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Claymation Movie Mania

claymation charactersSo if you have been following along with my blog, then you’ll remember that in my very first post, I blogged about an undergraduate class that I took at Winthrop entitled “Integrating Technology to Support Teaching & Learning”.  As I’ve already mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this class and it’s part of what sparked my desire to become a Tech Coach in the first place.  Anyway, one of my favorite projects from this class was our Claymation movie project, so I decided to let my TECH CLUB use the Stop Motion Animation technique to create Claymation movies.  Stop Motion is an animation technique where the animator physically moves objects/characters in small increments and takes still photos of the objects/characters in each position and then strings all the photos together to make it appear like the objects are moving on their own—kind of like an old-fashioned flipbook.  Claymation is when animators use the Stop Motion Animation technique with clay characters/objects.  However, even though I knew I wanted to have the students create Claymation movies, I wasn’t quite sure where to start, but bit by bit, the project slowly came together, and it has been one of the best projects we’ve completed in TECH CLUB so far.  It took us approximately 4 ½ 1-hour sessions to complete our movies, and here’s how we did it: Session #1clay characters

  1. First, I showed the students several real-life examples of Stop Motion Animation Claymation from YouTube, such as the old California Raisin commercial, the intro to the “Gumby” show, the Chicken Run movie trailer, and the BoxTrolls movie trailer.
  2. Then, I divided the students up into small groups of 2 or 3 and had them brainstorm ideas for their movies. I reminded each group to keep their ideas fairly simple because the Stop Motion Animation/Claymation process can be very tedious and time-consuming.
  3. Once each group had decided on an idea, I gave them a blank storyboard and had them use it to “map out” their movies.
  4. Then I instructed each group to plan how they were going to create their movie characters out of clay and how they were going to create their movie backdrops.

Session #2claymation movie set

  1. At the beginning of Session #2, I gave the students time to complete their storyboards.
  2. Then, each group used a plain cardboard box, construction paper, and markers to create the “sets” for their movies.
  3. After the movie “sets” were complete, the students used non-drying clay to create their characters. I thought it was important to use non-drying clay since the students were going to be working on their movies for several weeks.
  4. After each group’s characters and “sets” were finished, I had them practice moving their characters across the “sets”.

Session #3taking claymation pictures

  1. Our movies seemed to be shaping up and coming along quite nicely. At the beginning of Session #3, I quickly showed the students how to use the tripods and digital cameras, and gave them the following movie making tips:  ALWAYS keep your camera in the same position (same angle, same zoom). 2. Take lots and lots of pictures—you can NEVER take too many!
  2. Then, each group got busy snapping pictures!

claymation movie set

Session #4

  1. At the beginning of Session #4, each group uploaded their pictures to the Microsoft Movie Maker software.
  2. Once the pictures were uploaded, each group started working on their movies. They arranged their pictures in the correct order, changed the duration of each picture to approximately 0.38 seconds, and added an opening title slide, end credits, narration, and music.
  3. Once each group finished their movies, we published and saved them!  Check them out below!

Each group’s movie came out great!  Even though I didn’t have a crystal clear vision of what the finished product would look like when we started, this project was a complete SUCCESS, and I couldn’t be happier with the end results.  I plan on letting the students present their movies at our TECH CLUB Showcase, which is coming up in a few weeks. Next time, I want to try using the Stop Motion Animation technique with Legos—maybe that can be a project for next year’s TECH CLUB!  I’ll be sure to keep you updated! Happy Tech-ing! –Kyla


Check Ur Selfie!!!

