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Why use animation for active learning?

Sophie Burrows, a film and animation practitioner with a wealth of experience, talks us through the educational benefits of stop motion animation.
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Helen Caldwell: There’s something very appealing to students and pupils in schools about the magic of making inanimate objects move.
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Dan Cooper: With a group of, for instance lower ability Year 9s, who struggled with extended writing and who struggled with the more complex structuring that language in English as a subject requires. We found that by taking them and teaching them animation, they were able to express their ideas, to express their understanding in a medium that was much more comfortable to them and the results were striking. Their understanding of literature was no lesser than any other student they just used a medium that is more comfortable to them.
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Sophie Burrows: Animation is incredibly inclusive and it really has quite low tech requirements. You can make an animation or engage in learning through animation, simply by creating a flip book or a thaumatrope.
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Jean Edwards: I think there is something about the way you have to think about the sequence and break down a sequence into its logical steps and put them in the right order.
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SB: Stop Motion lends itself well to displaying processes, to displaying science concepts or historical reenactments that practically you wouldn’t be able to recreate within the classroom.
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HC: I do think it’s a good cross-curricular tool. I think probably you can use it just about anywhere, I think it’s particularly useful for describing intangible things processes, scientific processes, things that are hard to show any other way.
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Robin McHugh: Animation gives students a hands-on approach to producing a complex scientific model. And what’s great about it is the incremental nature allows the discussion to evolve between the student and the teacher, so any scientific misconceptions can be addressed along the way.
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HC: I also use animation with my early years students. So for teaching basic early years concepts, such as understanding of number of letters of colour, that kind of thing.
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SB: What I would recommend if you have access to iPads or tablets is downloading a free stop-motion app. These apps are incredibly intuitive, incredibly easy to use and using a tablet or iPad to animate really does engage young people.
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HC: One thing I would say would be to be ambitious with it, encourage your children to be aspirational with it, show them some good ones. There are two fantastic animations that I showed my students. There’s an animation called “Dot” where they are animating tiny tiny little figures and that’s a really nice source of inspiration. There’s another one called ‘Gulp” which is the world’s largest, largest animation and they’re animating figures, people on the beach. So there’s a great big sand, boat made out of sand and they’re filming from very high up. And I think things like that, that are really unusual, are a good starting point because they can encourage pupils to be aspirational in what they do.

In this video, we hear from Jean Edwards and Helen Caldwell, Senior Lecturers in Education at Northampton University, on how they use stop motion animation with their student teachers, and the impact they witness when using it with pupils.

Alongside teachers from Primary and Secondary settings, Sophie Burrows, Programme Coordinator at Into Film and Animation MA student also presents her ideas about the educational benefits of stop motion animation.

Which areas of the curriculum or subject(s) that you teach do you think could be enhanced through the inclusion of stop motion animation?

Please add your comments below.

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Filmmaking and Animation Online and in the Classroom

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