Creating student authors.

Each year I teach digital media and that includes the creation of all kinds of digital media by my students ranging from photos to videos, websites and multi-touch books.
My one group have four subjects including Work Experience. This is a subject I never chose to teach but one I found myself taking on a few years ago.
Because it was new to me and I got it half way through the year I have to admit it I winged it that first year. Second time the students all got work experience and then last year they also got work placements. The work placements while fulfilling the criteria of the module didn’t give them digital media experience. They would often find themselves in non-profits or stacking shelves in shops. Both valuable experiences but not opportunities to put their class learning into practice.

Fast forward to this year I had a very different group. A group who longed for a little more and who really wanted ‘real world’ experience in the area of digital media. While finding work experience for 1 or 2 would have been possible finding similar experience for the whole class was proving to be quite the challenge and so we came up with the idea to simulate a real work placement experience whereby they create and publish their own monthly newsletter.

In the 11 class weeks before Christmas the students learned all the skills they would end up putting into practice and just three weeks ago started their 10 week placements. These placements are just for 60 hours (1 day per week) and after a few ‘staff’ meetings they each found their roles from editor or as they like to call him ‘boss man’ to photographer, videographer and social media co-ordinators.
As a teacher I was cautiously optimistic about their enthusiasm but when the time came felt confident enough to cut the strings and let them work unsupervised.

After the first day they came to me with a draft asking for my ‘expert’ advice.
After the second day they said ‘we think we will be finished next week’….insert my shocked face 😲
After the third day they were true to their word and sent me their completed newsletter to proof read later that day.
The next day we uploaded the proof read (with a few minor typos corrected) newsletter to the Apple Books Store and they celebrated it’s official release a couple of days later.

As I have shown the newsletter to other teachers I have been asked what my input was, what template did they use, how much of it did I do and I can proudly say that it is a 100% student created publication.
Over the next couple of months more issues will be released and I am sure their creativity and confidence will grow.

While Peek has proven a valuable experience for my students it has also taught me that work experience doesn’t just have to be one of those ‘tick the box’ modules and can be creative.

You can find Issue 1 of Peek to download for free here

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Motion Blur Photography

In the past I would have always carried along my DSLR and taken motion blur shots on it but when I recently upgraded to an iPhone XR I was inspired by all the #shotoniphonexr shots and decided that I would focus on using my iPhone more than my DSLR because after all it is a whole lot easier to just use the device that’s on you all the time.

So then came the motion blur challenge. I use the Slow Shutter Cam app that I had previously only ever used to create light paintings in swift. The first trip out captured a mini waterfall with the motion blur setting activated. I played around with the shutter speed and blur strength.

Below were a couple of the results.

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Photoball photography

A few months ago I saw ads pop up on social media for Lensball. At the time I didn’t know how good they would be and my summer adventures had just ended so I didn’t order but was later gifted a ball (unbranded) the ball I got was 30mm so one of the smaller sizes. I got to use it a bit over the last couple of weeks and have already put in an order for one of the larger 70mm balls.
While the clarity isn’t quite there with the smaller ball size I think there would be some great results with the larger photo balls. I have also ordered a selection of sizes for students to use as part of their Everyone Can Create Photography assignments.

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Everyone Can Code Light Shows

During code week students coded light shows using a mix of Sphero EDU, SPRK+ and Swift Playgrounds. Over the past couple of years I had students create individual light shows but this year students did them in groups of 2 or 3. This actually worked a lot better although the discussions over which song to choose often took a little longer.

The main benefit of this is if a group felt challenged I did have spare SPRK+ to give them so they could use more than one for their videos.

Below are a couple of the results of using multiple SPRK+

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Everyone Can Code App Prototypes on Keynote

This year we celebrated code week as we have in previous years. The focus was still on Swift Playgrounds and introducing all students to code.

In past years I would have asked students to list their favourite apps and then put a few app ideas on a post-it before discussing. This year started out pretty much the same but students progressed to sketch out their app ideas on Keynote templates (that I was lucky to gather at the Berlin Swift Summit)

Below are a few of the results. This activity helped students question what features are most important and what features from their favourites apps they would like to bring in to their own apps.

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Everyone Can Create Logos

Inspired by the logo activity in Everyone Can Create: Drawing students created logos using Keynote.

In learning about logo design students discussed colours and each choose three different colour palettes from Adobe Color. They were able to copy these colours into Keynote using the color picker tool in Keynote.

Next up they discussed font types and used inspiration from DaFont. They were able to bring these into Keynote and create their own variations.

Finally they added Keynote shapes to complete the mix. Below are a couple of examples.

 

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Everyone Can Create Geometric Animals

As a follow on from the hybrid animal activity I had the idea to create some geometric animals. Again students rose to the challenge. Just like with the hybrid animal challenge students used Keynote shapes. They traced around them by first lowering the opacity before filling them with colour. There were some great results.

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Everyone Can Create Hybrid Animals

Students this year have been very interested in using shapes in Keynote and drawing in Keynote and so when I saw a tweet mentioning combining animal shapes I knew it was something we had to try.

For this activity the idea is that students will combine two or more animal shapes in Keynote. They can group them, lower the opacity and draw around the silhouette before filling it in with their own colours or patterns.

A simple activity overall but one that helps to improve students proficiency and competence in Keynote. Below are some student created examples.

Some students took the activity one step further and created worlds for their animals to live in like this one.

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Creating green screen animations with Keynote

Last year I used to keep my magic move Keynote lesson and the green screen lesson separately but this year I saw some potential to merge them.

Students created two copies of an animation using shapes in Keynote. The first version would have a picture or coloured background. The second version would have a green background. The idea behind this is that students would export both animations as movies before importing them into Green Screen by Do Ink. 

When using Do Ink the first version of the animation would be on the base layer, the green background version would be the top layer and the student would position themselves in between. This allows students to step inside their animations.

Below is an example of how this works.

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Everyone Can Create Environmental Awareness.

Environmental awareness has been an interest of mine for quite a while and over the summer I remembered some of the photography activities I did back in college.

A really old blog post detailing my work as a student can be found here. 

With this in mind and the launch of the Everyone Can Create curriculum I decided it was time to integrate this into my classroom. I used this activity to highlight the city we live in whilst also using it as an introduction to photo editing with Snapseed App. 

First off I sent students on a mission to use their cameras to capture some photos from around the city and college. I didn’t specify types of photos or whether they should capture positive or negative pictures. This was one of their first experiences using the iPad camera so I was interested in what they would come back with.

Once they had their selection of photos I introduced them to some key features in Snapseed (filters, cropping, adding text) before allowing them some time to explore and create their own photos. Below are some of the results.

Before editing

After Editing

 

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