UPDATE:

Here’s the latest installment in what’s sure to be a series of stop-motion Lego movies. Enjoy!

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You gotta see this app. Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 7.32.43 PM

My son (10) walked around the corner this afternoon asking about an app (Koma Koma) we had downloaded on our iPad a few months ago but never really dug into. I think I deleted it. He had an armful of Lego and wanted to make his own stop-animation movie.

So, we re-downloaded it, set up a little studio on the kitchen table, and within seconds we were filming his very own stop-animation Lego short. It’s easy to use with four simple functions: capture, play, delete, and save to gallery. This is literally so easy a 4th grader (probably even a 1st grader) could run it.

The app records one frame at a time and gives you a cool “onion skin” overlay after each capture which allows you so see a translucent image of the previous frame and line up the next shot. We kicked our production up a notch by importing the movie into iMovie; adding titles, sound effects, and credits; and exporting to our Facebook page so family and friends could view it. We found we needed a few more sound effects that weren’t available on iMovie (robot lasers, explosions etc.) so we recorded them on Garage Band along with some dialogue for the characters.  Check out our finished product here (hosted on Google Drive).

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Now, admittedly, 43 seconds did take us a good amount of time to produce (about 2 1/2 hours) mainly because we wanted to add sound, titles, etc. and I was refreshing my iMovie skills as I went, but a basic movie can be produced in as few as 5 minutes. Anything can be a character: toys, modeling clay, paper cutouts, leaves and twigs. What was amazing to me was how riveted my 10 year old was throughout the entire process. He mapped out the scene and dialogue with attention to details. He manipulated the app with no problem. He absolutely loved picking out the sound effects and recording the extras. Titles and credits were the icing on the cake, “We’re making a real movie!” he shouted. This is a great example of how immersed a kid can get in a project with an end goal in view and the potential for sharing their work with a broader audience.

The only feature that would make this app better would be the ability to record audio in real time on top of the video. A simple soundtrack function would make this a complete app for one-stop video production.  There’s probably a simpler way to add sound than involving iMovie and Garage Band, when I find it I’ll update this post. In the meantime, download the app here and read more about it here.  Have fun with your first production.

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Presenting a Tech 4 Teachers workshop at the high school today. It’s been a great afternoon of teachers sharing best practices in their classrooms. Refreshing to see teachers providing professional development for teachers. 

  

If you’re just getting started integrating tech tools in your classroom, there are three resources that you should consider adding to your arsenal. I use Twitter and Edublogs every day and post to my Remind account about once a week. These tools can help you better communicate with parents, share student work online, and connect with other educators with you same interests and passions.

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Twitter lets you connect with users around the world. Users include teachers, politicians, journalists, parents…etc. You’ll learn from direct connections with colleagues as well as the many Twitter Chats that are scheduled every week.  To get started, check out a short screencast: Getting Started w/ Twitter hosted on this site.

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I maintain my classroom blog on Edublogs. It’s a very user-friendly blogging site that looks great and is free (basic level). Check out my classroom blog at www.MrMcCrea.com. Edublogs is basically WordPress for teachers but, unlike a Wordpress site, does not embed ads on your site. You don’t have to worry about what a student or parent might randomly see when they visit your site.  You can upgrade your blog for added features (at a cost), most notably the ability to embed videos on your site (youtube, Vimeo etc.). This upgrade isn’t necessary though, it’s easy to host your videos on your Google drive and then simply post a link to the video on your blog (see example here). Edublogs has a great app for your smartphone which allows you to post pictures and videos right from your phone. No more downloading pictures before updating your site or swapping media cards or flash drives.

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Remind allows parents and students to subscribe to text message announcements that you manage through the Remind website or an app on your phone. Users sign up by sending a text message to an SMS number on their cell phone but their numbers remain private. Once they sign up for your “class”, they can be moved to other classes you teach (great for coaches or teachers who teach multiple level courses). Remind is a great way to instantly contact your team, students, or parents (text messages have a 98% open rate and only 1% spam rate compared to email which only has an average 20% open rate). I use it to promote our classroom website and calendar.

 

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Teaching got you down? Looking for inspiration? Want to connect with teachers in your discipline with your same interests and passions? Sign up for Twitter. It’s a great resource to expand your personal learning network and share your teaching practice and experience.

View this short Twitter screencast: Getting Started with Twitter. This brief (10 min) screencast for the brand new Twitter user includes news feeds, posting your first tweet, notifications, hashtags, and tagging within posts.

Hosted on Google Drive, not Youtube, so viewers will be less likely to encounter filtering problems if viewed from school computers. http://goo.gl/tjd8gF

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Looking for some educational inspiration?

Chat with teachers from around the globe on Twitter via one of the many education chats throughout any given week. Chats are usually scheduled at the same time each week and are moderated by teachers just like you. Follow the hashtag for the chat (#nyedchat, #satchat) and drop into the conversation. Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets so others can see your tweet even if they don’t follow you.

Check out days and times of education chats on twitter here: https://goo.gl/qGXNHk

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Another great article by Fred LeBrun.

“While New York public education struggles to resolve an idiotic dependence on standardized tests, waiting in the wings is another poorly-thought-out plan threatening more harm than benefit: school receivership”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Fred LeBrun is rapidly emerging as the most astute education writer in New York State. He writes for the Albany Times-Union so there is a good chance that the Governor’s staff and the legislative staff read what he writes. I hope so.

In this article, he skewers Cuomo’s plan to put struggling schools into “receivership.” That’ll fix them. Millions will be burned while the state ignores the root causes of low-performance in school: poverty. It seems that all the schools on the Governor’s list are in poor communities. Black and brown children will be Cuomo’s playthings, as teachers and principals and other staff are fired and new ones brought in, who will also be fired.

It is painful to read. You know that millions of dollars will be spent on consultants, and by the time the money is all gone, there will be more schools to hand over to Cuomo’s…

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