Animation, the second of our four part Media Arts curriculum, was by far the most successful unit of the year. This was in large part due to the very strategic planning and thoughtful collaboration with teachers.
How did we know we were successful? One benchmark we use which is less about data and more subjective, is when we witness students making art just because. An overwhelming amount of students submitted animations beyond the class assignments simply because they enjoyed the process. That, friends, is true Arts Integration.
We called upon student knowledge and enthusiasm for animation to build this unit, which there was no shortage of! Middle and High School students seemingly love animation. Starting with VTS, then some pre-planning, followed by creating digital sketches, helped students take advantage of all the new upgrades in Adobe Spark and later, EZGIF.com. While some students focused on informational GIF's, many related their animations to telling a story and others were guided by prompts like "Draw something that makes you happy!" The final animations were works of art that the community gladly celebrated.
MAM's Animation study focused on the idea of rituals: routines and traditions that transcend subject area. To bring this learning to life, students were asked to create 5-10 still images in Spark and then export and upload those images to EZGif (keep reading to see some of the final assets!).
Below are a few tools we used that help to share how we brought our animation process to life, even over distance learning. Many of these resources are simply adaptations from what we learned to be successful in Q2's Photography Unit.
Teaching Artist Reflections
Tia's Reflections We launched a new after school Art Club at the beginning of the year and it has been a joy to engage with our students in this way. We have created a safe space to create and engage with our art. Showing up weekly to our art practice in community with each other has been extremely valuable in managing the stress and heaviness of this time. We talk about what it means to have an art practice and how it may sustain us in our overall well being. We have emotional check-ins and begin our sessions with music. We talk about how music influences our art practice. Our most recent project was to redesign our favorite album cover. Our initial drafts were analogue. LAPF leadership provided us with art kits that contained fancy art paper, pastels, carbon pencils and blending tools. The students were very thankful and excited! Using new art tools gave us a boost to experiment and explore. We shared our initial drafts with each other. This created a space where we could feel safe in sharing our work. We provided feedback and discussed our ideas for what we were making. This particular part of our practice has been very generative. Students have become more comfortable speaking about themselves and their art. It’s beautiful to witness!
Christina's Reflections My classes are having a blast learning about animation and creating their own GIFs! I’ve been especially impressed with the connections students have made with each other in this unit. From sharing best practices for using the technology to personal stories inspired by the animations, our discussions and chat box has been full of innovation and love.
11th grade students from West Adams High School used the GIF project as an opportunity to commit to healthy habits and set goals for 2021:
Angel (Grade 11, Ms. Pettus’ Class) is committing to his piano practice, hope he’ll be back to performing on stage one day soon!
Anthony (Grade 11, Ms. Pettus’ class) combined his photography and animation skills to depict himself running every day.
Evelin (Grade 11, Ms. Pettus’s class) will continue to deepen her meditation practice to care for her mind and spirit.
My middle school classes are jumping into the GIF project too, Ms. Slason’s 6th grade students are learning the GIF making process and as practice, creating GIFs that connect to their ELA unit on “Fears and Phobias” Here’s an outstanding example full of expressive lines from Roxy, Grade 6:
From Roxy: “My GIF shows Astraphobia, the fear of lighting and thunder. I used lines to show the brightness of the thunder and some wiggly lines to show the person is shaking or scared.”
Ilene's Reflections I was beyond impressed with everything my young animators produced in distance learning this quarter, specifically in my STEM collaborations. Science and Math can often be more challenging to integrate with Art but my middle school teachers and their students brought so much life to this project.
Ms. Rice, 6th Grade Math and Science Teacher integrated a unit about the Water Cycle. I love that some students used real photographs from image searching and other's created their own simulation from scratch.
My lone High School Teacher, Mr. Rob, teaches English and his students were amidst a "Heroes Journey" unit. Their animations were absolutely stellar - and exceeded the 5-10 frame minimum.
Two tips for this unit, specifically for distance learning with asynchronous instruction and assignments:
Use Screencastify for quick tutorials (great to supplment instruciton when technology is unpredictable)
Divide assignments into short (5 min or less) directives, so not to overwhelm students.