Written by Unisonedu member Debbie Martin. You can connect with her on Twitter at @DebbieMartinITC.
As teachers, we frequently plan for evidence of student learning. Popular options can include thumbs up/thumbs down, 3-2-1 exit tickets, short answer questions, and the inevitable quiz or test. I would like to challenge us all to consider methods of allowing for student creativity in order to show evidence of learning. This is a great way to incorporate the ISTE Student Standards - in particular standards for Knowledge Constructor and Creative Communicator.
When students are challenged to be creative it allows them to engage and wrestle with information in multiple ways. For example, let’s consider the process used to create stop motion animation. This past school year we used stop motion animation in 6th-grade science during a unit on tides. During this unit, our students learned about tides, talked about tides, wrote about tides, figured out how to represent tides with props, and in addition, navigated working with partners and all of the soft skills that entails. Let’s explore what happened during this unit:
It is important for students to have a solid understanding of the topic in order to truly be able to create using this knowledge. This article, Why Content and knowledge are Important for Innovation by George Couros lays a great foundation for this. The science teacher in my school used multiple resources such as videos, text, and images to teach the content. Next, students were each assigned a partner to work with on the creation of their stop motion animation.
Each pair of students had to plan using a storyboard before any animation photographs could be taken. The storyboard is an essential part of the process because it requires the students to document the movements of the earth and moon around the sun which results in tides. On the storyboard, students drew pictures to represent what they would photograph. They also wrote their script to use when narrating their animation. By drawing as well as writing, students are engaging more of their brains. In addition, the partners had to agree on what to say. As you can see, students are thinking about, talking about, and diagramming the topic they are learning. The storyboard also provided a natural checkpoint for the teacher to verify student understanding of the topic before the animation process began.
The next step involves gathering and creating props and labels to use in the animation. Depending on the amount of time allocated to the unit, students can brainstorm and bring in or make their own props, or the teacher can provide props for students to use. Deciding on labels also requires students to understand the content and what should be emphasized,
Once the above steps have been completed, students are ready to begin photographing their animation! Popular choices include Stop Motion Animator for Chrome OS or even WeVideo. Both are easy to use and have their own benefits. Stop Motion Animator saves directly to student Chromebooks and can be used offline. WeVideo is probably the better option if narration of the animation is part of the creation process.
From my experience stop motion animation is enjoyed by almost all students. By having checkpoints along the way through the use of storyboarding students end up with final products that accurately document the process being shown. Because the student is not the focus of the animation they are less reluctant to create a video project. I encourage you to give student creation a try if you’ve been looking for a way to really engage your students with a topic and have them wrestle with it in multiple ways!