iOS 11 has continued Apple’s iPhone and iPad’s evolution with improvements here are there, but one aspect that is notoriously difficult to crack and where Apple might still be beaten by foes at Amazon or Google is in Voice Recognition.
Siri may not always get it right, but he/she does fortunately have a sense of humour, and fear not cinephiles, we have our own special corner in her silicon heart. Next time you’re having a chat with your iOS device, try some of these famous movie inspired prompts:
Siri, I am your father
Beam me up Scotty
Are you Her?
What is Inception about?
Open the pod bay door
Blue pill or the red one?
Do you follow the three laws of robotics?
When is the world going to end?
And inevitably for Game of Thrones fans:
And Is winter coming?
Does a Lannister always pay his debts?
we’d like to thank MacWorld for these!
With the latest release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple has also announced a new update to its mobile operating software, iOS 11. This happens annually, as if the company works by solar cycle, which can be both a blessing and a curse for filmmakers who rely on the iPhone or iPad – whether as a camera, editor, computer or all three.
Whilst Android is the most popular smartphone OS in the world, with an 80-90 per cent market share as opposed to the 10-20 per cent market share (other operating systems barely register). Yet iOS remains the platform of choice of most major broadcasters, including the BBC, mobile journalism, and filmmakers.
More efficient storage
One of the biggest changes is in new storage options for photos and videos, albeit only for the newest iOS devices. Apple claims that this new compression will allow photos and videos to retain their “discernible” quality whilst having half the file size: Photos will have the option to not be in .jpg but instead can be in HEIF (High Efficiency Image File). Likewise, there’s an option to record videos not in .mov but in HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding or H.265).
This is obviously fantastic news for filmmakers, who will in theory be able to store twice as much footage on the device before exporting it to a laptop or hard drive. Check out our article with filmmaking tips to make the most of your storage and battery too!
You will also now be able to remove apps, freeing up essential film footage space, however when you re-download them, the app is fully restored, unlike before – with all the documents and data you had before.
New Camera features!
There are many changes to the camera app, however the most useful changes for us filmmakers will be the feature to include the ‘rule of thirds’ grid for video now too, where it was only for photos before. This will be helpful when lining up a shot or trying to keep horizons level, excellent for helping you get that cinematic look with your footage. For photos, also gains a levelling feature that shows when an iPhone is being held perfectly level for an overhead shot.
There’s also now a document scanner built into the camera, within the Notes app; scanned documents can then be annotated and saved as a PDF.
New photos and video features!
Now whenever you capture a new screengrab, each new screenshot will be shown after at the bottom left of the screen. This gives you the option to share with another app instantly, or tap briefly once to adjust it. Previously, it took eight taps to access the options to edit a screengrab; now just one. This will be particularly useful to filmmakers looking to take quick screenshots of their footage to share!
The video camera is finally able to pause during recording (although this has been a feature long available in third party apps). However, one disappointing thing, the native iOS camera looks like it will continue to only record in 30 frames per second (fps) or multiples of that. This is great if your footage is to be broadcast in North America but not for those of us in many other places which use 25 fps.
With more and more budget indie filmmakers empowered by iOS in the world (and by some excellent Android cameras as well, of course!), particularly in countries with little legal press freedom, one new feature in iOS 11 is very welcome: the ability to lock the device quickly and prevent it from being easily re-opened. Depending on the laws of the country where you work, police officers can demand you unlock your device with your fingerprint, however they can’t demand you use your passcode. Apple has used this to its users advantage, as now they have given their phones the ability to disable Touch ID simple by pressing the on/off button five times – it can only be re-enabled with a passcode, which of course you can decline to give.
Saving the best till last, the new AR Kit is Apple’s way of introducing the possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) to their audiences. The iPhone camera will map objects onto the world it can ‘see’ for the user to view on the screen. Whilst this may see like a gimmick at first, with the modern ingenuity of filmmakers over the globe, we can bet that this will be used in exciting and inventive ways.
