Interview with Tricia Fuglestad: Movie-making to Teach Art

Tricia Fuglestad, an art teacher at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights, IL, uses technology to enhance learning in her art room. We love the movies she uses to teach art concepts, and wondered how she created them! Read the Q and A below to gain some tips and insight into the process of movie-making in art.

Our interview with Tricia Fuglestad:

Q: How long have you been creating movies to teach your students? My earliest movie dates back to 2002 with the Godzilla Educational Movie. I took some video clips from the movie Godzilla and used voice over and text to point out the art concepts I wanted students to use in their “Dinosaur in the City” project.

Q: What motivates you to create these movies? These movies become an entertaining learning tool that quickly illustrates/teaches/defines art concepts. Students seem to pay attention to the videos (and even request them). Funny, they don’t beg for me to lecture, but they do beg for me to show them these movies.

Q: How do you begin? What is your plan? I write a storyboard. This helps me put images and text together for each scene and shot of the movie. I always try to think short and to the point. I throw in as much “meat” as I can get away with and sugar it with as much humor as I can invent.

Q.) What software do you use to achieve your outcome? I make movies in a variety of different ways. I have drawn and animated movies in flash (ie. Repeat) I have shot and edited movies in iMovie (see Interview with a Pencil at end of page) sometimes using Stupendous Software for split screen and picture-in-picture special effects. I’ve also tried using chroma key effects in Final Cut Express to replace the green screen with anything we wanted (see Swept Away.) Finally, my latest movies have been in Keynote where I animate images set to music (see Digital Portfolio)

Q.) What advice would you give a teacher who is considering using digital media to create similar leaning experiences? I’m still learning the answers to these questions. I find that AFI’s ScreenNation resources online have been really helpful for me in learning how to organize my movies and organize my students who want to make movies with me. Also, Jason Ohler’s website and Digital Storytelling in the Classroom book is a great resource. I also enrolled in an online graduate class through Wilkes University called Digital Storytelling where I was introduced to these resources and expected to apply their concepts in my classroom.

Q: What kind of permission process do you go through with the students before releasing a movie on the internet? I use permission slips to gather my movie-maker volunteers. Whoever turns in their signed permission slip by a certain date is included in the movie experience. This permission is redundant in my district since parents sign a media release form that gives blanket permission for internet, cable, and other media. However, I find that the permission slip is a great little advertisement for the art program and keeps the parents informed on the unique experiences available to their student. I have learned to ask for parent email addresses on the slips. This gives me a way to send the movie link to them directly when it is uploaded to my site.

Q: Do you use any specific hardware to help with filming or to capture sound? We just have a mini DV camcorder, tripod, USB external microphone, green screen, wireless mic, and lights. I’m always writing grants for more things when I see how it can improve our movie-making. Our newest addition is a 25 foot AV cord that plugs into the video camera and to the classroom TV monitor so all the students can help frame the shots. We used this technique when making What a Cheap Trick. Students on camera could see for themselves how they looked in the camera.

Q: I’m sure all of your students want to be in your movies. So how do you choose who participates in each film? That’s a good question. I intend to give each group of 5th graders one movie-making opportunity. But, time is a limiting factor. Movie-making is very exciting, energizing, and an extraordinarily creative process and I would encourage all art teachers to give it a try…your students will love it!

One of Tricia’s latest movie adventures conducts an “interview with a pencil”. Tricia asks, “Do your students press too hard with their pencils when they draw making erasing mistakes impossible?” According to Tricia, instead of lecturing on this topic let Mr. Pencil give some advice to your young artists.


(Trouble viewing video? Try this link.)

Interview with Mr. Pencil from Tricia Fuglestad on Vimeo

Images courtesy of Craig Roland: Flickr.com

Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

The founders and primary authors of this blog are Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee, who both teach elementary art in the Chicagoland area. Hillary has been teaching art since 2002, received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. Theresa has been teaching since 1997 and received her bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University and masters from Benedictine University. In 2008, Theresa became a National Board Certified Teacher. Both Hillary and Theresa have earned the honor of being Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Together, Hillary and Theresa have presented at Illinois Art Education Association Conference on topics ranging from classroom management to technology and each have presented on numerous other occasions for other organizations.

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