk a lot about showing and vocalizing appreciation for others.  It was fitting for us, then, to identify our VIPs for the evening and give the audience a standing ovation.  A lot of great people in Aylmer gave time and resources to help us learn more about our Town.  This gave our inquiry and research project a richness unattainable in a classroom.  Stories from seniors, a visit in the Mayor’s Council Chambers, building and community tours by local history buffs.  We were so fortunate to partner with the Aylmer Public Library and a Western Prof as they led us through hours of microfilm and archive database work, citation practice and web-savvy tutorials.  A VIP pin and a standing O was the least we could do. I am very grateful to these individuals for these opportunities.

It is at this point I asked my students to sit and we premiered our 21 minute film. The film consisted of over 120 student-created media pieces.  We created greenscreen memes and filmed TED-Talk style videos in front of archival photography.  The focus of the TED talks was to take the perspective of a future Town Councillor and create a 3 point plan to make our Town even better.  We worked with Mme. Hatch to film bilingual community tours (using photo puppets and digital locations captured on our iPads).  We also showed a sampling of the hours of work we put into our community research “glideshows” (try Spark Page if you haven’t already!).  I tried my hand at screen-casting to capture these websites ‘gliding’.  The students’ final products turned out stunningly!  Town Council is placing a digital copy of the film into the Canada 150 time capsule for future generations to unearth.

The students were so proud to see themselves on a real big screen.  And yes – we wore our track and field t-shirts.  Go team!

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Watch our culminating filmCLICK HERE

I was very pleased to introduce the students as “your future Town Councillors” at the conclusion of the film!

At this point we did a shared reading of a shared writing piece we completed collaboratively on a shared Google Drawing using a variety of sentence-starters.  I was excited to see a few students pull in some curriculum connections from the Fall. We read from our iPads (green-style):

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We ended the night with our version of the White Stripes’ song ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’.  We performed this song at an assembly back in September as a way to celebrate new friendships at the beginning of the school year.  It just felt right to end the evening reinforcing the idea that friendships and connections are the glue holding communities together.

After final applause we received warm words from Town Councillor Laur and then we headed back to the lobby, feeling great and fist-bumping.  Parents and VIPs were gracious with their feedback, and then it was done. Success!  And time for a nap!

(I think I have a lot of thank you notes to write!)

Detailed, full-length student media samples can be found on the website we’ve created for A Kid’s Guide To Canada.  Artefact Website