The oft-used phrase “show, don’t tell” is one of the first filmmaking tips that anyone beginning to learn their craft will be taught. After getting onboard with the basic steps of filmmaking, show don’t tell is the mantra that every filmmaking student should have embedded in their psyche from the the very start of their pursuit of filmmaking as a passion as well as a craft, as well as an educational qualification to strive for.
Cinema, after all, is a visual medium and sound is there only to enhance what is on the screen. Music can rouse the emotions and explosions can excite but some of the most powerful filmmaking tips and tricks use silence to grip the audience.
Silence does not necessarily mean a complete absence of sound. In cinematic terms, it is usually taken to mean no dialogue or music. In the quietude of a scene, subtle ambient sound will anchor the audience to the arena in which the moment is playing out. It gives a context to the experience, whether that be an emotional revelation or a tension building setup. Don’t neglect the soundscape of the piece – lack of noise doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about it. You still need to place those inflexions of sound that will lift the story beats in the scene.
There are plenty of filmmaking tips and tricks on using sound but too much noise throughout a film, like profanity in dialogue, means the effect of it is lost when it is needed most. Let’s take Ridley Scott’s masterfully constructed Alien as an example of these filmmaking tips and techniques. This genre-blending story is quiet – the opening uses music sparingly and mixes it with the ambient sounds of the ship to lock the audience into the arena. Despite being science-fiction, the sparse, mechanical sound effects and realistic, minimal dialogue give the film a naturalistic feel – which sets the stage perfectly to gain maximum impact from the unnatural horror of the film’s subject when it’s revealed.
When there is very little sound, and especially no dialogue, it allows the audience to work through the scene themselves. This is part of the movie that is happening off-screen, in the watchers’ imagination. In the quiet, the audience has the opportunity to come to its own conclusions and feel smart in doing so – something every filmmaker should be aiming for.
Take a look at PremiumBeat’s blog for more filmmaking tips and techniques from some of the best uses of silence in cinema.
So, you have the equipment and script for your next project, why not try this: – remove the dialogue from the script and ask yourself does the film still work? Does it still convey the intended emotion and dramatic irony? If the story falls flat, then revisit the structure and composition of the visuals, the pace and the script itself. Ask why the audience doesn’t connect with your film and the answers will come in the form of missed opportunities to “show, don’t tell”.
More and more universities and schools are choosing to use Virtual Learning Environments, or “VLE”. (For those uninitiated on what these are; virtual learning environment platforms deliver learning materials to their students via the Internet. The main famous examples include Open University, Coursera and Google Classroom)
With this increasing demand in Virtual Learning Environments for teachers, we need to be weary, especially as the industry is always changing, due to how quickly technology itself is changing. Many teachers are coming up with inventive means of using VLEs, which in theory are a good way to engage with your students; they enhance the construction and reconstruction of knowledge as well as the formation of habits and attitudes, all within a framework which is increasingly common in both our personal and professional lives, the Internet!
However, as it is such a recent area of education, many studies are still investigating whether students are benefitting (in real terms) from this shifting learning landscape. The Polytechnic Institute of Bragança and the University of Minho recently conducted one such study – with the aim to find a quantifiable correlation between the use of virtual learning environments for students and those students’ performance.
Using a sample size of 6347 students, researchers investigated relations between the number of accesses to the VLE and students’ performance (quantified through 3 numerical results: the number of course units the student passed or failed, the total number of units they were registered for, and the mean of the marks they obtained).
The main findings from the report:
- The number of accesses to the VLE were diverse, ranging from 0 to 1532 per student
- There is a positive moderate correlation (0.6) between the number of accesses and the number of course units passed (i.e. The more a student accessed the VLE, the more likely they were to pass)
- However, for those that didn’t pass, there was a very low negative correlation between the number of accesses and their mean marks.
