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Category Archives: 800 ~ Literature, rhetoric & criticism

app review of Stop Motion Studio for iPad

I came across the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Stories on Screen competition and forwarded the details to the Early Years Leading Teacher, also the early years ICT leader. She expressed an interest in participating this year with the younger students creating stop-motion animations  inspired by children’s books.

In the past couple of years the school has been purchasing iPads to be used at school. At this stage, the younger years are using the iPads and grade five/six students have helped with reviewing some apps for education. However, they havent been satisfied with any of the stop motion apps. As a consequence I decided to investigate apps for iPads with a focus on creating animations and films. I located a few stopmotion apps and identified Stop Motion Studio to investigate along with the iMovie app.

The aim was to determine:

  1. Key features of the app and how to use it.
  2. How easy the app was to use by younger children

In this activity I downloaded Stop Motion Studio, iMovie and Extras4iMovie to my iPad. I then asked two children (my daughters) if they would like to create animations with paper cut-outs. They were both very keen on the idea of creating animations. The process of planning and animating happened over a weekend. My involvement in their planning stage was minimal. Basically they showed me their cut-outs and asked me what I thought. Sometimes I suggested some more elements may be needed.

On the second day, my involvement was geared towards setting up the iPad to capture the stop motion clips. We did not have a iPad mount to firmly position the iPad to a tripod. Consequently, gaffer tape was used to hold the iPad in place on top of a silver case, on top of a table. The paper elements were on a black cloth on the floor. Little LED lights provided the lighting source.

Once this was set up, each child continued without any assistance. They were able to work out how to use the app without many instructions and even taught me some of the features such as the scrolling back and forth to see the overlay of the animation image.

The animation process took a while involving constant movement between the iPad to shoot frames and the paper elements to change them as part of the frame by frame capture process. They completed the animation with Stop Motion Studio but are yet to edit the final animations in iMovie. They photographed close ups of elements that will need to be edited into the the animation along with the final sound and titles sequence.

During the process, I documented with my iPhone by filming and photographing. I then edited the documented photos and clips with the animations the children made using the iMovie app on an iPad. The titles were created with Extras4iMovie. This video forms the app review that was exported to Youtube and subsequently embedded in this post. By creating this video I was able to test the iMovie app in the process.

This week I will be sharing this review with the school in support of the initiative to use iPads to create animations and films for the CBCA competition and for future projects. Being able to identify the information, curriculum and technology needs is an incredibly important function of a librarian in a school. With this activity, I have been able to provide curriculum resource ideas and support with technology to enable successful outcomes. By working with the children to assess ease of use, I am focussing the needs to the target group and this is very important.

What I learnt is that you definitely need an iPad mount to enable an effective and steady support for the iPad. This will make filming and animation easier. I discovered the app is a fantastic app for the targeted age group and feel confident in transferring these ideas to the teaching and learning community. In working with children to assess the app, it is much easier to demonstrate the ease of use by the target audience.

The next stage involves working through the editing process with the iMovie app and assessing how easy post-production is for the target audience.

 

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Censorship of Children’s Books ~ Banned Books Week

Working in a school library, censorship is a constant focus with challenges to the provision of information coming from many angles, including teachers, the government, community and parents. Edwards (2006) states that the challenge to books has been increasing in recent years and most common reasons for challenges include morality, obscenity, profanities and, witchcraft and occult themes from wizards to ghosts.

The State Library of Victoria provides a list of ten most challenged books and on that list is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Some issues confronted at the school level can pertain to covert forms of censorship contradicting standards for professional practice and the commitment to provision of access to information that has a right to be represented in the school community (Asheim, 2009). In this regard reference is made to value judgments by library staff in the selection process, leading to exclusion of resources or making access to information difficult. This is evident in the following examples

  • Expressed preferences for certain formats over others.
  • Positioning of books/information where it is not easily accessed.

The focus of this professional development activity is to highlight a commitment to the promotion and advocacy for freedom of information and the rights to reading. By committing to raising awareness amongst the school community I have chosen to investigate Banned Books Week; celebrating the freedom to read.

Banned Books Week is held during September 22-28, 2013 and associated activities for potential inclusion in the school library program during this time are being investigated.

Why is this important?

In discussion with teachers, parents and staff, I have learnt that censorship is highly emotive when it concerns children as the audience of information. Many have strongly formed attitudes that in turn impact on objectivity in this area including collection selection. Choosing to raise awareness with a Banned Books Week program provides an avenue to explore censorship in a manner that feels safe and non confronting. Some of the books on the list are highly valued by many, thus providing an avenue to delve into this topical area whilst promoting critical reflection.

Being able to instigate discussion around censorship is important for my professional practice and commitment to advocacy for the right to provide access to information objectively is demonstrated in this programming.

Exploring Banned Books week provides an insight into activities that can be implemented at a school level; including displays of books that have been challenged, readings of passages by students and teachers and displaying lists of the challenged books over an historical timeline. Coming across the lists of books that have been challenged, provides a tremendous insight into the need to continue raising awareness as it is ongoing and increasing.

National Archives Australia provides a great resource exploring Books and Magazines Banned in Australia from the 1920’s to 1970’s. The University of Melbourne has a website, Banned Books in Australia linked to ‘A Special Collections ~ Art in the library exhibition’.

