Around this time of year when I introduce animation in PowerPoint, I try to find something topical to animate.
So I’ve got my 4th graders to think about ‘Man and Machine‘ -specifically how a human could evolve into a humanoid. We use the custom animation tool to draw a path to make the human glide across the screen to turn into a robot.
To preface it, I showed them a clip of Asimo, the Honda humanoid project. Asimo is the acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility. It is a 4-foot 3-inch character that can run, climb steps, and play a bit of football (soccer). Even those who aren’t into robotics get instantly engaged.
I asked the class what they thought of man and machine after watching this; some thought it was a bit weird and creepy, but pretty cool.
Once the unit is completed, I figure this will be a good way to re-introduce Coding for the Hour of Code project. How do they build a set of instructions to make an inanimate object move? Coding and animation have a lot in common!
When I tell students that Word or PowerPoint is a versatile tool, and not just for typing of creating slides, I never know what to expect. Such as how some of them have mastered the ‘Curve’ tool in the Shapes menu.
Here’s one. Looks like a pen-and-ink sketch, doesn’t it?
It gets better! Because this is about animating. The student’s storyboard in PowerPoint just kept growing!
I simply asked my 6th graders to work with ‘stick figures’ this afternoon, teaching animation in PowerPoint.
Within 20 minutes, this is what I saw!
Mini storyboards with cartoon characters, galloping sheep and even a shark attack. The one with yellow bars is actually a ‘game’ that plays with sound as the ball travels through. What hidden talent!
For the past few weeks I’ve been having a blast (and hopefully my students too), using Star Wars as material for classes on image manipulation, and color correction whether it is in Microsoft Word or Photoshop. The latter, for instance is a forthcoming 6th grade class that will be continued this year as well.
Students pick their favorite Star Wars image from Google, and the fun begins.
- They learn to copy and paste (the keyboard shortcuts as well as the right-mouse commands).
- The learn to layer an image, and color correct it – as in the example on the right
- They learn to delete a background color using the much-ignored ‘Set transparency Color’ tool
- They learn how to tweak the ‘saturation’ of the image, and what that means – and says. Or how to re-color an image for a specific effect.
- It’s a good way to introduce ‘layers’ before we get to Photoshop.
Star Wars is also helps open the door to other topics and discussions about space.
Over the past few weeks, my 5th graders are working on The Moons of Mars – a PowerPoint, specifically aimed at understanding animation paths and orbits. I’m not a big fan of PowerPoint, but it’s a great canvas on which they could understand the purpose of animation, beyond the obvious wow factor.
I am now considering using Star Wars as a backdrop for a class on Digital Storytelling. Perhaps an animated cartoon strip with voice-overs matching the speech bubbles. I can see a lot of storm trooper effects, and tricks using the lovable BB8.
I head to the IABC International conference in New York that starts next week. Two things I can expect: To meet a lot of folk interested in social media, and to see see a lot of PowerPoint slides 🙂
But what has left an indelible mark on me is a series of videos created by Lee and Sachi LeFever and his wife at CommonCraft. This one, particularly on social media in plain English.
If you’re interested, CommonCraft says they offer licensed versions to ‘educators and influencers.’
As someone who writes about this stuff, attempting to demystify technology and clear the fog that hovers over technology, I think this work is pure genius.