Documenting Denver


Over the 2023/2024 school year, DDS spoke about documentary and media literacy and taught at sixty K-12 schools in DPS (majority underserved schools). We served thirty elementary schools and 580 of their students.

At one fourth grade assembly at Swansea elementary 120 students enjoyed a short doc and discussion on the film and on media literacy. The teacher told us that the next day, they wanted to explore it more.

We visited multiple middle and high schools and screened, lectured and spoke about documentary film and media literacy to 2,880 students. Another 130 high school film students from North High attended DocuWest and five North film students had a world premiere of their films.

The DDS Education Program is developed and taught by award-winning social justice documentary filmmaker Wade Gardner. DenverDocSoc is delivering truth to the classroom and beyond.

Our purpose of documentary film and media literacy education is to develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression people need to be lifelong learners, critical and creative thinkers, effective communicators, and engaged, ethical community members and citizens (Adapted from NAMLE 2007).

According to Dr Faith Rogow, a pioneer in media literacy for young students, teaching it “is about helping children develop the life skills they need to become thinkers and makers in the multimedia environment that is their reality and their future.”

So, a good way to think about our classes and camps is that students will have a blast as they learn to understand, analyze and responsibly create stories using still images, audio, video, music and art. It is analogous to the importance of being able to read and write. The more proficient, the more likelihood of success in school and life.

You could say we are like crazy scientists now embracing how to teach students the language of story and “film.” Along with the language of literacy. So they can have the foundation to communicate in both a large and small screen based world.

Bio: Wade Gardner leads our education program and teaches classes & camps. A longtime, young childhood art educator (He owned Artful Journey and taught art to ages 3-13 from 2008-2020). He is also an award-winning civil rights documentary filmmaker (Whose debut documentary feature Marvin Booker Was Murdered earned the Soul of Southern Film Award from Indie Memphis Film Festival in 2017). He just completed his second civil rights film for DDS. The project investigates the tragic death of Micheal Brown Jr in 2014 (Anticipated Release 2024). Wade has an undergrad in Film, Theatre and TV, graduating magna cum laude in 2005 and an MBA in 2011. Both from CU-Denver. He is thrilled to be returning to teaching and having  a positive impact on students.