Separating the 6347 students into 5 percentile groups, based on the number of accesses to the VLE, also yields interesting results; for example, the higher the mean of the group’s accesses to the VLE, the higher:
- The number of course units in which the student is registered
- The number of units they passed
- The percentage of units they passed relative to the units they are registered in
- The percentage of course units the student passed.
It was also found that the higher the mean of the group’s accesses, the lower the percentage of students who failed all the course units is.
In must be noted that these results cannot be over-generalised, as the sample concerns only one higher education institution. However, these results show almost unanimously the positive correlation between VLE use and performance.
Read the full report here.
A high-end, high-price cinema camera will not make a great filmmaker. Knowledge of the craft, a deep understanding of the language of cinema and the creative flair of the individual will make the next generation of filmmakers shine.
They all have to start somewhere and today’s image capturing technology is making that start more and more accessible. Of course, the professional kit is there – RED and Arri are out there and it’s tempting to think that a project is not going to be up to scratch without such 8K monsters. But audiences want to see a good story and nowadays a good story can be captured on and increasing number of affordable devices that allow student filmmakers to flex their burgeoning creativity.
At the higher end of the student budget the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera comes in at just under one thousand pounds and is becoming the go to camera body for the serious low-budget filmmaker. It’s small, easy to handle and produces excellent results. Just remember to budget for lenses, batteries and digital storage.
A step up from this is the URSA Mini 4K EF, also from Blackmagic. Another thousand pounds adds a 4K sensor and 12 stop dynamic range for that close to professional polish.
Perhaps the most popular format for those learning the craft is the DSLR. These are widely available and offer enough flexibility to allow even the keenest student to apply the latest filmmaking tips and techniques. Take a look at Adorama’s favourites in this field with the Canon 70D as the best all rounder for an easy to handle, robust camera that produces good results. Paired with the right lens it can produce great results. Again, remember to budget for batteries and storage.
There is another factor that the student filmmaker must consider with these budget cameras and that is sound. A big caveat with any of the units listed here is that a separate sound recorder will be a necessity – audiences will forgive picture definition being slightly off from perfect but loss of sound track fidelity is something that will seriously distract from the emotion that is being created for them. Try the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder, an external digital sound recorder with plenty of features and flexibility.
Traditional cameras are all well and good but let’s not forget that technology is moving forward apace such that now every filmmaking student will have the means to capture a visual story already in their pocket. Almost all filmmaking tips and techniques can be executed on the current generation of smartphones – check out Sean Baker’s Tangerine as proof. The ever evolving iPhone and Samsung S series are the pick of the crop that can handle 4K and 60fps footage.
One last branch of camera engineering that requires mention is that of drones. Costs are coming down and quality is going up. The Mavic Pro comes in at a thousand pounds and for that you get a 4K camera with 3-axis stabilisation. It’s not just the grand, sweeping aerial shots these machines create – they allow for crane shots and ultra-smooth tracking shots over the roughest terrain.
Once your students have the equipment that can further enhance their creativity, they’ll be free to apply all the filmmaking tricks that their emerging imaginations will want to express on the screen. Combine this with Quickclass.net’s filmmaking tips for student filmmakers and the next wave of visual storytellers will be on their ways to proving themselves.
Joe Grabinski has been documenting some of the most hilarious Amazon Film Reviews and tweeting them to his “Amazon Movie Reviews” account. Clearly not to be taken too seriously, the mind still boggles at how BROAD our individual views and opinions of films we know and mostly love are:
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The Shining (1980)
The Force Awakens (2015)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Die Hard (1988)
Pitch Perfect (2012)
A Bug’s Life (1998)
Star Wars (1977)
Magic Mike (2012)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Happy Feet (2006)
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (2011)
March of the Penguins (2005)
Your first feature will likely be made on a shoe-string budget, however, just like how some of the best meals are made in a pressure cooker, some of the best films are made under incredibly challenging circumstances – it seems to push out the best in everyone involved. Take these 10 low-budget films as an example; they pushed their directors to be smart and learn a lot from the whole process, leading them all into incredibly successful filmmaking careers.
