Mali Bickley

by My Hero Project

The Rainforest Fable from two of Mali Bickley's students
Teacher Mali Bickley (Mali Bickley ())
Teacher Mali Bickley (Mali Bickley ())

Mali Bickley is one of those amazing teachers you hope your kid lands in school! She and her students have been making short films and winning awards for many years. This year is no different. Two of her students, Breanna Menezes and Cassidy Hancock created The Rainforest Fable which has Won BEST FILM in the ELEMENTARY CATEGORY of the 8th Annual MY HERO FILM FESTIVAL. My Hero caught up with Mali to find out about the making of Rainforest Fable, her student filmmakers and how My Hero has been an inspiring part of her teaching life. 

Can you tell us about the creation of "Rainforest Fable"? "The idea of the video started when we did a video conference with Dr. Willie Smits who is working in the Borneo Rainforest. He is working to rehabilitate orangutans who are displaced by deforestation. There is a group of youth working there with him, called the Eco Warriors. They are working in the rainforest to patrol areas that are threatened to be cut down. The kids met Jojo, the baby orangutan during the conference and decided to create a public awareness campaign about not using palm oil products. They shared information on our class blog, sent announcements over the PA about which products were "safe" to buy, helped parents create their shopping lists and had a wall of palm oil free wrappers on our environment bulletin board. We also purchased a plot of land through the Earthwatchers program through the Taking it Global Deforestaction program that the kids monitored for illegal action. We had the opportunity to invite Emily Hunter, one of the Eco Warriors to our class. We broadcast her visit to 30 class across Canada and the US. She told of her adventures and gave the kids a challenge to find a way to reach a global audience with their mission. At the time we were working on a narrative writing /stop motion animation project that was about Egyptian legends and one group asked if they could change to make a video about Emily and palm oil awareness. So, they did, with their goal being to create awareness about the causes of deforestation and encourage others to buy palm oil free products."
Filmmakers for Rainforest Fable (Mali Bickley ())
Filmmakers for Rainforest Fable (Mali Bickley ())

How has the MY HERO Project enriched the learning environment in your classroom?

"Encourages students to express their learning using their strength: through art, film making, podcasting, writing. Kids can decide how to show me what they have learned about their heroes. Learning is also personal as they can report about who inspires them."


What do you take away from it personally?

"My Hero has become a family for me. There is always support from the project, and it allows me to work with teachers from all over the world as our classes investigate heroism. Each and every story is inspiring.

As a teacher, I can insure that each student is successful. This project doesn't expect them to conform to a set of expectations from a book, but encourages them to flourish and show me what they learn in their own way."

Storyboard Rainforest Fable (Mali Bickley ())
Storyboard Rainforest Fable (Mali Bickley ())

What do you think students take away from collaborating on film making?

"They learned that their creativity is valuable and they each learned what their strengths are. What is interesting is these 2 kids are really quiet and shy. They aren't seen as leaders of the class, however, they modeled leadership, differentiated their own learning (by coming to me and asking if they could create an environmental story rather than a legend).

They learned how to problem solve together. I remember when they wanted to create the city scene, they struggled with how to get the smoke to move, which sounds to use and put all of those aspects together. They just kept going."



Dream Team Rainforest Fable props (Mali Bickley ())
Dream Team Rainforest Fable props (Mali Bickley ())

 What advice would you give other teachers wanting to create short films (programs) with their students?


"I would encourage any teacher to create short films with their students. Kids now are vast consumers of media and as a result, are inspired to create and share media of their own. like any emerging technology, youth need a mentor  and real purpose to create. they need to know that the media is powerful and can reach an unlimited number of audiences. there is a huge responsibility there.  


So along with the technical parts, which the kids all know, they need to have the opportunity to share their passions. 


Teachers need to know they don't have to be experts in the technology part. kids are already there. what we need to do is provide opportunities, encourage the "storytelling" which teachers have been doing forever. It's just a different medium and one that engages the students in a really meaningful way."


The making of Rainforest Fable (Mali Bickley ())
The making of Rainforest Fable (Mali Bickley ())

Who's your filmmaking hero and why?


"Steven Spielberg, he creates incredible stories. and of course, Slater  and Rob Stewart. They are passionate about the environment and are taking steps through film making to make a real difference in how we  see and treat the world."

Thank you Mali for your continued dedication as a teacher, a filmmaker and your excellent example of all the ways teachers can use the tools and resources of The My Hero Project in their classrooms. 


Page created on 8/17/2014 2:39:10 PM

Last edited 1/6/2017 9:06:47 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

RAINFOREST FABLE - Check out this 1st. Place winner in the 2012 My Hero Film Festival Elementary Category... from Teacher Mali Bickley and the Dream Team. A claymation PSA on the importance of saving the worlds rainforests.
Mali Bickley and Jim Carleton at ISTE 2012 - Mali and Jim of IEARN-CANADA provide a case study, which demonstrates MY HERO'S positive effect on their student.
Mali Bickley - Teacher Hero - Hear what Mali has to say in this short film honoring her at the 2009 My Hero Film Festival.
Mali Bickley - Learn more about this amazing TEACHER - Mali Bickley.