Saturday, 14 June 2014

Y13 Taika Waititi Film Study

This year I've been teaching Year 13's (ages 17-18 aka 7th form) for the first time in my teaching career.

At the start of the year I had upwards of 50 students enrolled in my class. After some quick interviewing of my students to assess who actually:
a) wanted to do Y13 English Alternative
b) should be there (credits from last year) or in the generic English course
c) didn't want to do English/didn't need Level 3 English for the beginning of their careers next year

Once I had significantly dropped the numbers with the help of my amazing colleagues who found better places for them - I was down to about 45 students I think.

During this time I somehow managed to get them all reading and analysing the epic short story 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and later on - the two equally fantastic New Zealand short stories 'Her First Ball' by Katherine Mansfield and 'His First Ball' by Witi Ihimaera.

Eventually the class was split into two alternative level classes - and my amazing colleague TC is now working with me to continue this course.

Now that I had about 23 students - we could breathe a little easier and actually get some work done! :)

In walks the first assessment: US 3491 -  Write a report.  (3 credits)

At first glance, it looks like an easy assessment. It's a unit standard and all the students need to do is compare and contrast two texts and share their findings.

When we started teaching it and figuring it all out - it was a bit more indepth.

Films studied:

'Boy' and 'Tama Tu'

The analysis was easy and hard going at the same time. The report writing itself was and continues to be (some still have not handed it in....- cut off date is end of the term!!) Partly because of the structure I'd created for their report paragraphs - but mostly because it was a higher level of thinking and writing than they possibly had done before in their last years class. Y13 is a huge step up - even for the alternative course.

The assessment asked for the students to show their understanding of the director's purpose, how effective he was in portraying this through the key aspects and lastly evaluate his effectiveness in regards to how they related with it.

So this is how I asked my students to structure the paragraphs:

Topic Statement
Examples of key aspect
Explanations of key aspect and how they have impacted you/audience
Purpose (what the director was meaning and the purpose in creating the text)
Evaluation of effectiveness in portraying a key aspect in the film
Response - what you thought about what the director did - why it had an impact on you/audience

I've had four good reports handed in - about three that are in the near end stages and a few that still need more guidance and they are expected to go to the homework centre to get it done.


The next 'assessment' needs a bit of explanation... 

Mainly because it's a three part assessment.

AS 91480 - Close reading of visual texts (3 Credits)
US - Contribute as a team or group towards an objective
AS - Create a coherent oral text

The end product is an oral text where they present their findings and show their understanding of what the director did, why and how. Of course also how they related to it and the effectiveness etc. The best part about this is that there are loads of ways they can do this part - as a seminar, lesson, workshop, video, etc etc etc etc

Before this can happen though -  they have to collate information and techniques and analyses on two short excerpts - or in our case - two short films. And analyse their findings and think about how they relate to them and how they've been impacted in some way as the audience and why the director did it and what the director made them think etc.

Films studied: 

'Tama Tu' and '2 Cars, 1 Night'

Best part of this series of assessments is that they have basically done most of the groundwork about the background of Tama Tu in the last assessment and can solely focus on the technical aspects of diegetic sounds, shots, cinematography, mis en scene etc

The other best part so far - is while watching 'Two Cars, 1 Night' - my students were discussing aspects of the film with technical terms as they watched it, questioning it, and discussing the backgrounds of the characters and already started to think about why Taika Waititi used these characters, how he used them etc.

This is awesome because it showed me that they get it... and that they can do it. And most of all.. that when they get stressed out and say they can't - I can remind them back to the first time we watched it... and every other time since.

At the moment - they are collating the data and evidence of the film.

We've started to analyse our own information using the below questions:


Before we can attack the questions - which are rather wordy for that reason - I've decided they need to unpack each one to know what they've actually got to answer. We've already done a bit of this - with the first question:



On Monday we'll continue with this - perhaps unpack the rest of the questions - because the next two lessons I'll be in Wellington for PPTA meetings - and so they'll continue working on their answers and paragraphs... why? because it's an easy way for them to cut and paste info into a speech transcript for their speeches later. Smart aye :)

To do the collating of the information - they're working in teams or groups - and hopefully will stay in those groups for the presentation side of the close reading assessment. I love how interconnected these assessments are. Really the only way to do it too. :)


I'm hoping that my Y13's have their collated information ready by the end of the term (three weeks to go!!) and then come next term we can teach our Y13's the techniques of good presenting and give them some more ideas in how to do the presenting side. Hopefully make it less scary as each student has to speak for six minutes each.

Where I see us going next....

The next assessments are the Visual and Verbal assessment as well as the extended text teaching and learning - for their final exam in English at the end of the year.

Well be using one film for the next two assessments - though I'm pretty sure my colleague will agree that we'll let out students choose any of the films or texts we've studied this year for their visual verbal text creation.

I've bought the two copies of the film we will be doing - and in case my students find this post I will update the film later. But if you know Taika Waititi's works well - you'll know the one we're doing :)

Also - am stoked that 'What we do in the Shadows' comes out this week and that I'll be in Wellington during the hype and that there have been HEAPS of interviews done by Waititi and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) - in character might I add.

Links for 'What we do in the Shadows' here:
Trailer for WWDITS - thanks to Youtube and DeliciousNecks
Film Website
WWDITS on IMBD - Thanks to IMDB
Werewolves not Swearwolves - Trailer
Viral Marketing at its best - Thanks to NZ Herald and David Farrier
The WWDITS Facebook Page 
#DeliciousNecks - Twitter


Links for 'Boy':
Boy on IMDB - Thanks to IMDB
Trailer for BOY - Thanks to Youtube and EastCoastCrazyHorses
The Film Website

Links for 'Tama Tu':
The Entire Film Here - Thanks to NZ On Screen
The Film Website
28th Maori Battalion Website

Links for 'Two Cars, One Night':
The Entire Film Here - Thanks to NZ On Screen
TCON on IMDB - Thanks to IMDB
The Film Website

Links for last Waititi film: 
To come later :)

Links on Taika Waititi:
TedXDoha - The Art of Creativity - AMAZING. - Thanks to TedXTalks and Youtube
Taika Waititi Fansite


Links on Visual Techniques:
Mis En Scene - Makes total sense - Good for students to take notes.