Recently the FDLT Year 1 students have been learning about stop motion animation and exploring how this might support and inspire learning. Students chose an idea and planned and made a short animation to explain it.
On Monday I was lucky to attend a creative session in the School Experience Library, at Park Campus, University of Northampton. This session, arranged by Academic Librarian, Hannah Rose and Library Learning Services, brought two author illustrators to share with us their approaches to writing and illustrating.
First Birgitta Sif shared with us her journey to being an author illustrator and her process of writing. Birgitta’s first books was ‘Oliver’, a book about a little boy who was different and how he found friendship. As she read it to us she helped us look more carefully at how the illustrations enriched the text and gave us clues and extra surprises. These included searching for a mouse who present in each picture, finding a character who appeared in the middle of the story actually appears in the previous pictures too and using the text inside the pictures to guide us in the story.
She also showed us how she makes a story by making small sketches to get to know her characters, making tiny prototype books and by drawing the world of the character and the places and people or animals the character encounters. She draws from life and imagination and when she is stuck she goes for walks outside and plays with her children.
Then Dave Barrow shared his work with us. His first book was ‘Have you seen elephant?’, a book about a game of hide’n’seek with great visual jokes throughout. As Dave read it to us he helped us understand how he had drawn the illustrations by sketching from life, from videos and trying things out for himself.
Dave also did some live drawing taking ideas from children to give us ideas about how to construct a character through drawing and talking. We could really see how this could lead to imaginative stories as the children talked with Dave. Dave helped them think about how the personality and characteristics of a character could be apparent in a drawing as well how to show clues about the character in the picture so that they didn’t have to be stated in the text. he also showed us how to show the size and scale of a character. He also answered questions about how long it takes to write a story, how many drafts it takes and how sometimes an idea has to be let go to improve the story.
What can we learn?
Make little prototype books to try out and sequence ideas.
Draw and sketch from life.
If you get stuck go outside for a walk.
Practice drawing if you want to improve.
Draw a character to get know it before you start to write it into a story.
Link characteristics of the character with the story you’re going to write.
Keep drafting and improving.
Some of these are things you might try in school or when you are writing.
As part of the session we also made our own character to take away and maybe write a story about, inevitably, mine was a cat!
This week both FDLT Year 1 groups visited Newton Field Centre in Northamptonshire.
They explored how a visit to a Field Centre could support learning in geography, science,history and art. The Field centre teacher, Georgina Hand and a University of Northampton lecturer, Ken Bland, led activities such as measuring the flow of the river, measuring the profile of the river, collecting and classifying invertebrates from the river and using them to measure the environmental quality of the water. The subject knowledge associated with these areas is crucial when supporting learning and this is an area where visiting a field centre with specialist teaching staff can be invaluable to schools.
The students also explored the molehills in the field to collect rocks and stones an these were compared and classified later. The app iGeology and large scale maps of the area are useful resources for this kind of activity. They explored the field for evidence of human use in the past – the pond and the dovecote both being sources of food for the large house that used to exist on the site.
Whilst in the field the students created land art using just the resources available to them in the large field. Because of the time of year there were lots of dandelions in flower and as clocks – a great source of material for making. It was interesting to see of the range of art made featuring circles, lines, colour, contrasts, using techniques such as weaving, placing and pressing down. By now it will all have changed and returned to nature. Finally the students collected leaves to make their own key to the vegetation at newton as a model for making a key on their school sites using the plants around them.
Some of us who teach on FDLT, BALT and other education courses along with students and local teachers are part of an Erasmus+ project called Digital learning Across Boundaries – DLAB for short. We are working with educators in Belgium, Denmark and Norway.
In May we are sharing a free online course based around our theme this year; using digital technology to support learning outside. The materials will be based around our themes:
art in the environment
You can read more about the course and sign up here.
If you are working in schools you will be able to access stimulating and creative approaches and activities that you can use with your pupils. Part of the course will be based around online sharing of activities and outcomes through a Google Community.
The project has a twitter account: @DLAB_Erasmus and a website where you can find more details and examples from the project.
This week each of the FDLT Year 2 visited art galleries to explore how learning can be inspired and developed in locations other than the classroom.
The UN group travelled to Avenue Campus to look at the exhibition ‘Under Construction’. This is an exhibition of photographs taken by the second year BA Hons Photography students and records the changing environment of Northampton. This year the photos were taken at the old Royal Mail sorting office and development of the new Waterside Campus.
The group explored how the exhibition could be used to support learning in art and across the curriculum and then went on to take their own photos around a theme or idea of their choice. They chose and edited their photos on their phones or tablets, presenting them as photo collages.
The Leicester group visited New Walk Museum and Gallery in Leicester. They explored the collection of Victorian and modern paintings, trying out starter activities to get pupils used to being in a gallery and focused on art and identified and discussed pictures that could be connected. One of the travelling exhibitions at the gallery was ‘Sublime Symmetry‘. This was an exhibition by the William de Morgan Foundation and was focused on art and mathematics. There were resources for younger pupils to use (hanging up in activity bags), Key Stage 2 mathematics exploration workbooks and art leaflets: some of the supporting resources can be seen here. The students could also explore the dinosaur display, the Ancient Egyptian section and a hands on science exhibit.
