Stop Motion Animation, Inquiry, and Metacognition

At integratED PDX, I attended a workshop called Making Thinking Visible with iPads facilitated by Michelle Cordy. Michelle teaches Grade 3/4 with 1-to-1 iPads. One of the ideas that I got from her workshop was about the use of stop motion animation apps such as iMotionHD in order to allow students to record their learning process and then think metacognitively about their learning experience.

The example that Michelle provided was students who were engaged in a bridge building activity. After they were completed the activity, the students were able to explain their strategies for building their bridge and draw on top of the photographs to show specific elements that they had identified. Being able to record and document the learning and thinking process, is such an authentic form of assessment that provides meaningful feedback for the student and teacher. This was such a powerful example of how an app like stop motion animation can be re-purposed for another use and redefine (R-in SAMR) the learning experience.

I think that the application for this type of learning activity is limitless in the K-12 environment. The stop motion apps are very easy to operate that even very young students would be capable of recording their learning process. The set up is also very minimal (a stand for the tablet or device with the app on it), and does not distract students during the learning experience. Most apps will allow you to adjust the amount of time between each picture being taken so depending on the length of the activity the appropriate time can be selected.

Some examples that I can think of are:
– recording science experiments
– recording group work
– process of creating a piece of art work
– solving math problems with hands-on manipulatives

When I got back to my class, I did a little bit of experimenting with this concept. I had not had time to have the app installed on my class set of iPads yet so I had my students take pictures manually and strung them together with Animoto. When my students were exploring various rocks and mineral samples, I had 1 member of each group take photos and upload them to Dropbox and then I was able to post the Animoto videos on my classroom blog, and students were able watch the video, reflect and to make comments about the learning and activity.

This is an example of the video that I produced for my students:

iPDX14 Takeaways

This past week, I had the opportunity to take part in integratED – Portland organized by OETC.  This conference has a different feel than your regular education conference as it brings together facilitators from across the United States and Canada, to run hands-on workshops where participants are actively engaged in exploring, creating, and playing! One of the great features of this conference, is that there is often multiple sessions that you want to attend at once, so the organizers created a collaborative notes document for participants to share their learning from each session in. This way, you are able to access information from multiple concurrent sessions.

Some of the highlights of the conference for me were:

Opening Keynote – Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of Make Magazine  (Twitter @Frauenfelder)
– As the cost of goods has decrease, society has become more disposable
– Design has changed to be disposable. It is much cheaper to buy a solution to your problem than to make a solution to your problem.
– The internet has allowed the common person, to be able to collaborate with people around the globe to expedited the speed of iteration and respond to changes faster than larger corporations/organizations can.
– Important for everyone to learn that mistakes are part of the design process/learning process. The more you make mistakes earlier in the design process they easier and cheaper they are to correct.

Workshop 1 – Create More, Consume Less – Nancy Mangum, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (Twitter: @nmangum) – Key Apps – Pic Collage, I-Nigma (QR Code Reader), Stop Motion Studios, Tellagami, Videolicious, 30 Hands
– The affordances of iPads allow students to capture and create works of media
– When working with content creation apps, the ability to export to the camera roll is essential
– Importance of creating emotional responses during the learning process, reference to John Medina author of Brain Rules
– Tasks must be designed carefully to allow students to explore and create, resulting in multiple ways to express their understanding

Workshop 2 – Making Connections: Supporting Education Technology as a Building Leader – Tricia George, Director of Technology, North Clakamas Schools,  (Twitter: @kicking333) and Tim Lauer, Principal, Lewis Elementary School (Portland) (Twitter: @timlauer)
– Participants were broken down into small table groups for a round table discussion
– People are struggling with the SAMR model; many people are still finding technology being used in the “substitution” realm
– Integration happens after you build capacity within the system; identify a cadre of teachers who you can bring together on a regular basis to build capacity and identify mentors for others
– Importance of having information easily accessible and transparent (for all stake holders)
– Stress the importance of your staff using email properly – establish clear expectations for the use of email. There are better ways to communicate!

