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Getting Students Behind the Camera
By Sierra Debrow, ISJL Education Fellow
In the 21st century, videos have become a valuable tool for teachers. Because videos are engaging and easily accessible, they can be used both in the classroom and at home to help instill important lessons into students’ minds. But, what if we could put our students behind the camera? This year, try something new with your students. Try a video elective and give b’nei mitz’vah/Confirmation students the opportunity to explore Jewish concepts creatively. Here are a few ways to implement this kind of program:
1. Get students to ask questions of the larger community. In the documentary, God in the Box, filmmakers set out to learn what God looks like and means to 21st century Americans. They created a booth where people were invited to share their answers to the questions, “What does God mean to you,” and, “What does God look like, to you?” The filmmakers recorded responses and turned them into the final documentary. Students in religious school can similarly ask questions of community members to explore theology, Jewish thought, or Jewish values in a hands-on way.
2. Instead of watching videos in class, when students make a video about something that they learned, they demonstrate their grasp on a subject by teaching that subject to others. Send students out of the classroom to create a video where they become the teacher. Then, instead of using class time to review key concepts, watch the videos your students created. This process is a great way to give students ownership over their educational experiences and to make religious school an interactive experience.
3. Document the year through vlogs (video blogs). Vlogs enable their creators to share thoughts, feelings, and reflections in an audiovisual format. The b’nei mitz’vah and Confirmation processes are vital to a student’s Jewish education. Documenting these processes in a vlog allow students and families to look back on a student’s experience from the student’s perspective, to learn, and to grow. Think of these kinds of vlogs as a digital time capsule!
While we all see different kinds of videos every day, it isn’t often that we get to create them. Encourage students to show their creative side and become cinematographers—both in and outside of the classroom. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even teach you a thing or two!