Bringing the Dead Alive!

As many know, I teach social science as well as language arts at the 6th grade level. If you have ever taught in the junior high setting or have a junior high aged child, you know how difficult it can be at times to keep them engaged and excited about a topic. In my language arts class we have been studying biographies and in social science we have been studying Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. These are not typically on the top of any lists for high interest for students. However, you would not have known that this week in class.

With both of these topics I want students to be able to walk away with some basic biographical information about the individuals and their impact on their respective societies. Rather than have students write a paper or do a super-awesome-multi-colored-animated-sound-effected-Power Point, I decided to use one of my favorite programs Crazy Talk. This is a facial animation program that I have used in the past with all sorts of projects. I often refer to these projects and “Bringing the Dead Alive” and we go out of our way to find the creepiest pictures possible.

Here are a couple samples of the two projects that students created. I am a huge fan of options and choices and this is just one way to help students demonstrate their comprehension of a topic. Many students are already asking when we will be using it again and are using study hall time to “play” with the program. 



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Josh, I love these projects your students completed. I have a question about the software--did you use the Pro or Standard version? Also, original or version 6? Animation toolkit? Facial expression toolkit? Can you post which programs you used. Thanks

@educatoral said...

Those are awesome! Love it!

Anonymous said...

Looks cool! Did you have to pay for the program, or did the school already have it?

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

I bought the pro version for myself but the school purchased a few standard versions for the student laptops which is what we used for this. There is a free trial version that I did mess around with before I bought it. The biggest difference between the pro and standard versions is the advanced puppeteering controls which honestly I rarely use.

Muna Abunaser said...

Josh, this sounds great. I respect how you try to keep your students engaged by using these programs, but i feel that as teachers we are getting too concerned about students engaging or as I call it sometimes entertaining students. You mentioned that your students ask if they can use study hall time to "play" with the program.I think that students liked that program because it is "cool". Are students really learning by using technology in the classroom? I believe they are not. I do not believe that creating a song for multiplication, division or addition, or a software for everything will help them learn. I agree that we have to keep students engaged but do we have to make it fun most of the time? No, these devices are preventing student to think and challenge themselves, and this could be one of the reasons behind the deterioration of education in America.Third world countries which are ahead of us in education are not using technology as extensive as we are in our schools.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

Muna,

Thank you for taking the time to comment on the post. However, I could not disagree more with your statements. If we as teachers are not trying to engage our students then what is the point? Our job is to create an environment where students are connected and engaged with the content. In most cases, technology and "entertaining" things can do just that. Technology gives students different ways to learn and present information. Funny thing is that after this little activity, nearly every single student "aced" the district assessment that covered the concepts within these projects. So, for me, I do see a connection between what I am doing and what students are learning. That's not to say that technology solves all...but if used properly it certainly can help many.

Muna Abunaser said...

I agree that if it is used properly it can help a lot. I'm not against technology , i also understand the importance of students being engaged but i feel that students expect that learning should be fun all the time. Should it??

Kathleen C. said...

I agree with the use of technology throughout the curriculum, but what I disagree with is that maybe we are including too much technology. I liked the presentations that the students created, but I also found it to be a little distracting and busy watching the mouths move. Did any of the students find it distracting? I think it’s great to get the students thinking differently and using technology, but I also think we are getting away from traditional forms of learning.

Dru F. said...

I really liked the program and I see much benefit in having it in the classroom, that being said I think that it is hurting students for presenting in front of a class. Anyone can do something behind the screen but if we get away from presenting in front of a class and public speaking is that going to hurt them in the long run? I worked at a middle school last year and public speaking was lacking. Is that due to the fact of too much technology? Are we setting our kids up to fail when it comes to public speaking because we want to fun things with technology?