Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Story Behind the Making of the ALN Bill Cartoon by Swansea Kids.

The Story Behind the Making of the ALN Bill Cartoon by Swansea Kids.  For
By Gail John
In late August/early September 2015, I was asked by a number of parents if I would work with their home-educated children.  This was after, I had home-educated  my own daughter, helping her to acquire her GCSEs against the odds, since she had developed  severe panic attacks in school and had no choice but to leave school at 15.  Therefore, after producing successful GCSE results with her, against all the odds stacked against us, a number of parents asked if I would help their children too, since educational ‘other’ options within our locality were virtually non-existent.
From September to November, in order to successfully engage these new learners, I made films with them.  The kids not only had fun making these films, but they also found that they could learn complicated concepts, difficult key vocabulary and could remember key themes from the core syllabus that we were studying. During this time, we made films about consensus and conflict theories, as well as culture, identity and socialisation, as part of the sociology syllabus.  During this process, I discovered how all the learners were incredibly creatively talented, with their own set of unique gifts and interests. One of our learners was already an experienced film maker. Others were expert actors and mimics. We had so much fun creating these digital learning tools together and our expert film-maker was able to edit some of our films, using special effects to produce films of quite a high visual quality.
One day, after some of the children had attended an ALN Bill consultation talk, we talked about how this legislation would affect generations for years to come and how important it was for the Welsh public to engage with the Welsh Government during the proposals. At the same time, we were also using cartoons as an educational tool to analyse different interpretations of the different characters within an English Literature set text which we were studying. The children and I enjoyed using the idea of a ‘chat show’ to question the different characters in order to explore dramatic irony and to experiment with different possible interpretations of the characters’ actions, grounded in context.  
This was when the idea of combining both the ALN Bill information and creating a cartoon was born.
A script was written using the information found within the Welsh Government Draft documentation, ALN Bill Consultation presentations, statistics, the personal experiences of some Welsh parents and it was set in the context of a ‘chat show’ in order to present the different perspectives.  The children did not want to be filmed live but chose a cartoon format. Our very own 15 year old film- expert set to work designing and creating a set for our cartoon ‘Chat Show’.  A 12 year old (mainstream child, who attended an ALN Consultation presentation) and two home-schooled children (16 years old and 13 years old) took on the parts of the fictional characters.  Our very own 15 year old film/cartoon expert recorded the different character voices and all adults were banned from the room, during this process, due to possible unwanted interference.  Later, our very own experienced film/cartoon expert used his gifts in special effects to complete the cartoon conveying a powerful message, completely from scratch and without adult intervention.   
This cartoon has made it onto multiple social media sites. It has also been shown to a range of stakeholders, including being sent to Welsh Government and councillors within local government.  Our 15 year old cartoon creator, along with the 13 year old youngster who was the voice behind the fictional presenter, ‘Sian Griffiths’, realised just how famous and wide-spread their ALN Bill cartoon had become, when their mum came home from work one day and stated that she had been shown it independently as part of her job.    
Well done kids. Gwaith ardderchog!


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