Growing Mrs. Gardiner

It is never too late to be who you might have been ~George Eliot

Ed Tech Resource Inquiry: Stop Motion Studio App

Stop motion animation. Depending on what era you come from, different images may pop into your mind when you hear the phrase. But whether it conjures up memories of Fred Astaire as the singing mailman in¬†Santa is Coming to Town, the¬†spindley¬†Jack Skellington in Tim Burton’s¬†The¬†Nightmare Before Christmas¬†or the rag tag pack of pets in Wes Anderson‚Äôs¬†Isle of Dogs,¬†the magic cast by this creative platform is undeniable. As¬†teachers¬†candidates we are always on the lookout for new ways to bring creativity and art into all aspects of the curriculum, and it seems to us that stop motion animation would be an incredible tool for students to express their learning in a creative, and empowering way. Thanks to good¬†ol‚Äô modern technology, the power of creation through stop motion animation is now available to the mere mortals without an art degree and a career in filmography in the handy dandy form of an app. Of the myriad of apps out there ready for hobbyists, teachers, and parents to gobble up, there is one that we thought stood out among the rest. And that is Stop Motion Studio. Below is a collection of our thoughts and observations after testing out the app, and a collection of activity ideas and considerations when using Stop Motion Studio in the classroom. Consider this your official guide.¬†¬†¬†¬†

Stop Motion Studio App


Stop Motion Studio is a simple, easy to use app that teachers and students alike can use to make fun stop motion videos to demonstrate their learning! This app is free, with some in-app purchases available, and can be used on Apple, Android and Windows devices. Get a feel for how the app works by clicking below on the link and watch Mykaila’s video which walks you through the app and highlighting some of its different features.  

* At the end of the video I say background, but I mean to say foreground.  

Using Stop Motion Studio with Kids

While the Stop Motion Studio app has many amazing features that can be used by intermediate students to create an elaborate and sophisticated product, it can also be used by younger students to make really simple, yet fun, videos as well! Below is an example made by two primary students who incorporated shapes into a picture. 

Activities  

To get you started, here‚Äôs a sample of a few activity ideas to try out in the classroom! 

  • Make a stop motion animation video with the pictures students take of their experiment and describe what is happening in a voice over.¬†¬†
  • Stop motion with your bodies: Act out a scene and take pictures then piece it together to make a stop motion animation.¬†
  • Animate a picture book. Students use toys to animate their favorite fairytale, or picture book. Something like the three little pigs would be a fun option because the story is familiar, characters are simple, and students can animate the building and blowing down process, which always looks dynamic on camera. I would recommend doing one picture book as a whole class and assign different sections to each group.¬†¬†
  • Pattern Stop Motion Animation: As a part of a math class students take pictures of multiple patterned grids with alternating colors to simulate flashing lights or those fluctuating message signs/billboards.¬†
  • Animate your vacation or a story. Using cut out paper shapes and drawings, students animate their what they did over the holidays or a story they came up with. Presenting students could add an element of voice dubbing by hiding behind something and speaking for each of the characters. Change up the personalities and the voices for the characters and see what happens!¬†

Classroom Application Recommendations: 

Using the Stop Motion Studio app with your kids or students can be really fun! Here are some tips learned through experimenting with letting kids use the app: 

  1. Use a well lit area to ensure the video has clear picture quality 
  1. Make sure the light source is in front of all participants so there are no shadows cast on the scene 
  1. Choose one person to hold the device (phone, ipad, chromebook ect) so the camera stays in relatively the same place for each frame. You may want to find something to help steady the camera on.  
  1. Move objects in as tiny increments as you can 
  1. Take as many pictures/frames as you can, it can feel tedious at times but the more you have the longer and more interesting your video is. 
  1. Keep track of which group uses which tablet, phone, etc so they can go in afterwards and edit the video they have saved to the device.  
  1. Have fun!  

Pros and Cons 

Overall we really like this resource and would recommend it to any teacher looking to incorporate stop motion animation into their classrooms. That being said, it also has a few quirks that bear considering.  

