The Shipley Method

Taking it To the Big Screen: Seniors Present Film Analysis Projects at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Laura Oeschger

How does getting together outside of school with fellow seniors and watching movies inspire creativity, grow confidence and build essential life skills?

English and Interdisciplinary Studies teachers Sunny Greenberg and Kate Gearhart did just that as they explored ways to give closure to their Storytelling and Film course in a generative and truly interdisciplinary way. The duo crafted their final projects to highlight the students’ own interests and ideas while challenging them to better their skills in time management, group work, public speaking, and research.

Group Dynamics
In groups, the students were required to watch and summarize a movie of their choice, come together to decide on a thesis, complete authentic research to critically analyze and support their thesis, and prepare a presentation to deliver in a theater at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. As an added challenge, students were required to form groups with students in different classes.

“The time management and group work piece was the most challenging thing for the students, but yielded the best learning,” said Gearhart. “They had to communicate with people that were not in their classes, and maybe they didn’t really know well.”

“You’re going to have to work with and present with people you don’t know, especially in college and beyond,” explained Greenberg. “We wanted to expose the students to that. It is such a great benefit.”

Presenting on the Silver Screen
Confident in their finished products, the students traveled to Bryn Mawr Film Institute to present on the silver screen to an audience of their peers, teachers and community members.

“I think the big screen, in a big theater, was a little daunting for some of the kids, but they really showed great confidence,” said Greenberg.

“The students who were terrified going into the theater to present all said they were glad they did it,” said Gearhart. “Because at some point they might have to present in a large, unfamiliar place with a bunch of seats staring back at them.”

Great Practice for the Real World
“There is a pretty serious intellectual component in this,” Greenberg explained. “This was hard work. There was a lot of intellectual rigor here. Finding the patterns in the movies, how all the pieces fit, the research, all of that. I was very proud of their academic, hard work. This is great practice for the real world.”

Overall, the academic pieces of the Storytelling and Film final proved to be an important part, but the life skills students gained from time management, working cooperatively in a group, and stepping outside their comfort zone mattered most to Greenberg and Gearhart.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.