How Into Film's Training Can Help Boost Young People's Literacy

10 Jun 2021 in Into Film Club of the Month

7 mins
St. Mary’s Primary School Newcastle, Co. Down
St. Mary’s Primary School Newcastle, Co. Down

Our latest Into Film Club of the Month is run by Michelle McCann from St Mary's Primary School, in County Down, Northern Ireland. Michelle is the school's P6/7 teacher and ICT coordinator, and below, she shares with us how our training opportunities and using film as an alternative to text have enabled students of all abilities to get more involved in their learning.

How long has your Into Film Club been running? 

In 2019 I became part of Into Film's Film for Learning project as a KS2 teacher in my school, engaging with Teaching Literacy Through Film training*, both face-to-face and online. I began by initiating a film literacy club within my literacy lessons using Into Film resources. I have continued using film watching as part of my literacy lessons, particularly with the Teaching Literacy Through Film lesson resources. The children love learning through film, and I enjoy teaching with it.

*Some of the Teaching Literacy Through Film resources are available on our Visual Storytelling and Developing Speaking and Listening Skills short courses, available now.

What inspired you to start your Into Film Club?

Our school's focus for development had been film and animation, and we felt the Film for Learning project was a great way to combine UICT with Literacy. Having worked with Into Film and the Nerve Centre before, we knew we would have excellent support for using film for literacy learning. The Into Film resources were excellent and support was always on hand, with questions answered quickly.

Using a film, rather than a text, makes it so much more accessible for all the pupils in the class, regardless of ability; especially those who find reading a challenge.

Michelle McCann, Into Film Club leader, St. Mary's Primary School, County Down

What do you enjoy about running an Into Film Club?  

The films! I've been using short animations that have lesson resources which tie in with the literacy curriculum; they are lovely, and the children enjoy doing the ‘film' lessons. The Teaching Literacy Through Film lessons are packaged within beautifully presented PowerPoints presentations with supporting teacher notes that are easy to follow and teacher-friendly.

Using film as a literacy club and stimulus for writing and developing comprehension skills, would not have been something I would have thought about before, but now I can really see the advantages. All children can access learning through film which makes my job so much easier. Using a film, rather than a text, makes it so much more accessible for all the pupils in the class, regardless of ability; especially those who find reading a challenge.

Has the way you run your club changed this past year? 

The more I have used film, the more confident I have become in engaging my club in meaningful curricular activity, even delving into mindfulness during lockdown.

We had to rethink our plan once we moved to remote teaching. We were able to conduct an online lesson delivered by Into Film. We are much happier now we are back in the classroom, delivering the lessons, but the Into Film resources and the adaptable activities within some of them were incredibly helpful during lockdown.

Which films have gone down well at your club?

My class have loved all the animated short films selected for the Film Buff Challenge resource. This has sometimes surprised me, as I felt animated shorts would not have been something that appealed to KS2 children, but they are always totally enthralled while the films are playing. The film My Brother Luca was particularly well received; the children just loved it.

Have you seen any positive changes in your club members since they joined?

The pupils are enthusiastic about film lessons. Some of the pupils who can be daunted by writing activities have shown a great interest in discussing the films, and love to predict what might happen next. As many of the activities do not require extensive writing, they are more excited about participating.

Using the skills of predicting, summarising and deduction is something that the pupils now enjoy. The talking and listening that follow film-watching is also great. When doing these lessons, they often don't realise that we are doing literacy.

Are there any Into Film resources you have used recently that have been particularly useful or beneficial in the classroom? 

The Teaching Literacy Through Film lessons were a great way to re-engage pupils with learning when they returned to school in September, following lockdown. Being able to take part in discussions, work with a partner, share ideas and have fun while doing it were all things they couldn't do much of during lockdown.

The children were much better at reviewing films and considering the 3Cs (Colour, Character, Camera) and 3Ss (Sound, Setting, Story) when discussing them. The resources use films that are not the type that the children would normally watch at home, but they really love them. They always cheer when they know we will watch a film during a lesson.

What are your plans for the future with your Into Film Club?

Following past successes, we have just downloaded Into Film's new Story Builder resource and look forward to having an introductory virtual session delivered by Into Film. I'm keen to see how my pupils take their skills and knowledge from the film analysis activities and apply them to creating their own stories, characters and settings for a film.

I have recently delivered training to my KS2 colleagues, with the plan that film watching for literacy learning be rolled out into their three year groups. We have mapped out all of Into Film's Teaching Literacy Through Film lesson resources, to be delivered across years 5, 6, and 7, in a way that will see skills progression for pupils through those years. This will form part of our literacy plan in our wider School Development Plan.

What advice would you give to new Into Film Club leaders?

Starting off with an introductory resource or film guide is a great way to introduce Into Film into your school. It can give a flavour of the types of films and activities available to club members. I'd also suggest having a look at the Into Film website and signing up for training on the Into Film Learning Platform. You'll find lots of ideas for running an Into Film Club and incorporating film into your teaching, and you'll have access to hundreds of great resources.

This Article is part of: Into Film Club of the Month

Each month we celebrate one Into Film Club's achievements and talk to the club leader about how they approach their sessions.

View other Articles in this column

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