Incredibly Crazy Clocks

The other day, one of my sixth graders asked me if I had ever used Pivot for animation, which led to an interesting discussion about how this freeware software could be used with MovieMaker to create a little animated film.

So I figured I would try it out and now I am hoping to let my students try their hand before the school year runs out (soon!) and also to use this very simple, yet cool, software as an introduction to the Claymation Animation Camp that my wife and I are running this summer for the very first time (gulp).

Here, then, is the premiere of The Incredibly Crazy Clocks, using Pivot to create the animation (it comes out as an animated .gif file), then I imported the file into MovieMaker where I added some original music of mine, and a title, an I got a mini-movie.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=6106772181624048098" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (frame by frame by frame),
Kevin

Back in the Studio

My band (The Sofa Kings) goes back into the recording studio today and probably tomorrow as we work to get down in digital form (it used to be tape, but no longer) the energy of our live shows and the textures of our original songs. We’re planning to record six originals today and we did five songs a few months ago, so we will have a CD in the fall of 11 songs (if all goes well).

Of the six, four are songs that I either wrote or co-wrote, and I am always amazed at how much the songs take on a new shape with The Sofa Kings. Some songs become unrecognizable from their original incarnation and others just get enhanced on so many levels. It’s such an interesting process to bring a song to the band and see what happens. Many songs end up getting tossed (I have this imaginary dumpster in my head where lyrics and chords go, although they are never really gone — like a good Earth-friendly citizen, I recycle my own thoughts into new thoughts, and the melodies I like come bubbling back every now and then).

Last time, I brought the video camera, but I am not going to do that this time. Today, I will just be “in the moment” and not worry about the right shot, or creative angle, or how that will look on video.

Here is the little movie from last time:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=89177096634365723" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in sound),
Kevin

Baseball Dreams

This video is part of my Collaborative ABC Movie Project and it deals with baseball and kids, and the connections between my own baseball memories and the experiences of my sons this year.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-8891800749316318329" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (with innings and outs),
Kevin

Delicious Networking

This is a pretty cool site called Delicious Network Explorer that allows you to visually “see” the connections in the delicious social bookmarking network. You can type in a username and then it draws connections between the people who are in your network.

Here is what my network looks like, with the 33 people who are connected to me via Delicious (unfortunately, there was no easy way to share the picture so I had to do it manually):

 

 The colors have meaning, too, including who has included you as a friend, and a fan, etc.

 

Peace (in the network),
Kevin

 

Science Picture Books

My sixth graders are nearing completion of a book project in which they used MS PowerPoint to create and publish their own fictional Science Journey Stories as a picture book format. Their intended audience (we start sharing our books tomorrow at our school) was other students in grades first through fourth, and I have been presenting mini-lessons on some deeper aspects of PP to give them some ideas on how to use the tech to create a different kind of book.

They are also publishing their books to our Making Connections Science Weblog, which is a much larger project in which my students and other middle school-age students from three other schools in Western Massachusetts have been doing shared science experiments, posting scientific abstracts and now publishing science-based fictional stories.

Meanwhile, I am also planning to write about this science picture book project for as a chapter for a book on technology and the classroom that I am helping to edit with two esteemed college professors. As a result, I have been having my students reflect on how using the computer has been altering their composition process, and how their books will be different once I print them out on paper. I’ll share some of those observations at a later date.

Anyway, here are a few of the books:

MELvin

Journey into the Cell

 

 

 

 

 

Mr beebo power duuuuuuuuuude

Mr. Beebo

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Of A Cell

Adventure of a Cell

 

 

 

 

 

Water, Water EverywhereWater, Water Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

mel the cell

The Adventure of Mel the Cell

 

 

 

 

 

Inside a Cell

Inside a Cell

 

 

 

 

 

Power point (Updated)

Elmo and Dorothy Explore the Cell

 

 

 

 

 

rudolf the RAPPING raindrop!!

