“Through the Classroom Window” is an opportunity for teachers to share the inspiring learning that takes place in their classrooms, giving others a glimpse into the heartbeat of the school. Today, we hear from Grade 7 teacher Amir Gershon about how the Grade 7 cohort breathes life into ancient stories, using script writing and filmmaking.
The Toronto Heschel School has long prided itself on the integration of different aspects of the curriculum, as well as finding an artistic element that can spark an interest in a student’s mind. With the Nevi’im curriculum, the Grade 7 students do just that.
In Grade 7, the students begin their exploration of Shmuel Bet, the story of King David’s rise to power as King of Israel, and the way he uses that power in different ways. Aside from the textual study which happens in class, the students are tasked with creating a script to demonstrate their understanding of the different perakim that they study.
The story in Nevi’im does not involve a lot of dialogue, so students must dig deep to imagine what the different characters might say and how the different personalities that they discussed might affect that dialogue. Students create scenes based on the perek that they’re studying, and they also insert their own imaginative additions, like jokes, vocabulary words from Hebrew class, stage instructions, and ideas for effects, lighting, and music that they think would work for that scene.
Teachers then take all of the scripts submitted and compile them into one master script, taking special care to use parts from each student’s script. When enough scripts are compiled, the class will receive different roles and they will rehearse the scenes. Props are added and special emphasis is made on staging, while explaining how camera angles work, how to use one’s voice on set, and how to use body language to emphasize the dialogue. On three different days spread out across the year, students will film the different scenes in front of a green screen.
These scenes are then compiled into a movie that looks and feels like the retelling of the Shmuel Bet story, with original songs and dances added into the production on the day of. However, it’s so much more than that; it’s the culmination of months of learning, weeks of rehearsals, and a lifetime of knowledge gained.