One different activity I am bringing to Claymation Summer Camp this coming week (ack! So soon!) is to give students a lump of clay and use stopmotion to bring it to life. (I used to use my sons’ toys and create a short movie with those, but I want to get them working with clay quicker). The idea is to use frames to watch a piece of clay “become” something.
As usual, I decided to do the activity myself and this is what I came up with:
I’ve often heard of this little documentary around the making of Frog and Toad claymation/stopmotion movie but I often turn to a DVD extra with Wallace and Gromit to show students a look behind the scenes of stopmotion moviemaking. But I found this movie on Vimeo by John Matthews from the 1980s and it is pretty cool.
Next week, during my claymation summer camp, I may show this neat documentary and then show the WallaceGromit one to demonstrate just how far moviemaking has come in just a few years. (and now, kids can do it themselves for very little cost, on a smaller scale). It is pretty amazing how much some things have changed (the software and ease of filming) and how much some things have NOT changed (making the claymation characters act).
Next week, I am co-teaching two summer camps for middle school students with very creative aims: help young people make movies and create comics. These offerings are a collaboration between the local Vocational High School and the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, which is seeking to expand our offerings to youths.
The first camp in the morning (which I will teach with my friend, Tina) is a claymation/stopmotion animation class. This will be the third year that we will be doing this camp and among other things, the kids will be:
Exploring animation through Pivot Stickfigure freeware
Using Stopmotion Animator freeware with webcams to create short adventure claymation movies
Learning how to use Moviemaker
Exploring the world of movies on a small scale
The Comic Camp is something new this year, and I was explaining to Tina and Tom (who will co-teach the comic portion with me), the impetus came from walking into a comic book store during last year’s 24 Hour Comic event and seeing the store packed with young people writing and creating. This was clearly composing done outside of the classroom and I figured there might be some interest for a Comic/Graphic Novel camp. There was. It filled up quickly.
Our intentions are to balance students’ learning about the genre of comics, reading through some graphic novels and creating their own comics. We’ll be introducing ToonDoo (my pilot closed site) and ComicLife (see this great Comiclife resource for educators), but allow for them to create on paper, too, if that fits their needs. Our focus will be on character development and how character can drive a story (graphic novel) or a series (comic strips). While they won’t have time to create a graphic novel, they will begin planning for one.
I am also excited because I have at least two local artists coming in to talk with the kids (one is Hilary Price of Rhymes with Orange syndicated comic strip). We’re not quite sure how this camp will unfold but it will be interesting to see what they come up with.
I created a blog for both camps, if you are interested in following some of the progress through the week: http://claycomics.wordpress.com/
I want to do a more comprehensive write-up of my adventures in writing and publishing Boolean Squared, my webcomic about kids, teaching and the classroom. But, this is my final BS comic for the school year and it seems fitting to share it out:
I’ve decided to let Day in a Sentence take a much-needed vacation (which, coincidentally, coincides with my own summer vacation). My plan is to relaunch Day in a Sentence again in August and I hope that many of you who follow the feature will join us again at that moment in time.
As a final call for words, I wondered if you might want to share a sentence about what Day in a Sentence means for you. I often wonder what folks get out of it. For me, Day in a Sentence provides me a reflective moment in the week and the act of narrowing down the essence of the week or day into a single sentence is a wonderful structure. Plus, I love reading what other folks write.
So, what does Day in a Sentence mean to you? Please considering posting your thoughts as a comment here and I will release them as they come in.
Thanks for joining me on the Day in a Sentence adventure.
My son and I created this on my iTouch with an app called Flipbook. It’s very cool and pretty easy to use. You can then send the video from the mobile device to the Flipbook website, but I wanted to embed it so I moved it over to Flickr.
This will probably run right into the Copyright wall, but while it lasts, check out this remix version of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis graphic novels about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This remix takes her art and puts the story context into today’s Iran, with its simmering election turmoil. It’s fascinating and you have to wonder if Satrapi will approve or not.
I have a few posts here and there that I never got around to publishing before the school year ends and this is one of them. While we were using our closed ToonDoo comic space for Comic Strip Poetry, I asked my students in a survey for some suggestions on how I could integrate the use of comics into various projects throughout the year. I enjoyed reading their suggestions.
On a side note, I also came across this great resource for comics in the classroom (I think it was put together by my friend, Glen) with ComicLife software. Whether you use ComicLife or not, this site has a ton of ideas and possibilities, and includes some great links. Take a look.
And now, my students’ ideas:
Use it to design Quidditch logo (use shadows and shapes)
You could make a mystery poem; since there’s black and white slides.
making a comic book project
make story books
make an end of the year book.
