How to Get Eager, Animated Students with Assigned Reading

Amy Cobb teaches sixth grade English at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she and her colleagues have discovered the secrets of making assigned reading a project that students will look forward to while developing practical collaborative skills along the way.

Having just hosted Shorecrest Preparatory’s third annual Technology Summit with the help of her peers Anna and Chris, Amy believes in the power of stop motion animation as an entertaining way of storytelling while enhancing learning in any classroom. Attendees at the summit learned the ins and outs of iPads during the first day while the second day was devoted entirely to stop motion animation, and they used iStopMotion for iPad to show how it can be applied to different subjects.

Shorecrest’s Technology Summits came to be as a result of Amy and Chris giving an iPad classroom integration presentation at the Association for Middle Level Education National Conference a few years back. Although Shorecrest Preparatory provides each of its faculty members with an iPad and a MacBook Pro laptop, Amy and Chris soon realized that the majority of the schools in their area were not as fortunate. Without readily available iPads, many teachers from surrounding schools were not aware of the system’s capabilities to enhance learning in the classroom, leading Amy and her colleagues to develop iPad workshops.

Since the first Technology Summit (which boasted a first-time turnout of sixty people!) other schools have taken a nod from Shorecrest with Amy and Chris’s help, where they teach other education professionals how to get the most from their iPads. Amy emphasizes the power of technology as a learning tool.

“Technology allows for the tailoring of content on an individual basis, especially when using an iPad,” she says. “Features accessible on the iPad help with learning challenges, and the variety of apps makes it easy for the student to take control of his or her own learning.”

Amy’s expertise on the subject comes from a huge iStopMotion project that she and Anna work on together with their sixth grade students each fall. Called “The LEGO Hobbit Project,” the fun begins after students complete reading The Hobbit. Then, groups of students are each assigned different chapters of the book to create their own interpretations with LEGOs using iStopMotion. However, before students can jump right into the animation process they must first brainstorm, storyboard, design sets, film and edit for a polished project. Check out a sample here!

“What we like about the iStopMotion process is that it gets kids thinking, writing and fostering collaboration and cooperation among peers and allows for creativity across multiple mediums,” says Amy.

Once the student groups finish their iStopMotion retelling of each chapter, Amy and Anna merge all the videos together to create one epic reimagination of the story!

Though the project fosters many practical skills in her students, Amy and Anna’s iStopMotion project is mostly just plain fun! It’s seriously impressive to look at how much hard work goes into a creative retelling of a literary classic. But don’t just take our word for it. Check out Amy’s student’s retelling of The Hobbit above!

Bonus: Next year she plans to work Harry Potter into the curriculum, and we can’t wait to see what her kids come up with!