A passion for for photography and digital communication with a background at the BBC and ITV.
Currently director at the School Media Club making cinema films for schools and working for Oblong Leeds a community development organisation. Also a member of All Saints Church in Ilkley and involved with communications in the parish.
This blog features posts about photography including some of my photos, while the media posts will include thoughts about filmmaking and online media - particularly to do with PR activities.
School Media Club
Category Archives: Schools
I’m writing these notes because I’ve been having discussions with our media volunteers in Woodhouse about sourcing images on the internet, so I hope this will be helpful.
Finding great images for the website or for other publications is, of course, really important. excellent visual content can engage, inspire and communicate in a very powerful way.
Many websites are let down by the choice and presentation of images. If you don’t gave the confidence or opportunity to take great images yourself, then there are free resources you may be able to use.
Downloading image from the internet is easy to do but stealing work and breaking copyright is quite wrong. However there are many high quality images you can download for free under Creative Commons licensing. This means the owner is giving you some rights to use the image – perhaps in a non commercial setting or with a credit. You will need to be aware of what rights the creator is offering. Otherwise other people’s images can only be used with their permission.
For a full explanation of Creative Commons and a search tool for finding images and other media you can use here is a link to -
Creative Commons Search
Are you looking for help with screenplay layouts and a way of collaborating in the creative process? The School Media Club has been trying out Celtx to see how it can be used in the classroom.
In our latest school filmmaking project we prepared a screenplay together using Celtx, an online film production project management tool. The basic story was dreamt up by the children and then I created a starter screenplay, breaking down the story into scenes. The children, with the help of the teaching assistants then got to work putting the detail on the characters, actions and shots.
Celtx is a cloud based tool which synchronises with a desktop application. It meant that I could see what the children had been working on while I was at home, and then add any notes or refinements to the script.
The service is free and here’s a short video I made showing how it works.
Had a wonderful morning at Keighley Picture House there Nick and Eileen welcomed our cinema project. The school had 6 weeks to make a film – but not just any old film.
The project was initiated by the arrival of a strange alien capsule guarded by the D.A.F.T. agency. The capsule contained this encoded message from another planet with instructions for the mission.
The mission involved making a special effects film. A green-screen studio was built in the school and a project schedule worked out. There were to be set designers, costume, props, musicians, dancers, actors, writers and more. The film was made to cinema specifications with full on sound for an immersive experience.
It shouldn’t amaze me that children can rise to a challenge and produce something so professional. Well done Y5 at St Joseph’s Primary School in Keighley.
Looking forward to a another film project in the new year. Now watch the opening titles with the specially written and performed music.
I thought I’d share some exciting progress I’m making with the St Joseph’s project in keighley. Being a bit of a film technology enthusiast, I have been looking at ways of delivering school videos in Digital Cinema format. Normally this process would cost thousands of pounds to format and encode special files.
The film we are making at St Jo’s is being filmed in full HD using a Canon 5D2 camera. The plan is to upgrade the film to an impressive 2K digital cinema format with surround sound. In short, the film will look great on the big screen and give a true cinema experience. Importantly it means that it will be much easier to deliver school films to the local cinema in future thus opening up new opportunities for these showings.
I also think that we may be able to produce commercials made by school classes for the cinema. This will be a great way to learn about advertising, audiences and creative process.
If you’re a school and would like to make a film or advert for the cinema we’d love to work with you on a project. We don’t cost a lot and are very hard working. email@example.com
Schools are interested in blogging, but what is a blog and how do you write one? We use the term blog but what does it actually mean? The internet is now full of writing, networking and publishing spaces so what are the unique characteristics of a blog?
I’ve been fascinated to read about Quadblogging, an idea of teacher David Mitchell (see the video below). Quadblogging simply brings together four schools – anywhere in the world – to discuss and write about a topic online and the motivator is having an audience. Of course blogging us one of those terms which can be easily misunderstood. Is Facebook a blog? Is twitter a microblog? What kind of writing can we expect to see on a blog? I want to clear up the question of what a blog is.
