Animation and Green Screen Challenge

We love a challenge here at Inspire2Learn and knowing that we had such great pupils from Acklam Whin, Newcomen and Ormesby meant that we set today’s animation and green screen target high! Developing skill with animation takes time and our aim on a day here is to open up the possibilities so that new ways of working can be explored and then built upon back in school. The staff certainly threw themselves into today’s task so I can imagine this WILL be followed up in other curriculum areas.

The children were signed up to a green screen day but we love to combine green screen with animation because they naturally complement each other. So, today’s focus was not to produce a great storyline, great acting performances or a polished product. Today the objective was to leave the building understanding that animation creates one effect, green screen another and that the two can be combined.

You can see from the pictures not only the steps they had to go through but also the creative problem solving to achieve what they wanted to alongside a strong team ethic, all working to the same goal. I’ve condensed the films into one long one. Each group had two or three scenes showing live action, then a special effect on top of a photo. They then in many cases added a special effect on top of a live action piece. If only I had a week with them….

Oh wait a minute….Animation challenge week starting 21st May! Would you like to take part? In the meantime here’s the video showing the skills they acquired today. Now how could I put that in a literacy lesson…..? Hmmm….

Scrapheap Challenge March 2018

Well even the attempt to snow again didn’t stop the brilliant young minds from Brambles, Caedmon and Dormanstown coming to take on this year’s Scrapheap Challenge. I must admit there were a few bemused looks as the video for the challenge ended and children and teachers alike were puzzled how to respond. We have children from Y1 here today so the idea of sustainable energy is a long way from their experience….or is it? I don’t think it is. In schools we talk about turning off lights, not leaving iPads on for the batteries to run down and so on. They also see solar panels and wind turbines day in and day out….focussing this challenge on things that they see most days but perhaps never question makes them do just that.: question. What does that do? How does it work? I had no worries because we have had school groups from the youngest in primary all the way to Y9 attempt this challenge so far and I have never yet met a group that has not come up with some workable ideas.

And so it has proved, with a few prompts the children have come up with some great ideas.

As always the focus though is not the science, it is the teamwork, the problem solving and the creativity. We are very fortunate to have some support today from Principal Scientist Dr Ruth Poultney from Tees Valley based MPI. I picked on her at the beginning to introduce herself to the children and it was great that she picked up on the teamwork and problem solving themes that I had already outlined. We know from experience and the research that meeting authentic people form the world of work, and a great female role model – a female scientist no less! – has a great impact on the children’s development of cultural capital. It brings them closer mentally to being part of that world.

Anyway, enough words! Have a look at how they are getting on and tune in live from about 2.10pm to see their presentations:

Creative with purpose

What a fantastic day we have had despite the snow trying to stop people getting here. Oakdene and St Clare’s have spent the day learning how marketeers try to convince us to buy products by playing on value propositions for the target audience. After reviewing some current adverts and deconstructing how they had been designed, we took what had been learned and created our own design and short advert for a new LEGO set aimed at men in the 20 – 40 year old range. The idea was that the children would work in groups to identify what would interest the target audience; a huge list of possibilities from which they would work out a design based on a handful of identified USPs. From the ensuing build the children then designed short adverts that mimicked what had been learned during the morning session.

As always we had a huge emphasis on how each team worked effectively together, combining ideas, making compromises and working within a time limit. Like many of our focus days the time was short but given the constraints most groups managed a simple five or six shot video complete with product placement and a voiceover. Those who didn’t certainly had it on their plan!

Building Enterprise

What a fabulous day I have had with the amazing children from Brambles, Caedmon and Dormanstown Primary schools. Having worked with the children before I knew it was going to be a good day but I think the fact they were on a repeat visit also helped them settle into the task even better this time. The challenge involved some knowledge development as well as applying teamwork skills to a challenge. These days are never long enough to polish a video output but the thought processes behind the work that they did with clear rationale for their choices was really excellent. The fact that I didn’t see one incident where a teacher had to intervene (although all the staff were brilliantly supportive during the work) to sort a behaviour problem speaks volumes. Well done to everyone. Perhaps I need to put on more of the skills based days, movie making as stand alone as well to help these children develop that skill too?

I learn as much from the day as they do, probably more.

As you can see their focus, compromise and team ethic, those valuable transferable skills were very much in evidence in the photos above. And below? These are the first attempts at their videos promoting their new LEGO sets for men! See if you can spot the value propositions they have used:

Scrapheap Challenge February 2018

February already and we are very pleased to welcome Y2 from Newcomen and Y3 from Oakdene for the latest Scrapheap Challenge. As always the focus is on the skills that will stand the children in such great stead later in life: teamwork, creativity, problem-solving. Everywhere I look there are amazing conversations going on, children nodding, compromising and forming new plans.  We have had several visitors drop in this morning and what struck me about all of them was how they immediately grinned, then described how the buzz in the room was fantastic. Yes it is.

What they have produced so far is fantastic. Have a look below:

Live stream from 2.10pm as usual!

Scrapheap Challenge January 2018

Yes the first of the year here at Inspire2Learn and we are pretty much fully booked on all of the remaining ones from now until July. There will be next year’s event diary coming out soon though so watch this space!

