Blog #3 The First WTS Retreat!

This weekend has been really fun and productive. One of the highlights was the planning time that I had with my advisor and team member. I liked that we had time to focus un what we needed to work on as a group and the group work time was very useful for us. I am in the Teaching Abenaki and Indigenous History group with Theo and my advisor is Fallon.

Theo and I completed steps 1, 2, part of 3, and 4 in the Sequence for Making a WTS Documentary. We were able to identify the purpose for our documentary; to give teachers the opportunity to include more Indigenous and Abenaki History in their curriculums, and we want to include details from the Eugenics Movement and Current Events such as the fight for recognition.

The specific audience is teachers and school district boards, we want to be able to show our documentary at specific workshops that teachers attend and also are hoping to send it to school board meetings or other outreach programs.

The specific outcome or change that we want to happen is for the teachers to include more detailed and accurate indigenous history in their teaching, and hopefully be able to use our documentary in their classroom too. We had to spend some time thinking about how we would plan for our documentary to be the most successful that it could be, because there are a lot of organizations and resources about our issue already, and we wanted to make sure that we accessed those in order to make our documentary detailed and up to date.

Another thing that went well was our list for possible interviewees. Theo, Fallon and I have multiple connections to people in the Abenaki community, and through my class that I took over the summer (Teaching Abenaki Culture in the Classroom) I had an idea of different singers, poets, and artists that would have a great contribution to our documentary. We also thought that we should think of some teachers that we could interview to give our documentary a different perspective, of teachers who may not be including Abenaki history in their curriculums and why.

Another highlight was when Professor Mittell came to speak with us about how to make the most out of our interviews. He gave us different examples of B-roll, lighting choices, and stylistic perspectives through small clips and interviews. I never knew about the rule of 1/3 ! It was interesting to see how much the narration of the filmmaker could differentiate it from a narration-less documentary, and it made me question what types of voices I wanted to be featured in my documentary.

A struggle that later turned into a highlight for me was learning about all of the new technology. In my last post, I mentioned my nervousness at starting to film because I have had zero experience with this before, but I was really happy that we got to get out film sets and start learning about them on our own. We were able to practice outside and film random stuff, and I learned a lot about how to set up my film camera! Even though I still have lots of questions that I will get answered later on, I am so glad to have my kit now so that I can use it and figure out some thing on my own, and it seems a lot less intimidating now that I have looked at a lot of the materials.

Theo and I have thought out some preparations for our next retreat, and we think that we will be able to keep to our agreements and get a good chunk of work done too. We have planned a meeting time for google hangouts, and we split up the the research that we are going to do initially. During the day we thought about the different aspects of information that we wanted to include in our film, as well as other resources and organizations that we wanted to incorporate.

We have decided that I will focus on books and resources, current political movements, and historical Abenaki events that I learned in my class. Theo will focus on researching other organizations, the current bill that is in the VT legislature about teaching about ethnicity in schools, and the Eugenics movement. Besides these topics we will both be focussing on looking for more people to interview and keeping each other updated along the way.

My image is from unsplash is by Allie Smith.

See you all soon!



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