My Final Project: What is Habitat?

2008 fall internship, halloween and Zoe 079Here’s my most pressing issue: my mp3 player records well, however, I’m not certain how to get the audio to overlap the photos (or videos) when I make a Voicethread.  The project storyboard is planned so that some of my ‘threads’ will be “experts” chatting while images scroll by.  Recording of these two components can not happen concurrently (ex: the biologist speaking and footage of the infield).  With each ‘thread’ I will provide a guiding question or thought for the students. 

 Is this possible to do all of this in Voicethread and HOW?  Is this possible for CORI to do all of this in Voicethread and for ‘you’ to talk me through? 

(Yes, this is posting in a tiny font.  I have no idea why)


The Beauty of Belle

The Establishing Shot – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast  

An establishing shot at the beginning of a film is a narrative tool to inform viewers of the general mood of the story, its central character(s) and the overall location. It helps the viewer find their cinematic ‘footing’ without confusion as the story unfolds.  

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast presents an important establishing shot for two reasons. First, it has a strong opening sequence, cleverly constructed to lay out all the important elements of the story. Second, it was the first time an animated feature film paid so much attention to the narrative traditions of non-animated filmmaking.  

The opening sequence of Beauty and the Beast begins with a brief but ominous back-story, the dark undertones only the viewer will know as the story switches to the beautiful fair maiden, innocently singing of her woes. The viewer forgets, if only for a moment, the dark prophesy of the first three minutes and is swept away in the establishing shot that follows.  

Belle walks right out of her sweet little cottage, starts singing and the viewer knows immediately they signed up for a fairytale musical. The camera follows Belle, the young woman, as she wanders through her village. The viewer learns she lives just outside of town. The town has much activity and the shopkeepers and residents are all abuzz in the morning routine. Through Belle’s singing, the viewer learns that this morning routine, this daily repetition, is something Belle longs to leave behind. She wants more. Now the viewer starts to get a sense of the story and where it is headed. The viewer remembers the dark back-story presented before they met Belle. The viewer senses that a beast hidden in an enchanted castle and a clever young girl looking for adventure are destined to meet. That’s all the viewer needs to know. The roller coaster is almost at the top of the rail. Hold on, the film ride is about to begin.  

Equally important in the establishing shot of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the recognition of real-life filmmaking practices. On real-life film sets there is a complex team of prop artists, choreographers, lighting designers, sound technicians and third assistant directors operating in perfect sync. The legacy of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is that this animated feature, created entirely in a computer, looks as though it has that support of a full non-animated crew behind it. It is the first time an animated feature film was created as though it were a non-animated feature. The impressive attention to detail, the song and dance numbers, the rich backgrounds, the dynamic camera movements compete with tracking shots, bring to mind any large budget non-animated feature film of the past 50 years. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast sets the bar high for other animated features to follow. Gone are the days of a very flat-looking Mickey whistling on steamboat.

Because I am a Teacher…

end pics from block 016My classmates have been blogging about the challenge of keeping up with the required workload of our ECMP355 course.  Thursday, morning I woke to find a message that one of my assignments that I posted to my blog did not link.  I still cannot get that little project to work.  Friday, feeling unwell, when my Mentor offered the option to take a day off from Skyping with his class, I took it.  I listened to my mother’s advice, that a good teacher also knows her limitations…  Ha, well that might have just come back to get me… 

 Today, I ran around getting ready for a soccer tourney in Swift Current and zipped over to the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center to chat with the biologist about the Voicethread I plan to create for Bill, my mentor’s students, and is the final project for ECMP class.  I was home before 3:00 p.m.  I sat down to start blogging and my phone rang.  The Superintendent of Student Support Services for Prairie South School Division was on the line, calling to offer me a one-month teaching position.  Teaching.  Really teaching.  Teaching one-on-one with a ten-year old studemarch 16 working 001nt. 

