CREATE - A stop motion short by Dan MacKenzie

This video caught my eye, and I think all the mad scientists at ISOCS will enjoy it, too.

CREATE - A stop motion short by Dan MacKenzie from Dan MacKenzie on Vimeo.
My senior film while attending SCAD. Created over the course of 6 months, shot all in my dorm room.
A young mad scientist sets out to create a pet monster within parallel worlds of an imaginary laboratory and the reality of the boy's bedroom.
Winner - Best Student Animation - Savannah Film Festival
Official Selection - Fantastic Fest
Official Selection - Newport Beach Film Festival
Rejected - Student Academy Awards
After a year since completion, I'm happy to finally put this bad boy online. I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for watching.
Dan MacKenzie  www.Mackmation.com 

 If you read down through the comments on the video's page, you'll find very nice messages:
"... this video was so kind hearted. You basically did a video on every boy that ever lived. There is so much love in this. Especially at the end. I would wish this kid was real, but you know what? He is, there are millions just like him..."
"...Love the claymation and the storyline. Made me laugh out loud too! ..."
"...Really like the contrast between his imagination and the "real" world!..."
"...Excellent and enviable skill of keeping the cutting rhythm so nice throughout and the rest of it was very very well done..."

 Note that this 2min 9 second film took six months to make.  Read this excerpt from the Wallace and Gromit Wikipedia page about making stop-motion films:

"...After detailed storyboarding, set and plasticine model construction, the movie's shot oneframe at a time, moving the models of the characters slightly to give the impression of movement in the final film. In common with other animation techniques, the stop motion animation in Wallace and Gromit may duplicate frames if there is little motion, and in action scenes sometimes multiple exposures per frame are used to produce a faux motion blur. Because a second of film constitutes 24 separate frames, even a short half-hour film like A Close Shave takes a great deal of time to animate well. General quotes on the speed of animation of a Wallace and Gromit film put the filming rate at typically around 30 frames per day — i.e. just over one second of film photographed for each day of production. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit  note; this film is 85 min long]is an example for how long this technique takes to produce quality animation; it took 15 months to make." (Read the whole article at Wikipedia
The DVD package says that the film took 5 year from initial planning to end of production.

Have you ever thought of making a claymation video?  Have you written your script? done the story-board yet?
You might use this web site to guide you.

Exploring our Community Services - the app

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the work the Middle Primary Class were doing about the community services where our school is located, Cham. They took pictures, recorded audio, wrote text...and handed it all to me, while they rushed into another unit!

I'm pleased to say that the projects on the 3 different platforms we used to show off what they learned are very nearly completed.

Screen shot of http://mvabl.com/
On Moveable Feast, we made an iPhone/iPad app,  "Exploring our Community Services". To take our tour, download the Moveable app at the iTunes store. Open the app, and search for "Exploring our Community Services".
The Moveable Feast site describes itself this way:

If you are a storyteller, Moveable Feast gives you the tools to craft these experiences for people, using an elegant combination of video, still pictures, text, and audio. And we give you the tools to let people know about your creations, too!
If you are a traveler - or even if you just aspire to be, "Moveable" immerses you in locations. With full multimedia, and stories that connect the dots on the map. The curated paths you follow are yours forever - but you can share the experience with just a few taps.
I think Moveable Feast has almost limitless  possibilities for educational use.

Here are screen shots of what the tour looks like on my iPad. By touching the buttons at the bottom, text, photos, videos (we didn't add any video) and audio recordings move onto the screen.  You need to have wireless connection to the Internet to "take the tour".

The same material was used to create a VoiceThread

and a Google Map

View Cham in a larger map

The three products create quite different experiences, but required the same organization of materials.  My advice to anyone wanting to create any of these interactive projects would be to collect all the photos, text files, and audio files, accurately named, in folders, inside the project folder.  I made a Google Docs spreadsheet listing each location, with its text, link to the photo in Picasa Web and a check mark for completed audio, along with the name of the student who worked on that location.  That made it easy to re-order the locations in logical walking order (for Moveable Feast) and to make sure I had everything.

A Young Game Designer

This morning, as I combed my news feeds for interesting material about mobile learning, I saw this blog post at 148 Apps: "13 Year-Old Releases First App, Mad Pigs"  I thought our nearly-13 year olds at ISOCS would be interested in this story.

