For the last two weeks the student teachers of the University of Plymouth have been working hard to create a lesson plan for teaching a small group of year 5 children an Indian faith story, with the aid of the I Can Animate software. this has been a process in which we have all put in a lot of effort to ensure that our first teaching experience provided not only a fun/exciting experience for the children but conveyed a message of learning; embedding a story in the minds of the children that make up each of our groups.
We began by first researching a story, ensuring that it was suitable for the children that would be reading it and in turn being careful to select a story that can be animated easily. If the story was to complicated or difficult to decipher, therefore becoming a very time-consuming process of explaining to the children how they could go about animating such a story. The next stage of the process was to sit down and think, “how do I want to teach this story?” furthermore “How will I meet the requirements of the curriculum?” and “What methods could I use to ensure that they fully grasp the idea of animation?” To do this I created a lesson plan, researching the areas of the curriculum that I would cover and explaining how the children would meet these requirements. Furthermore considering the question of, “How will I teach this story?” I decided that the purpose of this exercise is to teach the children a story through the medium of animation; completing the task was irrelevant. As long as the children knew the story by the end of the allotted time with a basic knowledge of I Can Animate I would be happy as my goals will have been met; i will be leaving the school knowing that I have made a difference, even if only minuscule, a difference none the less.
This being the first time I would have the chance to act as a teacher in a primary school environment since getting to University I wanted to set the standard for future experiences and provide the children in my group with the best animation exposure possible by putting in as much effort as possible. I decided that like all of us, these children will want a choice; to make a decision as a group on their film and what it entails. So when creating resources and characters I created a large variety so that the children could pick and choose what they wanted to do. However i was also aware that i have a time constraint and the children can only achieve a particular amount in any given time; so i created the background for the animation, basing it upon the images that accompanied the story.
Organisation was a quintessential part of this task, one mistake or poor organisational skills could have proven detrimental to the entire day, I am confident that if something had gone wrong i could have adapted to carry on with the task. however I do feel that it would have meant a poorer experience for the children in my group; which seems unfair given that those mistakes would have been my own. So it was important that i remembered all of the resources on the day and in turn remembered to order those that I required to be delivered to the school for me.
The day finally arrived today, we travelled to the primary school by taxi and I was met at the door by my peers; all eager to get started, maybe slightly nervous too. once we were inside the atmosphere was brilliant the children from all over the school we wondering about getting to their classrooms, returning books and fetching registers etc. we were divided up into two classrooms, I was placed in a year 5 class with two children; both of whom were incredibly bright, so excited to see what I had brought with me. we began by reading through the story, with myself reading the first page and the two children taking turns to finish of the final page. I then quizzed them to see that they had a rough idea of the story and were able to begin to storyboard the film. I would note at this point that the two children in my group did only have a vague idea of the story but I believed this would then provide me with a platform from which I could test their knowledge after today’s session had reached its conclusion. I provided each child with a storyboard and gave them five minutes to fill in six boxes, this would be the chronological order of the story. when the time had expired we cam together and discussed both storyboards, which led to the creation of another storyboard; a combination of the two, creating a much better sequence to follow.
Animation was next, the children set up the area the we were to use; this included placing the camera, the background, sorting out their characters and deciding on roles for the animation process. finally with one child manning the laptop and the other the film area we were ready to begin the animation. Through the entire process the children were coming up with countless ideas on how we could improve the film, the best ways to move characters and sounds that could be added at the end; they were a wealth of knowledge. it inspired me so much seeing two kids work so well together, if one struggled the other offered assistance; and the encouragement they gave each other throughout the animation process was incredible.
The final product was very good, the children created a film that told the entire story and they managed to space out each action well enough that they can narrate the story in lesson two. just before the lesson finished i did a recap with them; asking the a variety of questions about the story and the process of animation. when quizzed on the story as a team they were able to answer al my questions accurately, proving that teaching in this way, with this medium does work. It is a fun and exciting way to teach; the children love it; with the end result meeting all of the requirements previously set before the lesson. In terms of animation I simply asked how they would improve what we had done in the first lesson. I was impressed with some of the points raised; one child spoke about how we could have taken more pictures to give more time to speak next time, the child also said how we could have moved the characters around the board better, so they didn’t jump. The final improvement given was the position of the background, sometimes it moved and this meant that the shot was ruined; one child in my grouped suggested the use of blue tack to hold it still.
To conclude I was very happy with today and the experience that I had. I feel like I contributed to the learning those children undertook and that I have managed to do so using a medium that would not be seen very often in primary schools. It proves that when used correctly ICT can be such a beneficial tool for facilitating learning.
Christopher Nesbitt (University of Plymouth)