Four Great Student Created Short Films

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post

A great opportunity presented itself at this year's Signal To Noise Festival. I got the chance to interview some great students and talk to them about the films they submitted for this year. Director's Notes is a little session that we hold before the film awards every year. It is usually hosted by one of our great district film teachers, Kevin Bennett. He couldn't make it this year, and I have been podcasting for 4.5 years, so I figured I could fill in. What a cool job it was...I may never give it up. 

Director's Notes is a 30-45 minute session where we take a small room and open it up to show a few films and talk to the students that created them. This gives the audience a chance to see the films in their entirety and hear what the successes and challenges were in creating their films. It was a lot of fun, and we had a great space to show the movies at Aloha High School this year. Take a few minutes out of your day and watch some of these creative student films. Again, these videos are on Vimeo, so they may be blocked/filtered on district wifi. 

Beaverton-Hillsboro Science Expo 2017

The group of four girls from ACMA had to create this video in a matter of hours! They started shooting at noon, and had to have it ready to show at the close of the Science Fair at 4! 

Sandbox Science

The same group of girls had a world premiere of the video above. It was created for Hanna's capstone project in her senior year. She originally had a different edit of the film, with the above opening scene, as the final scene. I think she made the right choice with the video above. 

Life of a Raindrop

This is a tremendous animation video that ended up a winner at Signal To Noise for senior, Ben Johnson. It took him months to create the video, and the opening cloud sequence and the emotion on the faces of the raindrops were among his challenges. 

Cheating, The Music Video 

The final video was directed by two girls who I have worked with for the last two years. They created this great music video with an original song and different camera angles. I was pulling for them to win in the music video category, but they finished second. I hope they keep trying to create more films as they make the big jump to middle school. 

That's all I've got for today. I hope you took the time to watch at least one of the videos. Tomorrow I will hit you back with some great places to find attribution free stock videos for student projects. Sorry, if you were looking for that blog post on fidget won't be coming any time soon. 

Signal To Noise Festival & Scratch Day Showcase

We just finished up with our district film festival, Signal To Noise. (Click if you want to see the site) It starts off with a little showcase of all the creative projects going on throughout the Beaverton School District. This year we even had a Scratch Day going on in one section, with students helping people create Scratch accounts and sharing their coding skills. 

A quick shot from our #bsdfutureready #scratchday last Thursday @s2nfestival

A post shared by Jon Samuelson (@ipadsammy) on

The list of different ideas shared by students and teachers was pretty impressive:

  • Osmos - demoed by a student
  • 3D printing - a scale model of Portland shared by a teacher
  • Book Trailers - demoed by students and teacher
  • Bloxels - demoed by a student
  • Stop Motion Video/Color Poems - shared by teachers
  • DoInk Animation - demoed by a student
  • Green Screen - demoed by a student
  • Dash Robot Coding Mazes - shared by a teacher
  • Ozobots & Spheros - shared by teachers & students
  • Makey Makeys - shared by a teacher & students
  • Oculus Rift & HTC Vive - shared by teachers & students 
  • EV3 Lego robotics & coding - shared by students
  • Graphic Design & Publication - shared by students
  • BB8 - shared by students

I will share more about the Director's Notes and talking to the student filmmakers tomorrow. For now, here is the opening to the Film Awards that happened after the showcase above. The ACMA students created this video in less than a week! (You will have to watch at home if Vimeo is blocked in your district.) 

Cam Newton Provides A Teachable Moment

The popular "teachable moment" happened yesterday

The "Big Game" provided us with a real world opportunity to share with students today. I love NFL football. I have spent many years talking about it with 4th and 5th graders over my years of teaching. One of our most popular math games was "fantasy football math." That would all end today with the final act known as "Big Game." Tomorrow we would go on with dreary old "regular" math for a while. 

Last night I saw something interesting in the postgame press conference. Cam Newton, who I really like, could not get himself through his press conference. He wore his hood over his head, (BTW I LOVE hoodies) and could barely answer questions. This goes against how we have seen him act all year. He acted very child-like and not like a grown man that had to answer some tough questions. It made me think, what did Russell Wilson say last year after his terrible defeat? Luckily I have Google, and I could see video of how he reacted last year. I think you could keep going on down the list of losing QB's and see what the results are. I only looked at Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning from the last two years. 

