Stop Motion Colonial Perspectives

colonial stop motion (11)

I just love it when a teacher steps out and tries something totally new just to see where it goes.  Some of the most exciting projects happen when a teacher gives himself or herself permission to say, “Hey, I have this crazy idea”.  Mr. Coleman, 4th grade teacher, does this often.  He isn’t afraid to step out and try something that no one else has done and look for the miraculous things happening all along the way.

Fourth grade is currently studying colonial life in social studies.  He wanted to weave in something from our makerspace or some new type of technology that would allow students to engage with the content in different ways.  During a quick brainstorm, we tossed around several ideas and he reflected on them overnight.  The next day, he came back with the idea to create stop motion videos that showed the perspectives of various roles in colonial America.

To start, students watched many stop motion videos in class just to see what they looked like. In the library, they came for a tinkering session using Stop Motion Studio.  As we usually do during tinkering, I encouraged them to press every button to see what it did.  I also told them to not focus on creating a polished product but to try out many different strategies to see what worked best for stop motion.  Most of these students had never made a stop motion video before. They grabbed Legos, stuffed animals, and pipe cleaners to use in their videos and got to work.

colonial stop motion (1)

Mr. Coleman and I walked around and tried to give students tips that we were observing from other groups.  The main thing we noticed is that students were constantly moving the iPads which ruined the effect of stop motion.  They also weren’t taking enough pictures to show movement.  A few students started getting the hang of both of these, so we relied on them some to help other groups.  We also found it helpful to regroup and have kids share tips to the whole group as well as share out own tips.

Back in class, students selected a perspective to showcase in a stop motion video.  Many students were drawn to either slaves or women.  They formed groups and started developing a plan.  Across 3 one-hour work sessions they came back to the library to create their videos.  They pulled things from makerspace, used objects around the library, brought things from home, and made things to use in their videos.  Some groups jumped right into their projects with a lot of success while others had to learn to work together or how to back up and try again.  Mr. Coleman also gave them some time to work in class.

I loved how different strategies developed during the work time.  Students began using their computers as a setting and stage or used library bookends to help characters stand up.

Mr. Coleman and I constantly walked around to conference with groups.  We had them back up and look at their work to see where they might need to add pictures.  We also had them talk through their story to see if they had enough to tell a perspective.

As students finished up in their final work session in the library, we exported the videos onto the iPad camera roll and uploaded them to a shared folder in Google Drive.

Mr. Coleman plans to take these videos and continue using them in class.  Students might write out scripts and do voice over or maybe they will add music and simply attach an accompanying script.  However this goes from here, it was a big leap in using technology and tools we have tinkered with in our makerspace.  Many pieces wove together to support a social studies curriclum standard in a creative way.  Student interests, creativity, and expertise came into play in many groups.  I invite you to take a look at their work in progress.  This Youtube playlist is the raw footage that still needs to be finalized, but I always like to show that our work is never really finished.  There’s always something more we can do.


Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer First Prints!

IMG_1471Today my Makerspace Maniacs group met for enrichment clusters.  This group is made up of 9 students in grades 2-5.  They had already heard that the 3D printer had arrived and they were eager to give it a try.  For demonstration purposes, we used the files that were pre-loaded on the SD card that came with the Makerbot in order to print.  They voted on what to print and chose Mr. Jaws, a shark that can serve as a paper holder.  We went through the menu screens and selected our print and pressed the red M button.  We were ready to be amazed, but our print failed!  So what happened?  It seemed that the filament began to ooze out of the extruder before moving onto the build plate.  This caused some buildup that interfered with the actual print file sticking to the build plate.  Instead, it got tangled up in itself and made a ball of filament on the plate instead of a shark.  Did we give up?  Of course not.  We used a Rachel Ray silicone spatula to catch the filament oozing out before it moved onto the build plate, and our shark printed great.  In the process, we had a great conversation about how makers don’t give up.  They learn from mistakes, and they expect that things rarely go right on the first try.

The students were amazed by what the printer could do, and they already starting talking about what they wanted to design.  We really have our work cut off for us because we know the process is going to be filled with learning curves.  Today, the Athens Banner Herald also came and interviewed me and the students.  They were eager to tell the paper their stories of how they plan to use the printer.  I hope some of their stories come across in the article.

IMG_1477Today, throughout the day I’ve printed the nut & bolt, the chain links, and another stretchy bracelet.  I wanted to practice changing filament, so I switched to red for the bracelet.  I was surprised at how easy it is to change the filament, and I loved that the Makerbot walks you through each step on the menu screens as well as in the printed manual.  I also experimented with how to remove items from the build plate.  The painters tape really does help, and so far, I like the flexible Rachel Ray spatulas that I’m using.  It was also suggested to me by TimeOutDad to use this Cricut tool from Amazon.

Throughout the day, several students and teachers have stopped by to watch the printer print and to talk with me about how we might use it this year.  I called Makerbot and got a quote for 12 more rolls of filament as well.  Ideas are brewing.  We’re already learning lots, and we’re almost ready to venture out into the waters of the unknown.