Digital Technologies Week 7 – Animation

According to the Moving Image Education website, “Animation ‘breathes life into something that wouldn’t normally move’.” Today we were challenged with creating a stop-motion animation to tell part of a story.

I was soon inspired with thoughts of Wallace and Gromit-style plasticine models. My expectations were quickly altered as I watched a series of tutorials and discovered the time and skill that it takes to produce something of the sort.

Rather than simply being a beginners’ sort of movie-making, animation is an art in its own right. There are five different types of animation, which serve different purposes: cutout, stop-motion model, pixillation, drawn and computer animations (Moving Image Education).

We found that the simplest to create was cutout animation and My partner and I were lucky enough to have had experience with the iStop Motion app on placement where we created a scene for their Viking topic with small groups of primary three children.

We decided to challenge ourselves with creating a scene in the plasticine stop motion style. We had an hour and a half to fully familiarise ourselves with the app and create our scene. We began by animating the process of creating one plasticine character, with little details such as the character picking up his second arm and ‘putting it on’ by himself. It was a very fun and engaging session and as we went we were further inspired, which culminated in a 14 second sequence where another character came along and jumped on the original and made a ‘splash.’

This was a fun activity with the potential to form a basis of a very engaging lesson. Besides the obvious development of Technology skills that takes place when creating an animation, asking children to do a task like this gives them an opportunity to “communicate clearly when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning, using selected resources as required,” meeting the Literacy outcome LIT 1-10a (Scottish Government, 2004). A lesson creating animation is yet another opportunity to use Technology in the classroom in a way that promotes inclusion for those students with additional support needs, who may not be able to tell their story as well by putting pen to paper as they can by designing a model and ‘bringing it to life.’

The only limitation I could see with this in a lesson is that it took us the full hour and a half to create 14 seconds of footage. However, this could be useful in the classroom to promote groupwork – with small groups of children each creating one snippet of a story.

One key finding of the Digital Literacy Impact Review (Scottish Government, 2015) was that while there is evidence that digital tools and resources can help to close the attainment gap, it is just as important that teachers are equipped with the skills to use it; it is not enough simply that the technology is available for use in the classroom, teachers must be familiar with it and competent when using it. After this session, I am confident in my ability to use the iStop Motion app to create animations and quite excited to hopefully see it used, or use it myself, in the classroom again on my next placement.

 

References

Moving Image Education: [Online] https://movingimageeducation.org/create-films/animation [Accessed: 21 February 2018].

Scottish Executive (2004). Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government. 2015. Digital Literacy Impact Review. [Online] Edinburgh: APS. [Accessed: 21 February 2018].

Digital Technologies Week 5 – eBooks

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an eBook as “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or a specifically designed handheld device.” Today in Digital Technologies we designed our own eBooks and examined how they could be useful in the classroom.

First of all, we were given a task in groups to create a brochure for UWS with prospective students in mind. We used the Book Creator app on an iPad. To make the University seem appealing to new applicants, we fully utilised the features of the app.  It was very easy to customise the book by selecting appropriate colours and fonts for our purpose. It was also simple to insert videos and images taken or saved on the iPad. In less than half an hour we had managed to familiarise ourselves with the app and create an effective multimodal text which made use of a number of semiotic systems through the inclusion of text, sound and video. Another group took a look at our UWS brochure and said that it was engaging and attractive. This made clear to me how useful it could be in the classroom to be able to create a small eBook in such a short space of time.

With this experience of the book creator app, we were then tasked with creating either a summary of a well-known book or a small eBook to help someone engage with the book. I chose “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. As it is such a long book, I chose to create a short close reading exercise for Key Stage 2 which would encourage reflection on personal relationships. The eBook asks questions about where Matilda likes to spend time and how that relates to the way the people around her treat her. It then goes on to ask for a comparison of how Miss Honey treats her and how her parents treat her, which is an activity which links to LIT 2-14a: “I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate.” (Scottish Executive, 2004). The last page of the eBook asks for reflection on how different people in their life make them feel through their actions, and how they can affect the feelings of others with their own actions. This links a literacy lesson to Health and Wellbeing outcome HWB 2-05a (“I know that friendship, caring, sharing, fairness, equality and love are important in building positive relationships. As I develop and value relationships, I care and show respect for myself and others.” (Scottish Executive, 2004).).  These exercises were not simply written down on paper. I believe that being able to use an iPad to flick through the exercise makes it more effective for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was multimodal as I used a number of Quentin Blake’s illustrations from relevant parts of the book to help prompt the answers to close reading questions that I both wrote in text on the page and inserted as voice clips. As we know, multimodal texts encourage accessibility in the classroom and are a useful way to close a gap in higher order thinking for individuals who may find it more difficult to follow along with reading text. Beauchamp (2012, p.88) further suggests that children who are reading from tablets in the house will be more inclined to use the same mobile devices in their learning than they may be, perhaps, to use physical books.

