Tuesday, May 28, 2013

For The Birds

One of my favorite little stories to get teachers to think about technology and its use in the classroom, is to talk about the great Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds.

When I was in college, my film professor used the scene of Tippi at the school to teach POV shots. We'd clap every time there was a film cut from Tippi to her POV. It was a pretty cheesy tactile exercise, but I understood POV and cuts from that point on.

Remember how the birds start coming one by one by jungle gym? They appear ever so slowly until there are so many, it's quite scary. Hitchcock uses real birds (and some puppets) to set up that suspense.

Then remember the scene where the birds are attacking the children as they run from the school?

If you have not seen this movie, I demand that you get off the Internet right now, and watch this movie. Then return to my blog. Pronto.

To our modern day eyes with all the green screen CGI, the bird scene is pretty dated, if not silly. The blood on the little girl's face is ketchup-like, and she could use some acting lessons. Is that fishing line on that bird puppet? The sound, however, is grating, if not terrifying. Tippi's face fills us with fear. We want her to protect her perfect green suit and her incredible blond hair. We forget that the special effects are dated, and we're scared. If we are good students of history, then we'll remember that at the time of this movie's premier, this scene was cutting edge. Audiences were terrified!

Our modern day eyes can forget the out dated special effects, and we're right back into the story. The content is good, and the story fills us with wonder. You never quite look at a group of birds the same way. You may even want to go to Bodega Bay, CA. You eye all fire places with suspicion forever more (or maybe that's just me).

So how does this connect to technology and teaching? It might be a stretch, but I like to have teachers think of themselves as Hitchcock, and the technology is what you use to tell a great story, to teach a good class, to share your learning. Why not try to do something that you haven't tried before and see how the audience reacts? If your content is good (like a quality film script), then the audience will be engaged.

Maybe the technology you use could be that spark for your students to learn something. Something new may take flight.

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