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Four Phase Teaching Approach (Pedagogy) for Slowmation: Learner-generated Animations

Slowmation supports primary, secondary or university students in using technology to engage with science content by creating their own animations. There are various ways to implement slowmation and here is one four phase teaching approach: (i) Phase 1. Planning: students learn about a concept; (ii) Phase 2. Storyboarding: students break down the concept into its component parts with storyboarding; (iii) Phase 3. Construction: students make or use existing models and take photos of them; and (iv) Phase 4. Reconstruction: the concept is put back together in the animation as a representation of the whole concept. The educative value of learners creating slowmations can be enhanced by having them add narration, labels and real life photos because there are multiple layers of reflection involved in representing a concept in different ways.

A class demonstration by the teacher can be conducted in one hour or students can complete a slowmation for the first time in a minimum of about four lessons taking 45 minutes each (three hours total). This can be done in one shot or staggered over several days. Once students learn the process they can take more time (for an individual project) or less time (class demonstration). The age of the students determines the extent of responsibility allocated to them. The younger the children, the more direction from the teacher is needed but children as young as kindergarten have made slowmations in terms of moving the materials and taking the photos with the teacher using the software. The technology is accessible (a camera, computer, tripod and materials) and the process relatively simple so students can learn the process at school and complete it at home.

There are several ways a class can be organised to create a slowmation:

If resources are limited to one workstation (one digital camera, one set, one tripod) then one group at a time can work on it (while the other students are occupied) one after the other or by staggering it over several days with a different group doing their section each day. The last group would then add the narration. The golden rule is "start small" until the students understand the process. More than one workstation allows for more diversity in implementation.

Generally there are four phases in the teaching approach but these can be integrated:

Phase One: Planning (Teaching/Researching)

The purpose of this phase is for the students to understand enough of a concept in order to represent it in their animation. Students can learn about the concept by direct instruction or personal research or a combination of teacher-student interactions.

Phase Two: Storyboarding (Analysis)

The purpose of this phase is to break down the science concept into its constituent parts or key ideas using the procedure of storyboarding. It is advisable for the students to also write their narration as the narration and storyboarding inform each other.

There are two ways to storyboard: "Chunking" which means breaking the whole concept down into 4-6 major scenes or episodes (Chunking sheet, PDF, 8 KB) and "Sequencing" - which involves more detailed sketching of each movement (Sequencing sheet, PDF, 12 KB).

Phase Three: Construction (Making)

The purpose of this phase is to make or use existing models and take the photos of the models whilst being moved manually.

See Instructions for taking photos and using SAM Animation (PDF, 141 KB).

Phase Four: Reconstruction (Uploading, editing and narrating)

The purpose of this phase is for the student to reconstruct or bring together their ideas in new ways with different sign systems (visual, narrative, linguistic) to represent their understanding of the whole concept. This occurs in multiple ways by uploading the photos into the animation software program, creating the animation, editing it and recording the narration:

If the students make several slowmations they will understand the process and be able to make them at home individually as a project. Slowmations can be attached to emails and sent anywhere in the world.