Rudolph the Rappin’ Raindrop

 

 

 

 

 

Peace (in pictures),

Kevin

OnPoEvMo: Inside My Guitar, May 2007

One morning, I had this line running through my head — “I am inside my guitar” — and fashioned this poem for my OnePoemEveryMonthforaYear Project.

 

Inside My Guitar
(May 2007)

Listen to the Poem

I am going to crawl inside my guitar today
and take refuge with the dust
and broken picks
and whatever gremlins might live inside the house of sounds.
I intend to gaze up at the six strings
as they break the current of air with vibrations
and I’ll marvel at the way they all work together,
seamlessly, it seems, as a rainbow filling my head with wonder.
I’ll twist along with the turning screws,
and come unbound, then rewound,
then brought back into tune by some magnificent ear
that hears only the notes.
This wooden closet will be my home,
a dark place where no one else can go,
just me and me alone,
until I am ready to surf out on a shimmering note
and land in your ear as a whisper that sings to you all day
until your head falls back on the pillow
and I return to this world, once again.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

 

Fear of the Web

There was an interesting short article in this weekend’s USA Today Magazine about the things that parents and teachers fear most about young people using the Internet. Many assume that it is porn or spam or computer virus infection or some other terrible thing but in fact, what most adults worry about is the bombardment of advertisements into the eyeballs of their kids.

And I agree.

Whenever I consider what sites I might have students going to during and after school, I always first take into consideration what kind of advertisements might be there, and it drives me crazy just how prevalent it is and how hard it is to avoid. I know commercialism has its place in our society but it seems to me that the promise of Web 2.0 is often compromised by marketing tactics. My first reaction whenever I see a cool, free site is: how are they getting money for what they are doing? I wish this weren’t so. I wish I could just find something neat, use it and thank the developers for making my world a better place (and open source folks are doing that, so thank you!).

I know my students and my own kids are not immune to the bombardment of products in the world but when sites offer free games, embedded with advertisements right in the game (never mind pop-ups), I just can’t stand it and silently join the forces of teachers who avoid technology for various reasons. Luckily, I can often bring myself back when I remind myself that my role as a teacher is to teach my students how to critically examine these trends, and how to make good choices about technology, and how to look at mass media through the lens of marketing, etc.

Peace (on a rant),
Kevin

Digital Science Book

(thanks to Donna for some information and I updated my movie)

My students are in the midst of creating digital picture books around a scientific theme. We are using Powerpoint in order to move beyond the flat page and include animation, audio and even video. The audience for the books are first through fourth graders and we will publish in a variety of formats. The kids are just loving it and are fully engaged in their projects!

As usual, as they work, so do I, and I have been writing and creating my own picture book story about decomposition (sound familiar? This is also a term that my friend Paul Oh has proposed for digital writing — haha!) As I move along, I have been sharing my process with students so they can see how I work.

Here is a video version of my book and it loses all of its animation in this version:
Download: Posted by dogtrax at TeacherTube.com.
And here is a link to the actual Powerpoint file (click on the picture):

Peace (in pictures),
Kevin

The Collaborative ABC Movie Project

For the past few months, I have been overseeing (with my friend, Bonnie) a collaborative project designed to bring teachers from around the country together to experiment with digital storytelling through video. The project is nearing (every so slowly) the first phase, in which about a dozen teachers have been working on short movies based around letters of the alphabet. Later, when all 26 movies are finished, we will use an online site called Jumpcut to collaborate on the editing together into one big movie.

The small movies have been amazing to watch. There have been heartfelt tributes to nurses and horses; childhood stories, both humorous and emotional; and evocative videos that create a sense of place. Many of the folks have never done anything like this before, so some of the use of tech has been a struggle and we are learning as we are going. I am urging them all to share their scripts and their reflections with the bigger community. This is the blog that Bonnie and I set up — called Using Tech to Tell Stories — where much of the work is being shared.
This is my intro movie, which is based on the picture book Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, and I used ToonDoo as a platform for making short comic frames:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5504345373755011847" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

If you want to view all the movies submitted so far, you can head to my Wiki site where I am slowly collecting them at one site. Go to the ABC Wiki.

Peace (with partners),
Kevin