Reel Life Education
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: Reel Life Education.
Non-fiction Common Core aligned curriculum centered around youth-created films. Focused on: CCLS 9th grade ELA unit in Literary Non-Fiction and essay writing.
About Your Organization
United States, NY, Brooklyn, Kings County
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, NY, New York City, New York County
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
Administrator, After-School Provider, Coach, Teacher.
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Established (past the previous stages and has demonstrated success)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Schools around the country are working this year to align their curricula to the Common Core Learning Standards. In particular they for an emphasis on the reading of informational texts. And it is particularly challenging to find highly engaging, student-created informational texts that truly examine the perspectives and concerns of young people.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
The Reel Lives Curriculum helps teachers develop a transformative learning environment in their classrooms, where students emerge from the six week experience with a stronger sense of self and self agency, demonstrated ability to use empathetic language in conversation and a clear understanding of the way they can advocate for themselves through new media. Paring non-fiction texts with youth-created documentaries provides educators with a highly engaging, student-centered access point that is also aligned with the new Common Core standards.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
When class begins students will be presented with a student film from the Reel Lives library. The class will engage in guided discussion questions which focus on inferencing skills relating the video to an activating schema (text to self, text to world, text to text). The Reel Lives targets the development of empathy by applying inferencing skills and activating schema. Students will be asked to explicitly relate their experiences and their impressions of the world around them with those of the filmmaker. Subsequently, direct instruction will deliver content on the human rights issue typified by the film while scaffolding argumentation/essay writing skills. Students will construct arguments about human rights violations that they see in the world around them by siting specific textual evidence using mobile apps, web-based materials, sample texts (literary non-fiction) and mind mapping apps such as Popplet. The Reel Lives curriculum makes a difference because it takes a student-centered approach to examining literary non-fiction and human rights. By narrowing the distance between the students and subject matter we facilitate connections while scaffolding those connections through interpretive practices and media literacy.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
No one in the NYC Department of Education is tackling the new Common Core Nonfiction ELA requirements using youth-created films as the basis for the six week lesson. TED is trying to bring TED talk to the classroom. However, the content is not student-centered nor is it a part of a comprehensive curriculum. In addition, organizations like Reel Works and Educational Video Center who produce student made films are not engaging these films potential to engage young people in Common Core based ELA tasks. At this point there is nothing like the Reel Lives curriculum available.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Non-fiction Common Core aligned curricula centered around youth-created films. Focus on:CCLS 9th grade ELA unit on literary non-fiction.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
By learners, for learners. It is very unusual to have student work as the center point, not product of a curricula.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
We have screened our first 25 films at over 20 community screenings to hundreds of viewers across NYC, and to over 17,000 viewers through our social networks online. Our youth-produced films reach other young people in a way that typical non-fiction texts do not. We have workshopped our current curricula at two partner high schools to over 1000 students with huge success. This success prompted us to think bigger! Because the topics of our films are current and diverse it is an amazing opportunity to present the often difficult six-week nonfiction section in a fresh, new and impactful way.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Since our curriculum is aligned with the national Common Core Standards and available online it can easily be used by any Department(s) of Education across the US and beyond. Our goal is to begin with partner schools within the NYC DOE and grow rapidly beyond that. The documentaries move past the informative and become the driving force behind educating students on social issues, cultural understanding, and progressive thinking.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
We need the proper financing to execute the online vision we have for the curriculum. We have the films, the curriculum aligned to national standards, and technical members of our team that want to not only incorporate the best technologies out there, but create some of our own. All of the pieces are in place to grow from what currently exists.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Have three partner schools using the curriculum.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Secure funding for Interactive Designer to work with Reel Life Education Team.
Create beta site within three months so it can be tested.
Launch curriculum during 2012-2012 school year with three partner schools.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Employ marketing and media strategies to raise awareness about curriculum
Establish contact and partnerships with at least six other Departments of Education around the US
Gather data from partner schools on technical as well as curricular difficulties in order to improve 2.0 version of curriculum
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
After attending a Reel Lives film premier at The Paley Center for Media I was struck by the power of the films. I found myself laughing, crying and communicating with strangers about my experience watching these films. I remember speaking with one of the Reel Lives students, Nabila, and asking her what she intended to do with her film now that she had finally completed it. To which she shrugged and said, "I don't know, I hope to take it to some festivals, but I really don't know." It was then that I realized the profound impact that these films could have on other students and how perfectly they could fit into the context of the 9th grade ELA unit on Literary Non-Fiction. What better way to engage the perspective of young people than through the perspectives of young people.
Tell us about your partnerships
Reel Lives has a vast network of partners from universities such as NYU, The New School and Bank Street; numerous NYC Department of Education high schools and middle schools including Manhattan Comprenhensive Night and Day HS, Brooklyn International, Manhattan International; museums including The Paley Center for Media, American Folk Art Museum and Museo del Barrio; and other non-profits including Lower East Side Girls Club.
Beyond that the 'Reel Life Education Team' has amazing contacts at the local, national and federal level.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
Our team consists of veteran teachers, media and literacy coaches, youth media experts and a director of media and digital learning at the university level. Each of the five team members has at least one masters, if not two, and one PhD in the relevant fields of education and media.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
In order to develop the online version of the curriculum we have we need funding. After it is developed it will sustain itself through revenue. In addition, marketing strategists would help Reel Lives to reach the largest audience.