Friday, December 21, 2012

Stop Motion Animation in the Classroom

"Learning through play" is a concept that most of us learned about in college.  For me it was a term only talked about in elementary education and child psychology classes.   Does this concept  have applications in secondary education?  absolutely!!

I am willing to bet that EVERY child you teach has had some exposure to animation.  Be it Saturday morning cartoons or making flipbooks; animation is a foundational component of our collective conscience.

It has been my experience that students retain what they have learned better when they not only apply what they learn, but create something in the process.   The more unique the creation process, the higher the retention rate .(Be careful , the law of diminishing returns applies here as well.  PowerPoint was once novel for students, but overexposure has had quite the opposite effect).

Enter the old concept of Stop Animation, made new by the advent of 21st century technology.  The concept is so simple that very little, if any instruction is needed.

I have included in this post my latest JellyCam tutorial , which is in my option in the most simplistic, all around, stop animation solution available.  It is also available for FREE at

Claymation in Math?  Yeap.  This is a video project I did in a class period with 6th grade students.

Enjoy.  Feel free to leave comment or ask questions.

*UPDATE:  Before students begin filming it is important that they have a plan.  The storyboard is to animation what the outline is to an essay.  Free storyboard templates are only a Google search away, or you could have your student try
jellycam.pdf photo credit: citoplasmas via photopin cc

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Demystifying Copyright.

Houston, we have a communication problem...
photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc
photo credit: twerksome21 via photopin cc

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pictures for School Projects

 Social media image stats from 2011 compiled by the Royal Pingdom team.
  • 14 million – Number of Instagram accounts created during 2011.
  • 60 – The average number of photos uploaded per second to Instagram.
  • 100 billion – Estimated number of photos on Facebook by mid-2011.
  • 51 million – Total number of registered users on Flickr.
  • 4.5 million – Number of photos uploaded to Flickr each day.
  • 6 billion – Photos hosted on Flickr (August 2011).
  • 1 – Apple iPhone 4 is the most popular camera on Flickr.
While these numbers are staggering they don't, by a long shot, give us a clear idea of the actual number of pictures that reside on the World Wide Web.

As educators we can benefit from this trend in the social media revolution if we just know where to look.  While I do not recommend you let your students search these social media sites for images (some pictures may not be school appropriate - student safe search tools for students will be listed below), that does not mean that you can not find some amazing first had pictures for your classroom presentations, website or blog.  For example, the image below was found on Insagram and depicts a scene during the final Shuttle launch.  Pictures can be found in real time as the event occurs. 
From user sgoralnich
Why would you want to use a picture taken by Joe Public instead on one taken by a professional photographer?

1. Joe Public is everywhere with his trusty smartphone.  Images can be found on social media that professional news agencies just can not cover (Why was Peter Parker the only camera person that could capture Spider-man on film?  Because he was there when the action was taking place).

2. Copyright.  While Joe Public owns an all rights reserved copyright to the picture he just snapped on his iPhone, you are not "...effecting...the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work" as you MIGHT be if you used the image taken by a professional cameraman and then sold to a news agency.  You would be good to go, based on the Fair Use guidelines. This may be a bit a stretch, because copyright law does favor educators.  While you would be fine to use the professionally taken photo in the classroom, using it on  your class website or blog would be an entirely different story.

Social Network Image Search Tools (Recommended for teacher use only) - This is the best tool I know of for searching Public Instagram photos.  Full size images are returned as well as the users name, so you can give appropriate attribution. - This is a favorite Flickr search tool. It allows you to search specifically for images that have a Creative Commons license. - Keyword search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos.  If you use the embed code they provide, it will also add the appropriate attribution to your website or blog (I use this for the vast majority of pictures on this blog).

 Flicker CC -  This is another great Creative Commons image search tool that pulls from Flickr

*It is not possible to search the private profiles of individual Facebook users.  While search tools do exist to search images on Public Facebook Pages (for businesses, etc), I did not include these on the list because of the likelihood of copyright conflict.


General Image Search tools (for students) - A massive stock photo search engine.
- A search tool for free stock photos.  Not as comprehensive as Everystockphoto, but still a very useful tool.
- A copyright-friendly searchable image database specifically made for teachers and students.  

