We have a teacher workshop model that has worked time and time again … and yesterday as I ran an iCreate to Educate workshop at the Meadowbrook School in Weston, MA I realized that what we do in the teacher workshops is exactly how we idealize the classroom — where the kids (teachers) are having the time of their lives, and learning from each other.
To those educators familiar with typical professional development (PD) sessions — especially those mandatory on an inservice day — I want you to picture this: 10-15 teachers….staying well beyond 3:30pm hardly noticing the clock….frantically trying to finish their animation…laughing, smiling, and jumping eagerly around the room to see their peers' creations. Sound like a typical PD workshop? Probably not. Sound like a blast? Absolutely.
In our teacher workshops we try to replicate how our tool looks in a classroom of students. We talk for just a few minutes about other ways teachers have integrated stop-motion into the curriculum, highlighting student-generated videos, then shut all computers down, bring out the storyboards and crafts, and it's hands-on time! First task is to create a story that begins and ends in the same place … a cycle if you will. It can be a poem. The water cycle. A butterfly. The perimeter of a square. An overhand throw. The list is endless! After spending a good 40 minutes on creating the storyboard, the props, and discussing the creation of the movie, teachers open up the computers, hook up the webcams, and start animating.
Often we will hear, "Wait, aren't you going to show us how to use the software after we do our storyboards?" Nope. Because it's not about the software, and that's intended by design: So simple and intuitive that the technology is really a nonissue while you're telling your story. And it tends to work everytime…just a few minutes after computers open you hear chattering, laughing, picture taking, and the time flies by. Just like it does for students in a classroom.