 My head started to spinning thinking about my other commitments:

1.  The ECMP355 Course.

2.  The grade ten student that I am currently volunteer teaching at John Chisholm on Thursday mornings so that he can earn his grade ten art credit.  Those mornings we are in the studio.  We are already in need of more studio time, and we loose another week when my grade ten student is gone camping for a week.  I need to spend a lot of time at John Chisholm this coming week.   

3.  And Bill’s class, the class that will work on and interact with my “What is a Habitat? Owls and Urbanization” final project that needs to be ready for the 8th of June.  This coming week must be production week. 

So here I am sitting in Swift Current, typing on my laptop and thinking about grade four content-appropriate novels for a grade one reading level.  I’m thinking of launch lessons for Owls on line and perhaps Owls with my grade four student.  I’m thinking of bubble gum art and our noon hours in the cafeteria.  I’m thinking that this is my first real job ever.  I’m thinking about where I’ll start Monday with my grade four student and where I hope my final project will lead Bill’s students in two weeks.  I’m thinking that if I don’t sleep I might have a chance of getting some of the work done.  I’m thinking something has to give, but usually, I get it all done and I get it all done well.  I love being busy.

I love learning on the fly.  I love being challenged and I love resilient youth.  I know my final project must, because of time-constraints, become something different than what I have originally envisioned.  But that’s OK.  As the Superintendent was sharing about the student, and his needs, I began to think about the technological tools that are in my teaching tool belt now, tools that might be helpful for a cache, jess, working, outside, the room 022student whose reading comprehension and decoding skills differs by three years. 

If I wasn’t feeling the crunch of this class before that three p.m. phone call, I certainly am now.  I need more time.  I need a full day with my grade ten student this week.  I need two weeks in the production of my project for Bill’s students.  I need a week to gather and plan for my grade four student. 

This is reality.  I start Monday, 8:50 a.m.  Ready, Set, Go.  I’m a teacher!


poutine and skype call 001Monday, a grade six student called out to me from down the hall, “Hey Ms. Saas.” He was in North Carolina.

This week, I brainstormed and gave feedback with three classes of grade six students. I drank my tea, watched many run-thoughs of videos styled after Commoncraft tutorial videos. I learned a lot about adaptation, mutation, natural selection… and who in grade six has really ugly nose hairs. No, you cannot smell tea through the webcam, but I got most of them to try!

I love teaching and learning this way. The only other experience I had with learning with technology was boring. But these connections are dynamic.

Oh and ya, did you know caterpillars, elephants and polar bears are “freaks!”

Talking TED Talk

Tonight in our on-line breakout rooms, Chelsea H. shared the TED Talk she watched, How to Grow your Own Air. She shared that there are three different kinds of plants that, when added to our environment, significantly clean our air. The man making the presentation, Chelsea shared, works in the cleanest air environment on our planet because of these plants. The speaker stated that if we lived in a bottle with these plants, and then put a cap on our bottle, we could survive.

Interestingly, this TED Talk fell on the heels of other discussion based on environmental degradation. We live in a continually at-risk bottle-like bubble ourselves. The plants make a difference, and they are simply plants, but how useful are they unless, of course, we incorperatie them into our bottle?

The break-out room felt a little odd and rushed. My group members commented likewise. I would have liked to have the timer running so we all could have had a visual on how long we had left for sharing. It turned out we didn’t need to rush, as there was quite a bit of time remaining after we had all spoken quickly. This was our first time in the chat room, and I know that next time I will engage more with my group members, asking more questions, going further into the topic, even if that means I don’t get time to share my topic.

Opening Doors

My classmate blogged about the challenge of bringing her beliefs into the classroom. The following are my current three favourite videos that I use to engage my students in discussion, while at the same time, staying true to who I am and what I believe.

· What we hear is only one layer.. what is the greater meaning in the author’s message?

· What choices are we going to make and what choices do we have no power to make?

· As a child, what are my rights and responisbilitiles? How are these rights and responsiblies protected, and what does it mean to have voice?

Lose Yourself