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Student film fest winners use tech to make learning fun
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Four Riverview Middle School 8th graders made a curtain call last week before the Dawson County Board of Education and received a round of applause for a short film they created last year.

Scarletts Secret was submitted to the International Student Media Festival (ISMF) and received Judges Favorite and Best of Festival honors. The film is a fictional account of what might have transpired in the days leading up to John Wilkes Booths assassination of Abraham Lincoln, as told from the perspective of Wilkes niece, Scarlett.

Heather Brady, Tabitha Morrison, Emily Queen and Savanna Skinner created the film as a team project in Marcia Faircloths class for gifted students.

The girls touched every aspect of the films creation, from researching the topic and writing the script to performing in it to directing and producing it. While it may sound amusingand it wasit was also an extremely effective way for Faircloth to incorporate learning that meets curriculum standards while elevating student communication skills, creativity and self-expression. Beyond that, it was an opportunity to use technology to make learning fun and relevant.

The idea surfaced after Faircloth met with a group of gifted program teachers to explore ways to bring rigor into the classroom.

I kept thinking about that after the meeting, Faircloth said. What makes a class rigorous?

She knew shed hit on something with the ISMF, and introduced the concept to her literature/language arts students two years ago. Sponsored by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), a non-profit organization improving instruction through technology, ISMF promotes student media production because it enriches learning. ISMF honors students who demonstrate they have successfully harnessed the power of media production, as they have proven themselves engaged and effective communicators.

The film projects incorporate skills and learning experiences across the curriculum, according to Faircloth. Reading and research is always at the foundation of the film projects. Developing the scripts involves writing and editing skills. Acting in the films involves listening, speaking and public presentation skills. The projects are collaborative and foster cooperation and leadership skills development. And the common thread that brings all of these learning and doing opportunities together? Technology.

Im grateful the school system supports this kind of innovation in teaching, said Faircloth, who holds a masters degree in Technology in Education. We are also fortunate that the Dawson County Board of Education has supported investment in the Macs, the software and all the components needed to bring this level of technology into the classroom.

Its pretty amazing that we can live in this little North Georgia town and be competitive with people all over the world, Faircloth concluded. Thats what technology allows!