Stories without words

This week I gave my first year education students a new project. In pairs they were asked to produce a short video - without words - to tell the story of a part of the history of Plymouth. They were given two days to complete the project, and the first day involved a 6 hour history walk around the city, where they were given opportunities to capture still and moving images and do some research. On the second day of the project they assembled their images and videos together, added sound effects and music, and then presented their videos to their peers and the module tutors for feedback.

Plymouth has a rich heritage and is steeped in history. There are many iconic places and buildings that speak of this history including Plymouth Hoe, where Sir Francis Drake reputedly played bowls before sailing to do battle with the Spanish Armada in 1588, the Mayflower Steps in the old part of town, where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World in 1620, various sites commemorating the Blitz of the Second World War, when the city was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe, and many famous figures who lived in Plymouth or were associated with the city, including Nancy Astor (first female member of the British Parliament, explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Captain James Cook, inventors William Cookworthy, Charles Babbage and John Smeaton (Smeaton's Tower is pictured), artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds and Robert Lenkiewicz, and writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The students produced several videos varying in format and style, each focusing on a different aspect or age of Plymouth's history. Although they were deliberately given few guidelines, the students were able to interpret their brief successfully, fill in the gaps, and reported learning many new skills, some technical around the use of their cameras, editing and the use of MS Moviemaker, iMovie and other tools; problem solving and creative skills, learning to work in a team, decision making, negotiation of new ideas, and researching the sites they visited. Essentially, the product was less important than the process by which they reached their goal. This method of minimal instruction, maximum participation, was appreciated, and several thought they would apply similar methods with the primary age children they will soon be teaching. Below is a fine example of the work they produced in their Stories without Words project.

A poignant and atmospheric video on Plymouth's War History by Jody Day and Frances Dingle, first year B.Ed students at Plymouth University

Photo by Herby Thyme on Wikimedia Commons

Creative Commons License

Stories without words by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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