EDGE Academy @ Essex Middle School Peek Through the Window Revolution Poetry Slam & Sugarhouse

Posted by Myles David Jewell

Lindsey Halman and I have been working together this year to document activities around her classroom at Essex Middle School.  In the fall, Lindsey held a mock election and I was able to support students as they documented the day with iPads and then later edited their own videos with WeVideo (a web-based video editing tool).  This spring, I am working with Nicola and Jessy, who are each working on independent documentaries as part of their final projects for the Edge Academy at Essex Middle School.

As a past Summer Institute participant, Lindsey brings community partners into her classroom and believes this work benefits the students greatly, opening the classroom far beyond its four walls.  My role is to work with Jessy to produce her video about the discrepancy of resources in education worldwide, while Nicola's documentary will focus on climate change.  We meet one-on-one to discuss best ways for them to approach their subjects: what is the content?  Who are the characters?  How are you going to formally communicate these ideas?  What other techniques will you be using?  Voice over?  Interviews?  Graphics?  B-Roll?

Last week, after our initial media visit and brainstorm with Jessy and Nicola, the Edge group was having a Revolution Poetry Slam. The Flynn Theater came in as a community partner and worked with the students off and on for a few months to create poems in groups that dealt with certain issues that are meaningful to the students - from gender identity to climate change. The performances were thoughtful, and having students' parents in the audience added value to the experience for the students.

Lindsey and I used the Poetry Slam as an opportunity to get Jessy and Nicola to film the performances and get some experience shooting. After they were given a few instructions and goals (one camera shoot b-roll- the other cover the performance), Nicola and Jessy documented the event (one of them sat by the tripod with me and we worked on zooming in and out of the performances, and then they would switch). I was able to edit this short behind-the-scenes look at the day, but will also be going back and going through this edit with Nicola and Jessy and inviting them to try some post-production work.


After the Slam, students presented their independent projects to their parents and community members, including a visit to the Sugarshack located behind the school.  For a peek into sugaring, see the video below.