Pros:  

  • Really easy and intuitive to use 
  • Free 
  • Simple setup 
  • The camera features in the app are good quality 
  • You have some editing capabilities within the app itself 
  • No background in photography or video editing necessary 
  • Options for those who want to be creative or challenge themselves beyond simply pointing and shooting.  

Cons: 

  • Many editing features are behind a paywall 
  • May not work as well on a laptop as it does on a tablet or smartphone  
  • Students need to have access to a smartphone or a tablet  
  • Isn‚Äôt very accessible for vision impaired students 

Resources:  

Free Inquiry: Reflection

This is the final post on my cross country ski inquiry as the weather has shifted to feeling more and more like spring and effectively ended my ski season.

When I look back on my experience, I can’t help but be proud of what I accomplished in such a short period of time. My first day of cross-country skiing I literally had no idea what I was doing, I just went for it! I fell more times that I can count and had no control going down hills. The video below shows me struggling up a hill, there’s no skill or grace involved, just pure grit and determination!

As I gained confidence and spent time practicing specific skills, my performance improved. Focusing on bending my knees and shifting my leg from one to the other increased my gliding and dramatically decreased the shuffling movement I relied on at the beginning. You can see in the video below that I am able to hold my balance and gain some speed coming down a slight hill in the video below.

By the third day I really felt things were starting to click for me. I noticed that I was able to spend more time enjoying my surroundings rather than focusing on what I was doing to avoid falling. Below is a video of me coming down quite a long, steep hill! This was a pivotal moment for me as it really built belief in myself.

Taking up a new sport like this was a really good experience for me. It has taught me to try something new, even if you aren’t very good at it at first because at the end of the day it’s fun to learn! It has also taught me to persevere when things don’t come easy, to keep trying and put in the time.

Reflection: Gaming (Play) in Education

Today we had the opportunity to talk with Heidi James, a middle school teacher who is passionate about gaming and a huge advocate for the use of Minecraft in classrooms as tool for students to show their learning. To start, Heidi prompted us to think about taking ‚Äúgame‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúgamify‚ÄĚ out of the conversation and consider using ‚Äúplay‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúplay for learning‚ÄĚ.  This prompted the question, ‚ÄúWhere can you use more play in your life…‚ÄĚ  

I think…¬†

I think we can all agree that we can all use more play in life! The great thing about play is that anyone can play, anywhere, anytime! Play can be defined as any activity that is for enjoyment purposes – it is diverse and accessible to all ages and abilities. When I think back to my own childhood, some of the fondest memories I have are playing boardgames as a family especially around Christmas time. We also spent a lot of time playing and being active outside. Play is a strong value in my own family ‚Äď my husband and I have carried on the family boardgame night tradition with our girls, and we spend a lot of time as a family recreating outside. Play is also a huge part of the girls‚Äô relationship as siblings. Countless hours are spent together playing imaginative games of dress up, Lego, dolls ect. I can see the bond that they have, and I know that their ability to play together and work things out between themselves as they come up has had a huge impact on their relationship. 

I know…¬†

Many of the early childhood educators place huge emphasis on play in education. I think we could all agree that play is a huge part of learning in the early years. As parents, we watch our children learn many of those early fine motor skills manipulating objects through play. We see this in practice in most Kindergarten classrooms where delivery of curriculum is mainly through play-based learning. However, this conversation got me to thinking about why there is less and less emphasis on play in the classroom as students move up into the older grades. I can see the disparity between my own children who are in Kindergarten and Grade 3. The Kindergarten experience is all about exploration and learning through play and already in Grade 3 there is more emphasis on spelling tests, writing workshop and timed math quizzes with maybe one block a week dedicated to ‚Äúcenters‚ÄĚ. 

I wonder…¬†¬†

This makes me wonder, where has all the play gone? Why is there such a huge emphasis on play in the primary grades and so very little play by the time you hit middle school. Listening to Heidi and her students and how passionate they are about gaming in education made me realize that this is a huge opportunity for all teachers to connect and engage kids on a totally different level. I loved hearing about how Heidi experienced a shift in the power dynamic between her students and herself as they became the experts and she the novice. I also loved hearing about how the use of games such as Minecraft creates opportunities for students to learn leadership and mentorship skills among their classmates. While I have to admit I know next to nothing about Minecraft, and most online gaming for that matter, the idea of bringing more games/gaming into the learning environment got me excited and it is something I want to learn more about as I enter my education career. 

