Using iStopmotion to promote thought and improve reading

At the end of last term when we were learning about the last supper and we decided that we should have a go at recreating this meal using iStopmotion to teach our younger classes about the importance of this event. We quickly set about reading the story in the Bible and wrote our script accordingly. We took hundreds of photographs of our lego figures, making tiny changes in our characters each time, an exercise in patience and creativity. The students loved it and were completely focused for the couple of hours it took to complete our short video.  The level of thinking this project created was far deeper than any Religion lesson I had previously taught. We were looking at the characters wondering how they would have been feeling as we made decisions about how they would have been standing and where they would be looking. Students wondered how Jesus would have felt as he saw Judas leaving, knowing he was about to be betrayed and if any of the other disciples would have seen him leave and how they would have felt. By creating this short video we went beyond the words on the page and delved into the emotions of the moment and asked questions that could not be answered by asking Google.

So yesterday when I was at home playing lego with my kids I decided it would be a great idea to create another iStopmotion movie using lego to show my class what I expected from their documentaries we are going to produce as our culminating activity for our Google 20 project next term. I quickly recruited my son and daughter and off we went ready to produce our own Lego Movie. I decided I would do a short research project on the Lego company and how they have stayed relevant over such a long period of time, as my Google 20 project for my students will be focused on innovations that have happened in whatever area of interest they have. We built our props and wrote our scripts and off to work we went and again the conversations we were having were far beyond the superficial. Again I found us talking about lighting and how characters would move and what emotions they would be having. My kids and I worked on this project with complete focus for 6 hours, which is amazing for 6 and 9 year olds who love to be active. We ended up with a minute and a half video that we were very proud of and my son was very excited when I published it to Youtube. What I however realised as we were working on this project is how powerful a tool it was for improving their reading. As the voice over actors for the movie my kids had to ensure they could read the script with fluency to match the timing of the clips, as well as having the appropriate expression to match the emotions of the scenes. They read and re-read making sure it was perfect, and tried reading with different expression in their voices to see which sounded the best. This got me thinking of other applications in my class room. What if I got my students to recreate scenes from their favourite books, practicing their reading fluency and expression or even better how about bringing their own writing to life by creating short movies using lego characters of their own narratives and having them narrate the stories.

The possibiities are endless but what I have found out is that using lego and iStopmotion has created conversations that you just don’t have when just reading a text, and motivates students to strive for perfection in creating a high quality film they are proud to show off to  a global audience.

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