I think this is a great opportunity to teach students a life lesson using people that many elementary students idolize. I think it would be interesting to have students look up the videos on their own and compare and contrast the actions of both quarterbacks. If it were me, I would give them the assignment in Google Classroom, put students in groups, and let them research and discuss the differences in a Google Doc before bringing the class back for a discussion. 

There is a lot of information that would be good for students to process and reflect on. I would continue to go back to this example throughout the rest of the school year. 

I am not indicting Cam Newton. No one is perfect. I can't even begin to imagine how it would feel to be on the losing end of a game of that magnitude. I love how he gives footballs to kids in the crowd and all the other things he does for the community and the Play 60 campaign. However, I think the interview is a great talking point for students. I have provided the links for Cam Newton's interview, as well as Russell Wilson's from last year. There will be commercials. You have been warned. 

Cam Newton's Press Conference Link

Russell Wilson's Press Conference Link

Start From The Bottom With These Apps Here

Don't Know Where To Start? Scroll To The Bottom Of This Post. 

I have been teaching with iPads since the beginning. I broke out the credit card for the iPad 1 and lined up to purchase the day it came out, did you really think I could pay cash on a teacher's salary, and started using it with students on Monday. Think about it, the iPad ONE...this stunning tablet had no camera, and if you wanted to project it, you stuck it under your document camera. 

Luckily, we had been using a shared cart of iPods for about a year. That prepared us for the inevitable question that I have been answering for years now: 

"What is the best app for ___________?" - Fill whatever subject or learning concept you like in the blank 

We just want a quick solution or place to go to get started. The problem is there are so many different scenarios for this question. 

  • What is the learning goal?
  • Do you want the students to have choice?
  • Do you want them to be creative?
  • Do you want them to collaborate?

Not to mention the workflow side of things.

  • Is it a shared cart?
  • Do you have a system so students can use the same iPads over the course of a few days?
  • Do you have access to put on your own apps?
  • Do you want to share their work? 
  • How do you plan to share it?
  • Is your district locking down and blocking sites you should have access to?

So when your district asks you to create an app list there are so many ways you can go. The iPad isn't built to be a one size fits all kind of item. There isn't an app list that can cover a K-12 school district, in my humble opinion. When we previously tried to create one for just elementary the people I worked with wanted to put over 90+ apps on the recommended list. That is absurd! Teachers do not have time for thatHow does a student feel looking down at a home screen with all those apps? Overwhelmed is the first adjective that pops in to my mind. 

Apps That Will Get You Started With iPads:

Please feel free to suggest other apps in the comments or connect with me on Twitter @jonsamuelson AKA the artist formerly known as @ipadsammy 

Other collaborators on this list @mrscarterhla @guildnerda @KTfour14 @catnostrand

Stand Up To Standardized Testing

Global School Play Day is February 3, 2016 

It seems ridiculous that I was given a directive to NOT play sports with students at lunch recess. Before you think there is more to the story than I am letting on, kids could not run and play tag on the playground equipment. They could walk fast. These are the times we live in as teachers. What if in my professional judgement, I decided to take an extra recess? I'm sure the admin would have scheduled a meeting and written me up. Newsflash - I DID take extra recess and got away with it. 

Why should we have to sneak around when we know that play is good for kids? 

Because of standardized testing

Whatever happened to letting kids just play? When I was in school, we had AM recess, lunch recess for 45 minutes, and maybe even a PM recess.

That is where Global School Play Day comes in. You can sign up here: Global School Play Day

Inspired by the TED talk from Peter Gray, Global School Play Day is coming back for a second straight year. Over 65,000 students on 6 continents participated last year. The focus is on just having kids play. Play outside, inside, games, legos, just play and interact with each other. Play is a good thing and we need to start bringing the fun back to school. Global School Play day is a great place to start if you made a New Year's Resolution to stand up to standardized testing. Go to the site and sign up today. Even if you only play for some of the day, this gives you a chance to stand up to that administrator with no vision. Take some pictures, share the fun on social media at #GSPD2016.