Letters to the Editor

Westfield Students Create Films, Help Others, for 'Walk in My Shoes' Project

WESTFIELD, NJ — Mrs. Leegan's and Mr. Cohn's 9th grade humanities students recently worked with Master Technology Teacher Adam Pizzi on a project called “Walk in My Shoes.” The project was inspired by advice given by Atticus Finch to his daughter Scout in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus explains to Scout that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Using this advice as a starting point, students were challenged to answer the following essential questions: why does “walking in someone’s shoes” allow us to feel empathy and how can empathizing with others promote positive change?

Specifically, each student group was given a picture of a pair of shoes and asked to create a story about the life of the owner of the shoes. In creating the story, students had to include some information about a daily hardship their fictitious person endures. Students brainstormed ideas and answered discussion questions to develop an idea of who the shoes’ owners could be and then developed the story of the life of the owner of the shoes by creating a storyboard.

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Next, students captured this story in the form of a two- to three-minute film, which was shot using iPads and edited using Internet software tools. Students then presented the films at the “Cohn Film Festival.” Each group had to prepare an oral presentation in which it broke down the film. Specifically, students had to prepare and present a treatment of the film and an explanation of the film’s title. Students also discussed their two most successful editing techniques and shared what they believed to be the answer to the essential questions.  

As classmates viewed each film, students reflected on how successfully their peers answered the essential questions, and students offered editing suggestions. As a wrap-up to the Walk in My Shoes project, RJ Millard, who leads Obscured Pictures in handling unit and corporate publicity, film sales, marketing and publicity for festivals, theatrical and non-theatrical distribution, awards campaigns and production, visited the classroom to talk about film and the film industry.

Finally, as a culminating event, students are currently coordinating a school-wide shoe drive to collect shoes for the needy. They are donating to Mission Haiti Helping Kids, a foundation that assists school children living in Haiti who are still recovering after the earthquake that devastated the island in 2010. In total, the class plans to collect and donate 1,031 shoes so that other children can walk in their own shoes. They had donation bins at the Westfield High School Thanksgiving Football Game, and still have bins in other various locations, including Temple Emanu-El of Westfield. They are collecting:

Boys’ shoes (black school shoes, sneakers, durable flip flops) in sizes ranging from 7 to 10.5. and girls’ shoes (black school shoes, sneakers, durable flip flops) in sizes ranging from 4 to 10.

For more information on the shoe drive you can visit the student-made website: www.showucare.weebly.com.

Sara Frankel

WHS Student

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