Workshop 3Play is Hard Work – (Twitter: @Budtheteacher)
– Trust is so important in building community – whether with a class of kids, or a department of teachers
– Find ways to express that your classroom/school is a place where people are supported to ‘play’, explore, learn from mistakes, grow. One example that was given, was having LEGO available during a meeting to build and tinker with. – Adults/Teachers sometimes need a reminder of the power of play.
– The further you go in school the more you lose the ‘play’ culture; perhaps, it could be suggested the more it is even needed!
– There are many constraints within the school system that we do not have control over; by looking for ways to incorporate play/improv it allows us to move within the constraints in the best possible way
– instead of saying “yes, but…” try and rephrase into “yes, and..”

Workshop 4 – Networking!

Workshop 5Let Students Be Amazing – Ben Grey, Chief Innovation Officer (Twitter: @bengrey)
– The tools and technology that we have today allow us to re-conceptualize what learning can look like. The landscape has changed and we need to adapt.
– Leadership within his school district will have spent 7 full days (63 hours) developing capacity to think beyond the traditional models of learning
– Our students are empowered to learn with or without us. They are clearly very empowered to learn outside of the classroom. How to do change the ‘classroom’ to make sure they are empowered to learn there as well.
– Control is something that all teachers struggle to give up – We all live in the “what if …” – as an institution are we prepared to deal with these questions
– We often discourage or protect kids from experiencing hard things. We want to save them from having negative experiences.
– The amplification of the internet – ideas now can be shared so much faster and further.

Workshop 6 – Visible Thinking with Apps – Michelle Cordy, Thames Valley District School Board (Twitter:@cordym) – Keys to utilizing iPads effectively – App Flow, Assessment, Workflow
– App Flow – many apps are highly specialized, getting more than one app to work together is called ‘App Flow’ or ‘App Smash’, want to create content utilzing different apps and be able to stitch them together
– Assessment – being able to collect student work, annotate it, provide feedback and return it to students
– Kids can feel bogged down with the learning process, need to streamline it as much as possible so they can be metacognitive and learn about how they learn
– Mindset is key when having kids use iPads – need to prepare them for the eventuality that everything won’t work all the time- great analogy “You have to sharpen your pencil just like you might have to restart your iPad app”
– iPads (current technology) is the worst technology these kids will ever use in their life -> It will only get better from here!
– Apps need to be ankle high to get started, but unlimited possibilities of what you can do with them
– Great application of Stop Motion Animation in documenting the learning process (detailed post to follow)
– Great ideas for Book Creator app (detailed post to follow)

Closing Keynote Speaker – Scott Berkun (Twitter: @berkun) – The future of work is going to look very different from today
– Work has changed from meaningful survival tasks, to now tasks that allow us the funds in order to be able to do those things that we consider meaningful
– Interesting to think about the lack of engagement in the current workforce and what role students moving through school unengaged results in them moving to the workforce unengaged
– There are lots of cultural traditions around work that are not productive; There are lots of cultural traditions around school that are not productive or may not be the best option
– Progress is messy
– Innovation is a catch phrase – better to say ‘significant positive change’
– Much faster to skim text than to skim video -> Interesting connection to the ‘flipped classroom’ -> mostly video based -> perhaps to limit skimming?
– Email empowers the sender
– Blogging/chat feature empower the reader

iPads: First six weeks

I have had iPads in my classroom now for approximately 6 weeks. With 8 school iPads, 3 iMacs, 1 laptop, and my personal iPad we can almost reach 1-to-1 if we need to.

Although my students had mostly used iPads previously, they really didn’t know how to “use” iPads in the context of learning.  They knew the basic functions (how to turn on and off, navigate to a specified app, change settings in the system preference), but having them think of them as a learning device instead of an entertainment device was the first shift in thinking that I broached. Developing an acceptable use policy, as a class was a great first step in getting them to view them as a tool for learning. I also have been very careful in selecting the ways in which students utilize the apps to so they are not used as an extra activity students can do when they have finished there work. I think that the time spent in this page was critical to future success with iPad/1-to-1/BYOD type programs. It is important to not make any assumptions in students knowledge when it comes to technology – they may be very good with technology, but they have often not learned how to use it for learning.

