Sunday, 6 September 2009
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Monday, 6 July 2009
He was helpful and informative as he whizzed through the features of the programme. He quickly and easily created a short stop-frame animation, added titles and sound files. I was nearly impressed - so to the interrogation - The worth of the programme was the receptive nature of the stall holder - he was able to answer my queries regarding Multi-track audio, explain how the other features on the software worked and then listened to and was positive about my development suggestions (what I would like a piecec of animation software to do). I took a trial disc and loaded it onto my laptop immediately (time on my stand spent productively)
The first thing I noticed was how child friendly the interface was:
A series of buttons clearly marked allow: frame capture, preview, live video and deletion of frames.
Titles and a multitude of audio tracks can be added with a simple drag and drop system.
The simplicity of the software is further enhanced by the fact that you can use any digital video camera, therefore a digital blue or a webcam work just fine.
So what made it special - For me there are 2 factors:
Firstly 'Onion Skinning' - The previous frame is cleverly superimposed on the new frame allowing you to see the extent of your move, this also allows for models/figures to be replaced in case they fall.
Secondly the multi-track audio - Whilst not as versatile as Audacity, it offers the abilty to add a variety of sound effects, drag them into position, crop and fade as required.
So I liked it - It has the simple stop-frame animation interface of the digital blue, it has the multi-tracking capability of Audacity and you can drag and drop items, Moviemaker style onto the timeline. I took it home and had a very quick play: Cube Life and I am hoping to get some children onto it in the last week of term.
The final selling point was the website. Showcasing children's work is a fantastic way of maintaining engagement and expanding the assessment opportunities. The ZU3D website provides a gallery onto which completed animations can be uploaded. Content is vetted prior to inclusion on the site and is searchable and comments (also moderated) can be added along with a 5 star rating system. I am looking forward to giving the children a chance to test the parameters of the software and it is on my list of purchases for 2009.
I believe that animation is an engaging way of stimulating children in a number of curricular areas and the ZU3D software offers the opportunities to access this exciting medium in a simple and fun way.
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Will just reflect briefly on my short presentation, approached by Andy to showcase the animations I had done with my class, I agreed. The showcasing involved setting up a stand where two of our current year 6's demonstrated stop-frame animation which was the easy part. The harder part was standing on a stage in front of the conference, 'outside my comfort zone' sprang to mind. Nevertheless the quality of the children's work spoke for itself, my prezi:
took me through the process so the actual presentation bit became less of a chore. I hope it was well received, back on the stall a number of teachers came over to discuss how they could introduce animation into the classroom. And to see the students at work. I was happy with Prezi as a presentation tool, the one touch interface after set-up made it ideal for presentation and it was certainly 'whizzy' enough for the conference. Only one other Prezi in the show and that was Mark's 'Adventures with Myst' which can be viewed here, as part of a showcase of different schools' successes with Myst in the classroom.
Monday, 29 June 2009
It all started about 4 years ago with a Digital Blue camera, I loaded the software included with the camera and looked quickly through it. The interface was simple, reasonably versatile and well laid out. I took it home and gave it to my children to play with, the resultant short stop frame animation got me thinking about ways that this medium might fit into my primary class.
I looked at the curriculum and realised that my Art unit - 'People in Action' leant itself to utilising ICT - I introduced the concept of animation using Pivot Stick figure animator A great piece of freeware that highlighted the need for multiple frames and was simple and fun to use. I then gave a very brief demonstration of how to use the Digital Blue to create a stop-frame animation. It was all the children needed and they ran from there. The creativity of backdrops and subject matter were great. Did it meet the Art objectives? Probably not but it opened the door for me on the potential of this to engage and excite children.
The following year I had more time to think about how the animation tool could enhance children's learning. I used literacy as a starting point and got the class to take a well known nursery Rhyme and write a playscript for it. This process in itself was a wonderful exercise in creative literacy as the children made a story from the Rhyme.
The quality of the digital images from the camera were workable and the stop-frame process was simple enough but unfortunately the audio quality appeared to be lacking. The intention therefore was to create a seperate sound track and then marry the two together. To give the animation the depth they needed I had to provide the children with the ability to produce multi-track audio files, this would allow them to include dialogue, music and sound effects - another piece of freeware came to the rescue: Audacity - simple to use and effective it proved to be extremely versatile and allowed multi-layered audio to be created. Once complete the audio and video were put together in Windows Moviemaker.