Jack McGraw, the developer in question, has a webpage, where he tells the story of his app development.
Screen shot of http://jckmcgrawapps.weebly.com/ 
Click on the image to see it full size  
Jack used GameSalad software to create his app, and a friend of his did the art work for the screens.  On the Game Salad Forum, you can read posts from Jack, and see more of the screen art work.

You can download Mad Pigs on the iTunes store for free
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-05-15 :: Category: Games

Screen shot of http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mad-pigs/id525658204?mt=8
Click on the image to see it full size

GameSalad is
"an online community that empowers everyone to express and share their ideas through games. Our company was founded on the belief that all people should have the tools to make popular games, limited only by the boundaries of their imaginations. GameSalad provides a platform used by creators to rapidly design, publish and distribute original games that have been played by millions of people worldwide." (link)

There is a free version and a Pro version (US$299).  Be sure to read all the fine print with your adult, before you download the software and start a project. It is possible to make a game for free, and publish it on the software's arcade store.  It is also possible to buy a lot of "additions" to make your game "better", and to upgrade to a Pro account. Talk about all this with your adult.

Screen shot of http://gamesalad.com/creator/pricingClick on the image to see it full size

Here's the video of a webcast about how to design games:

Climbing Mt. Everest in the public eye

This is for the Senior Primary Class at ISOCS, who revently inquired into explorers, and what it means to be an explorer today.  It's also interesting to us because we're in Switzerland, a nation of mountain climbers, and of famous mountain peaks.

National Geographic has been publicizing a current ascent of Mt. Everst, with blogs, videos, photos, iPad apps, etc.

"This expedition seeks to commemorate the historic climb of the 1963 National Geographic-sponsored American Mount Everest Expedition, almost 50 years after that first American ascent. Since poor climbing conditions have made his planned ascent of Everest’s little traveled West Ridge too dangerous, Conrad Anker will lead a team of climbers from The North Face and National Geographic writer Mark Jenkins up the mountain’s Southeast Ridge." (link)

Here are the (real-time)  posts on Twitter for this event.

There is also a blog, a photo gallery, and many other blogs, accounts, etc. Click this link to go to North Face's intro to the expedition. You can stay on top of the weather conditions, too:
Screen shot from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/everest/blog/contents   

How high is Mt. Everest, compared to the mountains we see near our school?  Here is a beautiful infographic of the 7 most prominent mountains on each of the continents.  Click on the image to see it full size.

This one is of the tallest mountains in the world:

Who's the daddy?

Are there any Swiss mountains in these collections?  Do you know the highest peaks in the Alps?  
Here's a hint:
"Pilatus is a mountain overlooking Lucerne in Central Switzerland. It is composed of several summits of which the highest (2,128 m) is named Tomlishorn. Another summit named Esel (2,119 m) lies just over the railway station. Jurisdiction over the massif is divided between the cantons of ObwaldenNidwalden, and Lucerne. The main peaks are right on the border between Obwalden and Nidwalden". (link)

 "Zugerberg Mountain is located in Switzerland country, Kanton Zug province. Zugerberg Mountainelevation (height) is 1039 meters. Zugerberg Mountain is the 56124. highest mountain in 106.826 mounts." (link)

Here's a list of  Alpine peaks, in order of prominence, with their elevation and parent massif.  You can download the klm file for Google Earth the 4000 meter peaks of the European Alps at this link.

Do you think that the people recreating the Everest expedition are real explorers? Do they face the same challenges as the original climbers?  What has changed in the world of climbing, and of media,  in the 50 years since the first traverse?

Richard Byrne pointed me to this visualization of the 50 most prominent peaks.Go to the Guardian page to see it full size, and interact with the map.
Screen shot of http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2012/may/23/world-highest-mountains-interactive-map
Click on the image to see it full size

Web Content Curation

Web content curation is the process of identifying, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific topic or issue online.

Doing a Google search is one way to find information you're interested in on the Internet, but starting your search with the results of someone else's search might be more quicker, and lead you to better results more quickly.  How do you do that?  Build a network of sources that you trust.

This is the first in a series of videos explaining the shifts we're seeing in the world of content creation. Curation has exploded with the growth of Twitter, Tumblr and now Pinterest. In this video, we wanted to try to get into the heads of some of our favorite curators to understand what makes them tick.