Prior to starting the iPad project, I did a fair bit of research to examine how other schools and teachers were implementing iPads in the classroom. There was a huge spectrum of usage – from drill and kill style digital worksheets to individualize personal learning. I wanted to be deliberate, focused, and purposeful from the introduction in my classroom as I could see there was a lot of experimentation that had already taken place and I didn’t want to waste anytime. From my research, my belief was that iPads were great devices to increase student engagement, allow students to demonstrate their understanding in multiple ways through content creation, and provide students with a medium to share their learning with a broader audience.  This has formed the basis for how the iPads are being integrated into my teaching practice.

The next challenge was to select apps for the iPads that would facilitate these goals. I also wanted to select apps that would be easy for students in Grade 4 to use independently (without assistance – but not necessarily as only 1 student), flexible across subject disciplines, build students digital literacy skills, and complement each other (weave together). Although this was not a requirement, all of the apps that I have utilized so far have been free. There are a great deal of free apps out there.

How have we been utilizing the iPads to support learning in the classroom and work toward our goals?

Increase Student Engagement

• A favourite activity so far has been utilizing the website Today’s Meet to have a back channel going on during a lesson or activity. One iPad per group of students (2-4) allows the students to share and post there ideas that are going on during the activity. Often students thinking will get deeper during the session, as they see each others ideas and build a deeper understanding.  As I teach in the PYP, our programme is designed to be inquiry based the back channel has been a great way of recording students thinking and wonderings during our lesson. As the website Today’s Meet allows the ‘room’ to be archived the conversation can be saved and utilized for in the future.

• Other apps/websites such as NearPod, and Socrative allow you to embed assessment questions into a presentation and allow students to become active participants.

Content Creation

• Apps like ScreenChomp, Explain Everything (fee), and Educreations turn the iPad into an interactive whiteboard screen with a recording feature. This allows students to write and explain their thinking orally. We have utilized this for explaining how we are solving math problems so far, but can also be used for explaining sequences of events such as the water cycle, or explaining a diagram. This apps can also be utilized to create “flip-classroom” type video lessons.

Share Learning

• I selected KidBlog as our online sharing platform. This allows the students to post their work so that it can be shared with myself, the other students, and their parents. It also allows them to develop an e-portfolio of there work over the school year.

Developing Acceptable Use Policies with Students

This year I have begun an iPad pilot project in my Grade 4 classroom. One of the first things that I knew needed to be done was to develop an acceptable use policy with my students so that they would take ownership over utilizing the iPads as learning devices.

Over the first couple of weeks of school, we worked through the Digital Passport by Common Sense Media and developed our own class acceptable use policy with the students taking ownership of the creation. We worked through the various modules and had some great class discussions after watching the videos. My students also drew upon the IB Learner Profile and Attitudes to help explain some of the components of the acceptable use policy.

These were the ideas that my class developed!

Grade 4 Digital Citizenship
Technology Acceptable Use Policy

  1. There is an appropriate time and place for technology.
  2. Be mindful of the people around you when using technology.
  3. Don’t get distracted or side tracked from the task.
  4. Don’t share personal information.
  5. Everything online is permanent. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say to someone.
  6. If you see something mean or inappropriate you need to tell an adult immediately.
  7. Use specific keywords when doing a search – the more specific you can be the better.
  8. Try to locate more than one place with the same information to make sure it is accurate.
  9. We need to have integrity when using information. Make sure to acknowledge where they information came from.
  10. Be appreciative and respect other peoples’ hard work.
  11. Be a THINKER – How can you make it your own? Know what is right and wrong.
  12. Use your creativity to make your own work awesome!
  13. Be an independent thinker and don’t rely on other people.
  14. Be a risk taker and share your ideas safely online being open to constructive feedback.

When you take a look at this list – it is fairly comprehensive for what my Grade 4 students will be using technology for. As they took part in developing it, they also take ownership of implementing it and I have noticed students helping keep their classmates on track! As we continue on our journey, we can always add more components to our policy if the need arises.