Slide2I wanted to do a fun introductory activity to kick off our very first session of TECH CLUB, and I wanted to create some type of bulletin board to introduce the new members of the club to the whole school, so I decided to smash these two activities into one assignment. Since Instagram and “selfies” are trending now, I decided to capitalize on their popularity to motivate students to get excited about completing our first official TECH CLUB assignment.
1. First, I had the students use their tablets to take several “selfies”.
2. Then, the students uploaded their photos to BeFunky, which is a free online digital photo editing software. I initially, planned to use PicMonkey, which is a similar software, but for some reason our school’s web browser blocked it. However, BeFunky worked just fine. Both programs are kid-friendly and super easy to use. I like them both because they’re web-based programs, which means you don’t have to download any software, and you don’t have to register to use them.
3. After the students uploaded their “selfies”, they cropped their photos into a square shape, applied different filters, and added frames, text and stickers to make the photos look Instagram-like.
4. Once the students were satisfied with their Instagram-like picts, they saved them.
5. Then, earlier in the week, I found this really cool Instagram frame template from a blog entitled “Burlap and Denim”. The template was in Microsoft Publisher format. I saved the 5×7 version of the template to a folder on Edmodo.
6. The students opened up the template from Edmodo, inserted their Instagram-like “selfies”, and changed the username and comments text provided on the template to make their photos look like bona fide Instagram posts.
7. Once the students were finished, we saved their Publisher documents and I let them print 2 color copies of their Instagram posts—one for our display and one for them to take home!
8. I posted the students’ finished “selfies” on a bulletin board entitled “Oh Snap!” with the Instagram logo.
This activity was a great way to kick-off our very first TECH CLUB meeting! I loved seeing the students so engaged in their work, and I also enjoyed seeing their creativity come to life! I’ll definitely be using the BeFunky program again in the near future! Check out my Instagram “selfie” below!

instagram selfie

Happy Tech-ing!


TECH CLUB… On a Tuesday!!!

Shirt Design_Black & Green_Final ColorAround the end of the first semester of this school year, I got a BRILLIANT idea!  Some would consider it to be more CRAZY than BRILLIANT because I was creating MORE WORK for myself, but I knew that executing this idea would help me refine my technology skills even more.  I decided that I wanted to start an after-school student technology club so that I could get more experience with working directly with students at a different grade level.  I also thought that working with a group of older students would give me a chance to try out some different technology techniques and tools that are too advanced for my 2nd graders.  After discussing the idea with my principal, we decided to target one grade level and limit participation to 10 lucky 4th grade students.  Our school goes from 4K to 5th grade, and 4th grade seemed like the perfect target audience for the club because 3rd graders are still new to using their 1:1 tablets provided by the school and 5th graders already get lots of “5th Grade Only” perks because they are the “Big Dogs” on our school campus.  So with my target audience set, TECH CLUB was born!

  1. First, I recruited several teacher friends from my hall to help me make a “commercial” to advertise the club. In the commercial, I showed the students some of the projects I planned to complete in TECH CLUB.  The commercial was absolutely hilarious, but it ended up being a big hit, and all the 4th graders were excited about this new opportunity and wanted to join TECH CLUB immediately!
  2. After the commercial aired, I sent an interest flyer home with all 4th grade students announcing that we would be starting a 4th grade TECH CLUB.
  3. The interest flyer instructed students to see me or their homeroom teacher for an application. The application also included 2 teacher reference sheets where teachers were required to rate students on a scale from 1-4 in a variety of different areas, such as leadership skills, creativity, and organization.
  4. The prospective members had 2 weeks to return their completed applications, and I asked all teachers to return their reference sheets directly to me so that their student ratings would remain confidential.
  5. After the application process, I chose 10 4th grade students to participate in TECH CLUB, and I chose 2 students to be “alternates” in case one of the chosen students couldn’t participate for some reason. After the members were chosen, I sent home an acceptance letter/parent permission form outlining the basic rules/guidelines for participating in the club.  The guidelines were basically a re-statement of the school-wide rules.  The only TECH CLUB specific rule/guideline that I outlined in the form was that student attendance was mandatory and after 2 unexcused absences, students would no longer be allowed to participate in the club.  I wasn’t trying to be mean or malicious in any way, but I felt that this was an important rule to establish in order to make sure the students were taking their participation in the club seriously.
  6. I used the Tagxedo word cloud program to create a TECH CLUB word cloud in the shape of a panther paw, and we use this word cloud as our club logo—We even got t-shirts printed with our logo on them!

Starting TECH CLUB has most definitely been an adventure, but I’m actually having a lot of fun!  In fact, we have so much fun when we meet, that 2 of my other teacher-friends from my hall have volunteered to stay late and help me on TECH CLUB days (see our photo below)!  By the way, TECH CLUB meets on Tuesdays, so the kids have coined the phrase “Going to TECH CLUB on a Tuesday” based on the popular Hip-Hop song lyrics “In the club, going up on a Tuesday”!  I have to admit that I found this highly entertaining, and so the phrase has stuck!

tech club helpers

Happy Tech-ing!