Today we have Oakdene, St Clare’s and Caedmon Primaries attempting the scrapheap challenge. As usual our focus is not on the task but the way that the children work. We have highlighted the importance of team working, listening, compromising and then forming a joint plan where everyone knows their role. Think of it as an assessment centre for a big company! As usual the idea are varied ranging from some vague ideas about how nuclear reactors can work in a school (controversial!) to simple activities that make the environment fun but capture pupil energy. Have a look at some of the children planning and then starting their builds below. As usual the groups will nominate their presenters who will talk about their designs live to the web after about 2.10pm below.

Playing with ideas

IMG_7529Unfortunately one of our schools today couldn’t make it but Oakdene Y2 more than made up for it! Their enthusiasm from the minute they arrived was fantastic and mixing that with an attitude to learn something new was a winning combination.

These children had never done any green screen or animation work before and my intention was to combine both in creating animated Christmas cards. As usual, the focus was not on the skill in hand really (they always get that anyway, they just need practise to develop it further), it was more to work collaboratively, creatively and within a given task.  Some used the resources I had prepared, many then created new ones that hadn’t been provided, they solved the problems in front of them brilliantly. That is what animation is all about and with more practice they will get the rhythm of the FPS (they will know what that means) better and avoid as many hands, blurs, shots of the floor and shakes in their future work. For day 1 it was an impressive start.

They did marvellously well and we were keen to combine their Nativity performance repertoire in the final film. You may never get the song out of your head if you watch the whole video! Well done to all of you and hopefully we will see you again as you progress through school so we can take advantage of that enthusiasm to develop your skills even further!

Animation first time around

IMG_8451What a busy week we are having here at the centre. We often have two or three events a week but 90 pupils Y3/5/6 from Brambles, Dormanstown and Thornaby Academies today all animating for the first time was definitely a challenge. As usual though, the aim is to give children wider experiences, not just the task in hand but also the experience of working effectively in a team, often up against a time limit. Never having animated before meant that we needed to get to grips with the app ‘Stop Motion’. It is pretty straightforward and we have used it as young as Reception very successfully but knowing the app is about 5% of animating. Getting a feel for the appropriate sized movements of objects, spacing of movement within a time frame, understanding of FPS and how to make characters interact realistically are all elements of the craft that you develop over many projects…not just a few hours! However, today’s introduction means that every child has left the building with a pretty good grasp of how to put animations together and even use iMovie to assemble multiple scenes. You can see from the pictures how important it was for the pupils to work effectively in teams, creating a shared vision and defining clear roles to accomplish it. I’ve also included the final pieces of work that they produced. As ever in life, some children got the hang of it quite quickly and you will see that some of the videos include a title and voice over. Others might not see to have got nearly as far but I can assure you that was often due to restarting several times to correct misunderstandings they had as their experience grew.

Scrapheap Challenge December 2017


It never should surprise me but it always impresses me.

Y2/3/4 from Oakdene, Ormesby and Brambles Primaries have been hard at work on this year’s scrapheap challenge. As usual Percy the scrapstore in Middlesbrough have provided a wealth of high quality recycled materials and the pupils are creating some amazing models. The challenge continues to focus on sustainable energy and how they could adapt their school to be more energy efficient or even generate their own power. As usual the solutions have been varied and often completely out of the blue. But really, that is not the point, fantastic though they are. The point of the day is developing independent working skills as part of a collaborative team effort. Sharing ideas and finding a compromise on what to do. Assigning roles and even creating a job sheet with tasks that must be achieved within the time they have available are commonplace in any work based situation but in school much less so. These children have been thrown a task out of the blue, with team members randomly selected by staff and are expected to get on with it, and boy have they done that.

Watching their close interaction, paying attention to other children’s ideas, supporting each other with the build tasks, it is a real eye opener. It makes you wonder why we have so many employers telling us that school leavers, a good 10 years down the line of personal development for many of these children, have such poor team, communication or independent skills. You can see from the pictures above that given the context, an authentic situation that means something to them, there is no reluctance to write, to share ideas and to complete their work effectively. We’ll post their video presentations at about 2.30 where each group will present their work to the world.

What skills gap?

Well only if you employ them straight from KS1 it would seem!  Today we had a mixed IMG_4184group of over 70 Y1’s and 2’s from Dormanstown and Rift House Primary schools. Although the theme of the day was creativity we set the stall out from the very beginning about effective teamwork, listening skills and collaboration. Learning to compromise when people had different ideas was key amongst that.

And what did we find? The children were absolutely brilliant. From building a celebration day through to a ‘pre-marketing’ task, they showed amazing focus and ability to take ideas from all team members and then mould them into a solution. I have seen a lot of ‘enterprise’ schemes and events over the last few years and being a teacher I have felt many lack a real sense of progression. The work that these children did today opened the door to key vocabulary and also the focus on audience; work which would be built on in lower KS2 and beyond. Focusing on audience also develops their empathy to mindsets that are not their own, a key skill in becoming an effective writer or even being successful in later life. It was interesting to see how many of them wanted to write today without being asked to, to ensure that their ideas in pictures were not misconstrued. Boys don’t like writing??? I beg to differ.

So well done to the children today, their manners, care for others around them and general sensibleness (definitely a word) was an absolute credit to them and the staff who supported them. Enjoy the videos below where they are given the chance to explain about their models in terms of their audience needs: