Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stop Motion Animation w Google Slides

This past week I was tasked with coming up with a way for students to create a short 30-second video project for reviewing some math concepts for end-of-year testing. We previously completed projects using Flipgrid, ReCap, Screencastify and Google Slide in a traditional presentation mode. I decided that stop-motion may be a fun alternative presentation project. I played around a bit with a stop-motion animation app on the Chromebook and then remembered +Eric Curts presentation about Google Slides being used as Stop-Motion.

I made a tutorial for the students by focusing on basic transportation, thinking the movement of transportation would be good to show the students. I started with a storyboard concept and duplicated the background in all the slides 30 times first. I picked thirty slides knowing that my default will be one second per slide when I publish.
UPDATE: May 22, 2017 - After speaking with several colleagues, I have been told that copying one slide at a time (instead of my 30 on the video) is much better. So, try it!

It's always good to pick pictures or clip art that has the universal transparency checker board (searching filename: png helps) as the background so it doesn't show up in the slideshow. I picked two planes that had somewhat side views and found a Remax balloon as well as a boat to complete my tutorial.

After I completed inserting the pictures, I copied and pasted them to new slides with a bit of movement or advancement in each slide.

Once I was happy with the movement, I published the slides to show the stop motion movement. When publishing, make sure to check one second as your default. If you would like it faster, find the 1000 mark on your address bar and reduce it. 1000 = 1 second. So, 500 will equal 1/2 second. 100 = 1/10th of a second. By playing around with the settings, you'll get the hang of timing pretty quickly.

I hope you find the attached YouTube tutorial helpful. In general, I think it went well. Hopefully, I will become more proficient at this and confident enough to produce more creative outlets like this.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why I need to Reinvent the Wheel.

Every time I've thought about improving my craft as an educator, learner, and leader, I find myself worrying that I am "reinventing the wheel". Why do we say "reinvent the wheel"? According to, it's defined as slang 

  • "To go laboriously and unnecessarily through elementary stages in some process or enterprise; waste time on tediously obvious fundamentals" 

The inspiration for this metaphor lies in the fact that the wheel must be the archetype of human ingenuity which allows it to underlie much if not all of modern technology. As I delve further into this saying, I have found that it's good to "reinvent the wheel" depending on the reasoning, purpose, and mindset of the learner. 

Maybe we should first consider the learning mindset. When it comes to learning, by re-inventing, we learn how solutions map to problems (backward design, backward mapping) and get a deeper understanding of how those solutions work (See Coding Article). Both are encouraged when learning, regardless of where the learning is done. This is good for teachers who need guidance on how to write a lesson plan or develop a curriculum that will be used multiple times (with time for insight and reflection on how it went). 

For someone like me, it's time to learn similar or redundant programs or apps thoroughly to be able to critique the programs and teach them to my staff even though there may be other similar alternatives already available. (i.e. Formative assessment apps such as Kahoot, Peardeck, Quizzizz, Plickers,, Google Forms, and GoFormative to name just a few). 

The case where re-invention is discouraged is the pragmatic mindset, one where you want to make new, more exciting, rounder, wheels. In this case, you have a problem, and you want to solve it with minimal time/effort. Pragmatic solutions will always be a composition of re-use and invention, and the preference is certainly re-using. I see this in my work when I continually go back to the basics to find more interesting and engaging activities for students to explore content in more critical, problem-solving and growth-mindset ways. I do this by going back to Google Apps and re-working how to use Slides, Drawing, Docs, and Sheets. 

Engineers are continually improving wheels, but they are also innovators who generate new types of wheels. New engineers continually are taught the basics as a foundation for the jump to eventual pragmatism. I think "reinventing the wheel" is a positive and I look at it as more of a spectrum of learners mindset to pragmatists mindset. 

By the way, we are still re-inventing the wheel. This is the Omni-directional wheel patented to improve forklifts

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Everything I learned, I learned with Kindergarten...

This week is Spring Break for my school system. Before my thoughts get too far away from school and toward a honey-do list and fishing, I shall discuss my first true teaching experience with Kindergartners.  

As a former high school teacher for 16 years, I have no preparation for Kindergarten. But, as an instructional technology resource teacher, I am assigned several different schools including Moneta Elementary in Moneta VA about once a week, every week. And, I have to be honest, I could've avoided Kindergarten if I wanted to. Fortunately for me, I met Mrs. Haywood early in the year and we hit it off. 

Due to the willingness to have me in her classroom, Mrs. Terri Haywood and I have formed a wonderful team the one day per week I get to interact with her students. Due to her openness, I have had the pleasure of getting to know her class of Kindergartners this year like I have no other. We have created "This week with Mrs. Haywood" weekly videos of the students modeling the latest curriculum, She posts them on Facebook and the parental feedback has been phenomenal. 

During stations, we have introduced mini BreakouEdu lessons, QR codes that lead to activities, Nearpod and Quizlet. 

Our latest endeavor included making Flipgrid videos of Word families. Each student created a grid of one word family. We then played the list of 20+ videos during snack time. The children responded to each others Flipgrid with applause. I have never experienced anything quite like it. I'm not saying I'm going out to get my elementary certification - Are you crazy?! But, I am feeling pretty proud. It confirms that I am in the right field and that children - no matter what age - are the reason I'm still in it. Thanks, Mrs. Haywood and all kindergarten teachers out there willing to infuse & introduce technology to our future! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Flipped BreakoutEdu

Good day: 
This week I will discuss BreakoutEdu student innovators and experimentation with Flipgrid. Two 8th grade students at my middle school tackled making a Breakoutedu game for their peers and we introduced Flipgrid afterward to reflect on the experience. 

Several weeks ago, I introduced a Breakoutedu to several 8th-grade students in an exploratory science class. Two of these students convinced Mrs. Blake, their English 8 teacher, to allow them to work on a breakout activity with me in their extra time. The boys worked diligently for two weeks whenever they got the opportunity. Lots of work went into the 8th grade English VA SOL review Breakout. Mrs. Blake, the two boys, and I contributed and we are all very proud of the outcome. 

We came out with a nine-question SOL review game with locks embedded every couple questions. We used all 3 English classes to play throughout the day. We set up 4 duplicate boxes and ran 4 groups simultaneously. The boys came up with what locks to use and in what order we wanted the locks to be opened. Mrs. Blake provided the SOL questions, ideas for a cryptix (styrofoam cups), and I was there to guide them through the brainstorming process and set up the materials. See my YouTube for Homemade Cryptix. 

It was a blast. Mrs. Blake and I are SO proud of the boys.  I think they learned from the experience so much more than we could offer with a standard curriculum. They helped the students through the process by adding hints and monitoring the game as they played. They hovered like proud parents. They expressed being exhausted at the end of each session because of the guidance and teaching process they experienced. Welcome to teaching! 

For the BreakoutEdu reflection, I introduced the students to Flipgrid to record their experience. I asked them to answer these 3 questions:

1. Describe something you did well as a group. 
2. Describe something you could have done differently or better as a group. 
3. Shout Out! - Tell me something someone in your group did well. 

The students did their best with the limited amount of time we had at the end of the period and the limited amount of quiet space available. I learned that in order for Flipgrid to work well, students need a bit of privacy and/or quiet space. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope to continue the flipped, student-centered experience. Any suggestions are always welcome!