For myself as a prospective teacher, this was an interesting tool to learn to use. I did not realise how quickly an eBook could be created or that they could include video or voice clips – it was my own misconception that eBooks were simply novels in digital form. It is particularly relevant to me as a budding teacher in Scotland as our Digital Teaching and Learning Strategy specifically aims to develop the skills of our educators (Scottish Government, 2016). While I consider myself relatively competent and experienced with using computers the creation of eBooks for a purpose like this had never occurred to me as a way to embed technology in the classroom. An eBook like this can be created quickly, edited easily for different levels and distributed to students efficiently using Apple AirDrop – as long as iPads are available in the classroom. While this may seem like an unrealistic expectation in the classroom, tablets are getting cheaper all the time and there is motivation in particular by Education Scotland to ensure there are handheld devices available in school to enhance learning (BBC, 2012).

By the time I am a fully qualified teacher, if handheld devices are as widely available as this, I think that the ability to quickly create an eBook will be a useful skill to have.

References

BBC (2012). Education Scotland looks to expand use of tablets in schools. BBC News. [Online] 16 May. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-18081005 [Accessed: 9 February 2018].

Beauchamp, G. (2012). ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Harlow: Pearson. p.88.

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence.  Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government (2016) Enhancing Teaching and Learning through the use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. [Online] Available: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/enhancing-learning-teaching-through-use-digital-technology/ [Accessed: 8 January 2017].

Digital Technologies Week 4 – Coding

This week in digital Technologies I planned a lesson in which children would be asked to create their own twist on a fairy-tale using the coding app Scratch Jr. This lesson bundled literacy outcomes with technology outcomes and gave children some practical experience with coding.

To do this I had to familiarise myself with Scratch Jr., which I had never used before. I had around half an hour to get used to the app. This lesson would need to be carried out in a class with a good amount of prior experience coding using Scratch Jr. I created my own twist on the Princess and the Frog which could be used as a hook at the beginning of the lesson to help engage and inspire students. It would be important in this lesson to highlight the breadth of possibilities in this task – for instance writing the fairy tale from the perspective of the villain or sidekick. It would be important to suggest some ideas to minimise the chance of anxiety for students when attempting to create their story. The Experiences and Outcomes that would be explored in this lesson are as follows:

  • By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in a logical sequence and use words which will be interesting and/or useful for others. LIT 1-26a
  • I can convey information, describe events, explain processes or combine ideas in different ways. LIT 2-28a
  • I can demonstrate a range of basic problem solving skills by building simple programs to carry out a given task, using an appropriate language. TCH 1-15a
  • I can create, develop and evaluate computing solutions in response to a design challenge. TCH 2-15a

(Scottish Government, 2004).

Learning to code as early as primary school is important to ensure that “that the next generation of digital natives will not just be able to consume digital content but create it.” (Curtis, 2013). Obviously, it will equip children with practical skills needed to succeed in STEM fields, but another, lesser known, benefit of learning to code is the variety of problem-solving skills it develops. Coding will give children valuable experience in breaking processes and problems down into smaller segments to be solved (Naughton, 2012).

Coding in the classroom using an application such as Scratch Jr. is a valuable way to create engaging lessons across the curriculum. It is also useful in helping to develop a number of transferable skills in problem-solving for a generation immersed in technology.

References

Curtis, S. (2013). Teaching our children to code: a quiet revolution. The Telegraph. [Online] 4th November. Available: The Telegraph. [Accessed: 8 February 2018].

Naughton, J. (2012). Why all our kids should be taught how to code. The Observer. [Online] 31st March. Available: The Guardian. [Accessed: 8 February 2018].

Scottish Executive (2004). Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.