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Even Though I Got Nothing, I Got Myself

School: NuVu: The Innovation School

City/State: Cambridge, MA

Grade(s): 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Format(s): Video: Documentary

Subject(s): Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

As part of the studio Rich Narratives, NuVu students learned foundational documentary filmmaking skills in order to transform everyday material into powerful stories. In just two weeks, “students learned the entire process of creating a film, from pre-production aspects such as setting up contacts and proposal writing, to production, both the technical and directorial side, to post-production, focusing heavily on how to create a narrative with the raw materials collected.”

Miah Andrews, Samuel Bacherman and Christopher Brown decided to learn more about the homelessness crisis in Cambridge, an issue that is particularly pronounced in the neighborhood where NuVu is located. Through extensive interviews, lots of b-roll footage and days of editing, students captured the perspectives of one man who is homeless as well as those who work to alleviate homelessness through civic and charity work. The six-minute final product can be seen here.

At NuVu, an innovation school in Cambridge, MA, middle and high school students learn in an open and flexible space that is more akin to an architecture studio than a classroom. Some students attend NuVu for a two week intensive and for others it is their full-time high school.

Instead of one-hour classes and separate subjects, students engage in solving a problem through multi-disciplinary learning, all day, for two weeks. Groups of twelve students collaborate on the creative process, with expert guidance from two coaches who have expertise in a related field. Throughout the process students conduct precedent research, engage in brainstorming, render drafts of their ideas, create prototypes and write and reflect on their findings and processes. Their work is captured in a portfolio along with documentation of the final products they debut at the end of each studio session. These portfolios are publically viewable on NuVu’s website

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a compelling way to engage students in authentic work that makes the world a better place
  • Beautiful example of students using everyday material (footage) to create powerful stories
  • Excellent example of creating a documentary narrative from raw material
  • Models a compelling product which represents various perspectives
  • High quality example of students drafting, assessing, revising, and collaborating with peers to create an important product

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