Google Images (advanced search) -  Use the advance search feature to find copyright friendly images indexed by Google.

1. Search for an image by keyword (standard image search).

2. Click the cog button to the right corner of the screen and select Advanced search

3. Scroll the bottom of the page and select the desired licensing type.  I personally like "free to use share or modify" for school projects.

Do you have some favorite image search sites for teachers or students that I missed?  Suggest one or more in a comment.

photo credit: paloetic via photo pin cc

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fishing for Good Classroom Apps

UPDATED 6-20-13

One of my all time favorite, educationally appropriate proverb...

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Everyone knows this proverb, but its applications go so far beyond fishing.  If I share with a teacher an amazing website that she can use that day in class, both she and her student's will benefit that day.  If I teach her how to use Twitter and RSS feeds to find resources for herself, she will be so much further along.  The same goes for iOS apps.  I am often asked "what apps should I download?"  That is a very subjective question.   The idea behind this post is to provide classroom teachers with some good fishing holes where they can return time and again to "fish" for new and useful classroom apps.

Blog posts that contain lists of suggested education Apps - A collaborative blog/community devoted to finding, reviewing and sharing education apps.

Teacher time saving apps - A list of apps with descriptions of several quality apps for managing your class and students.

20+ Free Student Centered Learning Apps - A nice collection of cool apps with descriptions.  You may find a few gems here (Journal Jar is not an app.  You bookmark the webpage and it acts like an app).

Websites devoted to Apps

iPadcurriculum - This is basically a blog where the blogger post reviews of various iOS apps for use in the classroom.  Post are not created on any regular basis, so be sure to check the archive.

Appshopper -  Apps fluctuate in price. Large developers typically hold app sales around the holidays, but many times, price drops are random and only last a day or two.  To take full advantage of these price fluctuations use Appshopper.  Simply create a free account and tell Appshopper which apps you “want.” When the price drops, you will be alerted by email of the price change. *All apps, not just education related apps can be found on Appshopper.

iPadsforeducation - A very well designed website devoted to education apps.  All apps are organized by subject.   All apps may not be available in the United States and links take you to the Australian itunes store. My suggestion would be to do your research on this site and then do a keyword search for the app in the US itunes store.

Appitic - A massive directory (currently over 1800) of classroom tested education apps.  What sets this site apart is how the apps are organized.  Of particular interest are the Blooms and N.E.T.S sections.

Kathy Schrock’s iPads in the Classroom - Kathy Schrock is a force to be reckoned with in the world of education.  This page is constantly updated with articles and resources from around the web about integrating iPad’s in the classroom.  You would be remiss if you did not find the time to explore non-iPad related pages on Schrock’s Guide to Everything.

Appchronicles - This mainstream blog/website is devoted to app news, reviews, and the like.  While not specifically devoted to education apps, some do pop up from time to time.  One of the best features of the site is a daily “Best Free Apps of the Day” post written by the site editors.

Digital Storytelling with the iPad - This site contains some good information on how to create traditional digital stories (pictures, text, and student voice) using the iPad. Storyboarding apps and more are also reviewed.  I personally like less traditional digital storytelling (think Puppet Pals or Toontastic) and find that  Storykeepers list of storytelling apps offers a wider variety.  Perhaps a combination of both of these sites is the answer.

Apps in education - Nice collection of apps by subject area.  Some of the apps have links to the Australian App Store, so some leg work may be necessary.  

Mac Worlds App Guide (Education section) - A simply massive selection of education apps, by subject. All apps are independently rated too. 

Database List of Apps (most found on iEar website)

Acalanes Union High School District’s list of suggested iPad apps

White Oak Independent School District’s spreadsheet of apps by subject-  Links are not active.  You will need to manually search for the listed apps by name.

Westlake High School list of suggested Apps

Kathy Schrock’s list of suggested Apps - These are not hyperlinked, you will need to manually search the App Store for download links.

Horry County Schools list of in use apps - While not a spreadsheet like the others, the list is impressive and descriptive.


