I look at the devastation, the hopes and promise of our public school system, and I report it to the world.
It seems a futile pursuit some days. Does anyone actually read this stuff? Or am I just talking to myself?
The hit counter tells me that, yes, indeed, there are people out there clicking on my humble little gadflyonthewallblog. Comments appear under my Facebook posts. My tweets get retweeted. Followers and friends multiply.
But I wonder sometimes about all the sets of eyes that see a block of text under my name and just keep on scrolling.
Would the minds connected to those eyes have understood? Would they have been spurred to action? Might they have been just the people we need to turn the tide and take back our education system?
And I answer: maybe.
So today’s entry is an attempt to get those roving, impatient orbs to stop, look and see.
Because today I bring not just words but pictures. Movies, in fact.
But first some background.
This whole enterprise began by accident. My school district received a $360,000 donation from Apple and Bill Campbell so every student could have an iPad for use in class.
The program will be rolled out next year, but teachers have already been given devices and some minimal training.
We were encouraged to play around with the devices to find applications for our students next year. One such app we were told to explore was iMovie.
I made a brief preview trailer for S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” – one of the novels my students read. I thought it might make a good lesson on theme for next year’s kids.
However, in doing the assignment, I wondered what it might look like if I made a similar short movie about corporate education reform. After all, I spend a lot of my off hours writing about it. Why not try another medium?
Let me be clear. I did NOT use school equipment. I have my own personal iPad at home. It’s not nearly as nice as the ones the students will be using. In fact, I had to pay for a few upgrades to get it up to similar specs.
But once I did, it was a simple matter to make the “OPT OUT OF STANDARDIZED TESTING” movie you see here:
The newest version of the program provides several short preview templates in various movie genres. All you have to do is insert pictures or video and change the text to suit your purposes. In some cases, I had to extend the templates so they’d fit the topic I was tackling.
I was kind of tickled by the result so I shared it with my fellows at the Badass Teachers Association. I serve on the Leadership Team. And in a moment of whimsy I had designated my film a production of “Badass Films.”
They seemed really taken with it. They loved the idea of having our own film studio – even if it was just a hand-held Apple device.
With the power of an organization representing more than 54,000 people, they promoted my first little film on their YouTube channel. They pushed it out on twitter and facebook. Even Education Historian Diane Ravich gave it a push and a very kind review.
They asked me to make more. I did.
My fellow BATS helped me decide on topics, made suggestions for revisions, helped provide photos and even made a kick ass mock movie poster for each film!
And every day they’d send out into the ether a reminder that Badass Films is coming soon!
I hope you enjoy them.
Without further ado, here are the remaining 12 Badass Films:
CHARTER SCHOOL TREASURE HUNT
SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
TEACH FOR AMERICA
BADASS TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
G.E.R.M. – Global Education Reform Movement
So there you have it. Badass Films.
I’m hoping these short videos can serve as a primer for our fight against the standardization and privatization movement.
People who wouldn’t sit to read an entire blog entry might stop long enough to watch a less than 2 minute film. And – hey – videos are like potato chips – you can’t stop at just one!
Some might criticize this project as being shallow. How can you really explain a topic like the School to Prison Pipeline or even Common Core in such a short span?
Well, you can’t. But these are meant to be attention-getters. I only hope they’ll spark interest. There are so many sources for more information – many of them previous articles published on this very blog!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. How did I do? Are these films successful? Will they help the fight against factory schools?
Feel free to leave a comment and certainly to share this blog or any of the individual videos.
Special thanks to all the BATS who helped bring this project to completion. You earn the name “Badass” every day!
As for me? I will continue to write.
And – when possible – make movies.
This article was also published on the Badass Teachers Association blog.