The whole experience was stimulating and challenging for the children and the end results were pleasing to the children and myself. Problems occured with synchronisation of the two parts when titles and credits were added to the film, a problem that I would address in a later project.
The following year I used our extended narrative, a quest story, as the starting point for our animation. Each pair or group took a chapter from the story and scripted it. Our hero - Alvin (straight out of the £1 shop and one of six that were purchased to ensured continuity of the character throughout our animation) then took his place in the animations and we created a number of scenes. Rather than record audio tracks as seperate entities we then put all the clips together in Moviemaker, added appropriate titles and credits before starting on the sound track. By cascading the Moviemaker window above the Audacity window we were able to synchronise the two with accuracy using their respective timelines. The result is a seven minute Animation, with depth of sound, continuity, a story and humour all created by a class of enthuased and proud 10/11 year old children. Could it be improved? Of course it could, sound levels are erratic, some animation is poor, dialogue lacks expression in places...But nevertheless, an amaazing piece of work that truly animated a class.
Click for a Prezi on the process
Saturday, 20 June 2009
No rocket science was involved in the set up of the week:
1. try to give as many opportunities to the children and staff to 'play' with a variety of ICT software and hardware.
2. Make this access as simple as possible.
3. Ensure the correct levels of support are provided for everyone.
4. Communicate openly with all parties.
See timetable below:
Day 1 - MYST
I chose Myst following the success of Tim Rylands and the use of this game to inspire creative writing. I wanted the staff to see their new Interactive Whiteboards (IWB's) us in a multi-sensory way to engage and inspire children. Armed with a copy of Myst 3 and my laptop I visited every class in the school and took them on a tour around parts of the game. The response was very positive and I got some amazing vocabulary from children in Nursery through to upper Key Stage 2. The level of engagement was testament to the all consuming nature of the stimulus and not necessarily to my delivery. Nevertheless I am confident that the children benefited from the sessions and the teaching and support staff recognised the opportunities presented by this medium.
Day 2 - Photostory & Activote.
Mandy Barrow (Advisory Service Kent - ASK) arrived to use our new ICT suite and deliver session on Photostory to all classes. The resultant use of the software was beneficial to all the children and their own technological ability was utilised to good effect. Staff feedback was positive and the potential cross curricular uses of this application were realised. Andy Place (ASK) was also in school for the day and visited every year group to show how Activote (KS1) or Activexpression (KS2) can be used to assist in assessment and raise engagement. The children thoroughly enjoyed this medium and remained excited and animated throughout. Teacher feedback was equally enthusiastic and I have several requests to install software and demonstrate lesson set up. Hopefully this equipment will be used in the classroom now.
Day 3 - 2Simple software
Having recently purchased the entire 2 Simple collection for our network it was important that teaching staff were aware of the potential of this software. James Barrett (ASK)came in for the day to work with Foundation and Key stage 1. His affinity with the children and his enthusiasm for this area of ICT rubbed off on the children and staff. Some excellent work was produced and requests for him to return and host a twilight session for staff was seized upon. We look forward to that evening in a couple of weeks time.
Day 4 - ICT in PE & NXT Robots
As PE coordinator as well as ICT I was keen to impress the cross curricular capability of ICT. Kirstie Hemmingway (SSco) had originally intended to bring in Dartfish to show our upper Key stage 2 children. Technological difficulties prevented this from happening, nevertheless Kirstie was able to work with a range of children to produce using: PE equipment, digital cameras and the ICT suite, a range of 'activity cards' to break down different PE skills. These cards, once laminated will provide illustrations for younger children and teaching aids for staff. Five children from different classes in the school had attended a cluster 'Control Day', they returned with 3 NXT robots. Throughout the course of Thursday, supported and led by two capable TA's (Mrs M & Mrs F)these children introduced the whole school to the NXT robot and fascinated the school with its capabilities and personality!
Day 5 - My plan was to host an inter class video conference in place of celebration assembly which is normal after an activity week. A practise run during Tuesday's staff meeting and some running about from me to make sure all classes worked. Culminated in 8 classes, all connected to Flash Meeting, viewing on IWB's images of their family and friends (using visualisers as webcams), The WOW factor was huge and walking into Reception class or Nursery and seeing children with their mouths agog at their older siblings talking to them from the screen was a high point for me. The quality of the conferencing left something to be desired, but nevertheless our whole school experienced video conferencing first hand.
