Fifth Graders Explore “App-tive” Learning

by Megan -

Lindsay Olsen teaches at Calistoga Elementary School in Calistoga, California. However, he’s no ordinary 5th grade teacher. Lindsay knows how beneficial iPads can be for the learning process, and he has been using them for PBL, or Project Based Learning, for several years now. He likes to incorporate various “App-tivities” and QR Scavenger Hunts into his curriculum to help his students learn in a contemporary way.

The idea of stop motion videos originally came to me when I tried to tie in my photography background,” Lindsay says. He was a commercial photographer before becoming a teacher. “I searched for an app that students could use but that was powerful enough to create a professional look.

His search led him to iStopMotion for iPad. The first iStopMotion project Lindsay and his 5th graders created was an animation telling the story of the Age of Exploration. They used PlayMobile figures, boat models and simple backgrounds. To create the sound, they overlaid an audio track scripting State Standards for Social Studies. After that first project, Lindsay knew that iStopMotion was the perfect tool for his class. It’s simple enough for his 5th graders to use – in fact, they discovered that it was simple enough for a kindergartener, too! Lindsay’s 5th grade students have been teaching their “KinderBuddies” how to use iStopMotion to create their own animations.

The 5th graders and their KinderBuddies work together to create a “Kinder” story using white boards and Expo markers to tell their story. The project was wildly successful. Lindsay and his students shared the project with the school administrators, and they loved it so much that they plan on bringing eight outsiders from San Francisco to observe the process. Most recently, one of Lindsay’s 5th graders helped a kindergartener make a video about the water cycle. They presented it to 40 classmates and 12 visiting administrators from San Francisco. But what did the students themselves think about iStopMotion? Lindsay says they loved it!

I saw them using iPads and iStopMotion during their personal time. They were making videos of soccer games, horses, and simple pencil drawings. They really enjoyed the ease of the program as well as the cool-looking finished project.”

The students particularly enjoyed the onion-skinning feature. They liked how they could line up each frame for a better, more accurate animation. They also liked iStopMotion’s ability to change the playback speed of their movies.

Any time students apply and create, they learn … not when taking a bubble test!” Lindsay says. His experiences with iStopMotion have convinced him that it’s a great way for students to learn in a fun way that will stick better than studying straight out of the book, especially with a topic they’re interested in.

Lindsay plans on putting together an iStopMotion production of American Independence and the Boston Freedom Trail next with his students. After they’re finished with the animation, they’ll have a Skype discussion of the finished project with the Daughters of the American Revolution, a non-profit organization for women directly descended from a person involved in the United States’ independence who work to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism.

Congratulations to Lindsay Olsen and his students on all of their hard work! Help us promote educational iPad use in the classroom by submitting your own informative iStopMotion animation!