2nd Grade Digital Storytelling

The Great Turkey Escape

the great turkey escapeEvery year around Thanksgiving, I’m usually teaching students about point-of-view.  I think Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach this skill because I always enjoy doing some type of project where the students have the opportunity to describe Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point-of-view!  I usually just let the students write about Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point-of-view and illustrate their stories.  They usually really get into this assignment, and I’m always very pleasantly surprised by the amount of creativity they put into it.  This year however, I wanted a way to make the students’ writing really come to life, and it just so happens that around this time, I discovered a nifty new Web 2.0 tool called ZooBurst.  ZooBurst is a free digital storytelling tool that allows users to create their very own 3D digital pop-up books.  Here’s how we used ZooBurst to make our Thanksgiving stories come alive:

  1. We learned about point-of-view for a whole week before we even began this project.
  2. After my students had a good understanding of point-of-view, we read the story ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey.
  3. Then, I read my students this short vignette that I wrote about a turkey escaping from the oven on Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving at the Jeter House

Mrs. Jeter loved Thanksgiving. It was her most favorite holiday. She loved getting out of school for 3 days. She loved getting together to eat with friends and family. Most of all, however, Mrs. Jeter loved eating turkey!

Mrs. Jeter liked her turkeys cooked until they were a golden-brown color. She liked for her turkeys to be tender. She liked for her turkeys to be juicy. Mrs. Jeter also loved her turkeys stuffed with homemade cornbread dressing.

Every Thanksgiving, Mrs. Jeter’s mom would bake her a nice, juicy turkey, and every Thanksgiving, Mrs. Jeter would eat it all. She would eat turkey for breakfast. She would eat turkey for lunch. She would eat turkey for dinner. Mrs. Jeter would even eat turkey for her snack.

But, things changed this Thanksgiving. Mrs. Jeter went to her mom’s house to eat turkey like she always does. Her mom had already put the yams, the green beans, the dressing, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, and the rolls on the dinner table. When Mrs. Jeter arrived, her mom went to the kitchen to get the turkey out of the oven. When Mrs. Jeter’s mom opened the oven door, the turkey was gone. They looked everywhere, but the turkey was nowhere to be found.

  1. After I read the students the story, I told them that it was their job to rewrite the story in first person from the turkey’s point-of-view explaining how he/she managed to escape from the oven on Thanksgiving Day. I also told them that we would use their writing to create digital 3D pop-up books.
  2. In their writing notebooks, I let the students brainstorm ways the turkey could have escaped from the oven, gotten out of the house, and gotten away from the house.
  3. Once their brainstorming was complete, I divided them into small groups of 2-3 students and gave them a storyboard to complete.
  4. The storyboard had 8 squares (4 on each side of the paper) for each group to plan out their stories, but I only required each group to use 6 of the squares. I just found a generic storyboard template online that had a box where the students could sketch out their illustrations and lines where they could write out their story.
  5. I gave them the following outline for completing the text of each square: Square #1 – Title of the Story & Authors, Square #2 – “It all started when Mrs. Jeter’s mom took me home and put me in the oven.”, Square #3 – First, … (explain how the turkey got out of the oven), Square #4 – Next, … (explain how the turkey got out of the house), Square #5 – Last, … (explain how the turkey got away from the house), Square #6 – “And that’s how I escaped Thanksgiving!”
  6. Once the students finished the text on their storyboards, they sketched a picture to go with each square.
  7. Then, the students used their completed storyboards to create their ZooBurst books. Using the ZooBurst program, the students were able to insert and arrange digital “pop-up” characters into a page of their 3D book.  The program already provides copyright-free images which was wonderful!  Each group typed the text of their story into the boxes provided beneath each page or “slide” of their books.  The students also inserted speech bubbles above the characters’ heads and typed in dialogue for each character.
  8. Finally, I let the students present their finished books to their classmates.  Be sure to check out our stories below!

