On June 24, Digital Story Workshop made four imaginative videos with small groups of young children on the Mall in D.C. for the 2007 World Children's Festival, hosted by the International Children's Art Foundation. This event brought hundreds of children to D.C. from all over the country and the world, and thousands of children with their parents from the surrounding area.
See the videos here. Here are stills from our play with four groups of 4-10 year-old children from all over the world:
Sean did the camera work, and then we edited with the children on-site, under a tent, immediately following our twenty minute play/videotaping sessions.
This was the first time that we worked with children to edit their own videos. Children as young as 4 were invited to see their play footage and interact with us as we edited in iMovie on a Mac laptop; 8-12 year olds participated in the editing process and learned the software with amazing speed. One young collaborator, Jonathan, 8, from Chicago, simply took off, editing quickly and intelligently, moving the mouse around to drag and drop scenes from one place to another in the timeline, to move scenes to the end of the video for a "Behind the Scenes/Making Of" segment. This prompted a whole new consideration of the role of editing in Digital Story Workshop projects. Could we figure out a way to use the editing activity in first and second grade classrooms, whether to teach story sequencing in literacy lessons or simply to teach technology education? I can only imagine how skilled Jonathan and others of his age could become at this task, if given the opportunity to edit video once every day, for fifteen minutes. Would any school in this country offer that as an option for him? Should it?
The other exciting element of this project was the spontaneity of the groups, from the four-year-old girls in the first group that included a child from Turkey and another from China by way of Virginia--the little English that the girls both knew provided a few words for them to say to each other, but for the most part, the play happened silently, with many facial expressions and a lot of body language (see "See Me Play")....to the mixed-age group of five 6-11-year-olds, from all over the world, the older of whom took roles as directors/documentors/prop assistants. The collaboration of this group of four, some of whom had only met moments before, was exciting. The improv team took their places, played their roles, had a cathartic experience, and life rolled on. The joyous result was "Superhero versus the Villain:" take a look at the fun these kids had! Since they were able to see their play on the computer screen shortly after they did it, and manipulate their actions within a storyline that they were developing together as they went along, even after the play itself, the learning experience was very tangible, and most of all, became like play.