Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Composition assignment for 8-13 year-olds

Our most recent assignment has been to create a lesson plan for teaching elements of screen composition. Mine can be found here, and it incorporates an activity, where students are asked to capture different shot types using a ball as a subject.

I will confess that I was only able to test this lesson plan in a one-on-one class with my eight-year-old, Oliver.  Being at the younger end of the intended age spectrum for this assignment, and with tentative willingness to participate, I left out all optional portions from the description of activities, however, I think with an older or more invested group of kids, those optional portions might be a good enhancement to the lesson and activity.

Oliver was very quickly able to catch on to the rule of thirds in viewing examples, and was able to identify shot types when I paused them for him. I felt that encouraging this type of aesthetic awareness will lead to recognitions and skills that will improve his ability to create good images over time.  However, this assignment is (necessarily) structured for the shots to be captured shortly after the discussion, so while I felt that the material learned made it possible for him to complete the assignment, I did not feel that it captured the full value of what was taught or it's potential for helping him create strong images over time.  Thus the evaluation and rubric are tricky.

The shot list I created for Oliver included:
  1. Pan
  2. Tilt
  3. Dolly
  4. Trucking
  5. High Angle
  6. Low Angle
We found it difficult to incorporate potentially more static concepts (closeup, rule-of-thirds) when we were shooting a moving object, and with the size and speed of that object, I had to give up the idea of being a stickler for lead room.  After shooting this exercise with Oliver, I edited the lesson plan to change "bouncy ball" to "ball,"  thinking that a larger, less kinetic one might be easier to keep in the frame.

Despite these hiccups, I still felt that the entire experience was positive and valuable for Oliver, and would hopefully translate into a small group setting as well. 

Oliver's shots (captured using my iPhone):

My own example/rendering of this assignment (Using Canon Rebel T2i and a Canon zoom lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS):


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