06 October 2012

Factory Time in 4th Grade . . .

I'm used to doing large projects with students. Projects that deadline with a show or a performance. But when teaching full time, in a school setting, it's harder to do that. So I started searching for larger-than-life ideas that could be transformed into day-to-day teaching projects.  

For me, art is about teaching students to see an idea through.  It's about process and staying focused. It's about working together to create something real, something they never dreamed they could--or would ever--make. Something that tells a story and creates a feeling or experience.  

After seeing the video above, I decided that it was the perfect inspiration for a project with my 4th grade students.  

I teach four 4th grade classes, all on Thursdays and Fridays.  (Honestly, it's the best way to end the work week!!) At the beginning of the project, I showed them the above video and posed a question: if you could build a factory, what would it look like and what would it produce; what does the world need more of?  

Each class divided themselves into 4 or 5 collaborative working groups. For grading purposes, I told them that each group had to turn in one large preliminary sketch, a factory sculpture made out of recyclables, and a finished animation. At the time, I wasn't quite sure how we were going to animate them. But, I knew that they all had iPads, so I figured with still images we could figure something out.  

They have been working on these projects for close to 6 weeks. 

These 4th grade factories are producing marble polishers, more pets, poofs of joy, cupcakes, hearts, water, trees and dinosaurs, white tigers, the list goes on and on. (If only my 4th graders actually ruled the world, we would all be in better shape!!) It's incredible to watch because each group is working so hard and they are so determined to have the best finished piece!     

We started testing out animation programs last week during Lunch Crew (my gaggle of 4th graders that show up to make things during my lunch period). With a quick email to our iPad team at Stamford, I decided on a program to use named Pinnacle. All of the students already have it on their iPad, which makes it easy. Basically the students take a series of images, drag them into an editing bar, and then they can change the timing of the images accordingly (8 or 10 seconds per image seems to work the best). We can also add music, too.  

The students are super-excited about this project and keep running into my room with animations they have made at home. It's hilarious! 

I've engaged several of my students in teach-back sessions, too, where they present various trouble-shooting issues to the class as the instructor and help fellow students through questions. They are keeping me learning, as well. I am in the process of making a small animation this weekend to show them next week!

Each student has to show me 2 test animations before they begin animating their factories. One animation should show an item moving across a table and another animation needs to show two or more items interacting. Check out a couple of their tests below! I love these . . . 

Look for finished factory animations coming your way soon! 

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