Unlike the other three classes I teach, Hill Street did not start out shy. They started out with a circus of elbows, jostling to fit their twenty-two teenage bodies into a circle on a small carpet. They started with a frenzy of hand waving, shouting out answers and bizarre jokes. They started out with movement, jumping up to demonstrate fighting moves, to fetch me a duster (chalkboard eraser), and to keep non-TMS students from entering our cool cement classroom. They have chilled out, and I have imposed some order, but Hill Street students bring the same barely-contained energy to every class. They have focused that energy to finish their first photostory: a PSA entitled Enjoy Our Health: How To Live A Healthy Life.
In TMS, we believe in starting from what students know: these students knew how to be active. I asked questions to broaden the topic, and the kids examined their experiences with healthy living. The four sections we landed on were exercise, cleanliness, good food, and a healthy mind. We focused on health choices available to the average Secunderabadi in daily life. As students began to storyboard, take photos, and write voiceovers, I noticed many of these statements: “–––– is healthy because it is good for our health.” While I admired the range of ideas developed in our brainstorming, I realized that beyond a vague notion of It’s Good!-ness, most students had little information about their topics.
The fellows and I keep ourselves sane by working out at the hotel gym near our apartment. The trainer at the gym, Ramu, also works with kids at Rainbow Children’s Homes, teaching aerobics and giving information about healthy living. I invited him to give a presentation at Hill Street. I realized that this could be an opportunity not only for the students to teach others about health, but to learn more themselves. The students were rapt as Ramu demonstrated a correct push-up (dip), and answered their questions about leafy greens. They also laughed uproariously. I have a strong suspicion that many of his jokes centered around my idiocy at the gym, but (thankfully?) he was speaking Hindi and I couldn’t understand.
Class size at Hill Street fluctuates between twenty-two students and three, and hovers around eighteen. For the past two weeks classes have been smaller. This has allowed students much more hands-on editing time. I am impressed how quickly they took to the software – especially since many are using a mac platform and a touchpad for the first time. Our editing team chose to include a ridiculous number of photos, but luckily the voiceover team had created plenty of material. Collaboration success-o-rama!
I’m not sure how many students will be in class tomorrow (this week offers special craft workshops for all students, cool!) but we have decided to launch into an investigation of the proposed Telangana separation. I am excited to see the students debate and conduct person-on-the-street interviews, but am most excited for the soundtrack. As Anand said, “We will record all the songs. We are very good at singing.”
Students at Hill Street Government High School have created a Public Service Announcement to explore how they make healthy choices in their daily life. Nineteen boys and two girls between the ages of 12 and 16 produced this work, taking positions as brainstormers, storyboard artists, photographers, directors, prop-masters, and actors. This video is a product of The Modern Story, and was facilitated by digital media teaching fellow Nelle Owens Dunlap.