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Empowering Students Through Documentary Filmmaking

Session 2
George Mayo — Middle School Teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

In order for students to be critical consumers of digital media, its important for them to have the chance to create and share media themselves. Documentary filmmaking is a powerful way for students to craft persuasive messages through digital media. Creating documentaries allows students the opportunity to look deeply into real world topics and issues that interest them.

We will talk about the educational benefits of creating documentaries with students. We also will discuss different ways to organize a documentary project in your own classroom. We will cover equipment, topic selection, project organization, researching, setting up interviews with experts, transcribing and scriptwriting, filming, and editing. We will explore the basic tenets of the Fair Use Doctrine, and how it applies to embedding copyrighted content into student-created documentaries. We will also discuss appropriate and responsible ways for students to promote their films once they are done.

I will share my own experiences creating documentaries with my middle school students over the past two years, as well as samples of student films. Creating documentaries with students is a tough and challenging project for both the teacher and the students. However, it can be an empowering experience with infinite learning possibilities.

Conversational Practice

One thing I will stress as I begin our conversation is that I am by no means an expert on this topic. Part of my motivation for having this conversation is to get feedback and advice on how I'm structuring this project in my own classroom.

We will be Skyping in Joel Malley, a high school Language Arts/Media teacher in Cheektowaga, NY. Mr. Malley will share his experiences creating documentaries with his high school students. Participants will takes notes, share ideas, and add helpful links using Google Docs.

Conversation Links

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Presenter Profiles

George Mayo
George Mayo
Montgomery County Public Schools


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