Successes of “A Day in the Life” Documentary Camp

As part of a full report, here are some reflections on the successful factors of the documentary camp:

The major success of the camp was the achieving our set goals:

As quoted in the research section a majority of students said the camp helped to foster their creativity. In a traditional school setting students have little chance to interpret and create things on their own and that is why we wanted this camp to have a broad theme (a day in the life) that could be interpreted in many different ways. A very powerful outcome happened in the beginning of the camp when the Headmistress of EPAK, the only public school participant, sat in with her students during a group discussion. They were all very quiet and reserved and could not/did not want to express themselves, yet, when the Headmistress looked across the room she saw that the private school students were busy discussing and coming up with creative ideas. She later shared with Sam that from this camp she realized that the way teaching is done in her school needs to change so that children have more time to be creative and think on their own.

Working in deep ways
Because the camp focused on using an intuitive activity, students spent majority of the camp working, planning and thinking about their documentaries rather than learning how to use the activity.

Time management, problem solving & mathematical thinking
This camp also exemplified the use of many concepts from traditional school. For example, an important thing for children was to manage their time so that the documentary was not created haphazardly one afternoon, but rather a well-thought out plan that adhered to a structured timeline. Additionally, as the camp did not include any instruction on how to use the laptop, children were left to explore and work with their neighbors to problem solve their technical issues. Lastly, editing and planning for editing requires a lot of mathematical knowledge, as students have to arrange their film by frames and arrange the speed, etc.

Group Work
By the end of the camp the class which was formally one collective group had fragmented into many smaller groups, which were drastically diverse, containing a mix of girls and boys from all of the four different schools, rather, the groups were arranged more so by friends that had been made during the course of the week or interests and topics of their documentaries. Many participants also noted on their questionnaires that they learned to work better in groups during the camp.

Documentary Creation
While the above outcomes are far more important than how our final product actually looked, our group was stunned by the great documentaries created by the participants. They took their time, recorded many takes; created their own scripts and took to heart the feedback from their colleagues during the earlier practice recording. When reviewing the film we noted the stark contrast and quality of the earlier recording from those after the camp.

Continued use of the laptop
On the parent questionnaire, many parents from private schools before complained that their children never used their laptop (not all private school students in Rwanda purchased laptops which leave some classrooms with, maybe, one or two students owning a laptop, which makes it difficult for teachers to ask students to use their laptops in education). But after the camp, many parents took notice that now their children are constantly filming. Even during the camp, some participants were recording before and after the start and finish of the camp, not for their final documentary but for their own enjoyment.

Teacher Involvement
There were two teachers from two different schools who came to learn about ways to work with students and laptops. This was something we had not done before, but during the camp the teachers were working together, taking notes, and by the end of the camp, interpreted some of our activities into lesson plans that they could do during the school-year.

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