Stop-Motion Movies, part 1

Now that my project to create stop-motion movies around literary terms is over, I thought I would reflect a bit on the experience in the classroom. First of all, this is the first time I worked on movie-making with all four of my sixth grade classes (about 75 kids) and it was a bit daunting. There ended up being 31 short movies created by small groups of students — that is a ton of movies! Most days, I felt like a headless chicken, running from one group to the other, helping sort through technical issues. In fact, I never really got to even see the movies until they were done.

This was the first time that many students ever did any kind of movie-making (I think three of them have some experience) and considering this fact, my students were stellar at the art of patience, and working out problems, and thinking of solutions to technical issues when they arose. In the course of the week, they learned about webcams, the freeware Stopmotion Animator software, Windows MovieMaker and also a music creation program called Super Duper Music Looper.

BUT — no one gave up, a few had to restart all over again (one group: restart twice) and as I let them view all of the movies yesterday and reflect on their experiences at our class blog site, they expressed real gratitude in being able to make movies in the classroom. One student came up to me and said, “This is the best project I have ever done in school … ever.” How can you beat that?

Here are some excerpts from the blog:

What I really like about the project is that you were free to be as creative as you wanted to be. All the movies had origanalallity and character which was great to see. What I would want to change the next time when I do a stop motion video is put a lot more filming in so we don’t have to worry about talking fast and find a back drop that doesn’t show the shadows of people going by.

This project was a great experience for me because i don’t know a lot about technology and what’s possible. I had never done anything like it before and what was great was doing it with Sam. We tried to make it humorous and laughed through the entire process!!! Even when we disagreed, we got a solution for every problem, mostly from the help of our awesome computer-wiz teacher, Mr. H!!! THANKS!!!!!!!

I think making the movies were really fun! All the hard work for like a 50 second movie, but it was still fun to see our movies come to life. you have to have a lot of patience to do this project. If I could change anything I would use less characters because it was hard to move them all. Also try to balance the work between every member of the group. Over all it went very well!

The making of the movies was fun but there was a lot of things that made out movie less awesome because we didn’t notice till editing. We had a lot of technical difficulties and our movie wasn’t as great as it could have been which made us kinda of mad!

I had a really fun time making the movies. But it was also a lot of work. Working in a group really helped. It was frustrating to always think you are running out of time. I hope everybody will enjoy my movie.

If you want to view the movies, go to categories:

In part 2, I will talk in more detail about what we did, how we did it, and how you might be able to replicate the project (the Longfellow Ten are still searching for other classes to join the secret initiative to create movies)

Peace (in movies),
Kevin

Joining the Longfellow 10: moviemaking

My friend, George, is up to something interesting again (last year, it was the inspiring Many Voices for Darfur project) and it reminds me that what goes around, comes around. Last year, George asked about integrating stop-motion animation in the classroom as my class was engaged in claymation projects. Now, he has a group of kids calling themselves The Longfellow Ten who are creating and producing stopmotion films around literary terms. And he asked if my students might be interested in joining his students, and possibly others, in building up a site of short stop-motion films on certain themes (George, can we do Math in the spring?).

I looked at my schedule, cleared out a few things and today, I began working with all four of my classes on stopmotion movies. I just let them play today and they had a blast, using the freeware (StopMotion Animator) and webcams and a few even made it into Moviemaker to start messing with titles. Tomorrow, we move on to the real lesson. They will be working in small groups to develop a short movie on a literary theme that is part of our curriculum:

Antagonist

Protagonist

Foreshadowing

Dialogue

Setting

First Person Point of View

Third Person Point of View

Plot

Characterization

Fiction

Non-Fiction

Here is a picture of them at “work” today.

And here is a little movie that I made with one of the classes to show how it is done.

More to come in the future …

Peace (frame by frame),
Kevin

The Hero Journey/Google Map Project

I am putting the finishing touches on the tutorial I am going to show my students as we launch into the Hero Journey Project that I have been writing about. Take a look and steal from it what you need:

Peace (in journeys),
Kevin

The Desks Will Hover

I like to pose some tech-related questions to my students each year, just to get a sense of where they are at with their own use of technology. I usually tack on this question: What will a classroom of the future (say, 50 years from now) look like? The answers are always amusing and interesting. This year, a big theme — floating chairs and desks.