We could do something on how to write a poem, because everyone seems to think that they’re so hard, even though they’re really not (especially if you use an online rhyming dictionary).
Have a writing period where we can show what we have made in ToonDoo.
Writing digital story books for next year
Next year you could have an adventure comic rather than an adventure story.
We could do a story on how your last year at Norris was.
We could use it in math and make toons to show how to do a certain equation.
To make your own wanted posters on toondoo about a criminal.
We could take any of the prompts we have wrote this year and make then into books. I also think it would be cool to make books about things we a learning to help us remember things.
I think it would be a good idea to use it in writing class but also maybe in literature class. I think it would be fun to use in literature.
I think you should do a mystery comic strip poem or on the Harris Burdick story. That would be cool. You should also introduce this site to the younger kids.
I think we can use this site for many different things for ex. you can probably use this for just an activity after MCAS and create a comic strip of what they thought of MCAS and if they thought it was easy or hard for them and that kind of stuff.
Maybe we can make multiple strips and put them into a book so after each comic is done, it will be like one giant book.
We could use it to show our favorite part of Norris School.
We can use them with the comic book thing to create mini graphic novels and of course more poems and our freewrites in our notebooks.
We could use them to make stories (a short story writing prompt) into a funny comic that still shows the story.
I think we could make our own book- maybe a story about how our elementary years at Norris have been.
I think we could use the toon do site for making a book about our favorite thing that we did in writing.
I shared this in a few different spaces yesterday, so why not here, right? I am overseeing a fun project this summer in which I have mailed off four different Writer figurines (William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Virginia Woolf and Mark Twain) to various National Writing Project Summer Institutes (month-long gatherings where teachers talk about writing, do much writing and share best practices in the teaching of writing).
Folks then take the little Writers to events and, much like a Flat Stanley project, they then write from the experience of the Writer about what they see and experience. We are using a Ning site to share out the journal entries and a Flickr site to share photos. It’s been a lot of fun to read what people are writing and with the various adventures about halfway through, I figured I would grab excerpts from the entries and share them out.
So, here goes:
“After my long journey, I felt as if “I could not budge an inch” but was invited to join my new found friends for a quiet bar-b-que dinner on the patio where I was presentented with “a dish fit for the gods.” My parched throat was quenched with a tall glass of sweet tea and great conversation during what I am told is an unseasonably cool evening in the Delta.”
“What a great day! I woke up Tuesday morning, June the 16th, excited because I knew I was headed home with Lee Claypool this afternoon. My day began with a lesson on endings and writing demonstrations from two of the wonderful teachers attending the Delta Area Writing Project at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. I sure learned a lot. They sure have some wonderful, hard-working teachers in the Mississippi Delta!”
“We started the day in her writing class. Such happenings today. People were scurrying around stuffing items in brown bags and creating some sort of board. All I could think was, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” I am hoping this is true. All of the work these writers are doing preparing for company of some sort to come and be entertained. After class, we went to the library at the university. I noticed that Melanie was researching famous quotes from none other than myself. I am not certain why she wasted her time on this as I was right there with her.”
“I kid you not, we were flying going north bound on the highway, breaking several traffic laws…but on the way south, I think John studied the traffic code because he abided by each and every technicality in the book, as we cruised down Interstate 69 on down to Highway 61. All in all, I think I am ready for my Monday assignment. I learned a lot about John and his family. While speaking reservations maybe in short supply, they are nonetheless dangerous with words…even the ones in English. John is a very stoic person, but is an easy to go person; just don’t cross him. If you do he will be all for your pain while you lose your gains. Overall, this family is a smart and intelligent bunch. I would almost be tempted to demand a full week of analysis with this family…¡John contou-mi que não havia nenhum rum nessa bebida! ¡Tenho uma dor de cabeça de proporções épicas! John told me that there was no rum in that drink! I have a headache of epic proportions!”
“We then proceeded to this place called Meadowview. I expected to view a meadow, but there was not a meadow insight. Instead, I saw a group of African Americans. This race was unknown to me. I also overheard Aurelia talking about someone named Barack Obama. She said how proud she was to have the first African American President. She said, “Lord have mercy; I am so happy.” She introduced me to the crowd, which included 3 people in a wheelchair and several on walkers and canes. These were the people that lived in the meadow view without a meadow or a view. She introduced me, and as famous as I am no one at this place knew who I was. Aurelia did an excellent job of explaining me. They were not impressed.”