From what I can see, the act of blogging is sometimes associated with the technical platform rather than the writing style. If you use Blogspot, Typepad or WordPress then you are a blogger – are you?
Blogs a decade ago were a bit like Facebook pages are today, populated by highly personal accounts of daily life. There was an understanding that blogs could be a little bit sloppy with the odd error here and there which made them more spontaneous and believable; a highly manicured article may look less real somehow. Maybe that is changing? When we talk about children being encouraged to write I guess we expect some quality and not just the casual randomness we sometimes see.
It seems to me that those early bloggers have grown up and are now using blogs in a much more thoughtful and journalistic way. Blogs are, by and large, still personal but they have become significant spaces where individuals can explore their own thinking and invite feedback.
Blogs provide a transparency which helps build relationships – if you know someone you are more likely to trust them. You can establish your own identity and agenda.
Blogs are long term investments where you can trace patterns of thought and look back on your own personal experiences and development.
Blogs have been adopted as a serious news platform for professional and amateurs writers alike. Every news organisation is using them.
An important aspect of the blog is the facility to discuss, and this is probably the most distinctive aspect. A blog that has no facility to discuss would simply be an online newspaper. A blog that contains only likes and comments might only be Twitter. I make a distinction between likes, comments and real discussion.
A blog at its best resonates beyond its immediate space – it gets talked about, makes the news, appears on rss feeds and may causes controversy. They are the public’s own press release.
So when we look at a school blog, exactly what kind of writing do we expect? I’d suggest much more than a patchwork of information culled from the internet. Personally I’d like to see children writing as journalists would write and with their own voice. So here are some bullet points – which may or may not be reasonable:
- Journalistic in style
- Rich in facts and well researched
- Uniquely written with no cut and paste
- Thoughtful and well structured
- Updated often and a lively progression of content
- Topical and reflective of the wider world
- Clear who the author is and the point of view
- Centred around a specialist topic
- Responsive and open to discussion
- Multimedia layouts
- Legal, decent and honest
This may seem a tall order for primary children but here’s an example from The School Media Club
So when we talk about a school blog, there’s an opportunity for some real discussion about how it’s written, and not simply which tools are used.
And in the meantime be encouraged by this talk given by David Mitchell
As you may know I have been working with a number of local schools to help with media skills. The School Media Club, as I call it, is developing with an increasing interest in blogging.
Blogging is not new, or course, and there are a number of excellent services which support bogging and news writing functionality, not least Primary Blogger and Webanywhere. But what we are offering is less to do with the technology and more to do with the the dynamics of the content producers (the children).
Once a school decides to run a school web site or a blog, the age old challenge kicks in – what to put on it. This is a significant challenge for any organisation, and most fail. In my opinion, the content on most school websites could do with improving. This is not the failing of the teachers, the children or the technology – it’s simply that writing engaging web content requires some effort, and unless it’s linked to learning it simply won’t happen.
The School Media Club idea is that we implement a co-delivery of six afternoon sessions that cover some of the skills required to produce really engaging stories for the web.
1. What makes a great story.
2. Writing styles and structure
3. How the website works
4. Interviewing and note taking
5. Multimedia – photos, video, audio
6. Launching the online news page
The aim is to move the web space from being a dumping ground for random pieces of content to it becoming a showcase for children’s writing skills and experiences. The key to it is that servicing the website is not an isolated activity sucking resources, but is naturally integrated into the curriculum activities.
Another bonus benefit of showcasing really good writing skills is that the stories present a powerful insight into the life of the school. When parents are encouraged to look at the news pages they achieve a much more lively and engaging connection with the school. One primary school girl told me that her parents had seen the story she had written and were very proud of her.
So, I think there is not only an opportunity for learning and encouragement, but in improving school communication and visibility within the local community. firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information
Other links to take note of
QuadBlogging Linking learning to a global audience
Marketing Cards for Schools specialists in term cards and “well done” communications
Praise Pod an innovative use of media for encouraging positive behaviour