What is your Big Idea?

In order to make meaningful media with your students, you have to start with an idea, a catalyst for production. It is not enough to say, "Hey, let's make a video!" - there has to be a point. Luckily, the avenues are many. A media production can be:

  • a way to inform people about an issue, topic or person
  • a response to a media work
  • a call to action on an issue
  • a personal reflective work such as an autobiography
  • a narrative or a story, fiction or non-fiction

Resources:

Teacher Planner - Download resource

Basic Media Deconstruction - Download resource

Questions to Ask Yourself

Preparation Activities

How will you get your students ready? What will you show them? How will they plan? How will you show them how to use the software?

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Technology in my School

What equipment do you have at your disposal? What kind of setup do you have: lab, classroom, portable lab-pack? Is the necessary software installed? Who can you get to help you?

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Media and Media Products

How will you talk about media with your students? What language will you introduce? What will you show them? How will you decide what is a good media product?

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Curriculum Links

What subjects will this project encompass? What subject content will be covered? What competencies will be developed?

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Timeline

When in the school year could I do this project? How long will this take? Work backwards to estimate a timeline.

Preparation Activities

When dealing with media production, preparation is 75% of the workload. Getting all your ducks in a row means that when it comes time to use equipment or software, your students know exactly what to do. This is especially important when you have limited access to equipment, or limited resources. Here are some ideas for preparation activities.

Begin with inspiration
Show students sample productions from the type on which you will be working. You can build this step into the beginning of every time you work on the production, so students keep seeing samples along the way.

See our Animation Inspiration pages with links to interesting animations - Go to page

Make a real paper flip book
Younger students will especially benefit from making a real tactile flip book using paper (yellow sticky notes make it easy) and a dark marker. It will teach them better than any explanation the idea behind animation and how you can get your ideas across using the animation medium. You can make one to show them, or you can make a short one while they watch you. Each student can work on a very simple flip book of a bouncing ball, a flying butterfly, a buzzing bee, etc. Their books will allow you to see whether your students understand the concept of animation before adding the layer of technology. Although especially recommended for younger students, we think that all students should go through this step.
For more, read Wired's article on flipbooks as an alternative to business cards. Go to site

Introduce equipment and software

Not all students have to be involved in equipment or software tutorials. Avoid being the bottleneck! We suggest using two key students at first and giving them a crash course during a lunch period or while other students are busy with their work. These students can then show smaller groups of students later on or be available to troubleshoot and answer questions along the way. If you do not know how to use the software yourself, consider taking a workshop or using a tutorial. There are many video tutorials for Flip Boom! Here is a list:

Flip Boom Classic Intro (français) - Go to site

Bouncing Ball Flip Boom Classic - Go to site

Flip Boom All-Star Introduction - Go to site

Make a storyboard, write a script, have a plan

We cannot repeat this enough - do not skip this part! Your students MUST make a storyboard before beginning their animation on the computer. The storyboarding process will ensure that they have thought through their story or message and that they have identified all the things that will go into making the final animation. You can use a plain 9 panel storyboard, or one that is more scaffolded. You can also choose to use sticky notes which will allow your students to change their minds and move panels around if they need to.

Technology in my School

Let's face it, few of us are lucky to have the perfect technology situation in our schools - especially given that it is hard to agree on what perfect IS. For us, the perfect set-up would be a portable lab pack of laptops, 1 per group of students and a technician at the school. If you do not have a lab pack at your school, maybe such a thing exists in your board.
Contact your school board's RECIT animator for help on how to reserve it for your media project - Go to page

Animation Project Technology checklist
  • Enough computers to have one per group - preferably in your classroom OR
  • Dedicated lab periods covering about 6 weeks
  • Software installed and working on all computers
  • Graphic tablets

Media and Media Products

Just as with written texts, students need to learn how to read and decode media. It is easy to assume that students are savvy consumers of media just because they have grown up with it, but this is simply not true. Most often, young people are fairly passive consumers and it is up to the teacher to show them how to deconstruct media texts.

Some avenues of questioning to consider when introducing media to your students:

Narrative work
(a work is considered 'narrative' when it tells a story. A commercial can be a narrative!)
  • What is the story being told in the media work?
  • How is it being told?
  • What images are used to tell the story?
  • What music or sounds are used and how do they contribute to the story?
  • What camera shots, angles, effects are used to tell the story?
  • How does this work make you feel?
  • What media elements contribute to this feeling?
Focusing on the message
  • What is the message of this work?
  • How is the message getting across to you?
  • What images are used? What do you see?
  • How are the put together (juxtaposition)?
  • What sounds are used? What do you hear?
  • What music is used?