Monsters (2010, UK)
Writer/Director: Gareth Edwards
Budget: £ 15,000 est.
With Monsters, writer and director Gareth Edwards both celebrated the forgotten film genre and created a monster movie “set years after most monster movies end”. The film follows a journalist and an American tourist as they try to make it back to safely the American border through an alien-infested Mexico. Just watching the trailer, you wouldn’t believe this film was shot on such a small budget.
Edwards demonstrates what you can achieve by being resourceful – driving your crew around different locations in a van and learning to use your laptop for editing and to create special effects. The specific budget is a rumour on the Internet: “around £15,000”. But even Edwards likely doesn’t know the exact amount. Nevertheless, it led the director to great things (we all know his latest feature is the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One).
Paranormal Activity (2009, USA)
Writer/Director: Oren Peli
When released, the film was marketed as “one of the scariest movies of all times”, and although the style has now been beaten like a dead horse, Paranormal Activity remains a fantastic film for its inventive use of two classic indie movie techniques: one location and handheld camera.
The film tells the story of a couple who move into a new suburban home only for a ‘paranormal’ presence to begin haunting their nights. Writer and director Oren Peli used his own house for this. Also eliminating the need for a camera crew by making the camera ‘diegetic’ (i.e. actually in the film), as the couple films their own hauntings and discussions – something that only increased the film’s believability. The film also focuses on the raw ‘scare factor’ rather than on gore and action. Thus working to contain the budget and establish empathy and a sense of “familiarity” with the audience.
The Blair Witch Project (1999, USA)
Writer/Director: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
Most low budgets gather an audience based on word of mouth, but this film used the new and emerging technology of the Internet to create a viral campaign. This led many people to believe the events in the film to be true, as they portrayed it as a true documentary. The film grossed $248 million in the end, making it one of the films with the highest ratio of box office sales to production costs. It also managed to inspire a new wave of horror films, using handheld footage.
Pi (1998, USA)
Writer/Director: Darren Aronofsky
Pi tells the story of a quest to find the meaning of God through numbers. However perplexing the film is, it is masterly crafted and wonderfully filmed by ones of today’s most prominent art house directors, Darren Aronofsky. As the paranoia and obsession of the main character takes hold, the film follow suite, surging through mind-bending metaphors and sequences. Aronofsky, determined to see the project through, sold shares to his family and friends, which managed to fund a majority of the project.
Living in Oblivion (1995, USA)
Writer/Director: Tom DiCillo
This meta-film shows filmmakers that their struggles making a low-budget film could be so much worse. The film follows a director having to deal with intoxicated actors, script changes, and just about everything going wrong. Shot in only 16 days, and completely financed by the friends and family of DiCillo, goes to show that when you have a strong enough idea, everyone is willing to help out – the actors of the film even worked for free, and some in fact contributed to it initial funding.
Clerks (1994, USA)
Writer/Director: Kevin Smith
Clerks tells the story of a group of friends, set mostly in the humble setting of a convenience store. Crafting a script full of humour and witty dialogue, Kevin Smith chose to shoot his film in black and white to bring his writing to the foreground. Young and unenchanted college students and adults were drawn to this simple slacker comedy; it being a truer reflection of their own lives than any big blockbuster. Smith did everything he could to finance his film, from maxing out all of his credit cards to selling most of his comic book collection. The risk was worth it in the end. Since its debut in 1994, Clerks has led Kevin Smith to a extensive career in writing and filmmaking.
