A few weeks before their Interim trip to Williamsburg, 4th grade students began to research a colonial trade that they would learn more about once there. In the past, students would make books about the trade, but this year they used a new avenue to express their learning: stop motion video.
The project involved several of the Six Cs, skills Randolph believes are essential for students today, among them collaboration, communication and creativity.
"Although our classes had created iMovies before," says 4th grade teacher Lindsey Dunnavant, "for many, this was their first attempt at making stop animation. Stop motion animation has many elements of creativity, learning and cooperation. Students needed to research their colonial trade before meeting with their partner. Once in their partnership, the students created a storyboard. They practiced cooperation and decision-making as they discussed things such as what background to use, what might the characters look like, what the word bubbles would say and who would 'speak' first."
"Once preliminary work was finished, they made the movie. Students learned a great deal of patience at this stage. They realized that to make a character's motion look more fluid they needed more frames per second. While most students used 15 frames per second, many did more. Many groups had upwards of 1,000 frames. Fourth grade classrooms became mini-studios complete with backgrounds, props and characters; some groups even thought about lighting. Students became very engaged in this project. On one rainy day, I requested that they clean up their studio space, because it was time for indoor recess. They begged to keep working on their movies instead of playing."
"We hoped this project would be a unique and memorable way for students to learn," says Ms. Dunnavant. By the students' accounts it has been!
“I liked learning about stop animation. I liked it because I had never done it before. It was very fun!” - Ben P.
“I like learning with iPads because I’m a tech guy and one day I will program an application for an iDevice.” - Cullen
“I liked stop animation with iPads because it is very cool to make your own people out of paper. It is also neat to know that 15 shots (pictures) equals 1 second of video.” - Marshall
“I liked doing iMovies because you can research stuff to put in your movie. You also get to hang out with your friends and be in the movie. I learned a lot of explorers and had fun!” - Britt
“I liked iMovie because we were able to learn while having fun.” - Ben H.
Students were motivated to learn more. As they learned about stop animation, students really enjoyed watching the Animation Chef tutorials. "The students got into the tutorials because the animation chefs were kids just like them who were able to create amazing videos," says Ms. Dunnavant. "Many of our students were so excited by things they saw on animation chef that they tried to recreate their videos at home."
Here is one of the stop motion movies that Ms. Dunnavant's students made about colonial trades. Video by Owen Phillips, Merrill Parker, and Victoria Johnson.