This project was definitely a winner and I’d like try it again next year!  There is a paid version of the ZooBurst software, but the free version worked just fine for us.  The only downside to using the free version of ZooBurst is that you can’t add sounds or record your voice and you can’t establish individual student accounts, but other than that, the free version worked really well and was extremely easy to use!  I completed this project with 2nd graders, but I think the software would be easy to use with even younger students.

Group 1 Movie

Group 2 Movie

Group 3 Movie

Happy Tech-ing!



“Who Am I?” Augmented Reality Bulletin Board

Slide1Back in November, we had a school-wide Technology Night.  On this night, each grade level had to showcase how they were using technology in the classroom to parents and other people in the community.  For this showcase, I wanted to create a technologically-enhanced bulletin board display outside my classroom, so I set out to find something.  During my search, I ran across this project featured on the Scholastic website that used Augmented Reality to create an interactive “Who Am I?” bulletin board display.  I’d never really used Augmented Reality before, but I was up for the challenge!  According to the Google Dictionary, Augmented Reality is “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view” (Google Dictionary Definition).  If you’re not already familiar with Augmented Reality, I think this YouTube video does an excellent job of explaining how it works.

I used the project featured on Scholastic as a guide and I altered it a tiny bit to fit my class’ needs.  These are the steps I followed to complete the project:

  1. To start the project off, I downloaded the Aurasma app onto my cell phone. If you’re not familiar with the Aurasma app, this short video explains how it works.
  2. Next, I had the students write a short paragraph listing at least 5 well-known facts about themselves, and then I had them draw a picture of themselves to accompany their writing. In the original scholastic version of the project, the teacher only required the students to list 5 facts about themselves, but I wanted my students to go a step further and write their facts in paragraph form.  When the students finished their writing and illustrations, I posted their finished work on the bulletin board outside of our classroom.
  3. Then, I used my phone to record a short video of each student saying something like “Hi, Mom and Dad! You guessed right!  It’s me!”.
  4. After all the videos were made, I used the Aurasma app to superimpose, or overlay, each student’s video message on top of their writing and self-portrait. This was super easy to do!  I followed this tutorial to figure out how to overlay the videos!
  5. Then, I sent a letter home to parents explaining Augmented Reality and our “Who Am I?” project. I also included QR codes on the letter that led parents directly to the free Aurasma app on the iTunes and Android app stores.
  6. When the parents visited the classroom, they went from post to post to read all the facts listed on the display, and they tried to guess which student was their child. When the parents made their guess, they would open the Aurasma app and hover their device over the writing to see if they guessed correctly.  If they did guess correctly, then their child’s video message would play.  If they didn’t guess correctly, another child’s video would play and they would have to re-guess and try again.

My class really enjoyed working on this project, and their parents had loads of fun trying to guess which writing belonged to their child.  It was so exhilarating to see the students’ and parents’ faces light up with so much enthusiasm and excitement as they moved from one writing to another.  This project was definitely a hit, and I can’t wait to try using Augmented Reality again!

Happy Tech-ing!


2nd Grade PhotoStory

2nd Grade Safari

animal research projectEver since I’ve been teaching 2nd grade, we’ve always ended the school year with a big animal research project because one of the South Carolina 2nd grade science standards, standard 2.L.5., states that “the student will demonstrate an understanding of how the structures of animals help them survive and grow in their environments”.  When my 2nd grade team first began this project many years ago, we had the students conduct their research using books and the Internet, and we had them create a basic PowerPoint presentation to present their research.

Well several years back, I decided to change the way students presented their research because PowerPoint presentations can often be overused and become a bore.  I decided to have my students create a PhotoStory project to present their information instead!  By now, I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the PhotoStory software, but if not, I’ll briefly explain how it works.  PhotoStory is a free Microsoft software that allows users to use photos, narration, and music to create basic multimedia movies.  The software is basically self-guided and very easy to use—no expert video editing skills are necessary.  The Microsoft PhotoStory software can be downloaded for free from here.

