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By Donna Flood

Camcorder a Tool for Teaching

Around fifteen years ago I purchased a camcorder. The thing, then, was very expensive. One thousand dollars for it, on monthly installments was too much money to throw away. Probably, my children were too young to have a desire to learn to use it and my vision for its use was foggy. Still, the cost of it pushed me to it. The camera itself was big, heavy and awkward. One feels a bit like a television crew person while using it.  As practice began to give me sort of a skill,  success built on itself. Even my film producer brother would sit dutifully through some of my documentaries  and gagged only on occasion. I was undaunted and pushed forward,  to film, weddings, showers, special occasions, and many other events to be shared with family in every part of the country. Finally, the dinosaur gave up the ghost and died. Today, I have a smaller, very much less expensive camera. It is certainly  less conspicuous though not having the quality of picture or color.

With the old camera my electronic engineer husband built a microphone and means to narrate and use music on my films. He picked up parts off the kids thrown away electronic toys in order to do this.  After his retirement his mental outlook changed and it has been hard to involve him in these “silly” pursuits of mine. So, not to be undaunted, I purchased a small CD player with batteries. This will go anyplace the camera goes and gives me my music. I've learned to think fast. (Oh dear! And at my age when the gray matter just wants to be left alone) If I plan out the thing I'm doing ahead of time I can get a reasonably well put together program. I can't stand to look at the tired me, but my grandchildren don't seem to mind. Such is the gift of love for both of us.

One has to remember to make the story short. My brother laughs when he says, “The American public has a six minute attention span.”  But, with every joke there is a half truth.

At the moment I'm recording demonstrations of my art work for my grand children. For all the years I've worked with art, teaching art, exhibiting and such I've learned a thing or two. In this busy world there is absolutely no way one can capture a child, or adult for that matter, to sit them down to a formal art lesson. With this in mind I'm doing one thing at a time in a lesson on video.

One can usually catch them at a weak moment in order to get them to watch. Right after school when they are too tired to protest,  too much, but are still a little in the learning mode is a good time. It is also convenient  for me, also. One reward  has been to see their face light up with a new understanding.

Of course, in order to accomplish anything, sooner or later,  the student has to put their hand to the canvas. In order to achieve this I take a lesson we have watched on video and this is the lesson I ask them to do so I can film them. Sneaky okay?  But,  it works. Also, preparation is the key here. Having  the material to work with is a must.

Too bad we have to find a slice of time for our own. We in our evolution,  or whatever,  to survive,   do whatever we must do.

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