Monday, September 20, 2010


When I started my eFellowship I had the preconception that I would be exploring the extension of literacy skills with children through using animation.  Well, I am coming more and more to the conclusion that although there are some literacy skills being developed, there is far more happening than that. There is so much creativity and planning happening it is blowing me away. And the way in which children learn through observation of their peers is being strongly demonstrated.

On Friday (17th September) I decided to just set up the camera and lap top, in front of my newly created green screen, and see what happened. I had said to the children at mat time that anyone who wanted to try it out could. Toby immediately came up to me with a handful of small cars and said he was ready to start. I showed him how he needed to look at the screen to see where the cars were and showed him the key to push on the keyboard to take his photos. I stood back and watched as he carefully placed the cars and then proceeded to create his animation independently. He knew exactly how far to move his models between shots and worked with confidence and demonstrating an understanding of the entire process. When he said he was finished, and after I exported his animation to Imovie,  I asked him if he wanted to narrate his story or just find some sound effects. He opted for the sound effects and once these and his titles were completed I burned his movie to a CD to take home.

Toby's Movie

As soon as Toby had finished Lola stepped forward and said she was ready to have a go. I had seen Lola watching the other children who have made animations, as they worked, and she just got straight into things with our model fairies and quickly completed her animation. I was very impressed by the animation she created and the way she worked - I felt she had a concept in mind before she began and worked to create it as she worked so quickly and confidently.  By the time she had finished it was the end of the session and we agreed she would complete her movie today. When I asked her this morning if she was ready to complete her movie she was keen to start, but really wasn't very interested in the process to finish the movie. I could see that for her the creation of the animation was what engaged her interest and she was not really interested in the other elements whereas the other children have been engaged by the entire process. She decided just to add some music and was very happy with the finished movie when we had added the music.  I wonder if she had been able to complete her project in one session, or without a weekend between, she may have been more engaged in the process. It will be interesting to revisit the entire process with her, in one session, to see if it makes a difference.

Lola's Movie

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ICT Supporting Learning

At our Kindergarten we use our computers to extend children's learning on an almost daily basis through (just a few examples) -
  • sourcing information on the internet that we cannot find in our book libraries 
  • watching You Tube clips to further extend our learning (e.g. insect metamorphosis etc) 
  • exploring small things through our digital microscope or with our visualiser and projector
  • revisiting events through slideshows and movies
  • creating documentation for portfolios using digital cameras and Comic Life software
The list could go on and on.  As an aside I also often get children to record things as they are happening for me with the cameras and we have several fantastic photographers amongst them.  On excursions out of Kindergarten we always choose several 'official photographers' as having the 'child's view' of where we are visiting gives us a different perspective and helps in our understanding of the learning that has taken place.  Our children love being able to take photographs of their achievements at Kindergarten and then creating their own learning stories to add to their portfolios using Comic Life software, which is very user friendly.  (To download a free trial of Comic Life go here.)

I have recently recorded two examples of children using ICT to extend and support learning.  Firstly we have a group of budding architects who spend part of their time with us, every day, creating some stunning and amazing buildings.  To extend on this interest, the children and I used Google Images to find photographs of some wonderful and exciting buildings from around the world.  Since printing out, laminating and binding the photographs into a book, the children have been using this resource tool as a stimuli to create even more wonderful buildings. They choose buildings from the images to try and recreate or to recreate elements they can see to enhance their creations.  Here is a slide show of some of their wonderful buildings.

Another example is what happened after a recent concert the children attended at our local school.  The Polkadots invited our children to the concert and on their return to Kindergarten I created a slide show of the photographs I had taken of them and the performers.  I put my lap top onto the table the children were working on, with the slide show running, and the depth of detail in the drawings was amazing (I felt). The discussion happening as they worked was pretty amazing too as they used the slide show as a prompt to sharing their thoughts and ideas about what they had experienced during the performance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Something to think about...

I saw this last night and thought how it applies to all levels of education, and it related to a discussion we had at our Kindergarten today. It is great to have a resource like Ed Talks available - thanks Core!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Interview With Leo

I spent some time thinking about how I could get a reflection from Leo on his animation and decided to use our 'Easy-Speak' microphone to record what he said. He was a little unsure about the process, but I managed to get him to share some thoughts about making his animation with me. I am hoping that both my interview technique and the children's understanding of the interview process will improve with experience!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dear Zoo

This week I have been working with Leo who decided last week that he wanted to recreate his favourite book, 'Dear Zoo' by Rod Campbell, as an animation. He discussed with me his plans before I went to Christchurch last week so we planned to do it this week.
On Monday, he arrived ready to set to work with a huge smile. He quickly assembled his characters and was really pleased when I produced a copy of the book as a reference and he checked he had everything ready by reading through it after he had assembled his animals. Suddenly he realised we don't have a model camel at Kindergarten but came up with a solution to this by finding a zebra and deciding that it was too "runny".
We set to work and I showed Leo how the process works, and how he needed to move his model only a short space to create the impression of movement and after two sets of photos with his first model, the elephant, he took control and did the rest of the animation himself. Before each movement he planned where he would place the model carefully before moving it. He made the 'monkey' model do somersaults because "he was too naughty" and told me the frog would be doing big moves between photos because "he's very jumpy so has to do big jumps."
I was impressed with the forethought and planning Leo undertook in his animation and the way he quickly and successfully grasped the process and created his animation.
One thing that has become obvious through this work (and using a smaller table this time to make moving the models easier) was the need for a defined work area for the animator. It is very easy for the camera to be bumped and moved, or the models, by an over enthusiastic audience during the filming. To overcome this I taped off an area around the table and camera with masking tape and a number of children chose to sit behind this and offer their thoughts and own excitement in the process. Leo was much happier with this defined area to work in as well.
We only had enough time to complete filming (he took 632 frames) so the next morning a very excited Leo walked in the door - "we can finish my movie today and I can choose the music and talk."
When we sat down to edit and create the movie in iMovie Leo was so excited it took him some time to really stop and think about the choice of title music but he immediately wanted green for the background of his title page.
He just loved wearing the headphone/mic and after several takes the job was finished. He was so happy and proud of his work. At the end of the session he shared the movie with everyone (including his mum) at mat time, with immense and justifiable pride, and he took home a CD of his movie in Quicktime to share with the rest of his family.
I was impressed with the way Leo worked on his project, the understanding he had of the animation process and the forethought he put into every move he made of his models. I again learnt more about the process and am creating a green background as the blue is really not very successful. I have had a number of children helping me paint a piece of card flouro green to replace the blue screen and it will be interesting to see if it is easier to add the background picture next time.
I had a child approach me today to tell me he wants to make a movie and had brought a toy from home to do it with. He has even decided on a story about his toy to create with. it. I was surprised and delighted as he was not one of the children I anticipated would show an interest in this process and I am looking forward to seeing what he will create.