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Planning Your Classroom Film Program

Planning Your Classroom Film Program

Posted by: San Francisco Film Society

Where to start? 

The best way to approach media arts lesson plan design is actually to start at the end and work backwards. Consider the following questions: 

• What will students have produced by the end of the project? 

• What is the process by which they will reach this end goal? 

• Ultimately, what will students learn? 

While these questions are frequently addressed implicitly over the course of a media arts project, or through the intuition of the educator, the ability to clearly articulate and outline a plan of action to meet these big-picture questions has the important benefits of providing clarity for all stakeholders and serving as a touchstone when troubleshooting or reworking an existing plan. These considerations will continue to inform one another throughout the course of the program. 

Learning Goals 

Like all good lesson plans, the overall learning goals must be at the heart of the lesson plan design. Media arts projects have the potential to promote both academic learning and social development. In addition, for both classrooms and cultural organizations, measurable goals have become increasingly desirable. 

The Final Product 

A media arts work is defined equally by how it is made (process) and how it is shared (product), and accordingly, lesson plans should be designed to extend beyond the completion of the product itself to include the sharing of it. Identifying a clearly delineated final product from the start will help instructors sort out the practical considerations of the project (timeline, equipment, materials, relevant lessons), while providing students with a tangible goal to work towards. 

Beyond learning goals, there are a number of external factors that may influence this decision-making process, such as expectations from the school or organization and mandatory city or state learning standards. Again, when these factors are accounted for during the design of a project, and revisited throughout a project’s implementation, the final product becomes a much more meaningful element of the project. Reflecting on the array of potential goals, there are a variety of final products that can emerge from a successful media arts lesson, be it a documentary, narrative film, PSA, short animation or some variation of the component parts that demonstrate the skills the students have built. 


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