San Francisco students create films about prison system 

Students of City Arts and Technology High School 12th-grade government teacher Ben Rosen presented films they created about the American prison system and mental health institutionalization at a film festival in late January.

How did you come up with the film festival idea? It was a collaboration between some of the teachers at the school, trying to decide how to give kids an opportunity to access some of their research materials.

What is a project-based school? A lot of it is about applying our learning. So instead of students regurgitating material, we’re finding ways for students to understand content and do authentic, real-world tasks.

What do the students gain by testing their knowledge in this format? It’s a really engaging process; they’re learning a lot of content, but it also forces them to take a lot of ownership over their learning. Instead of having to prepare for a test they have to study for, you’re making this film. You have to take initiative to find the information you don’t have that you need. For me, one of the biggest things is it pushes students to figure out for themselves what they want to learn and what they need to learn.

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Sarah Gantz

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