Saturday, May 4, 2019

2019 #VWEDU MALET showcase: Making and Tinkering – Stop Motion Animation Project: By: Marian Read


#VWEDU Making and Tinkering
Stop Motion Animation
Project: By: Marian Read

The project uses maker-centered pedagogical principles such as inquiry, play, imagination and innovation and Papert’s constructionist pedagogy, which includes hands-on learning or learning-by-doing and using technology to build artifacts.  The feedback from one teacher is illustrated, highlighting how stop motion animation could help students practice narration of a story in a second language (French).

This presentation explores Stop Motion Animation as a making and tinkering activity that can be conducted with students in the classroom.   It describes maker-centered pedagogical principles such as inquiry, play, imagination and innovation and Papert’s constructionist pedagogy which includes hands-on learning or learning-by-doing and using technology to build artifacts. 
The project illustrates the writer’s prototype professional learning resource for teachers, which provides practical information from setting a challenge to suggestions for linking stop motion animation with the curriculum. 

Takeaways

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The learning experience

  • Students create an adventure story.
  • They use characters and backgrounds that they make or choose. 
  • The create an animated video of their story with a stop motion animation app on a tablet or smartphone.

The learning objectives

  • Students learn literacy, media and technology skills. 
  • Students practice collaboration.
  • Students move from media consumers of media to media producers! 
  • Students practice their problem solving, creativity and collaboration skills.
  • Students experience the joy of creativity.
  • (When students create something they learn what they can do.)

Summary

This project addressed Canadian teachers’ needs for new online professional learning resources about Making and Tinkering Activities and Approaches. It provided teachers with a set of museum-tested Making and Tinkering Activities aimed at enhancing student outcomes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects (Grades 4 to 6).
The project explored the hypothesis that if Canadian teachers find, on the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s website, easy-to-use curriculum-linked professional learning resources on Making and Tinkering Activities, then they will download them for use in their schools. The Making and Tinkering Activities prototyped and tested were: Marble on the Run, e-Textiles, Stop-motion animation, Make-a-Toy, Zipline racers, and Balloon racers. A team, comprising the writer (instructional designer) and two Museum professionals, developed and tested the prototype resources using the Agile Methodology. The Making Activity prototypes were tested with users and feedback was gathered through a short survey. During testing the prototype Activities were found to be useful for Canadian teachers. Online webinars with presentations and discussion and in-person professional development workshops were preferred by teachers as options for ongoing interaction with museum staff and fellow educators on making and tinkering topics. This project recommended that the Museum posts on its website these professional learning resources and undertakes ongoing interaction with teachers on making and tinkering topics. This project also demonstrated how a team can effectively deploy the Agile Methodology to design and test professional learning resources for teachers.

Discussion

This project explored the hypothesis that if Canadian teachers find, on the Museum’s website, easy-to-use curriculum-linked professional learning resources on Making and Tinkering Activities, then they will download them for use in their schools. The writer, working in a team with Museum professionals, created six Making and Tinkering Activities, and, developed a prototype website with landing pages and downloadable professional learning resources for teachers. The project tested the prototype Activity resources by requesting users (teachers) to review them and to respond to a short questionnaire. The project resulted in the development of useful professional learning resources for Canadian teachers, which are now ready to be finalized by the Museum. Related to this, online webinars, with presentations and discussions, and in-person professional development were identified by the project as the preferred options for ongoing interaction by teachers with museum staff and fellow educators on making and tinkering topics.
This project found that Canadian teachers, especially those who have already attended in-person professional learning on making and tinkering activities, search for online professional learning resources which they adapt for use in their schools. Such resources are considered useful when they have relevant content and a format similar with typical lesson plans. The prototyped Making and Tinkering Activity resources included references to grade-specific STEM curricula and their format had sections similar with typical lesson plans. Almost all testers indicated that they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use the Activities for classroom instruction.
This project demonstrated that the Canada Science and Technology Museum is well-positioned to develop and disseminate online professional learning resources for Canadian teachers on the topic of making and tinkering activities. This is a result of the Museum’s long experience with professional learning resources for teachers related to science and technology, and, since 2017, with Making and Tinkering activities for visitors in its makerspace.
Through observation of the Museum professionals’ interactions with makerspace visitors, the writer noted that they embodied the maker culture that teachers are expected to acquire (Hughes, 2017). They demonstrated the learning mindset by taking risks, being resourceful, by accepting failure and trouble shooting as necessary. In addition, they developed their makerspace activities by using the best practice of other museums, demonstrating the importance of relying on collaborative knowledge (Kurti, Kirti and Fleming, 2014 cited in Marsh et al, 2017; Lock, dos Santos, Hollohan, & Becker, 2018).
For this project, the Museum professionals shared with the writer their valuable advice based on their experience with Making and Tinkering Activities, which the writer subsequently embedded in the professional learning resources. This advice included: (a) how to facilitate making activities, using a constructionist approach, including prompts for starting, iterating, trouble-shooting and completing activities for different age groups; (b) how to set challenges and identify the necessary tools, materials and technologies required to implement activities on a relatively tight budget; and, (c) how to find where to buy supplies for specialized items such as those needed for electronic textiles. This advice contributed to the survey respondents’ positive ratings of the Activity prototypes.
This project demonstrated the value of using the Agile Methodology for the instructional design process. The Agile Methodology places a high value on understanding the user’s needs and behaviors, creating personas, developing and testing prototypes as early as possible, and obtaining user feedback (AgileAlliance, 2018). In this project, research findings from interviews with teachers, indicated that teachers use online resources to get new ideas and to follow-up on topics covered in professional learning workshops. Interviewing teachers at the outset helped: to identify their learning needs; to analyse how they typically interacted with online resources; and, to identify opportunities to fill existing learning gaps. Developing prototypes and obtaining feedback from users iteratively helped to improve the quality of the Activities. Maintaining regular team interaction, consistent with the Agile Method’s values and principles (Beck et al., 2001), also contributed to the quality of the Making and Tinkering Activities.

Conclusion

This project addressed the need for online professional learning resources for Canadian teachers (Grades 4 to 6) who intend to use making and tinkering activities and approaches in their schools to enhance student outcomes in STEM subjects. Making and Tinkering Activities, as professional learning resources for teachers, were developed and tested, in anticipation of their finalization for the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s website. During prototype testing the format and content of the online prototype Activities were found to be useful for Canadian teachers and likely to be applied in their schools. This project also demonstrated the effectiveness of the Agile Methodology for the instructional design of professional learning resources by a team.

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