El Mariachi (1992, Mexico/USA)
Writer/Director: Robert Roderiguez
The lowest budget of this list is Robert Roderiguez’s pinnacle of independent film, El Mariachi, famed being funded by drug trials Roderiguez went through. The film follows a mariachi band player who is mistaken for an infamous Mexican criminal. In Roderiguez’s book, “Rebel Without A Crew,” he details how he was able to produce a film ‘without a crew’, explaining that, along with Roderiguez, the other actors in the film would operate the film equipment when they were off camera. The film’s ingenuity and creativity continues to be an inspiration for independent filmmakers.
Mad Max (1979, Australia)
Writer: George Miller and James McCausland
Director: George Miller
Budget: Australian $350,000
Hearing that a film can be made for less than half a million dollars, and go on to earn $100 million world wide, and spawn two sequels, is madness (unless you’re talking about Mad Max or Paranormal Activity, or The Blair Witch Project).
Set in a post-apocalyptic Australia, and focusing on the collapse of society helped to launch the careers of both lead actor Mel Gibson and director George Miller. Also helping to open up the global market to Australian film scene.
Eraserhead (1977, USA)
Writer/Director: DAVID LYNCH!
David Lynch’s debut feature sets an appropriate tone for his oeuvre, it being perplexing and revolting and fascinating, no matter how many times it is viewed. The story behind the film almost just has surprising; because of shoddy funding the film took about 5 years to complete filming. Lynch’s friends (like actress Sissy Spacek) and family helped to finance the remaining money not covered by the American Film Institute. But the long delay was well worth the wait as the film produced remains the most iconic “midnight movie”.
Aguirre: Wrath of God (1972, Germany)
Writer/Director: Werner Herzog
Conveniently chronological order has left the most incredible film until last, also made under likely the most incredible circumstances of any film – ever!
Werner Herzog wrote the script in only two and a half days, and whilst traveling on a bus with his football team. The film depicts a Heart of Darkness-esk story of the insane ‘Aguirre’ as he travels through South America. Just as life imitates arts, so too did the filming begin to become insane; the use of stunt men and special effects not in the budget; the crew had to deal with moving all the equipment around in the extreme heat and dangerous landscape of the jungle; and the temperamental main actor Klaus Kinski actually shot off the finger of an extra.
The film later inspired Apocalypse Now, which (yet again) famously suffered many disastrous setbacks.
Tripods may not be incredibly exciting just as they are, but they can help produce incredibly exciting shots.
Do you appreciate anything near the full potential of your tripod? If not, don’t feel bad; imagining the creative and cinematic possibilities of such an unspectacular and uncinematic piece of gear is a challenge. Luckily, Film Riot and Ryan Connolly took the time to come up with eight tripod tips and tricks you can use to help your films to look smoother and more creative.
We’ve summarised Film Riot’s video below, detailing the 8 Tripod tips and techniques they recommend:
- Smoother Pans – elastic bands?
Unless you have the bottomless pocket of Hollywood, you won’t be able to invest in film equipment that produces seamless and smooth pans – but you can use rubber bands. Pulling your tripod handle with one of these acts as a shock absorber, eliminating any of the wobble of the human hand, and producing smoother pans.
- Smoother Tilts – use gravity!
Just loosen the lock on your tilt and allow Newton’s law of gravitation to do the work for you. Of course you will have to adjust you drag to get the speed you want, but this is a zero-cost way of getting super-smooth tilts.
- The Tripod Steadycam?
Just shorten the centre column of your tripod and extend out the legs perpendicular to get a pretty good steady shot. Hold the tripod column near the top and allow gravity to help you stabilise you shot.
This is also helps you steady your shot in post-production, having an initial smooth shot to work with.
- Smooth Low angles:
Just turn your tripod steadycam upside down to get some sweet low-angle shots. You’ll probably remember to rotate the footage in post, as it will be upside down!
- DIY SnorriCam:
Angle the legs of your tripod against your waist while holding the center column, and it acts as a harness similar to those used in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.
- The Tripod Dolly:
Shorten one leg of your tripod and tilt on the other two to create a sweet tripod dolly. Can be used to create dynamic pushes in or out, or you can pan whilst moving to create a beautiful Dutch shot.
