Jim Bentley

Jim Bentley

How do you keep the playground peaceful? How do you make history interesting? How do you fight bullying in a positive way?

By harnessing the power of film, my teaching has become inspired, transforming my students into peace makers, historians, role models, and more.

Filmmaking is a pedagogical tool I now use on a daily basis in my classroom. If my students can learn about a topic, they can write about it. If they can write about it, they can visualize it. And if they can do all that, then it’s a short step to adapting their ideas to film.

The students pictured above are producers for three different films that received awards at a Northern California film festival. One film sought to teach kids the right way to play foursquare, a popular game, so as to avoid conflicts on the playground. One film showed how the idiom “Mad as a hatter” has an interesting history and that history itself can be a fun adventure. A third film sent an anti-bullying message anyone can understand: “Spread Happiness. Not Rumors.” This final film was just announced as a winner for the California Student Media Festival, a state-wide competition!

Filmmaking is more than using a camera or editing. It’s inspired learning expressed in a visual form. When my teaching is inspired, my students are able to express their voices in ways they never have before.