Learning vs. Pacing Calendars

I was underwhelmed when my freshman daughter’s math teacher announced all tests were final and “repairs” or “reteaching” would not take place if students performed poorly.  They would review the test, and they would have a chance to raise their grades “with future tests.” Of course, the law of averages works against that concept. Any math teacher could tell you that much. The no reteach/test repair wasn’t just the perspective…

Grading? Or Giving Feedback

The “Grading Song” sung to the tune of “Rawhide” Grading, grading, grading. Got to keep on grading. My focus it is fading… my eyes! Through rain and wind and weather, I’m gonna fe-el better. When I get this grading…behind. Add up up! Mark ’em wrong! Star ’em right! Feeling strong! Grade all night! Gonna win this fight! Sunday NIGHT! If you’ve taught any length of time, you’ve probably had a moment…

3 Questions for Students Before Posting to Social Media

The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World (Well, almost.) And with a single Tweet, Lila’s first infographic on the Japanese Internment is put on display for the world to see. And after just three days, she’s made an impression on more than 4,000 people and climbing. When students create something for public consumption, it transforms from “school work” into something bigger, more important, more real. A Time of Remembrance Recently my students have been…

Transforming Literacy With Primary Sources & Protocols

I recently started reading Transformational Literacy: Making the Common Core Shift With Work That Matters. Written by Ron Berger and a team of educators, the book provides both theory and practical advice on how to retool our teaching to meet the rigor and complexity of the Common Core. Early on, the authors make a point that resonated with me: students sometimes “may find ways to avoid reading if given the…

Teaching Thinking Moves

This year I’m once more refining my role as teacher and working harder than ever before to promote critical thinking on the part of students? How? I sought outside help from thinking experts Ron Ritchart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison in the form of a book they’ve authored entitled Making Thinking Visible.  It is well worth the $17 price on Amazon. The first portion of the book reevaluates Bloom’s taxonomy and…

Literacy Documentary COMPLETE!

Hats off to the 6th grade class of 2014-2015 for completing a 15 minute long documentary on the importance of literacy for middle school students! More Than Words: A Documentary on Middle School Literacy from Jim Bentley @Curiosity_Films on Vimeo. This film was created as a result of a project based learning unit undertaken by the students in my classroom. The script was 9 pages long and written by teams of…

2014-2015 City of Elk Grove Commercials Complete!

Curiosity Films students have done it again: four new commercials for the City of Elk Grove Integrated Waste Department educating residents on how to properly dispose of shredded paper, plastic bags, pet waste, and juice boxes and juice pouches. These films were storyboarded, shot, and edited by students! Scripts were provided by the City of Elk Grove’s Integrated Waste Department with minor revisions made by students. This is the second…

Shooting Film for iCivics!

Your students have done it again! We were asked by iCivics Executive Executive Director, Louise Dube, on behalf of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, to provide our insights on iCivics! The request: film kids doing iCivics and talking about it. The result: 22 minutes of B-roll of kids working and using iCivics and 31 minutes of kids talking about iCivics and what they like. We were also asked…

Erin Dealey Book Trailer Complete!

Curiosity Films students came, they sang, were filmed, and they edited. The results are below! This is our second book trailer, and it’s looking GOOD! Genevieve Sterns, Naomi Weir, and Noah Arsala spent three days during their November off-track time to edit and completed work on this film on their first day back after a 5 week vacation. A huge thank you to Mrs. DePonte for playing piano! I shared…

Curiosity Films Students Featured in P21.org Blogazine

I was asked recently to share a little about our filmmaking journey with the folks at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. You can read the  post “From Film and PSA to PBL: A 21st Century Journey with Digital Media” to seen how our filmmaking has evolved over the years. Filmmaking with students is by far the most engaging way I’ve found to integrate reading, writing, research  and critical thinking…

New Commercials in Production for City of Elk Grove

We are working on four commercials this school year for the City of Elk Grove’s Integrated Waste Department. The topics are: Pet waste goes into the garbage and not the green waste. Plastic bags can be recycled if they are placed into a larger, knotted plastic bag. Shredded paper can be recycled if it’s placed into a larger paper bag and stapled shut. Juice boxes/pouches cannot be recycled in the…

Curiosity Films Students Take Top Honors at California Student Media Festival!

It happened again! Students from Foulks Ranch Elementary School took top honors at the 48th Annual California Student Media Festival in the After School/Extracurricular Category for their commercial “The City of Elk Grove Reminds You…Green and Clean” produced for the City of Elk Grove’s Integrated Waste Department. The City of Elk Grove Reminds You…Keep Us Green and Clean from Jim Bentley @Curiosity_Films on Vimeo.   Students also took top honors…

City of Elk Grove Commercials COMPLETE!

During the 2013-2014 Curiosity Films Students were given the task of creating a series of 6 commercials for the City of Elk Grove Integrated Waste Department to educate residents on how to responsibly dispose of their trash, green waste, and recyclables. The result: six commercials, each 15 seconds long. The project was a collaboration with our Integrated Waste Department. Staff wrote the scripts which were then modified as needed to…

Gleaning Film Update

It’s here! A team of students wrote and edited the following film, showcasing our gleaning experience! It was a LOT of fun gleaning, and we will be back for more! Check out the film! If you like what you see, leave a comment, or make a donation to our film gear wish list at the bottom of the home page of our website! All of our equipment has been purchased…

Want to “Glean” Kale & Collards?

Tuesday, May 27 at 3:00pm the Elk Grove Food Bank’s “Glean Team” will be organizing volunteers to “glean,” or gather by hand, kale and collards from Stone Lake Farms! All food will go to the Elk Grove Food Bank. Want to help? The speed at which we glean depends on how many people show up. Elk Grove Food Bank will have all the equipment necessary to make this happen. The…

NEHS Project Kick Off With Films!