Works best with a heavier tripod, like the Benro BV10 used in the video.
- The Tripod jib:
Turn your tripod dolly into a jib by extending the legs and stabilizing them with sandbags. This can be used to create beautiful high-to-low or low-to-high movements. Just make sure the legs are secure, otherwise they will slip.
- Top Down shots:
Strap your tripod to the top step of a ladder and point your camera down.
This creates a Birdseye view shot, which can be very difficult to do smoothly without expensive equipment.
- “Jump Over” shots:
Very common in sports films or commercials; just secure your tripod on top of a couple boxes and pan when your subject jumps over the camera. You can pan the camera in place and it will follow the subject jumping over.
So those are the top 8 (or 9) Tripod tips and techniques you can use to create smooth and dynamic shots, they are all super-cheap so you can try them all out with no more investment than your time well spent.
Thanks again to Film Riot and Ryan Connolly for providing the video.
After Effects (AE) is an immense and daunting piece of software, even for those experienced in it. Every time you use AE, it’s likely you’ll learn something new. In our experience, we’ve found that there are certainly some AE tricks that we use a lot more than others.. Whether you’re looking to become an AE master or just dabbling from time to time with your students, here are ten essential After Effects tricks you need to know:
- Render Quality
How: Select the dropdown menu at the bottom of the composition panel
Rendering is a processor intensive task, and hence it can take a lot of time, especially if you have a lot going on – effects and layers. Luckily you can cut your preview time significantly by selecting a lower render quality. By default it will be set to Full, but you don’t have time for that! Drop it to half, third, quarter or custom. When you’re ready to export your project, don’t worry; they’ll be full-res by default, no matter what your preview quality is set to.
Here’s an article from PremiumBeat on how to achieve faster render times.
- Duplicating Layers
One of the most useful shortcuts: there’s no faster way to create a layer than to duplicate one that already exists. To duplicate a layer all you need to do is hit Command+D – and this works on both layers and effects.
- Quick Pan
How: Hold down spacebar and drag
Normally if you want to pan in After Effects, you have to (hand) select the hand tool, either by clicking the hand icon or hitting the (H) key. However, instead of wasting time switching between two tools, you can simply hold down the space bar. As soon as you release the spacebar, it revert back to whatever tool you had selected before.
- RAM Preview
If you’re used to working with video editing software, than you probably already preview your video by pressing the spacebar. Unlike most video editing software where you can just press the spacebar to preview you video, AE isn’t quite that simple. This is due to the strain of the video effects on your computer; you can’t simply playback video in AE without rendering out a preview file – in a process known as a RAM preview.
Learn more about using ‘RAM preview’ to preview audio in this PremiumBeat post.
- Exporting Alpha Channels
How: RGB + Alpha in the Output Module
When exporting graphics to use in any other post-production software, you’ll want your video clips to have alpha channels – a magical 4th channel a pixel has (other than the usual red, green, and blue channels) which governs its transparency. By default, alpha channels are not included! And to make things more complicated, not all codecs will even allow you to export alpha channels.
Here’s a helpful RocketStock post that explores more Alpha Channel action.
- Saving Frames
How: Composition -> Save Frame As -> File
As we’ve discussed before, rendering can take up a lot of your time. However, if you don’t have the time to render the full video, you can just save a still of it. This is also a great way to show your work progress, especially if you work for a large company! For most circumstances, you will want to select ‘file’ and choose your desired output format, however many options exist, including photoshop layers.
- See All Keyframes
How: Hit the (U) key
When you’ve set keyframes in AE, you can quickly see them all in your timeline by simply clicking the (U) key. This is one of many motion graphics techniques that can save a lot of time, rather than clicking the small dropdown arrows in the timeline.
Note: It can also be really helpful to learn the keyboard shortcuts for individual transform properties: position (P), rotation (R), and opacity (T).