Free Inquiry: Cross Country-Skiing Day 5

Today I just wasn’t feeling it. It was cold, windy and icy. There hadn’t been any recent snow and a couple weeks had gone by since our last ski day. I just wasn’t feeling as confident as I had been. Despite this, we decided to go out and just do a short loop. Oftentimes, when I’m feeling like this, I need to just go do the thing I don’t want to do and I never end up regretting it!

So that’s what we did. We went out, we ski’d and we had fun. It was really icy and I fell I a couple times but I shrugged it off, got back up and kept going. Something I’ve always struggled with is wanting to do something perfect the first time. Going into this experience with no previous knowledge or experience about cross-country skiing has meant that at time I really had to guard my mindset against all the old stories I have about not being good at certain things. I’m glad that I went out today because it forced me to practice in conditions I knew would be trickier and I would have to really concentrate on using the skills that I had learned so far.

Reflection: BCEDAccess and Inclusivity in Education

We had the pleasure of having Chantelle Morvay-Adams from the BCEd Access Society speak to our cohort today on inclusion and equitable access to education for all students. BCEdAccess is a volunteer run organization that supports families of students with disabilities and complex learning challenges through sharing information, providing education to families, allies, and students, and providing community engagement. To read more about the society and their resources visit the website here. Chantelle was a wealth of knowledge and spoke very candidly about her own experiences with her children in the education system.   

I¬†think…¬†

For the average person who has little to no learning difficulties, it‚Äôs easy to forget that many people don‚Äôt experience school and learning in the same way they day do. If I‚Äôm being honest, I would have been one of those people if it weren‚Äôt for my youngest brother. For my entire student career, learning and schoolwork has come fairly easy to me with a little effort. However, that was not the case for my brother. He was born with a genetic abnormality so minor that from the outside you can‚Äôt see that there is anything different, however, he had a hard time keeping up with his peers and school was a struggle. Against all odds, he managed to graduate high school on time, we as a family owe a huge debt of gratitude to the excellent Learning Assistance teachers he had supporting him along the way. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. 

I know…¬†¬†

Last semester I had the opportunity to listen to Shelley Moore give a talk on inclusion in education and it opened my eyes to how exclusive the public school system can be. Shelley has done incredible research on inclusion in education and has put out a ton of resources. You can visit her blog blogsomemoore and I would highly recommend any of the videos she has up on YouTube if you are looking to learn more about this topic. One could argue that the current public school education system is designed for a small minority of its students to achieve success.  

I wonder…¬†¬†

When I consider what I learned from Chantelle and what I saw my own brother experience in school, as a future educator I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to be aware of inclusivity and bring equitable access to education into my future classrooms where I can. As I continue on in my pre-service teacher education path, I wonder are some of the things that I can do to create a more inclusive education environment for my future students? 

Reflection: Face-to-face, Blended & On-line Learning

The arrival of COVID-19 and the ensuing global pandemic has forced alot of industries to rethink how they provide products and services to their customers. The delivery of education has been no exception. Last March we saw a mass closure of schools worldwide and when it came time for schools to think about re-opening, decisions on how curriculum was to be delivered to students varied from continent to continent, country to county, and province to province. Here in BC, as September approached there were many discussions on when, how, and even if students would return to school in person. Eventually, parents were given the option of face-to-face, blended, or all online.  

I think…¬†

From what we learned in class, it seems that the discussion around access to learning and flexibility around modality has been in the works for a long time. Many believe that on-line learning is not as effective as face-to-face although some would counter with that there is no guarantee face-to-face learning any richer. Some argue a blend of both could benefit many learners. I think that in discussions such as this, it is important to remember our biases that cannot help but impact the way we consider we think and feel. There is no doubt in my mind that if modality became more flexible in education, more people would have the opportunity to access learning in the way that best suited their own individual needs. 