Why not visit Banned Books Week Virtual Read-out and hear some passages of books being read

Asheim, L., (2009) Not Censorship but Selection, Children’s Literature in Eduction, 40(3), 197-216.

Edwards, H., (2006) Censorship of Kids books on the rise, The Age, April 30 2006.

 

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The Inky Awards ~ Young peoples book awards

Inside A Dog

Outside a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a Dog, it’s too dark to read ~ Groucho Marx.

The website Inside a Dog is an initiative developed by the State Library of Victoria targeting a teenage audience. As the website states it is

“All about books by young people for young people”

The website is structured to incorporate forums where young people can have discussions, enter competitions, review books, join online book-clubs, chat to a current author in residence, find out current literature-related news, or vote for books to be awarded an Inky Award.

There is a very useful teachers section with links and resources that are mapped to curriculum standards. Suggested activities and resources provide useful online activities-based programs. The main focus of the site is user-generated book reviews, thus forming a great addition for any literacy-based activities and promoting conversation as part of the learning process.

This post will focus on evaluating the Inky Awards for inclusion in the celebrated Book Week in August.

The Inky Awards

In the Library we currently celebrate the Children’s Book of the Year Awards by the Children’s Book Council of Australia as part of Book Week in August. This year, the school library would like to extend this by incorporating the Inky Awards amongst the books celebrated. The short list for the Inky Awards is announced online via the Inside a Dog website on August 26th, coinciding with Book Week. The shortlist of books that students can vote for, is decided by teen judges. To become a judge a young person submits an application via email. Once selected the judges read 20 books in a two-month period and reach a consensus on the 10 shortlisted books. This shortlist is then open to other young people to vote for a book to be awarded an Inky award in one of two categories.

Gold Inky for an Australian book

Silver Inky for an International Book

As part of Book Week, a prominent display of nominated books is created, author visits occur, activities are programed related to the books and readings of the shortlisted books take place. By introducing The Inky Awards to the Book Week program, the students can participate in voting for a children’s book awards. Hopefully this can continue for years to come.

Because the website is focussed on participation and engagement of young people in online environments, it promotes empowerment via digital literacy and citizenship by encouraging connecting with wider groups. It extends literacy development beyond the classroom and school to include other young people and to the wider community, in forging links with the State Library of Victoria. This is a great basis for the promotion of life-long learning beyond the school.

As a librarian in a school setting, this resource is a great addition to any program in literacy development. It fosters a love of reading by encouraging reading as a social activity. Thereby linking in with Piaget’s constructivist approaches to learning grounded in developmental needs (Garhart Mooney, 2013 p.79).

By evaluating websites, children’s book awards and potential programs with curriculum links, I am able to provide resources in support of the school curriculum and the teaching and learning needs of staff and students. This is supported by standards of professional practice for teacher librarians (ASLA, 2004).

This website is geared towards an older age group in children, predominantly teenagers. Whilst this can be useful to the Grade 5/6 demographic of the primary school, I would like to investigate something similar for the younger children in the school. Consequently, the Inky Awards will be geared towards the older children in the school. It may be interesting to initiate a school based book awards for younger grades as a lead in to the Inky Awards when they are in Grade 5 and 6.

ASLA (2004) Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians, retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Garhart Mooney, C. (2013) Theories of Childhood, Second Edition: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky, Redleaf Press, Minesota, USA.

 

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A Poem in your pocket day

April 26th is designated as “a poem in your pocket day“. It is a time to carry a poem in your pocket and share it with others. You can also share poetry and links via twitter with the hash tag #pocketpoem.  I am sharing the following in celebration. Enjoy!

Billy Collins action poetry ~ I love these poetry videos

Listen to some poems at Listening Booth.

Search for some poems at Poem Hunter.

how about poetry bombing!

 

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Banned Book Week ~ 24th September to 1st October

BBW poster shared by American Library Association (ALA)

Courtesy of ALA TechSource I have been alerted to Banned Books Week. Following is the list of books challenged and/or banned in 2009/2010. You will notice that amongst the list is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Diary of Anne Frank and closer to home, The Twilight Series was “Banned in Australia (2009) for primary school students because the series is too

racy.”

To obtain lists of earlier years you can visit the ALA free downloads page where you find PDF lists from the years 2004-2005 onwards. It provides a snapshot of a trend in censorship. Mapping Censorship provides a visual geographical representation in the USA.

Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read, starting in 1982 and occurring as an annual event since. For more information visit the Banned Books Week site and the ALA Banned Books Week: celebrating the freedom to read page. You may even want to upload a reading of a passage from a banned or challenged book to the Banned Books Week youtube channel.

I’m off to reread Brave New World by Aldous Huxley!

 

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Stories Unbound, MWF ~ 25th August to 4th Spetember 2011

For more information visit Melbourne Writers Festival.

You can access the MWF Schools’ Program brings stories to life.

 

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Summer Reading Club

Scare up a good book ~ shared by ALIA Summer reading club

Visit Summer Reading Club for more information and for Librarian and teacher resources visit the Summer Reading Club Wiki. Enjoy!

 

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