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I've been running the St Patrick's Primary School film club in Newtownstewart for five years now, and with our local cinema being 10 miles away most of the children have never been able to watch a film in the cinema before. By setting up a film club our students get the social experience of watching a film with their peers, which is great to see.
We've been using film in a variety of ways: review writing to support literacy, filmmaking for information and communications technology skills, and developing speaking and listening skills through post-screening discussions.
Throughout the five years I've noticed many benefits to the students' academic and social development as a result of their involvement with film. Their levels of concentration have increased and student-teacher relationships have improved. All of this has had a positive effect within the classroom, by breaking down communication barriers and encouraging students to request help when they don't understand something.
Film club and the other after-school clubs have also played a significant role in engaging children with challenging behaviours. Helping teacher and student collaborations, especially with new students from other countries attending the clubs and feeling more integrated within the school.
The students have even made some short films which we show regularly at our club. They are extremely proud of their films and this has helped to increase the students' confidence and self-esteem after seeing what they have produced.
My advice to any future film club leaders is to keep the consistency by having the club on the same day each week, assigning roles to the students and encouraging a sense of ownership. We use a voting system to decide what films to watch next. In terms of what works best for primary aged students, animated films are always popular - we've had great reactions to Frozen , Toy Story and Madagascar .
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