Classroom Lessons

Lego Men and Perspective

Last night I was searching for a fun way to teach my kids “story boarding”to work on our digital stories. I wanted them to really select the images carefully and have them add to their story from an emotional point of view. I had remembered reading/learning about camera shots and angles and how they can affect the way our brains interpret the message. So I went to the internet. After a few webpages that were much to technical for Grade 4, I found some great pictures of Lego Men from different perspectives on the Official Class Blog of “I590: Interaction Culture” (Indiana University School of Informatics). I also found a good video titled “Using Camera Angles and Movement to Evoke Emotion“, although the guy in the video talks very quickly so you have to really stop to discus!
The first image we looked at is the top image on the left. The kids talked a little bit about how the focus was at the front and you really couldn’t tell what the group in the back was doing. It was interesting as soon as we looked a the second image the comments that I began to hear. 
Student A – They are “bullying” him. 
Teacher  – Why do you say that?
Student B – Well, he is being left out of the group and they all have mean looks on their faces, and weapons.
Teacher – Could you tell that from the first picture?
Student C – No because you cannot tell the distance between the Lego Men from the eye level shot. 
Student D – The Lego Man also looks smaller. I feel sorry for him.
This discussion continued for a good few minutes and it was so interesting to listen to the kids talk about how the picture angle changed the perspective. 
It was interesting to combine something that my kids love (Lego!) and something very technical. The kids were so into this and I hope that it will help them to select better pictures to add emotion to their digital stories!

Skype Session #1

Today we hosted our first Skype session in the Grade 4 class. We were studying rocks and minerals I thought that it would be neat to Skype a geologist into the classroom. I had tried to set up some Skype sessions earlier in the year, but never heard anything back from emails, and it ended up getting down to the bottom of the list. A few weeks ago I decided to give it another shot and I randomly messaged a few people that I noticed were “geologists” on their Twitter profile, and were active users. I was referred to @callanbentley and after a few tweets back and forth everything was arranged for today.

As a class we spent some time preparing question and deciding which questions were the best to ask. The kids were so excited I think that they would have each asked a question if I let them. I wrote the questions down on the board that we were going to ask to keep it really clear for the child asking them.

About 10 minutes before the session, we set our classroom up in “stadium seating” (moved all the desks to the side and made rows with our chairs, that were staggered so everyone could see!). During the session, the kids were so attentive and listed to Mr. Bentley’s responses. The 10 minute chat went by very quickly and had a very positive effect on the class.

After the session I had these comments
– “Can we do that again? It was so cool!”
– “That is so neat that he is in Northern Virginia and we our in our classroom seeing his rock samples.”
– “He has an awesome job because he is doing something you can tell he loves!”
– “I am going to take pictures of rocks when I am on vacation”. (A light bulb moment!)

I think that his was a very worthwhile experience for my class and something that I am going to try and do more frequently next year.

Special thanks to @callanbentley for visiting our class, and inspiring young minds to think about geology.