In Coffee Cart Compassion, the digital storytellers at Soul Pancake choose to highlight the efforts of Special Education teacher, Sadie Guthrie, to integrate her students into the Lawton school community. Sadie teaches students with severe cognitive disabilities how to run a coffee cart. They go out into the community and procure pastries to pair with the coffee that they brew in their classroom. Wheeling their cart through Lawton's hallways, they sell their goods to the staff.
Not only does running the coffee cart teach Guthrie's students the functional skills that they will need in their post-school lives, it has helped them build a social presence in the school. Other students now view them as a valuable seam in the school's social fabric. In one clip, we even see one student, Jackie, playing football with his peers (he catches a touchdown pass. Yeah!).
I am a Special Education teacher. Though I do not teach students with severe cognitive disabilities, this video reminds me why I chose to become a Special Education teacher. There is no other group of students that I would rather work with!
Using Jason Ohler's Digital Storytelling Assessment Traits, I chose to critique this story using the following traits: Story, Project Planning, and Flow / Organization / Pacing.
This video tells a compelling, worthwhile story. I love that the story's creators chose to emphasize the students' strengths instead of focusing on deficits. The video contains all of the elements of any well told story: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. As a result, the video holds the viewer's attention for its duration.
Though there is no "behind the scenes" footage of this video's creation, it is obvious that its creators carefully planned the video's shooting to highlight its central theme, that all students should be included and are capable of participating in a school's social network. The "characters," (in this case, the students and the teacher) are well drawn. The quality of the cinematography is a step above what I have seen in some of the other digital stories that I have reviewed. The shots are well composed. The footage is always in focus and the mise en scene uniform. It is obvious that a professional team created this video.
Flow / Organization / Pacing
Coffee Cart Compassion possesses a great flow. I especially like that we are introduced to new characters throughout the video's duration. Just as we begin to "know" one character, another one appears. Great consideration was obviously given to the pacing. The cutting is quick when appropriate, as in the sequence depicting daily classroom routines, and slows down during more emotional moments, the most obvious example being when Sadie breaks down while recounting how some students with disabilities are treated.
This was hands down the best digital story that I have reviewed for this course. For those seeking a story that highlights everything that is great about being a Special education teacher, look no further.
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I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.