Wallace and Gromit Eat Your Heart Out… Using Stop Motion Animation in the Primary Classroom

Today we made a quick stop motion video for a project presentation to the rest of class this Friday. A group of us, incidentally all primary teachers, chose to think about how we can use technology, particularly mobile technology and apps, more effectively in the primary classroom. We decided to go with the theme of producing a cross curricular topic focused around stop motion videos on local environmental issues. This process would involve several lessons; with research, learning about stop motion, outdoor learning, script writing, storyboarding, preparing props, filming, editing and writing the whole process up all forming integral parts of the project.

Here’s what we came up with as an example video which may come out of this process, although I have no doubt whatsoever that plenty of kids in classrooms around Scotland could do a better job than we did. We made our video to think about how litter might affect others in Scotland.

We spent the afternoon yesterday storyboarding the movie and preparing our props for the video using paper, tissue, card and foam to set the scene. This morning we actually made the video using our props and the Motion App for Android. Once we had got that together I edited it up using iMovie to crop it down and clean it up; and included its music by selecting from the royalty free stock music which comes included in that program. Here’s the final result from that editing process to compare to the initial movie above

The entire process of filming and editing took about 3 and a half hours (including an intensely annoying fire alarm break in the middle) and despite the fact that it isn’t the best stop motion I’ve ever seen, I’m still pretty proud of the result. There’s definitely promise in going through this process with primary children, and I think there’s so much scope for personalisation, variation and rich child led learning in it that this is something I’ll definitely try out with a class in future. Obviously the logistics of doing it with 24 children as opposed to 5 postgrads would take some working out, but I’m sure with a bit of work we’ll get there, eh?!

Sharing is Caring

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Today in class we thought some about Creative Commons and the huge potential it offers to educators.

For anyone who’s scratching their head wondering what creative commons even is, I suggest looking here or here to find out for yourself. But if you can’t be bothered, in short, Creative Commons works alongside copyright to set terms which allows people access to access, use, share, adapt and edit other people’s work freely; without looking over their shoulder wondering if the police are coming for them. As one of the movement’s founders, Lawrence Lessig, says, it’s a way of “giving authors simple ways to mark their content with the freedoms they intend their content to carry.”

If you want a more full explanation of the different licences that Creative Commons gives to creators, the video below gives a really useful and clear summary of how it all works.

Let me put my cards on the table straight away… I love the idea of Creative Commons. The liberal artsy side of me loves the idea of sharing a piece of work with people around the world, and allowing them to riff on it and making something new and exciting collaboratively. That idea inspires me. I’ll post some links below to some videos I watched today which talk a lot about it, but when people fire out phrases like…

“It’s about creativity and connection”

“a space for more speech, more free expression”

it makes something inside me go all gooey and warm. Firstly because the ideas of connection, community and collaboration are really close to my heart; but also because his is the internet being used well, to its full potential; this is the online community doing something great together; this is exciting for artists and musicians and philosophers and yes, even for teachers. Especially for teachers, actually.

Creative Commons gives us the chance to harness the massive creative potential in the online community, but also (and more importantly) within our classrooms. It gives our children the opportunity to work collaboratively, not just with the kids at the desk opposite them or their “shoulder partner”, but with people from across the globe. Artists and musicians who they would never otherwise encounter. Great thinkers who allow the children in Scottish classrooms to stand on their shoulders and do something amazing. Talk about 21st Century Social Constructivism…

Creative Commons gives our pupils the freedom to be expressive and creative, and build on something that’s already good to make something even better.

How exciting is that?!

As we went through this in today’s class, my mind was whirring with ideas of how I could use this within the primary classroom. The potential is almost endless… Making works of art from photos children find on Flickr, making new pieces of music by editing and changing up openly licensed pieces found on FMA… One guy I read about online even 3D printed a sculpture of Thom Yorke’s head using Radiohead’s House of Cards video under Creative Commons. Insane, but wonderful.

I could go on.

There is so much opportunity to design learning that is beneficial, challenging and exciting for the children in our classes afforded by Creative Commons, and that’s something I’d love to be able to harness in my own classroom.

Anyway, here are some videos to watch and be inspired by. Enjoy.

4 (or 5, kind of) things I learned today

The first thing I learned is that I still hate cycling into a headwind. My journey on the bike into class today was not nice – stepping off the bike and locking up at the Lord Hope this morning was a relief.

Aside from that we had some good discussion today around using technologies in the classroom. In Scotland this obviously takes place within the wider framework of Curriculum for Excellence, with its 4 capacities and curriculum design principles. There’s lots to take away from discussions like this, and at the risk of posting a buzzfeed type list, here are 4 other things I learned (or thought more about) in today’s class…

1 – There are, literally, hundreds of opportunities to use technology in the classroom
Modern classrooms are fast paced and cluttered places with lots competing for the attention of both pupils and teachers. Most of the time using technologies to make lessons more exciting is that last thing on my mind when I’m lesson planning, but I was reminded today that with a bit of thought it’s easy to integrate them and to design learning which is both valuable and original. Technologies can help us to think more clearly about the 7 curriculum design principles and can help to create lessons which engage even the most reluctant learners; providing a rich context for real learning in our classrooms.

2 – There are, literally, hundreds (probably thousands) of free apps to use in the classroom
Whether it’s Twitter, blogging apps, podcast apps, educational apps or whatever. Lots of them can be used effectively in the classroom to design lessons which are interactive and enjoyable. Just today my group talked about using Hopscotch, Motion, and Magisto for a short project we’re preparing for Friday. There are hundreds more we could have discussed, and most of them cost absolutely nothing. How we could use apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Strava or even eBay or Amazon (alongside other commonly used apps) to make learning a more connected experience is an avenue worth exploring.

3 – The Internet. You’re doing it wrong.
If all you use the internet for in your classroom is “finding stuff” then you’re doing it wrong. There’s so much more potential for creating rich learning than sitting your kids down in front of Google and letting them go at it. Google Lit Trips, Voicethread, Webquest, podcasts, Maths Maps, and web resources like WhatWasThere are all free to use and can make learning so much more than googling key words and reading a Wikipedia page. Why don’t we integrate these things into lessons more? Doing this certainly helps make lessons more enjoyable (both for teacher and pupil), which is one of the curriculum design principles after all.

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4 – The kids have got the smarts
As we sat in class I began thinking about all the things kids can do now because of technology that I could never have done at school. I’ve thought long and hard about how I could use digital technologies in my classroom and I think that as teachers of primary children we often operate on the level of thinking that our kids are located best within the “Access” or “Use” levels of the digital literacy model shown below… But there’s no reason why they can’t (and probably already don’t) operate further up; understanding and creating effectively. Kids today are so tech savvy it’s scary. As teachers we should be expecting children, even in primary classrooms, to make effective contributions by understanding technology and even creating their own resources – We need to be the facilitators of learning that allows them to do this.

digital-literacy-model,

Well, that’s all from me today. What do you think? Agree or disagree?