And the Oscar goes to…

My school provides its students with iPads upon their first day of school. The computers are prevalent throughout all of their classes. Books are read using iBooks. Homework and tests are done online. We even utilize Blackboard, which is strangely ironic for me because as I take these electives this summer and as I take this course as well, you’d like I’d have a better grip on all the online content. That’s probably a whole different post, however.

At my school, one of the outcomes of our students having iPads is that teachers assign SO MANY movie projects. I’m guilt of this as well, but guilty is probably the wrong word because I do see value in the projects I assign. That having been said, other teachers find value in their projects as well, and by the time a young man graduates from Brophy, it’s almost like he should be up for an Oscar or something with all the movies he’s made.


Baustita et al (2013) wrote about the value in this as well in “Participatory action research and city youth: methodology insights from the council of youth research.” I found this article heartening because it validated much of what I believe in terms of the reflective projects or the PowerPoints presentations that are referenced. Bautista et al (2013) wrote, “Documentary filmmaking allows students to use multimodal and multivocal elements to an even greater degree than with the PowerPoint presentations. The video format provides a space to meld both visual and auditory stimuli while offering a rich platform for the incorporation of a stakeholder voice” (p. 17). I see value in teaching my students paragraph writing and sentence structure, but I love my reflective movie projects. Students cannot leave my class without reflecting upon their lives, their gifts, what makes them special, and how lucky they are. I do realize that this reflection makes my students consistently aware of self when sometimes they don’t want to be. My students do reflect on race in my classroom, but it’s never my attempt to force my students into something they are not comfortable with. Dunbar (2008) wrote about this in “Critical race theory and indigenous methodologies.” He wrote, “Issues of race have been the backdrop in all my lived experiences. That includes occasions when I was acutely aware that my race was an issue and instances when it was no so obvious” (p. 89). The numbers are still most at Brophy in terms of the amount of White students, but Hispanic student enrollment climbs every year. My White students, I’m guessing, do not live their lives considering their whiteness on a daily basis. From Dunbar, I see that my Hispanic students (and my students of other races and ethnicities) probably do. I think that this is both a shame and a privilege for these students – most challenges in life can be turned positive if you try. Yes, my Hispanic students deal with issues of race as a “backdrop” to their lives each and every day at predominately White Brophy, but I think that can be looked upon as a really good thing. I hope that I can foster a pride in this fact in my classroom, especially with some of my reflective projects. I also hope that the tone I set in my classroom allows my Hispanic students to feel valued and that they feel I value their race and their culture. It’s never been my desire to put students on the spot with regards to race, but this brings me back to Howard. I do not want to bury race in my classroom culture. I’d like to confront it and ultimately to celebrate it.


Bautista, Mark A., Bertrand, Melanie, Morrell, Ernest, Scorza, D’Artagnan, Matthews, Corey.

(2013). Participatory action research and city youth: methodology insights from the council of youth research. Teachers College Record, 115, 1-23.

Dunbar, Christopher Jr. (2008). Critical race theory and indigenous methodologies. Handbook    of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage, 85-99.

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Steve Smith

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