Making Inferences to a Visual Text

Performance introduction from 7th grade literacy teacher Robert Klimowski:

Literacy has been defined as “the ability to understand and create ideas through print and images.” However, most of the time in Literacy class, students concentrate on only the first part of the definition – getting and creating ideas in the form of words on a page. But Literacy is more than just reading and writing words. It is also understanding and creating ideas from images or pictures.

     Several weeks ago, I showed my students a short Australian video. The video had no narration or dialogue and was, in effect, a “silent” movie. The challenge students faced was to write narration and dialogue to this 13 minute “silent” movie.  Everything we imagined the characters were saying or thinking was an inference based on the “text evidence” of the images before us.

       I divided the video into 7 parts, and working with a partner, students hammered out what the characters most likely would be saying or thinking in each scene. About three weeks later, I had 50 different student-written scripts on my desk. I read them and picked out the best lines to fashion the script. The words of the script are theirs, not mine. I merely pieced their inferences together.

    Now that we had a final script, we needed some willing voice actors to synchronize the script to the video and to bring the characters to life. Our voice actors are working backstage to give the illusion of the voices actually coming from the screen.

     We’ve decided to let the final chapter of the story play silently without our commentary to allow you to make your own silent inferences – as the filmmaker originally intended. So settle back and see how well our inferences match what’s happening on the screen.

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