Conference presentation from a Music teacher- A pdf of a slideshow created by a music teacher about using the iPad in a music classroom.  Some fantastic resources mentioned. A link to his blog for further reading.

Education Hashtags- Nice collection of very active education related hashtags in on Twitter.  Add these to your Flipboard account for easy monitoring. #edapp, #edtablet are good ones to find apps.

50 sites for using iPads in the classroom by ZDnet -  Just as the descriptions says.  This one could take you all day.

My personal must have teacher apps

*Update 1/28/13 - The Puffin Web Browser - is a steal at $2.99. Utilizing a special proxy service to render flash applications, it opens your iPad to MILLIONS of free flash games and animations on the web. Additionally, I find that many of the sites that do not render well in Safari or Chrome on the iPad (ie google docs, Gmail, various web forms), do just fine in Puffin.
*Dropbox - A very popular online file storage service.  The desktop version automatically saves and synchronizes files saved to the special Dropbox folder on your computer to your online Dropbox account.  These files can be accessed online or from your iPad using the app.  Installing this app on your iPad also gives you the option to save files (pictures, pdfs, etc.) from your iPad to your Dropbox account directly.   Dropbox files in all three places (computer, iPad, and online) are completely synchronized.  (Free)

Flipboard - Named Apple's "App of the Year" for good reason.  Any website with a feed can be subscribed through Flipboard.  Flipboard turns these feeds into a magazine like reading experience.  Not using Twitter?  Use Flipboard to subscribe to the following feeds: #edapp, #edtech, #education.  For what it’s worth, this is my all time favorite app. (Free)

Zite - Apposed to telling Zite specific sites to pull from like you do in Flipboard; Zite in true semantic fashion uses a system of “likes” and “dislikes” (think Pandora) to learn your interests and then delivers you a personalized “newspaper” based on those finding.  A little creepy? Yes.  Cool? Definitely.  (Free)

Google Translate - Type or speak into the iPad’s microphone and this app will do a darn good job translating it to a number of different languages.  Translations are produced in both text and audible versions.  Could you use this app to have a basic conversation with a limited English speaking student or parent?  Maybe. (Free)

Splashtop Remote Desktop - This one is pure genius.  Install the app on your iPad and then download a small program to your computer from the developer’s website.  Run the program on your pc and use this app to view and control your pc from anywhere on your school's network!   A username and password on the pc side keeps the connection secure.   ($.99 - $4.99)

Kindle Amazon is a leader in the digital distribution of books, textbooks, magazines, and newspapers.  Do not have a kindle? You do not need to miss out.  Typically, Kindle books cost less than their paper counterparts. You can also “borrow” Kindle books from your local library.  All this and the ability to email .pdf files to your kindle account, make the Kindle app for iPad an ideal digital reading platform. (Free)

Other random goodies (updated 6-20-13)

62 Interesting Ways to Integrate iPad in your Classroom - A nice presentation with app and apptivity suggestions.

iPad & App Binder - This binder is slap full of app lists and suggestions.

One iPad in the Classroom - One teachers suggestions of what can be done with just one iPad in the classroom.  

Cool Apps for Schools - A massive collection of education apps, organized by subject area.

Palm Beach County Collection - A one-to-one iPad district offers app suggestions by grade level.
ipadapps4school - Richard Byrne's website devoted to education apps.  Most if not all apps are free and Richard offers implementation suggestions in each review.

PixnTell - Very basic picture story maker. Take a few pictures, record narrations. Done.  Use up to five pictures in the free version.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Integrating Google Docs into a Google Calendar Event

Google is amazing.   In a world full of usernames and passwords, it is nothing short of  remarkable what one little username and password can get you access to online.  Be it a district branded Google Domain login or your personal Google Account, Google gives you access to your most frequently used applications all in one place, with one login.

Each of these tools are remarkable in their own right, but Google did not stop there.  Most of their tools flawlessly integrate with one another too.  Whether you are inserting a Google Form, Map, or Picasa slideshow into a Google Site, or inserting a picture from your Picasa Web Album into a Google Presentation, the process is typically seamless.  The one exception to this rule occurs when you embed a Google Document into a Google Calendar event.