Asus Minibooks - The school has 60 Asus Minibooks - these tend to reside in year 4 and year 6 where they are used regularly. By timetabling the minibooks in each class for a day, every child was able to access them and the staff were able to see the potential from using them to support some curricular areas. The big positive moment for me was when the reception teacher came to sing the praises of the mini books. Apparently her class were totally engaged for an hour( a long time for reception apparently, outside my knowledge remit), she was assisted by some year 6 pupils who were invaluable in scaffolding the younger children's access to the computers. This is the same teacher who had been overtly negative to the use of the minibooks in reception when I had given them to all the staff over a half term earlier in the year.
Webquest - As a competition for all children I offered an MP3 player as a prize per class for completing a webquest on outer space. I placed these as a document in the school website to encourage its use. Whilst I thought the prize was quite exciting, the response was quite poor, especially from the key stage 2 children - perhaps it was too hard, perhaps they all have MP3 players!!!!
Negatives - It wasn't all good. I asked the staff to take on a lot and generally they rose to the challenge. I wonder if this overloading of information may actually be detrimental to their development. Visualisers work as webcams but are not as efficient as the real thing, may need to invest in a webcam per class (if I ever get any more money!!!). Video conference needed more structure to be an effective tool , I think I knew this but the experience was disjointed. The webquest could have been differentiated further which may have encouraged more entrants. I failed to check the website counter before and after the week to see if our hit rate increased due to the competition.
Positives - I felt positive about the whole week. I am still awaiting evaluation forms from the staff and will be interviewing some children to get their ideas on what happened. The concept of offering an insight into a range of hardware and software was achieved, with the assistance of the aforementioned people I was able to give staff and pupils a range of ICT experiences that they can utilise in other areas. I cannot make anybody embrace the change but by introducing it perhaps I can precipitate some.
The dream - I want to be a party to our children's technological awareness being as 'Future-proof' as possible. My small part is to remain an enthusiastic practitioner and, where possible, providing my colleagues and my students with the support, the experiences and the vision to operate outside their own comfort zones.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Day one: PM - First ICT lesson in new suite.
The concept was to provide a flexible display option to the open plan ICT Suite within our 'Learning Street'. I took my year 4 class down the street on Wednesday afternoon and got the four 42" screens fired up, using one of the new desktop PC's as the input. The result the children were presented with an identical desktop as there one following log in. The objective of the lesson was: 'To set up subject folders in my documents' this was included to ensure that the children's file management system on our new network started out on the right foot. Having the 'my documents' folder displayed directly in front of the children was an excellent teaching aid - the children found it easy to see the demonstration of the skills required (ok not rocket science to make and name a folder)and were able to transfer those skills effectively to there own computers. The close proximity of the screen kept all the children focussed even those whose concentration tended to wander. On a negative side the control point at one end of the tables was difficult when demonstrating, whilst children had visual stimulus there were some limitations to their aural input (possible use of air mouse to allow central presentation)The outcome however was encouraging - all children achieved the lesson objective, some of these in a surprisingly quick time. Verdict: My initial thoughts are all predominantly positive. It looks good, sounds good and does the job what more could I ask?
Day Two: PM - Parents Open afternoon
The afternoon was punctuated my year 6 pupils showing an assortment of parents and family around the new school building. The Smart table, now comfortably located in its own area, proved a big hit as parents joined in with pupils trying to answer questions on Henry VIII's wives. As I walked around the school I was greeted with:
Nursery - children playing on games on the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB).
Reception - Whiteboard on and counting games being played - nursery rhymes being streamed via the computer to the speakers located in the outside play area.
Year 1 - IWB on and children engaged in activities on the board.
Year 2 - Children writing on IWB, gross and fine motor skills being utilised.
Year 4 - Children led by TA (or was it the other way round?) creating Smartboard pages on Henry VIII's wives - inserting pictures, handwriting converted to text - using information researched from books, internet and taken from Smart table activities. The TA said afterwards "I had a really good time" (is that right at work?)
Year 5 - Classical music being streamed via computer to outside decking area and into classroom.
