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Innovations in the Lower School Promote Creativity and Critical Thinking

Since February, Lower School Technology teacher, Judith Seidel, has been developing and teaching a new remote Wednesday class to third graders called Film Ed. As students watch and discuss animated shorts originally shown at  the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) they become keen observers of visual detail. During class they talk about what they see in the film before they speculate about what they think the filmmaker was trying to say. To gain an in-depth understanding of the films during Zoom sessions, students often watch them multiple times and sketch from their favorite parts. The class aims to help students develop the ability to back up their assertions about meaning with evidence derived from what they actually see.

Earlier this month Judith hosted one of the co-directors, Morgan Thompson, of "Fox and Pigeon," an NYICFF movie she originally showed at this year's annual Animation Assembly. Thompson worked on the film as an undergraduate at Sheridan College in Ontario and the film went on to win the Best Student Film category at the 47th Annual Annie Awards. Thompson took time to address questions the children had prepared and discussed her inspiration, the 2D and 3D animation process, and her current endeavors. She was particularly delighted with how much care and talent the students poured into their drawings of the endearing Fox and Pigeon characters. She proudly explained it made her team’s effort that much more gratifying to learn what our young audience took away from studying the film. Thompson is currently working at Netflix as a storyboard artist.

Judith Seidel serves as a member of the NYICFF Advisory Board and along with the festival’s Education Manager, Jessica Polaniecki, piloted teaching film through Zoom last spring. Film Ed is just one in a series of positive innovations that the School’s talented faculty developed to meet student’s creative needs during the pandemic.

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