Featured curators include:
Maria Popova (http://twitter.com/brainpicker)
Joanne McNeil (http://twitter.com/rhizomedotorg)
Peter Hopkins (http://twitter.com/bigthink)
Edith Zimmerman (http://thehairpin.com/)
Anthony De Rosa (http://soupsoup.tumblr.com)
Rex Sorgatz (http://twitter.com/fimoculous)
Piers Fawkes (http://psfk.com)
Tina Roth Eisenberg (http://swiss-miss.com)

"Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community. It isn’t unlike what a museum curator does to produce an exhibition: They identify the theme, they provide the context, they decide which paintings to hang on the wall, how they should be annotated, and how they should be displayed for the public." (Link)

Beth Kantor has created this chart to summarize the 3 S's of content curation: Seek, Sense and Share.
How can you curate a collection for yourself, or for your students or colleagues?
    The difference between the two groups is that you choose all the sites you bookmark on Diigo and Delicious,  whereas Scoop.it and Paper.li offer you sources of information about a topic you choose, and you weed out the sources you're not interested.


    There's a new Google site called Search Education:
    "Web search can be a remarkable tool for students, and a bit of instruction in how to search for academic sources will help your students become critical thinkers and independent learners.
    With the materials on this site, you can help your students become skilled searchers- whether they're just starting out with search, or ready for more advanced training."
    How can a teacher resist  an introduction like that? The site has lesson plans, sorted into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced,  and videos of recorded web casts about Power Searching, Assessing Authority, Modern Search Literacy, etc.  The lesson plans are mapped to the (USA) Common Core Standards, ISTE NETS, and American Association of School Librarians standards, and charted under Essential Understandings, Unit Guiding Questions, Lesson Guiding Questions, Knowledge, and Skills, and are all  licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.

    First, a little review - How does Google Search work? What happens when you've typed a word or two in that little space on your screen, and clicked "Enter"?


    Next, why do we need to know how to search the Internet?


    How will we become better searchers (or is it hunters and gatherers?) Here is "Becoming a Google Search Ninja",  by Derrick Waddell from the Google Education on Air Conference,

    Cross posted at TripleA Learning Blogs

    Describing our community, trial and error

    In their last unit of inquiry, the Middle Primary class at ISOCS investigated the services provided by their community, the Gemeinde (Town) of Cham.  You can follow the process of the unit on their blog. As part of their unit, each student took photos of important places providing service to the community, wrote a brief text, and made an audio recording of themselves reading their text.

    We had thought we would make a Google Map marking the places, with photo and text.  

    I had also seen an interesting site, Movable Feast, which looked like just what we were interested in. The site is still in Beta - I applied for and received an account.  I assembled all the files, and started to work over the spring holiday.

    First hurdle, was converting all the .wma audio files into something I could open in Garage Band, to edit them. After some trial and error with QuickTime Pro and Flip for Mac,  I used Zamzar, a tried and true file converter site.  I edited all the audio files, and shared them to iTunes.

    Zamzar screen shot
    click on the image to open full size

    Next, I need a map I could use: I choose OpenStreetMap, where the maps are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

    Screen shot of OpenStreetMap
    I planned to work on the two projects side by side, since the same files were being used in both places.

    First I worked on the Google Map - I put pins in all the places, added the photo, pasted in the student text.  Google Maps makes a very share-able map, but it doesn't seem to keep the photos, and, of course, does not accept audio files.

    Next, I started to work on the MoveableFeast project.  It's an easy site to use, but the text does not seem to accept diacritical marks, which is absolutely essential for our Swiss-German place names.  You can see in this screen shot that "Rhöhrliburg" doesn't look quite right, although that's what I wrote in the .txt file I uploaded.  I'm waiting for their Support to get back to me about how to solve this problem.  Much as I would love to have created a free iPhone app from the student's tour of Cham, it won't work if the place names aren't right.
    Screenshot of Moveablewebtool.com
    click on the image to open full size 

    Screenshot of Moveablewebtool.com
    click on the image to open full size 
    I returned to my old friend VoiceThread.
    "A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam)"
    I created new "identities" for each of our students, and in very little time had added their photos and audio recordings. I've embedded the product so far, below, so that you can see how it's developing.  We're not finished yet!