The issue here is twofold.  First, the Event Attachment feature must be enabled in Calendar Labs (easy enough).  Second, and more challenging is dealing with the privacy defaults in Google Docs.   All documents are private by default. When you insert a document in a calendar event, it remains private.  All seems well on your end when testing the link because you are logged into Google, but when your students attempt to access the embedded document, they are met with a Google Docs login screen, not the embedded document.

The Solution is to enable public sharing for each file you embed in your calendar, but this can be a tedious process.  My solution is simple, create a public folder in your Docs/Drive account and then drag files into it.  Documents automatically take on the sharing setting of the parent folder. 

See the two step process laid out below in both image and screencast format. 

1. Enable the Event Attachments feature from Calender Labs.

2. Making the documents you want to embed "Public on the web" opposed to the default Private.

 I demonstrate the full process in the screencast below.

photo credit: Stuckin Customs via photo pin cc

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stop Animation in the Classroom: Project Based Learning Perfection

Creating simple stop animation videos in the classroom is just that, simple.  All you need is a computer, webcam, and some free software.  If you have an iPad or iPod touch, it can be even easier.

Think back to your own primary education.  For me, I have vague memories of actual instruction, but I can recall in great detail the projects.  I loved dioramas, poster board, clay, and crayons.  Children, by nature want to create with their hands, to bring their imagination to life. 

Should we be shocked my childhood experience?   Absolutely not.  When Bloom's Taxonomy was revised and then released during my first year in the classroom I was like, "now this make sense."  Creation is special and when done correctly can have a lasting effect on your students.

Thanks to advances in technology, much of this creation can now occur virtually.  In my opinion, a solid digital creation evokes the same kind of experience as its physical counterpart and when
a student produced stop animation film of  >3 mins can be filmed in a 90 minute block; what's stopping you? 

The Software

*Jelly Cam - My top pick.  An Adobe Air program created by the brilliant Chris Bennett in his spare time.  Already in its 4th update, it allows for filming, editing, and audio, all to be done in one place.   While Chris offers video directions, it is my opinion that any student with even rudimentary computer skills can click his or her way through making a film with this program.

Helium Frog - For those feeling a bit more adventurous, this free Windows program has some of the most advanced features I have seen in any animation software. Check out this online guide, you will need it;)

Pivot Stick Animator - This is a stand alone Windows program where the students can create a stop animation movie with stick figures. It would be a good place to start because it simple and it can help them develop an understanding of frames.

Stop Motion Recorder - While several stop animation apps exist for iOS, I personally have hours of hands on time with this one and feel comfortable recommending it.  Feeling adventurous? Here is a list of 7 others.


Having your students storyboard a video before they start shooting is perhaps the most essential step.  It is comparable to  mind mapping or rough drafts in the writing world.  Here are some free printable templates to get you going.

Music and Sound Effects

Free Sound Project (the single best place to find random sound effects) You will need to login to download. Registration is free. Use the Search link on the left of the home page to search for sound effects.

Soungle is a free site that allows users to easily find and search sound effects and musical instruments samples along our huge online library.

Freeplay Music  and Jamendo are both excellent resources for finding copyright friendly music on the web.


A simple webcam will do.  Many can be picked up at Walmart for under $20.   I have bought a number of webcams off ebay for large class projects.  I have been luck enough in the past to purchase recently off lease webcams on ebay for as little as $2 each, shipped!  Simply search "webcam lot" on ebay and wait for the right deal.  Most are plug and play.

*One added bonus to having webcams in the classroom...Use your webcam to scan QR Codes online, in browser with  Did someone say QR Code Scavenger hunt?


Making Stopmotion Movies - This teacher created site provides step-by-step instructions for making stop-motion movies with your students.

Bob Greenberg - Blogmeister - Blog of a teacher who uses stop animation.

Brickfilms - an entire site dedicated to making stop animation movies with Legos

Just for fun, allow me to leave you with the worlds largest and smallest stop animation videos, both shot with a Nokia N8 phone!:


photo credit: StreetFly JZ, edtechworkshopvia photo pin cc


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