Check out some of the student responses:

  • The desks will hover
  • Floating desks and robot teacher
  • High-tech pens.
  • A bunch of jet packs.
  • Exactly the same, but all electronics smaller.
  • The same
  • It might have floating desks, electronic chalk boards,and other things like that
  • I think they wouldn’t have chalk boards anymore; they would have the kind of board we have in the library — the “Alive” board or whatever; and they would have a computer attached to every desk and an electric pencil sharpener. The children would have personal white boards so they could envision what they’re learning. They would also have better heating and Air conditioning. 😉
  • A classroom in the future will have a robot teacher. Hmmmmm, maybe we can break it.
  • Cool with hats that tell you stuff
  • The walls might be made of slate and instead of desks we could have the teachers desks.
  • The desks will float, the chairs will have rockets on the bottom of them, and everything will be chrome.
  • robots take over the world
  • An old cob web place like very haunted house
  • There will not be school so there will not be one (classroom of the future)
  • There would be lots of Mac’s and no chalkboards. (there would be no chalkboards so teachers couldn’t write down homework :D:D:D)
  • It might be all white, have solar panel windows and desks and chairs that hover in the air
  • Flat screen computers that hang on the wall, floating desks, and animated teachers
  • Who knows what it could look like? It will be surprise. Hopefully the fab Mr.H will still be teaching.
  • White walls — fake windows — robot teachers —  smart-boards in every classroom —  all desks will also be computers
  • I hope Dr.cool is still teaching!!

I also took all of the answers and threw them into Wordle:

It’s nice to know that teacher will still be needed, although a few of them have converted us into robots.

I wonder what your kids think if you pose the same question.

Peace (in a robotic voice),
Kevin

Moving my Hero Journey into Google Earth

I knew this was possible (and thanks, Sheryl, for reminding me) but I had not done it, but … wow — moving my Hero’s Journey from Google Maps into Google Earth was very cool. And so simple: download the .kml file from my Google map and open it right up in Google Earth. So simple, and yet, being able to move across the globe like that, and to zoom down into the terrain … pretty amazing.

Want to give it a try? Here is the kml file from my Hero’s Journey sample. I am hoping you can just open it up and it will launch your Google Earth application (if you have it and if you don’t or need the Earth update — as I did — it will walk you through the process).

And thanks, too, to Sheryl for reminding me of the LitTrips site, in which teachers map out stories with kml files right on Google Earth. I found the one for the Odyssey interesting.

Peace (and safe journeys),
Kevin

Mapping out my Heroic Journey

So, I had this idea … (don’t these  projects all begin like that?). We have just finished reading The Lightning Thief, which is a fantastic book set in Modern Day against the landscape of Greek Mythology that has as its main character a boy (Percy Jackson) who is considered dyslexic and ADHD, but who finds out he is really a half-god and must avert World War III by returning the stolen Lightning Bolt of Zeus. The kids eat this book up and many were borrowing Greek Mythology books from the library. I had parents saying their kids were reading, on their own, more than I had assigned — for the first time that they could ever remember. Honest.

So, too bad we had to end it, right?

Next up: the graphic novel version of The Odyssey. I convinced my team to invest some of our shared resource funds into a set of the novel, which is going to be a perfect companion to The Lightning Thief, and should allow them to see how the travails of Odysseus (and his hubris) are alive and well in Percy Jackson. Plus, it has cool monsters and stuff. And it allows me to teach a bit about image and text and the dynamics of a graphic novel (this is another first for us).

So, I was trying to think about a project after we read The Odyssey and it occurred to me that a great project would be for them to create their very own Heroic Journey Home. It would be a creative journey, but how best to show it? Why not use an online mapping program, I realized, that would allow them to learn more about the technology and create something interesting. I thought about CommunityWalk — too many advertisements. I searched around for some others. Interesting, but nothing outstanding. And I kept returning to Google Maps and so, that is where I stand right now (but still searching).

And as it turns out, in writing class, we have been doing an entire descriptive writing project around monster, so there are illustrations of almost 90 monsters that they can draw upon to “encounter” on their way back home. Are you with me so far?

If so, can you give me some feedback on this sample Heroic Journey that I created?


View Larger Map
Thanks and peace (with as little hubris as I can muster),
Kevin

Wordle Up

Last week, I used Google Forms (part of the Google Docs suite) to survey my students on a variety of topics (including a community action/school spirit project). Two of the questions were open-ended: Why should they care about other people in the world and what would their motto/slogan be if they were running for president? I took their answers and put them into Wordle.

Here is what I got:

First: Why is it important that 11 and 12 year old students from a suburban town in Massachusetts care about other people in the world?

(I love how Care and Kids and Help and People are all huge)

And, what would your motto be if you were running for president?

(Is it significant that Peace and World and Change are most prominent? Yes, I believe it is)

Peace (in wordles),
Kevin

An Audio Adventure Story Collage


(this is an illustration from one of the adventure stories)

Yesterday, my students chose a section of their adventure stories to share and we created a collective podcast of their readings from each class. I love this idea of an audio collage, and students were quite interested to hear the bits and pieces of each other’s stories, wondering about the rest of the tales.

Give a listen:

Stories from First Period

Peace (in voice),
Kevin