This Made Me Think!

Today I did something that I’ve never done before. I worked with Jared Bennett, the 21st century fluencies consultant for our cluster, to help my Grade 1 and 2 students create Claymation videos. I’ll admit that I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I like to know what I’m doing before having my students do it, and today, we really were learning together. Jared was the expert though, and it was fantastic to have him there and to learn from him today.

Before today’s Claymation activity, the students worked in small groups of two, three, and four students to plan their stop motion movie. The Grade 1 students had to create a movie on ways to save energy and/or save the environment, and the Grade 2 students had to create a movie on the butterfly life cycle. These topics relate directly to our current TLCP on the environment, as well as to the Grade 1 and 2 science expectations. Students completed a planning sheet to guide them in their movie today, and then they expanded on the ideas in their journal, to assist them throughout the different scenes.

After first nutrition break today, Jared showed the students how to use the iStopMotion app to create their stop motion movies. Then the students got into groups to make the playdough characters for their movies, and get started. Jared’s stop motion shadow box idea helped the students easily manipulate their characters for their scenes, and even work against “gravity” by letting the characters fly without ever leaving the ground. What a great idea!

Students quickly realized that they needed to take hundreds of pictures for a movie that was anywhere from 12-20 seconds. They learned the importance of slowly moving their characters in each scene and working together to ensure that the final product looked the way that they wanted it to look. One group learned that it was better to just delete frames by themselves, as when they asked me for help, I ended up deleting the whole movie instead. Oops! I can’t believe how close the buttons are for “delete frame” and “delete all frames.” I definitely learned that trying to multi-task and delete is not a good idea! 🙂

The Grade 1 group that lost its movie was fantastic though, and instead of getting upset, the students worked together to start again … and created an even better movie than before. I guess that all things really do happen for a reason.

@mrjarbenne working with one group to publish their movie.

Students especially loved after the second nutrition break when Jared had uploaded all of the completed stop motion movies to iMovie, and then they could work together to add a title, add credits, pick a song, and add sound effects. In an effort to reinforce what the students have learned all year about being safe online, you’ll see in their movies that all of the students held up a card with their initials on it instead of their name. This seemed like a good alternative!

Once the movies were done, I loved having the students watch them and reflect on their work as well. They started by doing a knee-to-knee discussion on what they did well and what they would do differently the next time. After their oral discussion, students wrote this descriptive feedback and added it to their planning sheets, as reminders for similar future activities.

Looking at their feedback and watching the videos tonight, here’s what I would do differently the next time:

1) If dealing with the same topics, I would get the Grade 1 students to think of some key items to put in their background to help explain what the different characters are doing. In some videos, it’s hard to tell. Some students actually suggested to add in text and just give people long enough to read it. This sounds like another good alternative!

2) Make and post specific success criteria for this activity. Yes, I think that the students knew what was expected. We spoke about this a lot, and the students could explain what they were doing and why they were doing it. And yes, this activity relates to my current Grade 1 and Grade 2 TLCPs (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways) and matches up to the success criteria for them, but there almost needed to be more specific expectations for this lesson.

3) Get students to make a title page to use in iStopMotion. This would make things even easier when putting the stop motion movies into iMovie. It would also give the option not to put them into iMovie, although I love how the groups could easily add music and sound effects.

4) Get the students involved in the Twitter chat. This morning when I was tweeting about how excited I was for today’s activity, I decided to add the hashtag, #claymation2012. Soon enough, others were taking part in the conversation. Throughout the Claymation process today, Jared and I could share photographs and updates about what was happening in the classroom, giving the parents and the world a view of the process before the final product. As I was creating the Storify of the tweets tonight though, I started to think about the blogging station that Aaron Puley (@bloggucation) had at the Board’s Eco Fest, and I thought that a similar set-up would have been great today. As the students finished their Claymation projects, they could work together to tweet about what they did and even share their thoughts on the process. This could be a great way to add a writing component to this activity!

Now having read about the process and seen the tweets and videos, what are your thoughts? What did you like about this activity, and what would you suggest changing for the next time? I would love to hear your ideas!


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