Sunday, February 21, 2016

JiJi Funk

We use a great visual math program from the MIND Institute
(neuroscience department) at UC Davis called ST Math.  ST stands for
Spatial-Temporal.  About two months after we started homeschooling, it
became available for our use.  Before that, it had been offered only to
schools and school districts.  So far, it has proven to be a
well-designed program and Liam is able to move through grade-level math
at an accelerated pace, most of the time.  The only problem we've found
is that the final quizzes are presented in a standard test format, while
the rest of the course has visual supports.  Sometimes Liam fails to
recognize the same problems, when presented in multiple choice format. 
Allowing for this, we can spend extra time working with concepts (like
long division) in a different format, to be sure he is understanding the
procedure in all contexts.

Liam working on an ST Math level

Another positive of the program is that Liam enjoys doing it.   Each day, he logs onto his iPad
for a series of visual puzzles.  A google-eyed penguin, named JiJi, must
walk across the screen.  JiJi can only cross if the puzzle is solved
correctly.  If Liam makes a mistake, a portion of the puzzle drops down
into JiJi's path and he is blocked from crossing.  The "block" shows the
mistake and Liam can retry the puzzle up to two times before the level
re-sets.  When JiJi crosses, there is a "ding" and when he fails to
cross, there is a "bonk."  I can let Liam work independently, keeping an
ear on the ding-to-bonk ratio.  I only step in if I hear too many repeated bonks
in a row.

Each year, the ST Math team holds a music
video contest, challenging classrooms to make a video and show how we
use the program.  This was our first year entering the challenge.  I
started about a week ago, taking video footage of Liam doing ST Math. 
We needed a music track and so I chose a song I know he loves, "Uptown
Funk."  I re-wrote the lyrics to fit the Karaoke track and recorded Liam
singing it.  Liam's dad tweaked my final audio edit, to make it sound cool
and I filmed Liam dancing to the new track.  Finally, Liam and I spent a
few hours editing the final video.  I chose the order of the clips, but
Liam edited them all, added all of the effects and even designed the
font he used in iFont Creator.

I'm very proud of the
work we all did on this, but particularly of Liam, who took direction
like a pro (and worked with the speed of one).  He even pulled off some
effects I didn't know he knew how to do (like masking himself in a
photo-negative and leaving the rest natural).  At one point, because
we'd neglected to save, we lost about 25 minutes worth of work.  He
didn't get upset, and although it took a little prompting to continue,
he did and we finished it all in one setting.

Click on the bold words "JiJi Funk" at the top of the post to see the YouTube link to the final video.
I don't really care if he wins a
thing, the process of creating something this cool with my son and
husband, was prize enough for me.

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