Some of the discussion in these session will help them work on assignments in their enriching learning beyond the classroom module.
This year the FDLT Year 1 students in both Leicester and Park Campus, Northampton used the university Ipads as part of their learning. In a session focused on using digital technology to enrich the curriculum (art) they were given a key art idea to search for examples of and photograph. They went off to observe, capture and edit around the outdoor environment. It was interesting that because they had been given a very specific focus on what to look for they began see examples everywhere and be quite creative in the way they captured these examples.
When they returned to the classroom the students collected their images together and presented them as photo collages using the PicCollage app. They added borders and text and then airdropped them to the session tutor so they could be shared with the group. All the collages were added to a ThingLink that also contains the relevant subject knowledge information which is enhanced by the visual examples present in the photo collages.
Over the last few weeks the FDLT Y2 groups have been using animation, greenscreen and video editing apps to create short films.
This year we used the animation app ‘iMotion’ to make the animations. This is a relatively simple to use free app (there is a paid for version with a few extra features). This time when we used it some of the groups experienced a problem in that if they stopped animating and watched their films back when they continued the film did not always continue on from what they had previously done. We were able to correct this using iMovie but it was frustrating and sometimes demotivating.
Something else we tried this year for the first time was filming the animation against a green screen and then adding a background using the DoInk greenscreen app. This allowed them to set their story against one or more photographs that they had chosen. As we used it we also found that the animation could be moved around on the screen to a better position and the photo could be adjusted too. This app was very user friendly and a student recommended the DoInk animation app which is something we will investigate for next time (to help overcome the problems outlined above).
After the animations were made and the photographic background added we used iMovie to edit the films. For some this meant reordering their scenes and for all it meant adding sound. Some students chose some music from the limited range available on iMovie. Others added narration, dialogue and sound effects as well. Films can also be edited in YouTube, which has a much larger choice of music.
Along the way students also used the photosforclass.com website to find photos; Dropbox, to save films at different stages and YouTube to share and edit films. It was impressive to see the level of team work, creativity and perseverance from the groups of students as they worked together to create their animations. They can seen on this YouTube channel:
The students learn how to animate and use green screen so that they can explore how to use digital technology to support and enrich learning across the curriculum. Underpinning much of the activity was narration, imagination and storytelling – many of them told stories and designed story boards in order to develop their story before beginning to animate.
Some students set their animations in non-fiction contexts that involved some research about their area (global warming, animal homes). Throughout they listened, negotiated, described, speculated, evaluated and asked questions (English). In addition this some students explored aspects of the history, science or geography curriculum to set their animation in context. All the students were engaged in designing and making sets and props and some made their own characters. Some students researched to find and evaluate images to use for their backgrounds (art and design, design and technology). All the students were engaged with using digital technology to make and edit their films (computing).
We hope that students will go and use these skills in their support for learning in schools as teaching assistants, or in the future as they become teachers. the potential for learning in the classroom or in after school clubs is huge. As adults they experienced an immersive and intensive full day of activity that might be better broken down into a series of smaller activities with children. This would give the chance for greater reflection between each stage.
There’s an interesting blog post here about the educational value of making stop motion animations with children and also these journal articles exploring research:
Fleer, M. and Hoban, G. (2012) Using ‘Slowmation’ for intentional teaching in early childhood centres: Possibilities and imaginings. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood. Vol.37(3), p.61-70.
Hoban, G. and Neilsen, W. (2014) Creating a narrated stop-motion animation to explain science: The affordances of “Slowmation” for generating discussion. Teaching and Teacher Education. Vol.42, p.68-79.
Pugh, S. (2013) Stop motion animation as an innovative approach to engagement and collaboration in the classroom. The Student Researcher. Vol 2. No 2. pp109-120.
Reid, D., Reid, E. and Ostashewski, N. (2013) Combining iPads and slowmation: Developing digital storytellers in an early learning environment. World Conference on Educational Media and Technology. pp. 1539–1543
October is the month of the The Big Draw in the UK and all over the world.
‘The Big Draw is the world’s biggest drawing festival with thousands of enjoyable, and mainly free, drawing activities which connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists, designers, illustrators – and each other.
The Big Draw is for anyone who loves to draw, as well as those who think they can’t!
On Monday 23rd March we will be holding our next Northampton Inspire Network Meeting.
This will take place in the Sulgrave building – go to reception and you will be directed from there. it will start at 4.30pm although refreshments will be available from 4pm.
We will be creating immersive sensory experiences around a theme.
This session explores cheap and effective ways of creating multi sensory environments for visual and sound stimulation using portable dark and white rooms. We will experiment with a wealth of light and sound equipment, create images using luminous paint, and project sensory iPad apps and video onto 3D objects. The aim is to create controllable experiential activities that encourage engagement and interaction for all learners, and to think about creative ways of theming these. We have been inspired by the work of Richard Hirstwood: http://youtu.be/ihMSw8BIXF4 and http://youtu.be/PkIKpOn7y98.
You can book free tickets here and feel free to let others know about the meeting – it is for students. teachers, teaching assistants and other interested people.