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Certificate of Commendation for the Education Planner and Administrator Category

The Use of Film to Support Classroom Literacy Learning
Jill Reading, Western Metropolitan Region, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria, Australia

In the Western Metropolitan Region of Victoria, Australia, groups of students with one teacher each group are given the opportunity to script, film and edit a short film every year. They learn vital skills in basic sound engineering and music creation. This project, targeting teachers and students from the middle years (Years 5 to 10) from participating schools, aims to establish a collaborative learning space where students have access to and gain necessary skills on film production. The project culminates in a screening of all films produced, attended by the students and teachers involved in the project, parents, members of the school community and Education Department officials.

The groups attend a three-day course to develop the narrative ideas behind a three-minute film, learn about the camera and associated skills, work on the project between sessions and celebrate the completed films with a gala screening night. Teachers and students built collaborative networks at these sessions and use these networks to finalize their ideas and support each other with the required skills for the media development process. Schools are supported during their involvement in the project by a secure website that contains presentations delivered, an outline of skills covered in sessions, permission notes, links to professional readings and other web-based resources. Schools are also supported by email, phone and individual school visits as required. Further school visits are scheduled between the editing and completion phase.

A total of 50 schools and close to 400 students have participated in the programme. Schools that took part in the programme in previous years are involved in extension projects to further utilize and enhance their skills. DVDs of competed films are sent to the 142 schools in the Western Metropolitan Region. Participating schools have used the skills they gained on various occasions, including school film festivals, animation development programmes, region-wide animation festivals, participation in community film festivals and competitions and the Commonwealth Games TV Project.

Students involved in the programme thrive on the excitement of their work being screened in a real theatre - a truly live and authentic purpose for their work. They talk of their feelings about having their work screened for their peers and scrutinized by all.