Teaching Resources

Using digital technology to improve literacy

by Anna Whiteley
on March 23, 2017


Digital technology has changed the face of filmmaking; award-winning movies can now be shot entirely on an iPhone and, thanks to the internet, published online in no time at all. So in an age where filmmaking opportunities are so accessible, why aren’t we using them more in the classroom?

Here at Pobble, we’re regularly blown away by the impact that an audience and digital platform can have on children’s enthusiasm for writing. For this reason, we’re delighted to be supporting the pivotal new film festival, LitFilmFest, celebrating children’s writing and filmmaking efforts on the largest screen in the UK – the London BFI IMAX!

The event premiere will take place on Monday 19th June 2017, giving 7-11-year-olds the opportunity to write, direct and star in their own film using the resources created by A Tale Unfolds.

There are four film categories classes can enter:

• Pupil Prime Minister – combining English, Politics & Citizenship.
• Action & Adventure – a longer project encompassing 6 writing genres.
• Film Trailers – a quick and easy way to enter.
• The Plastic Times – produce news reports with an environmental focus.

Teacher Adam Mitchell recently completed the trailer project, War Story, with his class. Here is their incredible film:

Adam was particularly impressed with the ownership his pupils demonstrated when challenged to create a poignant story with an audience in mind:

“I have used film and video in class many times before, but the reason this project worked so well is that they were the storytellers, the experts. They knew that in order to do justice to the stories, they must feel real, not like the recount of a child. This became the driving force behind their truly incredible writing. The link between traditional and digital literacy was made obvious from the start.”

Adam also found that the digital aspect of the project enabled pupils who might not be so confident in traditional literacy to shine in other areas.

“The reason I use film and other visual and digital literacies is because it is what I would call a literacy leveller. Students who would, in a traditional classroom, have been left in the dust of the strong writers, frustrated and stifled, are given an avenue to express their creativity without over-dependence on the written word.”

One of the most powerful insights that pupils can gain from digital literacy projects is a realisation that the creative process – the ideas, the collaboration, the drafting, the problem solving – is vital to accomplishing the end goal. Adam concludes:

“This is not ‘technology for its own sake’; nor is it simply augmenting the more traditional way of doing things. Using film in this way is a structured, scaffolded and generally collaborative way of driving student-centred learning. It is challenging; and yet the solutions to the challenges are accessible. From a literature purist’s perspective, students still need to understand how to manipulate a viewer’s emotions and responses, how to portray feelings…how to build suspense, how to logically structure a narrative and how to leave sufficient space within the narrative for the viewer to bring in their own experiences and imagination.”

With teacher testimonials this inspiring, the value of digital technology in supporting pupils’ literacy attainment couldn’t be more apparent. So what are you waiting for?

Discover the budding filmmakers in your class today. For more information about LitFilmFest, check out this video or visit litfilmfest.com.