Students Dominic Agrella, Noah Arsala, Vincent Agrella, and Alexa Diessroth are on a mission: collecting baseball gear and selling reusable bags. The first project is designed to collect gently used baseball gear that’s no longer needed which will be shipped to Latin America. Working with Steve Abrams, the founder of Handing Out Hope, Dominic and Alexa and a team of students will collect baseball gear at Foulks Ranch Elementary starting…

We are on Pinterest!

You can check out our gear and software reviews, resources we use, teaching ideas for film and copyright and fair use, and see our wish lists and ways you can help our student filmmakers! Visit us at: http://www.pinterest.com/james_m_bentley/ I, Jim Bentley, will maintain the various Pinterest boards and upload the posts. I’ll write some of these, and I’ll also be asking students to write some of the posts, too, in…

2014 California Student Media Festival Results Released May 6. The winners are…

It’s official: Curiosity Films Students picked up top honors in two categories at the 48th Annual California Student Media Festival! “The City of Elk Grove Reminds You…Keep Us Green and Clean” has been selected as a winner in the category Elementary (K-6th) – After School/Extra-Curricular. “How to Transport Household Hazardous Waste to the City of Elk Grove’s Special Waste Collection Center” has been selected as a winner in the category…

2014 Student Educational Video Awards Recap

The 25th annual Student Educational Video Awards were held at CSU Sacramento on May 5. SEVA Awards were given to students for best news story, short documentary, long documentary, public service announcement, and instructional videos. Awards were given in each category to students in grades K-3, 4-6, and 9-12. With over 400 submissions, this year marked the most films ever submitted in the 25 year year history of the festival.…

Earth Day 2014-Grand Opening of the Special Waste Collection Center

The City of Elk Grove now has a place where residents can deliver all of their household hazardous waste to be disposed of properly! The Special Waste Collection Center located at 9255 Disposal Lane near the intersection of Highway 99 and Grant Line Road is open for business! Students from Curiosity Films attended the ribbon cutting and opening ceremonies, volunteered to run the activities in the kid zones, played games,…

Off to the National Association of Broadcasters Conference

I will be gone Tuesday, April 8 and attending the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ll fly in at 7:00am and return by 7:00pm that night. I paid for my plane ticket out of pocket. The ticket into the convention was free, since I attended last year and established relationships with a few different vendors. Why go to NAB? This is the world’s largest convention…

Bombs Over Bikini book trailer is complete!

Bombs Over Bikini Trailer FINAL from Jim Bentley @Curiosity_Films on Vimeo. A team of students spent a portion of their vacation editing audio and video for author Connie Goldsmith’s book, Bombs Over Bikini. Special thanks to Genevieve Sterns, Vincent Agrella, Dominic Agrella, and David Mizzi for their work! Dominic handled the audio editing completely by himself. The others took on the video editing with the guidance of Mr. Bentley. The…

Curiosity Films Helps Launch Cropmobster in Elk Grove!

On March 17 a small production team gathered around our Mayor’s backyard chicken coop to film him as he introduced the Elk Grove Exchange to the residents of our city! You can see the finished video below! Elk Grove Community Exchange Intro Video H.264 from Jim Bentley @Curiosity_Films on Vimeo. The Elk Grove Community Exchange utilizes an online platform, licensed and supported by CropMobster, allowing residents to post alerts anytime…

Time for Time-Lapse!

We started testing out a piece of gear…the Camalapse! This little device spins 360 degrees in 60 minutes and smoothly pans our GoPros as they shoot time-lapse video! We first tested it in class as we wrote DonorsChoose thank you letters. We tried it out again today at our farmer’s market. We’ll be using this device a LOT more and next trying to use it in conjunction with our motorized…

SEVA Training at KVIE

On February 11, 2014 students from Curiosity Films attended a training at our local PBS station, KVIE. Break out sessions on motion graphics, green screens, camera work, editing were led by members of the KVIE staff. Emmy Award winning editor Tim Walton shared some tips on feeling the story and using audio to enhance a film. Students had the chance to get their hands on some cool equipment. Shown in…

New Audio Equipment on the Way!

It’s official: Our audio equipment proposal posted on The World We Want Foundation has been 100% FUNDED! That means a new professional grade Rode voiceover mic , Zoom 4 track recorder, sound absorption/reflection system will be available to use for voiceover work! It also means that background “hiss” sound will be minimized and our new Zoom can be used in the field with our boom mic system we’ve already got! Thank you to…

Want to help transform a closet into a sound studio?

We are partnering with The World We Want Foundation to transform our studio (an oversized closet really) into a portable sound studio! We’re getting a voice over mic, a 4 track recorder, and an absorptive reflection device that will cut down on room noise and enhance the sound of students as they record their voices. The World We Want Foundation has contributed $500 toward the project. We’ve got $400 more…

Making “Waves” by Making an Instructional Film About the Water Cycle

Students are revising their writing now for an instructional film on the water cycle. Using information gathered from the Environmental Education Initiative curriculum which is created and distributed by CalRecycle, the EEI curriculum is the perfect resource to energize learning. The curriculum is FREE. It’s able to be downloaded from the CalRecycle website. You can click HERE to see the materials offered in grades K-12. Teacher’s editions are password protected.…

Check out our first time-lapse!

As part of our waste stream doc, we took a look at just how much Christmas discards our class generates. On Friday, December 27 we had 17 students and our Mayor bring their Christmas trash to school. After 4 hours, we had sorted, filmed, and properly disposed of a LOT of discards. Now YOU can see for yourself. The next time-lapse sequence we’re working on is related to food waste.…