2014 Creative Director

Michael Hernandez

Mira Costa High School
2014 Winner for Creative Director Award
About Creative Director Award

Leads students in producing creative, high-quality, relevant, substantive multimedia projects.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

My video is a glimpse into the creative chaos of my classroom, and the atmosphere of passion and innovation I try to encourage in my students. The key elements have to do with collaboration and sharing authentic projects, for which we employ a variety of technologies to achieve. Some of these tech tools are highlighted in the video, including Google Docs, videography and editing, web design and social media to share and interact with an audience.

My students usually work in teams of 2-4, so they share written work, and we make physical and digital space for critique, reaction, and feedback. Google Docs helps with this, as does our class Facebook group, and Slack, a new “team” communication tool. My students can work on their projects outside of class whenever they need to, and not be restricted to our 56 minute class period five times a week. This flexibility improves student work by allowing them to work when it’s best for them, extend the time they need to work together, and encourage the concept that learning happens all the time, not just at school.

Another important element is to allow students to work that will be shared with an audience outside of class. Using web, social media, and emerging apps, my students publish their journalism and fiction films. The level and quality of work rises when students know other people will see it, and learning becomes meaningful--instilling a sense of ethics and responsibility--because what they produce can actually have an impact people and affect change in our world.

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

Rather than fixate on one app or device which will become obsolete in 18 months, I find that it’s more important to emphasize the process by which we use technology, and how it can help students achieve their goals. Instead of being merely a career/technical trainer, I hope to use technology to empower my students to create work that is meaningful to them as well as a wider audience, where technology is transparent and used as a means to an end.

When students publish projects for the world to see, it has the effect of generating a greater sense of context for them--artistically, politically and culturally. By letting students take control of their own learning--to become mini-experts in a topic they choose to report on, for instance--it lets them know that I respect their decisions and ideas, which builds confidence and helps them develop personal initiative. And while I support and guide them throughout the process, it also means that their success or failure rests on their shoulders, so they develop a sense of personal responsibility.

When new technology tools become available, I view them as a creative challenge and an opportunity to innovate in my teaching and assignments. The example of the Storehouse project mentioned in the video is a great example. Teaching “cinematic arts” has evolved to mean something much different than it did even a year ago. And if I can model this spirit of innovation and willingness to evolve, my students will pick up on that mentality and apply it to the rest of their lives beyond my class.