Creating a Student Film Festival

NS Swat film festival

This year, I really wanted my SWAT Team students (Students Working to Advance Technology) to help create an event to reach out to other students. We decided on creating a film festival to promote video creation. At first our goals were quite high and I knew that our first year we needed to start small and build on what we learn in year one. So, that’s just what we did. We decided to create a completely online film festival and we opened the application process to students in grades K-5 in our local school district. We marketed our event, gathered sponsors to award the winners with great prizes (a wonderful incentive to get student participation), and we advertised through our school district and various social media outlets. The films were due on March 3. We received 7 submissions and although I was initially disappointed by the lack of participation, I realized that this year was completely focused around the learning process in order to make next year’s event even better. As I look back, I now understand how this event taught my SWAT Team students so much more than I initally thought! They learned how to create and market an event, how to reach out to our school district, how to create a site where students can upload their videos, and how to gain sponsors. Once the submissions came in,  my students learned the true art of critiquing the videos which were submitted. We talked about various film elements to look and listen for as they watched the videos. We had great discussions after we viewed the videos about what was good about each and what could be improved. We talked about using various filming techniques and camera shots. We talked about how using apps such as Puppet Pals and Drawing Pad within iMovie could enhance films that were created using other methods. I was proud at how my students viewed the videos and how mindful they were to celebrate the risk each of these students took to put their work out there for the world to see. We celebrate the creation of each of these films!

Here’s the video we made to promote the film festival:

North Star SWAT TEAM Film Festival 2017 from April Requard on Vimeo.

Here is a video we made to announce the winners of our first film festival:

2017 Film Festival Results by the North Star SWAT Team from April Requard on Vimeo.

Here are the top three films:

Here is a list of all of the films!

Thank you to all who participated!! We look forward to next year’s Film Festival!

Technology in the Hands of the Powerful


The Student Has Become the Teacher: Technology in the Hands of the Powerful. This was the title for my TEDxABQ Education talk on empowering teachers to champion the idea of creating student-led technology teams at their schools. Our students are our greatest resource.  Their help, ideas, and vision can help create lasting change within the walls of our schools…all we have to do is empower them with the tools to help lead the change alongside the educators in our schools. The theme of the TEDxABQ Event was all about Equity in Education…I can’t think of a better way to provide equity than by giving students a front row seat at the table!

Click here to watch my TED Talk! I was so blessed to bring along 7 of my fabulous students to speak about how being on our SWAT Team has impacted them! These students inspire me and are a sweet reminder of all things that are good in education! This experience was one that I know these kiddos will never forget and I am so lucky to be one of their teachers.

My tech team is called the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). This group truly became my teammates as we worked together to create published work, inspire teachers, lead others towards learning how to integrate technology into their classrooms, reach out to the community, and create change within our school and district.

I’ve previously written about how I choose the members of my SWAT Team, the application process, and the general goals of the group. Click here to view this post.

Hopefully, the TED Talk and the ideas presented by my students inspire you to begin thinking about how you can involve your students in changing the technology integration climate at your school!


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Creating a Student Technology Team at Your School


SWAT Team 2014

2013-2014 SWAT Team at North Star Elementary

A student technology team is a great way to create a student-led culture and promotes:

  • Student leaders at school
  • School & community outreach and engagement
  • Teamwork
  • Coaching & mentoring
  • Coding Skills
  • Flexible learning environments
  • Compelling evidence of success
  • Public Speaking
  • Confidence
  • Content creation
  • Customer service
  • Student voice


SWAT Team 2014

I am getting ready to begin my new SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology) for this new school year. It’s become such an important part of our student culture at my school. I have it open to 4th and 5th graders and they must submit an application and a resume to be considered for the team. In previous years, I have had 20 students on the team. Some of the things we’ve done in the past consist of the following: App reviews and ratings ( identification of how the app is related to instructional goals and content creation), Student Genius Bar (engagement with community and other teachers to get tech support from the students on the team), creation of Tips and Tricks Video Tutorials, tech training for teachers, community service (cleaning iPhones for parents and teachers at school), and an evening event to teach teachers and school leaders how to use iPad apps in the classroom (App Speed Dating).

I think the first step in getting a team going at your school is generating buzz about what students will accomplish by being on the team. Having a name for the team also helps get excitement brewing. Some other school tech teams call their teams Genius Squad, Techsperts, and iWizards to name a few. Next, it’s important to create a competitive application process to ensure you have students that are motivated to work towards accomplishing the goals for the team. I have students complete an application as well as a short resume. Not only does this take time to thoughtfully craft answers, but it allows students to learn how to create a simple resume. Later, I seek input from the home room teacher and carefully review the applications and resumes. Then, the fun begins! The activities you complete with your team will vary depending on the needs of your school.

Click here to download the application and sample resume that I used for recruiting my team.

Click here to view an older post about my SWAT Team’s big Speed Sharing Event.

Click here to see how we conducted our App Reviews

Click here to see our App Speed Share Event website

Best of luck to all your future tech leaders!

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