Now this was not a typical day at school, and the plethora of new ICT equipment in every classroom has a certain amount of novelty value. however I am encouraged by the way the staff have embraced the technology and tried to utilise it. My aim was to make the equipment as user friendly as possible and so every classroom has exactly the same set-up of Smartboard, visualiser and internal and external speaker and amp system. thereby trying to ensure that in any classroom the teacher or TA (they all received the same training) can operate and use the equipment. Still getting teething problems (normally user error) and I am running around in a similar way to the proverbial decapitated fowl, but all, I hope, for a good reason. I truly believe that technological awareness is an essential part of a child's education. They need to see, be aware and where possible, use as many different tools as we as educators can provide. I still have Activevote and Activeexpression to introduce as well as our media streaming server and ICT enrichment week. The challenge rolls on but the first hurdle has been cleared.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
After weeks of juggling time and speaking to technicians and pushing through work that should have been completed the day is finally upon us. Tomorrow(Wednesday 3rd June) the school is officially open to the children and today the ICT solution finally came to fruition. The problem of providing a aesthetically pleasing yet practical display option for the ICT suite in our open plan 'Learning Street' was at last booted up. The concept sketched whilst on residential finally came to fruition. Not without the total support of our Headteacher (Sylvia) and several days of work from ICT Technician (Kerrie), Network & Cabling Solutions (Paul) and myself culminated in a successful trial of the equipment and it certainly looked spectacular. From the neatly mounted control unit in the bespoke ICT table allowing a multitude of choices from the four video inputs displaying to one, two, three or four of the screens and providing similar audio versatility:
To the pleasing lines of the high mounted screens on custom made stanchions part of the bespoke table.
It is not quite finished, the digital signage and media server which will link to the 42" screen in our reception area, as well the ones in the learning street, should we choose is still to be completed and therefore I cannot say my vision is truly realised but it was a great day when two laptops streamed seperate videos to the large screens in 'The Street' and a multitude of positive comments from other staff members.
So finally we are near to completion of the solution, the ICT provision of a small Kent primary school: 33 Fully networked desktop PC's, 8 Adjustable Smartboards, 8 Visualisers, Internal and external audio speakers in each classroom, media streaming server throughout the school, Smart Table, 60 Asus minibooks. My task now remains to ensure that the equipment is utilised to its maximum potential. First ICT training session today: All staff introduced to visualisers and IWB's. thanks to @wigglemyears for his time today as usual his games were a great hit. I came home today pleasantly surprised by the positive approach all teaching and support staff had towards the changes they were faced with in there classrooms. Long may it continue......
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
So I have my ideas, and some links to share but following the success of @dannynic and his literacy blog posting I set up an Etherpad and asked for input from the Twitter community. The resultant ideas for IWB's are not my own work but the postings of: @simonhaughton, @twowhizzy and several others who did not leave a name. Thanks for your input on this and it is this collaborative capability that makes social networking an ideal tool for educators.
WORKING WITH AN IWB
As a starter, make sure they all understand how to align their board so that it can be interactive when touched and that they realise (if its a Smart Board) that the pens & rubber have to be put put back properly into their holders.
Also, make sure that they are are aware of a couple of health & safety points:
* Don't look directly at the light beam (there's been lots in the news about the dangers of this - e.g. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6253410.stm)
* Don't forget to turn the projector off - many a time I've seen a dark screensaver come on an then the user forget that something is still being projected.
* Clean the lens filter regularly so that the bulb doesn't get overheated.
* Use the spotlight tool to highlight areas of the screen.
*Similarly use the screen shade to hide/reveal things that are on the screen
* You can write on the IWB at any time, such as to annotate things on a website or pause a video and label things you can see in the frame
A game to consider for instant effective use and class interaction
The whiteboardblog is a great resource for tips and tricks
Some games where children have to reach around the board pressing lots of different things are always fun - see: http://www.active-maths.co.uk/games1/splat/index.html or http://www.oswego.org/ocsd-web/games/SpeedGrid/Multiplication/urikamultires.html
Three of my favourite sites with links to LOTS of games/activities on are www.ictgames.com, www.learningclip.co.uk and www.topicbox.co.uk They usually come in handy if I'm struggling to find an interactive activity on a particular topic.
For big timers to display on the IWB there's www.online-stopwatch.com/ and http://www.fieryideas.com/ (this also has other interactive bits on it like marble jars and advent calendars)
Using Smart Notebook
Hide and reveal techniques are really useful Post on my blog http://twowhizzy.blogspot.com/2007/02/bad-dog-exploring-hide-and-reveal.html
Rub and reveal place an object or a text element on a page, and using digital ink from the pen tool, cover areas of the screen. These can be erased to reveal either elements of an image gradually to support prediction, vocab development. or within a text to help predict words or phrases etc.
In maths this technique is quite handy during modelling sessions. eg prepare a calculation and example models away from class masking areas with "digital ink". These areas can be revealed (by rubbing away)as part of the modelling process to show the method and calculation beneath, but also to help review student predictions around what might be there as process evolves (AfL). I also use this to support talk for reasoning.
