Facing up to selfies?

As I go around visiting students in schools I often come across a display board that has the digital images of the members of the class attached to the months of the year showing when the children’s birthdays are. When I was teaching, these were often taken early on in the year by the teaching assistant and were a perfect way of getting to know the class. However after these have been taken there was a range of activities that I would use them for using the technology which was available. Although technology has changed, I am sure that similar programs and applications exist in the present day classroom that would allow you to replicate the activities I am going to waffle about. So your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to find the new programs to do these old activities – alternatively you could just listen and enjoy :).

“..or allow the children to create their own caricature of themselves within the software.”

In the past I have used the images for a variety of additional work mainly using !Paint as the art package of choice. I feel it is often beneficial to either reminisce on how things have changed or rethink activities and consider how they can be recreated in today’s classrooms. Indeed, with today’s technology children can create their own 3D images through the use of iPad applications or even videos with talking avatars but ideas are still the essential starting points and technology continues to enhance the activity and support the children’s learning. It is strange to think that the activities detailed below were once seen as pioneering.

  • Let the children take them
    Images stored on a floppy disk

    Images stored on a floppy disk

    The digital cameras that we used to use were Sony Mavicas, with the images being stored on three and half inch floppy drives. I remember putting the strap over the head of the children and then having to stand behind them to support their hands as they would hold the camera, line it up and then take the photograph. This used to take a willing teaching assistant most of the morning to take all the children’s images. With the advances in technology, it is now possible for the children to easily take each photographs of each other, or even of themselves in the well used selfie. However, remember the learning here can be focused (sorry photography pun) on framing the image correctly, making sure their face fills the screen, that the background and lighting is effective and that everything is in focus. Since the actual taking of the photograph has got easier, the learning can now be extended.

  • WANTED POSTERS!
    Creating your own WANTED posters

    Creating your own WANTED posters

    In one of my previous waffles, I shared the initial lecture I gave at higher education called ‘All from a Book‘. Within this series of lessons the children made Wanted posters about the class bully. This idea can be recreated allowing the children to use their own images and some technological wizardry. Using any piece of software that allows the manipulation of both text and graphics, the children can view published versions of posters and recreate both the style and lettering. Of course, this is not only limited to Wanted posters. Any poster could be created from the tour of the recently acclaimed X-factor contestant to the election campaign of the future prime minister. Using technology the children can use their own image to recreate the poster and share these either by printing them out, or by posting them to the school’s virtual learning environment.

  • Mythical Creatures
    Changing into a mythical creature

    Changing into a mythical creature

    Although it is probably not used in schools any more, I remember using an art package with the children called Flying Colours. Once the basics skills and techniques had been introduced to the children, and they had time to practice these, the images that could be created were very good – although as I remember you had to turn the sound off since every action actually caused a sound to be emitted! As part of the topic on Ancient Greece, I remember using the images of the children to create mythical creatures. This was done by ‘painting’ over one side of their face to create a transformation effect. I have seen this method being used in a range of different contexts from adding party hats for the aforementioned birthday board to creating pirates out of the children’s faces.

  • Images of children also have a range of child protection issues associated with them, so security is important with all these activities. Some schools might not allow the children’s images to be taken, in which case you can supply your own as a starting point for all the activities or allow the children to create their own caricature of themselves within the software. Children enjoy altering and, in the case of my images, improving them and this also translates into higher education. When the class set of iPads are in use you only need to view the PhotoBooth application after the session to verify this. Selfies are definitely alive and kicking in my sessions.