Frank Baker facilitating the storyboarding activity. Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – If you were directing a film about how a little girl’s encounter with a stray dog at a supermarket leads to many beautiful friendships, how would you visually convey that message of love and bonding to your audience?

Participants of a recent workshop were invited to do just that, in a bid to learn about media literacy. Each group tried their hand at visually representing the first two pages of the book, Because of Winn-Dixie, via sketching the different points of view of three characters – the girl, the dog and a store manager.

It was a concept known as storyboarding, which is used to communicate media messages in films, advertising and video games, said Frank W. Baker, the workshop facilitator who was an American author, educator and media literacy expert.

By carrying out the exercise, he said, students can develop critical thinking skills and recognise the signs the media want to communicate. For instance, the storyboarding activity can be adapted to teach the Gospel to children, he suggested.

“Media literacy is the ability to read, write, and understand the media,” Mr Baker told a room of 23 religious, catechists, parents and Catholic teachers on Nov 26, at the session, “Coming distractions: questioning movies”.

He said the use of camera angles, colour, acting, film editing, sound, flashback/flash-forward story-telling techniques and point of view make up the language of a film.

Pauline Sister Theresa Lim, a participant, said: “It is important to think and critically analyse what the media bring today in a media-saturated world, so as not to be influenced by it.”

She felt that storyboarding was “one way of making catechism interesting and making the story of Jesus come alive for the children”.

It would also help students see the different perspectives of biblical characters and “broaden their perspective of the Gospel”, said Jarrod Nooh, 39, a General Paper teacher and a secondary school level catechist. In a school classroom, the storyboarding technique may even encourage the introverts to speak up, he added.

Mr Baker, who has developed media literacy education and trained educators, was invited as a keynote speaker at the Media Literacy Symposium 2009. He also met with educators from the Ministry of Education.

This consultant and founder of media literacy resource website Media Literacy Clearinghouse Inc. was former president of the National Association of Media Literacy Education. Mr Baker has published several books including Coming distractions: questioning movies, Frank’s study guide to the class “To kill a Mockingbird” and Political Campaigns and Political Advertising.

By Darren Boon
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