I know…¬†

The pandemic hit my family particularly hard ‚Äď my husband lost his job, we sold our house, uprooted our family, said goodbye to our wonderful community and moved closer to family. In the midst of it all, I was accepted into the UVIC Post Degree-Program for Elementary Education. I am so grateful that the University moved my entire program on-line because if that had not been the case, I would have missed out on the opportunity to further my education and achieve a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. I got lucky a global pandemic forced academic institutions to pivot and offer their programs online. But what about those who were not so fortunate as I was?  

I wonder…¬†

The biggest thing I wonder about it how modality and flexibility around access to learning will look when things go ‚Äúback to normal.‚ÄĚ Are e-blend and on-line options here to stay? Or will education institutions back to what we would consider normal and all those students who actual did better in some sort of blend of face-to-face and on-line be forced to learn in environment that doesn‚Äôt suit them. What about mature learners who have work and family responsibilities that inhibit them from taking university classes because of the way they are scheduled? What about those with health problems who can‚Äôt attend in person?  

Free Inquiry: Cross-Country Skiing Day 4

I went into this day with more confidence and was eager to continue to practice the skills I had learned the previous week. The gliding technique felt much more efficient than the shuffling I had started out doing and this combined with bending my knees as I pushed off the snow had me sailing along the flat track. I also worked on doing a light jog as I went up the hills which although seemed a bit easier on the legs required more cardio effort.

This week we decided to do the route we had done the previous week but in reverse. The route was quite hilly, one way being long gradual hills up and short steep hills down. We wanted to try the opposite direction, thinking that long gradual hills down would be more enjoyable and short steep hills up less work to climb. I was gradually gaining confidence in going downhill and was actually starting to look forward to them. We were headed down one particular hill that we had already been on three or four times before. At the bottom of the hill was a Y in the trail and we were headed left. At the top of the hill we caught up to two other skiers that were taking a moment to enjoy the scenery. After exchanging some pleasantries, I took off to get ahead of them, knowing that I would need as much room as possible to safely get down the hill and make my turn. Right as I was headed down the hill, at a point when I couldn’t easily stop, both of the skiiers came up from behind and one of them crowded the other one into me! I shouted “woah woah woah!” to convey my distress at being so close to another person at such a high speed and instead of slowing down, he cut me off to go right in the trail just as I needed to turn left, forcing me to go left as well. I ended up crashing in a heap of skis and poles and instead of checking to see if I was ok, he glanced back at me but continued to ski on up the hill! My mom voiced her displeasure at his behaviour with a few choice expletives and we continued on our way.

In the past, an experience like this might have made me feel like quitting and going home. It was fairly scary and I am really lucky I didn’t get hurt more than a bruised ego. But I decided to brush it off and continue on. I was not going to let somebody else’s poor behaviour affect my desire to get better at skiing or take away my enjoyment of being out in nature on a beautiful sunny day.

We continued on our planned route and were happy we did! We had quite a few kilometers of nice, long gradual hills down and a couple steep up hill climbs back to the beginning. We passed the skier who had cut me off, he wouldn’t even make eye contact with me! People are funny.

Reflection: Inquiry Explained

Without question Trevor MacKenzie has been my favourite guest speaker so far. This class got me so excited about inquiry-based learning and validated my desire to teach students skills that stay with them and prepare them for a life of learning rather than to memorize and regurgitate information that will be lost quickly. Trevor’s books, Dive into Inquiry and Inquiry Mindset, are two excellent resources for teachers who are looking to incorporate more inquiry-based learning in their classrooms and I am so looking forward to his 3rd book that looks at assessment and inquiry. His website is also full of amazing resources and free graphics that can be used in your classroom. Visit his website here.

I think.. 

I think up until this class, the word ‚Äúinquiry‚ÄĚ has been something of a mystery to me and many of my classmates. It has been used in almost every class we have taken since the beginning of the school year but there hasn‚Äôt been a single instructor who has taken the time to explain what exactly inquiry is and how we as teachers are supposed to implement this style of teaching in our classrooms. For example, in this class we have been asked to do a free inquiry and a partnered inquiry on a tech topic…yet no one has actually taught us how to plan, research and report on an inquiry topic effectively.  

