mary Mary Walters teaches at Kaimes Primary & Secondary Special School. She is writing here in a personal capacity.

Moving Image Education at Kaimes School, Edinburgh – work with pupils on the autistic spectrum

I am the art teacher at Kaimes. I am on my own in the department, where my sole aim is to enable our young people to reach a high degree of confidence and enjoyment in cultural production. One of my personal interests is stop-motion animation, having seen over a period of years how this can engage even the most unwilling of learners! I have been asked to participate in this section of the moving image website as some others out there might be interested in my plans for this year – and how they develop….

My questions for 2009 – 2010 academic year in Kaimes are:

  • How does moving image education “work” in a special school?
  • How could we work towards a whole school moving image literacy policy?
  • How do young people on the autistic spectrum relate to and interact with both critical analyses and production of animation film?
  • What are the successes and challenges?

Introduction

Kaimes is a school for pupils on the Autistic Spectrum. We have both primary and secondary departments, a total of 102 pupils. We deliver a wide curriculum, including literacy and numeracy, science, social subjects, PE, a full expressive arts programme, and a leavers’ programme to assist transfer to college after 5th year secondary.

Our pupils vary greatly in the ways that their ASD manifests itself, but broadly speaking the core issues are around communication and social interaction. Intelligences also vary, but a linking factor is that all pupils are visual learners. All are, like their mainstream peers, interested in, and motivated by technology, with time on the computer generally seen as a sought-after reward during option time.

We are currently at the beginning of setting up a framework for Moving Image Education throughout the school, linked to general literacy development. The initiative is the result of both the personal interests of some key staff, the visible interest of most of the pupils, and the context of Curriculum for Excellence.

Our past work in Moving Image production has been centred around my personal interest in animation. We have used i-stop-motion and apple macs to create a bank of successful films over the last 4 years, including winners at the Edinburgh international Film Festival schools section, and the Co-op Young People’s National Film Festival. From the interests of one member of staff, we now have a growing group of teacher/practitioners, and an ever widening set of classroom film projects

Equipment

We have recently become so motivated in our quest to develop animation as a core strength of the school, that we have raised some additional funding to set up a small ‘studio ‘ – it will be located in a cupboard (yes really!) which we have cleared for the purpose. However, for the past 3 years we have been operating with:

  • 2 mac laptops wih i-movie for editing
  • 2 licenses for i-stop-motion for filming
  • 2 desk-top webcams
  • various random art materials including wire and playdough suitable for making models
  • a microphone boomstand for overhead filming
  • a load of imagination
  • oodles of patience (essential for endlessly setting up and taking down film sets)

Tell us a story

This year, in our attempt to build a whole-school MIE framework, with emphasis on both production and analysis, several things are happening. These ‘things’ are here presented as a blog – with termly reports on progress over session 09 - 10….As in most schools, anticipated progress can be sporadic – and is entirely dependent on smooth running with no hiccups - this does not generally happen! Read on….

The Staff

A group of interested staff has begun to meet to share ideas and investigate ways forward with our different groups of pupils and various classroom scenarios. We have decided to build up some skills and experience in both production (construction), and analysis (deconstruction) of films. We have decided to stay with animation films as much as possible, but to incorporate live action if it suits. The staff involved here are:

  • Mary Walters (art teacher)
  • Andrew Foster (transition class teacher)
  • Jessie Newton (primary 7 class teacher)
  • Angela Verity (transition class teacher and literacy across learning coordinator)
  • Pauline Werninck (secondary English teacher)

At our first meeting, in December 09, we shared information found on the Moving Image website, and in particular looked at the possible format for pupil progress through moving image literacy.

Look Again Resource: click here

We anticipate that this format may have to be adapted for our pupils, but we have agreed to look at this for our next meeting. We also tried some of the practical exercises suggested for de-constructing short films, and looked at a selection of short films that we already have. We have agreed to meet at least on a termly basis, and to use these meetings for the sharing of experiences and practice in our individual classrooms.