These are the steps I followed to complete the project:

  1. To start the project, I divided students into small groups of 2 or 3, and let each group choose an animal to research. Each group was required to pick a different animal—no duplicates.
  2. Then I had the students conduct their research. They were required to use at least 1 Internet source and 1 book source.  The librarian at our school helped us conduct our research and cite our sources.  I created a “Note-Taking Guide” data sheet to guide the students’ research.  The guide contained questions similar to the following:  What animal group does your animal belong to?  2. What does your animal eat?  3. How does your animal defend itself against other animals?  4. What type of habitat does your animal live in?  While these are a few of the questions I used, these questions could easily be adapted to target whatever animal information you want the students to find.  I also had the students create 2 “quiz” questions to ask their classmates based on the information they gathered about their animals.
  3. I made a “script” for the students to follow while making their movies. Once the “Note-Taking Guide” was complete, I had the students use the guide to complete the script.
  4. After the scripts were complete, the students took several days to practice reading the scripts with their partners.
  5. While we were practicing our scripts, the librarian gathered a variety of copyright-free images of the animals the students had chosen and saved them in folders named after each group on the school’s “Common” drive.
  6. Once the librarian finished gathering our photos, I showed the students how to use the PhotoStory software and how to locate and upload their animal pictures to the software on the Promethean Board.
  7. Then, the students arranged their pictures in the order they wanted them to appear in the movie, typed their text, and used their scripts to record their movie narration. They also added music to their movies.
  8. When the students finally finished their Animal Research Projects, we had a huge “2nd Grade Movie Premier” where they presented their movies to their classmates and other special guests, such as parents and other teachers/administrators. We even served popcorn and juice boxes as refreshments!

I didn’t attach the students’ movies because their movies included pictures and personal information about themselves on the opening slides.  My class had a blast working on this project, and I think that they really learned (and retained) a lot of information about animals and their habitats!  We’ve repeated this project several times over the past few years, but I hope to change it up a little this year and try something new!  We’ll see how that goes!  I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

Happy Tech-ing!



Hello World!

KylaAbout Me:  My name is Kyla Jeter, and I am currently a 2nd grade teacher in a rural public school district in South Carolina.  This is my 9th year teaching, and I have always taught 2nd grade and I have always taught in my current district.  However, after 9 years of teaching the same thing, in the same place, I feel that I am ready for a career change.  My goal is to become an Educational Technology Instructional Coach/Specialist.

What Led to this Change:  I’ve always had a certain “knack” for using technology.  My mother is a high school business education teacher, and she seems to have passed her “technology gene” down to both my brother and myself.  I’ve always just enjoyed “fiddling” with technology, and while working on my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education at Winthrop University, one of my favorite classes by far, throughout my entire coursework was “Integrating Technology to Support Teaching & Learning”.  As the name already suggests, in this class, we learned how to integrate technology into our future classrooms.  We worked on many interesting projects from creating an M&M Excel spreadsheet to creating Claymation movies, and I absolutely loved every minute of it.  Fast-forward a few years, and shortly after beginning my teaching career, I fell even deeper in love with all things relating to educational technology, and decided that I wanted to become a Technology Instructional Coach “when I grew up”.  So after only 2 short years of teaching, I decided to pursue an online Master’s degree in Educational Technology from Webster University.  I finished my MAT in Educational Technology in May of 2010, and I’ve been searching for an Educational Technology Instructional Coach/Specialist position ever since.  After finishing my Master’s degree, I originally thought that finding a job within the discipline would be much easier than it has proven to be, especially with the major push to produce students who are “college and career ready” to compete in today’s technologically-rich society.   However, I haven’t had much luck finding anything.  Therefore, I used the past 5 years, especially this past year, to “hone my craft” per say, and to independently research current trends and the latest and greatest tools in Educational Technology.

The Purpose of this Blog:  I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while now, and so with all of the many reasons listed above and after tons of encouragement (i.e. poking and prodding) from lots of friends and family members, I just decided to just step out on faith and go for it!  The main purpose of this blog is to serve as a sort of portfolio of the different technology projects and/or lessons I am currently working on in my classroom, and to document my journey toward fulfilling my dream of becoming a full-time Technology Instructional Coach.  However, while the main purpose of this blog is to curate and document my work, it is my sincere hope that this blog will reach other teachers and inspire them to try some of the featured projects and tools in their own personal classrooms!

Happy Tech-ing!