Instructor Jen Sworn and one of her students gets ready to Name That Camera

One of the challenges that enrichment faces are getting students to open up and feel comfortable within the very short time that we have together. Throw a camera in the mix, and things get even more complicated! At Talk to the Camera fostering relationships in the classroom that promote confidence and cultivate respect through support is crucial. One of the exercises we use to do this is called Name the Camera.

Like all activities, Name the Camera starts with an introduction, I call this part Meet the Camera. This is where I introduce the camera, slate, and tripod to my class. I start by setting the expectations for our equipment and I make it clear that these tools are necessary for the goal we aim to achieve. I like to pass each item around so if a student gets a little rough with something I can let them know that’s not how we treat our things and segway into a demonstration of the proper usage.

After everybody has a feel for the camera I will ask a couple of students to join me at the front of the room for set-up. These students are production assistants, make sure they know their role is an important attribute to the production. Let the rest of the class know they will all get a turn with this job. Next, I ask for a slate operator to come up. As students set up the tripod, attaching the plate to the camera and mounting it, I will be teaching the rest of the class how to fill out a slate and how to call it before the director says action.

When the shoot is set up, I tell the students: “Okay guys, now we’re going to name the camera!” This activity is so special because we are now adding the camera to our team as a valued member of the crew. Believe it or not, this helps my students respect the camera more. Even better than that, it helps them open up more. Saying things like, “Okay you wanna look right in the eye of our friend Joe!” actually gets the kiddos to keep eye contact with the lens during their delivery. If there’s any arguing about the name, take a vote. If the votes are neck and neck and a tiebreaker is necessary, I suggest the classic, Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Name the Camera is an effective way to get students working together respectfully. Things can be intimidating when cameras are around but with this exercise in place, class is fun! When our students become associated with the camera as a crewmate on the set of our shoot, they handle it with care and their fears around it dissolve. At Talk to the Camera, it is our job to make the camera our friend and Name the Camera is a creative way to do it.