I quoted some of my students’ Glow Blogs in my previous post, where they were beginning to reflect on the reading experiences involved when studying ‘Inanimate Alice’. These experiences helped us this week as we begun to think about creating our own episodes.
Episode Three is staggeringly good, a hugely imaginative and clever development from Episode Two. The interaction is more complex, story more grown up, and reader involvement all the more focused, reflecting Alice’s development in skills, age and articulacy; and that was the subject of our first class talk this week. Why do the episodes get longer?
Indeed, we noticed that the common themes from the first two episodes were all here – Baxi, Brad, Dad’s job, etc – but more complex storyline, darker subject matter and increasingly sophisticated, and surprising, gaming suggested that Alice – and her readers – were growing up. The students cleverly pointed out that this reflected a similar pattern to the Harry Potter novels in a way. Each successive episode becomes darker and more serious. Something for us to think about. However, what happened next proved to be even more illuminating.
As a teacher with little or no ICT expertise beyond e-mail and Internet –I only successfully learned how to use the Digital Projector LITERALLY an hour before the first Inanimate Alice lesson - I have been relying on my class to teach me as we proceeded. Their confidence in creating online content is fabulous and they were raring to go. However, despite their excitement about the music they would use, the movie makers they would employ, the photos they would upload, they were insistent that the story had to be good first and, as a Teacher of English and lover of reading, that delighted me.
Of course they are right. If Digital Stories are ever to take root in Scottish Secondary Schools then the story must be key. So we will start next week with writing an excellent next episode of Inanimate Alice. It will fit in well with the previous episode and lead on to a next episode. It will reflect Alice as she grows up, as she continues to be The Animator; and this increasingly impressive, abundantly creative group of thirteen year old Scottish children will make it happen.
What have I learned this week? If you intend to create new episodes of ‘Alice’ get the students thinking about the technical possibilities and potential problems as early as possible. However, remember that the story is the most important thing. It’s the story, stupid!