Curriculum, Learnpad, Technology

The aliens land…

Animator is available for Learnpad - click image for more details
Animator is available for Learnpad – click image for more details

What a week it’s been.  After our fantastic alien invasion on Monday, we have been animating our Alien Blobs this afternoon.  After playing with the Animator app to create stop frame animations on the Learnpads yesterday afternoon, the children had a go at creating a more slick animation today.  All of the children planned out their work, although admittedly, some in more detail than others, and sought out unusual places for the aliens to be found.  Many then completely scrapped their plans when they realised that play doh can’t actually defy gravity, but it was all a learning curve!

Click in the image to see The Alien in the Sink!
Click in the image to see The Alien in the Sink!

While the movies the children made were all impressive, the quality of them did differ quite vastly.  But, if I’m honest, the final product was by no means the most important part of the lesson.  For me, today was all about the attitude and the atmosphere.  I am fortunate enough to work with a really lovely bunch of children. They are generally very happy and positive.  But for some, concentrating for anything longer than a few minutes can be an enormous challenge.  For others (or perhaps the same few!), an opportunity to use a Learnpad means an opportunity to attempt selfies or videos of others.  So, imagine my trepidation when, after my brief introduction, the children went off to shoot their movies with almost an hour and a half to spend on them.  Imagine my greater horror when half the class wanted to go off and shoot their movie elsewhere. How was I to be on hand to help with technical issues AND police selfie-abuse in two different places at once?

I really needn’t have worried.  I might as well have not been in the room (or on the playground!) at all.  The atmosphere was amazing, as even those with the shortest attention spans stayed completely focussed for the entire lesson.  And not a technical issue to be seen – the children planned and shot their movies, exported them and handed them in, all completely independently. The only time I was needed all afternoon was when someone shouted; “Miss, come and see this, it’s amazing!”  It was a common cry all afternoon, just with various substitutions for “amazing”.  In fact, there were times I really felt I was in the way – “Miss, can you move please, you’re in our frame” or “Miss, DON’T touch the table, there’s a big sign on it!” (There really was: WARNING.  Do not touch this table.  We are making a movie).  Even when the Reception children came out to play and interrupted shooting, there were no issues: those who had to stop got themselves a drink and sat down in the sun for 10 minutes, the rest carried on animating with an enormous and hugely impressed audience!

I said at the beginning of the week that I was more excited about what we had planned than anything I have done before.  I haven’t been disappointed.  The children have been completely engrossed; many have gone home to download Stop Motion apps on their tablets and phones. Already, the movies are being emailed in. I have never seen them so enthused by technology.  Tomorrow, we have scrapped what we intended to do and are adopting a “free for all” approach.  Play doh and props provided, but bring in whatever you think you can animate: whatever you can imagine, you can do.

Today, I heard one boy say: “I never thought I would be so excited by 4 seconds of movie!” By the time he had finished, it was 11 seconds long.  I really don’t know how he managed to contain himself.

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