Uses layering on the notebook to help sort and classify. Eg a collection of calculations might be presented, or an odd one out type of quiz. Those objects that obey a certain rule will go into the box be hidden by an object. Those that don't obey the rule will appear out side of the box. Magic box is made by creating a set of objects to sort and an object to be the box/mask/screen. 0bjects that obey the rule are sent to the back, those that don't are brought to the front. The box/mask is placed on the middle layer.
White on white
is a favourite tool of mine, a coloured shape is placed on a contrasting coloured background. A number of text objects are created, and then recoloured to hide them against the central object eg if shape is white the text is coloured white. Pulling these out onto the contrasting colour say black, makes them visible again.
Science - set up experiment grid - variables can be labelled in boxes, and these boxes can be noved according to which variable will be changed, and which will be kept the same -like whiteboard sticky notes.
Coins onto a hand from the gallery would be good for KS 1.
Create mood page - with photo(s) and sound file(s). Create mood in classrooma and annotate page with vocabulary - good for scene setting in narrative writing, or empathy in history.
Younger children tracing handwriting letters from gallery onto whiteboard - 'Big' handwriting.
Already mentioned hide and reveal
Smart Gallery has a huge collection of Clip Art images and interactive resources (e.g. number squares, dice etc.) that can be dragged onto a slide to enhance it. Agree here I really like the dice for random calcualtion generators. Use the images to replace shapes in some of the hide and reveal activities, "hungry bear only eats.... Hungry bear becomes the magic box.
Just remembered that there's a presentation on Ideas to Inspire about IWBs - see http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/interactivewhiteboards.htm
http://magazines.scholastic.co.uk/content/1069 is a good link with 10 tips aimed at early years children
@wigglemyears flash games - http://www.kented.org.uk/ngfl/games/ are a fantastic set of resources for foundation and Key Stage 1 children.
So loads of links and ideas which I will share with my colleagues (probably a bit at a time!)
Friday, 22 May 2009
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Monday, 11 May 2009
- Manipulation of images was quickly mastered and he easily moved the images around the screen, managing to resize images after being shown once.
- Paint proved highly engaging and he enjoyed mark making on the table.
- The height of the table was constricting and because of the angle of use his arms were registering as touches as well as his hands.
- The level of engagement with the surface was encouraging, the pupil's normal very low attention span was held for approximately ten minutes.
- Only used paint and media, need to think carefully how other activities can be adapted to engage yet challenge early years pupils.
For an initial play (still waiting to get the Smart table into the new school) I was encouraged by the experiment. Both the child and the accompanying member of mursery staff were engaged by the table. Unfortunately extremely limited communication skills prevented the child from giving any feedback on the table, nevertheless the engagement and attention precipitated by the table suggests that there is potential for the Smart Table to become a useable tool with nursery children.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
- It appeared at first that turning the table on was not the simplicity one would expect from a Smart product. Wrong, it is just a case (against my better judgement) of following the instructions.
- Then it just stopped working!! No apparent reason, complete lack of touch functionality. I remodelled the table (more instruction following) USB Mouse and Keyboard plugged straight in and I was working with a desktop. Went through the simple remodelling process and it all returned to normal. The upside of this sojourn into the inner workings of the Smart Table was the chance to play with the sensitivity parameters, not needed them yet but could do.
- Ease of use, once up and running, so was I and all the staff who played (even the Luddites) could find there way round the simple interface.
- The activities are simple to use yet there is a huge potential for the expansion and diversification of the content (limited by imagination I think!!!)
- Target audience - I ordered it into school with the idea that it would be an ideal tool to ensure our Early years ICT provision is increased. Now I can see fights occuring across the Key stages for use of the table.
- Creating content is simple and quick. After playing for only a few minutes was able to create content for the table that was age and subject appropriate.
So it has landed, the new school is not finished so the Table has not got its state of the art surroundings to live in but so far the Wow! factor has been great. Only positive feedback from all age of pupils and staff.
More to follow......
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Thursday, 9 April 2009
What is a Blog?
What is it for?
Just a few questions to ponder, is this medium designed to feed the voyeurism of the masses interested in staring through the portholes of people's lives and glimpsing what goes on?
Or does it allow the Blogger the chance to prevaricate, allowing them the ability to exist in a world that differs from their reality. A fantasy land.
I know not the answers to these questions but at least I have written something vaguely stimulating for a first post.