How I Use It
In science classes at my school, one of the things we have struggled with is ensuring that students have an understanding of how complete processes work as well as what things look like at an individual particle level. While we have had students create diagrams before, it is difficult to show change over time. We decided to try having the students create short stop motion animated movies that demonstrate either a process (the movement of material through the various organelles in a cell for the Biology class) or particle representations (the difference between the arrangements of elements and compounds in the three states of matter for the Chemistry class). Creating the videos was a culminating task after reading, doing some modeling, and looking at diagrams.
To aid the student groups in creating their videos, we provided each group with a ring stand and ring clamp that provided a stable base to support the phone to eliminate jumpiness in the final product. We also provided small dry erase boards and markers for titles screens, construction paper and markers for smaller text phrases and labels, and kits of modeling materials that contained beads of different colors and shapes, magnets, pipe cleaners, modeling clay and puff balls of different colors. One student from each group downloaded the free version of the App, so having the App available for iOS or Android was highly beneficial. As we were not looking to have students provide narration to their video projects, the groups were able to easily learn the basic tools on the free version and get working very quickly. For final product submission, we requested an exported version of the movie in large format (but not HD) all using the same Title but with group members initials to be sent to our teacher email address. The school wifi system was easily able to handle the transmission of the videos from the student phones.
During the creation of the movies, students learned that often, the more pictures the better, and that multiple pictures when text is displayed are required so that the viewer has enough time to read the text without having to pause or slow down the video. My students found the ability to view what has been created so far without needing to start over incredibly helpful.
As a Chemistry teacher, I really like the ability that this tool provides to have my students create their own low tech animations. One of the hardest things to convey in my subject is that all particles of matter are always moving except at absolute zero. That just does not convey well in 2D representations, but with this tool, students can show that movement very easily. As a Science Department, we envision continuing to use Stop Motion Studio to have students create short videos that demonstrate their understanding of a process or concept. I think this could be a powerful tool to use for review as each group in a class could be tasked to create a video on one of the concepts covered, and then share them with each other. As the videos include some text but are not text dependent, they could be especially useful for ELL students and students with differing abilities. The students could even be tasked with writing out the vocabulary used in the video in multiple languages to further assist in academic language acquisition.
While greater functionality is available in the paid version or for smaller incremental purchases, we did not find them necessary to create a quality product for our purposes. Some schools and districts might discourage the use of student devices and requiring them to download the app on a personal device for classroom use, but our school only has a limited number of laptops available for classroom usage and no tablets so the personal student device option was the best for us. In the future, I think we might create a dedicated Drive or Dropbox Folder for student projects, but the students would need to have that Drive or Dropbox account already set up before submission. It would make it easier however, to store and share the videos for review purposes. Overall, I am excited to think about more ways that my class can use this tool.