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Appleby’s English Class Creates Film for Novel

Appleby’s English Class Creates Film for Novel

English teacher Rachel Appleby’s tenth grade applied class is creating a film based on the book Monsters by Walter Dean Myers for their midterm assignment.

Monsters is a book about a boy named Steve Harmon on trial for the murder of a drugstore owner in Harlem.

The story is told through Steve’s perspective as a screenplay he has written about the murder.

This is the first time Appleby has taught this novel and done a project like this with her students. “It’s an adventure for all of us,” said Appleby.

Students proposed this project at the beginning of the marking period. Students were originally assigned a genius hour project, but a student asked if they could turn the novel into a movie instead.

Student Zachary Morris said, “It’s a lot better than having to do a genius hour project.”

The film is a student led activity. “I’m basically just giving structure and guidance,” stated Appleby. While students were reading the novel, they worked on the film one day a week during class; this was time mainly spent working on the script.

Pairs of assigned students adapted the book to a script in sections, and this was worth 50 points for each student.

Since finishing the book the week before holiday break, students have worked on the film every day.

As of January 3, the class was still in the phase of planning out what important events will be included in the film and finishing the script.

There is no plan on how long the film will be in the end; so far, the class has narrowed the film into nine scenes with 23 pages of writing.

On January 7, the class completed the script and created a filming schedule.

Since this is the first time Appleby and the class have done something like this, the schedule is very flexible since there is no idea how long it will take to film each scene.  

Each student has at least one role in the process of directing, editing, filming, acting, and creating props/costumes.

Because there are only ten students in the class, most are covering several roles throughout the movie.

The students volunteered for roles in the movies and recommended other classmates to take on roles based on their skills and abilities.  

Appleby and aid Terri Bracey are acting as producers, but sophomore Brian Rasmuson is the head director.

Rasmuson stated, “It’s kind of stressful being the director, but it’s also fun because it’s something different that I’ve never done before.”

Grading for the film is not yet established. “The students are being graded on their work along the way. I’m still in the process of developing a rubric for each role within the production.”

The participation in the planning process was worth 20 points, Appleby also said she will make their participation in the actual film worth somewhere between 50-100 points.

At the moment, there is no set due date for the film. The film will have to be completed in the third marking period due to this being the first time Appleby has done this project.

Once the film is completely filmed and edited, Appleby would like to have a viewing of it with other classes/students, depending on how comfortable her students are with the idea.

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