- Keyframe Scaling
How: Hold down option and drag a selection of keyframes
Animation is all about the details. So moving a keyframe over by just a single frame can dramatically change the feel of the animation. But if you have lots of keyframes, it can be a chore to change the duration of the layers – which is why keyframe scaling is used.
This allows users to scale the duration proportionately – meaning your animation style isn’t lost. Simply select two or more keyframes, hold down option, and drag.
- The Graph Editor
How: With keyframes selected, hit the small graph icon in the timeline
This is a key motion design tip: although daunting to a newbie, this is the best way to perfect your movements in After Effects. The Graph Editor gives you an precise control of the way in which your keyframes act with each other. For example, by simply adding a small curve to the graph, you can quickly and easily create cool and smooth animations.
- Wiggle Expression
How: adding the expression wiggle(10,10) into your expression editor
Leaving one of the best After Effects tricks until last: Pretty self-explanatory, the wiggle expression gives your layers a random wiggle, which can of course be adjusted. Simply place “wiggle (wiggles per second, intensity)” into the position expression editor.
There are lots of useful ways to take advantage of the wiggle expression, like linking the values to sliders and double wiggles. You can learn more about using the wiggle expression in this informative post by PremiumBeat.
With the holidays ending and students returning to school, college or university, they are likely to feel at least partially uninspired and unmotivated to learn in a classroom context again. That’s why it’s important to get students excited straight away, after a long holiday, as it will be much more difficult to do so later. This is true for any school break, whether that be half term, winter break and particular the summer holidays. There are many post-holiday classroom activities that will help your students feel inspired again and, with strategic planning and a plenty of creativity, you can ensure that holidays never upset your curriculum or students’ focus.
Here are a few tried and tested strategies to re-engage students to get you started:
- Creative filming prompts
Getting students writing again is vital; a creative and calm activity like this can get your overly energetic students back into the work. But don’t forget to make it relevant and creative – and have fun with it yourself, that’ll be infectious to the students!
If you are teaching a new cohort of pupils, this can also be a great way for you to learn what they are like, and the general dynamics in the group. For example, asking your students to really detail what they were most grateful for over the break, or to create a stylistic film montage of the images conjured up over their summer break. This can be a challenging enough task to both engage their minds and for you to get a general sense of what each student is like, and how they interact with each other.
- Start with a Clean Slate
If you are teaching the same cohort as before, then make sure any big projects were all wrapped up before the break. This is a new start for students and hence it should feel like a new start in class too, clean the slate and your students won’t feel as if they are just back to the same work as before. Also it takes time and effort revising material to continue a project from before – wasted time and effort.
- Ease into Learning
But let’s not get stuck into the notion that holidays are just a break from learning entirely, a time completely unrelated to school. Instead, let’s think of holidays as an opportunity for learners (and educators) to recharge their batteries and catch their breath. As such, it’s always tempting to go full on straight away. But students should return feeling refreshed, and therefore it’s essential that you ease them into the next phase of learning.
- Change things up?
As you are beginning new content, begin thinking outside of the box too. More of the same can damage motivation and decrease student enthusiasm, but clever new projects keep students on their toes and fend off fatigue and boredom. It’s obvious, but a great time to change is when the slate is clean.
Check out these creative teaching projects for some ideas on how to do this! Also, look to your own interests for inspiration. Consider projects with real-world applications that students will easily understand.
- Keep goals short-term
This is closely related to ‘ease into learning’; don’t go straight in with setting year-long (or even term-long) goals, that just makes going back to school/university daunting and decreases their excitement and motivation for learning. Instead set short-term goals to begin with, which will soon build into longer goals and a mutual understanding of expected year-long achievement.
- Have fun
As referenced before, make sure you enter your first lessons energised, excited and full of creative energy. This will inspire the same in your students. They’ll quickly scent if you dislike going back to school as much as some of them, so instead convince them to be excited about the new year by being excited yourself – lead by example!