SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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24 MARCH 2019 SchoolArts E L E M E N T A R Y A colleague once complained that he couldn't teach technology because our students didn't have computers. Of course, you don't need a computer to teach your students about technology. You don't need a camera or an iPad to teach new media. The dictionary definition of technology is "the application of scientific knowledge for a practical purpose." Computers are a subset of technology, but the subject is bigger than that. Personal computers were new when I was growing up. When I was in high school, a math teacher taught me how to set up a spreadsheet. When I was in college, I learned how to send an email. I had easy access to comput- ers, but it seemed to me that even my computer teachers were just winging it. One unforgettable day, the power went out in the computer lab and twenty students did nothing while the teacher tried to figure out how to reboot our computers. Twenty years later, my own stu- dents are learning to code in elemen- tary school. One of their first basic programming lessons was a game. One student "programmed" a blind- Animation Rama Hughes UNPLUGGED folded partner to walk across the room. There was no computer neces- sary, but the experience was indelible. Similarly, you can teach new media concepts even if you don't have new media tools in your classroom. Thaumatropes I've been teaching animation at my school for the past ten years. We now have access to computers, but I teach the concepts of animation long before students visit the computer lab. Our first animation lesson is a thau - matrope. If the word isn't familiar, you probably remember thaumatropes as two separate drawings—a bird and a cage—that are attached to a stick and spun to create the illusion of the bird sitting inside the cage. It's a perfect illustration of the key phenomenon of animation: the persistence of vision. I've taught this lesson to students as young as five, but second-graders and up seem to enjoy it most. Zoetropes Our second lesson is a zoetrope. These are animation devices you may have seen while visiting a science museum, where you peer through spinning slots to see an eagle fly or a horse run. Children as young as seven can create handheld zoetropes using a zoetrope template, tape, a CD, and an empty lip balm tube. The project teaches stu - dents the importance of measurement, planning, timing, and patience in the creation of any animation. This project is one of my all-time favorites. Gasps of delight make up for every frustration students might feel before their drawings start to move. Even administrators, fellow teachers, and parents are entertained by the results. Storyboards Now that your students understand the importance of planning their ani - mations, they'll appreciate the need for storyboards. Storyboards are basi - cally comic strip versions of the mov- ies students want to make. Discussing storyboards also provides an oppor - tunity to explore storytelling and camera terminology. In recent years, I teach the concepts of animation long before students visit the computer lab.

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