I know…¬†

What I learned from this discussion was that inquiry teaching is as much a value as it is a framework for delivering curriculum to students. An inquiry classroom has the learner actively contributing to the creation of the learning environment. The teacher‚Äôs role is to create opportunities for students to dive into topics they are interested in and leverage their ideas for future learning. Inquiry classrooms value student agency, control and ownership. Trevor shared his guiding question for his classroom which is: ‚ÄúAm I doing something for my students that they should be doing for themselves?‚ÄĚ  

I wonder…¬†

As a pre-service teacher, I think my biggest wonder about inquiry-based teaching and learning is what does it look like when you are just getting started? Do you jump all the way in? Do you do little bits of inquiry here and there? Trevor shared that his experience was to go all in and learn along the way ‚Äď that seems overwhelming and a little terrifying. And how do you prepare your students for a whole new way of learning?  

Free Inquiry: Buying Cross-Country Ski Gear

Up until this winter, the only skiing I had done was downhill (alpine), which requires a completely different set of gear than cross-country skiing. Since cross-country skiing is new to me, I have spent a fair bit of time researching and learning about how to buy cross-country ski equipment. I found several helpful websites but checked in with a local ski shop as well to make sure I was on the right track. Through my research I determined that to get the right gear for me I would have to consider the type of cross-country skiing I panned to do, what level of skier I was and my height and weight. 

There are three types of cross-country skiing: classic, skate and backcountry. Classic cross-country skis are the most recognizable of the three and are longer and slimmer than the other two. Classic skis are meant to be used in the tracks of groomed trails or on packed trails. Skate skis are shorter and have a lower tip than classic skis to support the quick and agile movements of pushing off their edges. Skate skiing is faster and for most people more of a workout than classic. And finally, backcountry skis are designed more for more off-track exploration of the hills and forest away from the trails. Backcountry skis are also shorter like skate skis but are wider than both classic and skate skis and usually have a metal edge, similar to alpine skis. To learn more about the different type of cross-country ski you can visit this website. 

To keep things simple, I decided to stick to classic style cross-country skiing. Once I decided on the classic style, I was able to find out exactly what length my skis and poles should be based on my height using the below equations: 

For skis: body size (cm) + 20-30 cm = ski length 

For poles: body size (cm) x 0.85 = pole length 

You can read more about this here

Because I was trying cross-country skiing for the first time and had no idea what to expect, I really wanted to find used equipment so that if it was not something I really enjoyed or saw myself doing very much, it was not a huge investment. I am lucky enough to have access to an amazing used/consignment outdoor store not too far away from me and was able to find a pair of boots that were my size and skis with poles that, although were a bit on the long end for my weight and height, seemed to work ok. Overall, I have been really happy with how my gear has worked out so far and was able to start a new hobby for very a very affordable price. 

Free Inquiry: Cross-Country Skiing Day 3

Friends! I am so excited! My goal today was to get down the very first hill of the trail without falling and I did it! In fact I didn’t fall at all! Success! I’m so excited for how today went!

Today we went on a huge adventure covering new trails we have not been on before. My goal was to implement some of the techniques I had learned watching the YouTubes videos mentioned in my previous post. Specifically, i concentrated on gliding, snow plowing, and “running” up the hills. I noticed a huge difference in my efficiency when I focused on gliding rather than shuffling my feet. I’m confident that this contributed to my endurance and my ability to ski for almost twice as long as I had previously.

Photo by Patty Proctor

This route was also great for practicing going down hill as there were many more long and steep hills than we had done previously. I really focused on bending my knees and shifting my balance forward and overtop of my feet rather than sitting back like I had been. This gave me a greater sense of control and meant that I was actually able to go down most of the hills with one ski in the track and one ski out of the track. This technique allowed me to snow plow when necessary but for the most part I was able to ride the hill out which was a lot of fun! Finally I focused on “running” up the hills and using the grip of my skis to get me up the hill rather than basically hiking up the hill. While I would say it was faster and somewhat easier, it was definitely must more of a workout.

All in all it was a successful day. We ended up being out for about 3 hours and about 13 km. By the end, both my mom and I felt we had been hit by a bus, we were exhausted but happy.

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