“My writing has been greatly influenced by the diverse people and music I encountered on my visit. Drum beats from the African family of Mufato sent visions of the vast African jungle sounds echoing through my mind. The Blues is Alright!!! I sat in on a soul-stirring, heartbreaking, blues with Howling Harold, Singing Sal, Jammin Jack and Bad Boy Bobby Blue. They really put their heart and soul into their music and have inspired me to do even more romantic writing. Maybe a revision of Romeo and Julliet where…oh well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. The smooth sounds of the Junction Jazz Trio caressed the depths of my soul and the beauty of the Delta women is unsurpassed.”
“On top of the refrigerator, I watched the mother wash dishes and tidy up the house before putting the children to bed. This was a hard task for her; considering that the children were not ready to go to sleep. The mother patiently waited until the children fell asleep before beginning her own bedtime rituals, or so I thought. After the children fell asleep around 9:30, the woman sat down at her computer and began to write something at the computer. The woman then realized that she had forgotten me again. She allowed me to take a peek at what she was writing. She was working on a love letter. There were many pictures representing love and even a pleasant melody that accompanied the words. As she tried to record her raspy voice on the computer; she began to cry. This showed me that this woman felt like “Love” was one of the most important things in the world. She finally put the microphone away and decided to try again later. She began to nod at the computer as the 11:00 hour approached. Once she realized that she was nodding, she placed me inside of her bag and went to sleep.”
Edgar Allen Poe
“(Editor’s note: Tiny Edgar spit these lyrics out extemporaneously the other night while I was strumming the chords to Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” It quickly grew into a raucous jam session that lasted well into the night. Working from memory the next morning, I wrote the following.)
To the Tune of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Bob Dylan)
David’s literary storehouse brought me down.
And Josh’s minutes helped me along.
From Mao Tse Tung to Perez Hilton,
I feel like writing in Holland McCombs.
WRITE-WRITE-WRITING IN HOLLAND MCCOMBS (4X)”
(and a poem)
“On to our writing groups we did go
Under the watchful eye of Mr. Poe
Once again we had an informative day
Looking forward to what others will have to say”
(in the vein of a Perez Hilton gossip column): “Oooooo friend, let me tell you about little Mr. Edgar Allan Poe…He has been showing up in all these crazy photos that David has been taking. And David was even over heard saying that he took Edgar home with him…I think little Mister-sister Edgar Allan Poe is a ….”
“Edgar is appalled that Jenny has been pilfering all of the posts from A Day in the Life at the e-anthology. The posts here all come from folks at WTWP not her! What a hussy! If I was still writing, I’d come up with some wicked way for her to endure the particularly pesky parts of pilfering.”
“I arrived at the South Central Kansas Writing Project Summer Institute on the heels of a powerful prairie thunderstorm, full of wind and lightening. A great deal has been said about the weather, but very little has ever been done about it. These Kansan writers are a varied and hearty bunch who definitely enjoy feeding the soul and the body during writing activities.”
“Upon reflection of my day spent on the plains of Kansas, I can heartily say I enjoyed myself. I have said before, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” and that remains true in this place. Many outsiders see the flat prairie as dull and boring, but the wide open spaces feed the imagination, letting new ideas and possibilities prosper.”
“It appears these teachers are open to incorporating technology into their writing and classrooms. I learned several new words today including “google” which is both a noun and a verb, and exabyte, which I personally consider a lazy attempt at description. As a veteran river man, I could sympathize with those writers who seem to be almost drowning in the possibilities.”
“I must tell you that I am relived to know that I may stay here at the Appleseed Writing Project for a few days before I must continue on my long journey again. I have learned about many new fangled machines so far and I hear I may even get to use a contraption called an I-pod for something on this stop. It is hard to say what I can do with that little piece of shiny blue metal. I have been told that it holds up to 4 Gig of music. I can’t quite comprehend how that little flat piece of metal can hold anything, let-a-lone, music. It is not even big enough to use for an eating utensil. And what is a Gig anyway, and how will it be used?”
“Saturday, June 6 Virginia attended the Western Mass Summer Institute orientation. She enjoyed the great snacks especially the grapes. Although, she did mention that her preference was a distilled form of the fruit.”
“I emerged from my envelope to discover a table full of professionals (teachers, I believe), in conversation about writing (can this be true? Oh joyful days). I propped myself up against a notebook and took it all in. The writing, the reflection, the laughter … it was a wonderful experience and I could have stayed there for days just listening. But duty called and I was again on my way.”
“What a refreshing site to see–women writing, expressing their opinions, conversing with each other, being the majority. A long way from what I felt and believed to be similar to slavery–enslaved by expectations and restriction, prim straight-laced, docile. But here I see women writing, being expected to teach others to write, demanding their voice be heard. Ah yes, it seems the way has been paved for women to have their own space–a room of one’s own, if you will–, money and choice of partners. There are many deep emotional, psychological, and intellectual issues to be explored within these scholarly walls.”