Thursday, May 21, 2015

Finding Inspiration

The past few days have been spent on WebEx presentations by BrainPop and STMath - talking about new features and teacher resources.  It felt good to learn new things and see new possibilities.  We're upgrading to the 4th grade level curriculum on both programs (while maintaing access to previous levels on some subjects).

Liam is currently finding inspiration in the idea of parodies.  He was binge-watching the Sesame Street parodies of current movies and TV shows and has been coming up with his own ideas, starring his favorite characters, Gator Boys (shadow puppets we perform before bed) and Spiffyman (an original character based on Spiffy Pictues logo).  He loves wordplay.   His favorite is "The Thirsty Games: Throwing Ice" a "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" parody.

He's also learned to piggyback his own character designs onto other people's  MITScratch videos - changing characters and dialogue, but keeping the backgrounds and actions.  This is a pretty common practice on Scratch, with animators attributing their videos to several previous versions.  It's something he figured out all on his own.  Here is a short Spiffyman video piggybacked onto a previous creation by another animator.  He actually knows enough code now to create this level of animation himself.  I hope to tease that out of him in the next few days.

Today, I found a great quote on Facebook, that really describes the biggest challenge that Liam faces.  Liam is missing step three at the moment.  While this is meant to be an inspirational quote, it works quite literally as well.  Without the ability to assign meaning and create our own story, we can be happy in the moment, but we aren't actively creating our future.  Slowly, an awareness of past and future is creeping in for Liam, but he's a few steps away from weaving it into a story.

Today, we watched a new lesson on digital animation on the upgraded BrainPop program that talked about Flash Animation.  Liam learned Flash from a brillaint teacher a couple of years ago.  As I'd hoped, he lit up when he saw the video and said, "I'm going to make a Spiffy film tomorrow in Flash!" I can't wait.

Here's to inspiration - wherever we find it!

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