Author Archive

September 19, 2009

How do I prepare my students for the Adobe Certified Associate Exam?

My students, their parents and our business advisory board are all very excited about earning the Adobe Certified Associate credentials. Of course I want all my students to be successful so I have been searching for resources that will provide my students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Here is a list of what I have found.
Study Guides
Did you know that Adobe has posted detailed study guides for each exam at: http://www.adobe.com/education/instruction/ace/ These are .pdf files with both written tutorials and the sample files for the lessons all wrapped up in one Adobe Acrobat file!
adobe_curriculum.jpg
Adobe Curriculum
Adobe has worked closely with classroom teachers like myself to develop curriculum that is aligned with the ISTE standards and teacher tested.
http://www.adobe.com/education/resources/k12/instructional/
Visual Design is a yearlong, project-based curriculum that develops career and communication skills in print production and graphic design, using Adobe tools.
Digital Design is a yearlong, project-based curriculum that develops IT career skills in web design and production, using Adobe tools.
Adobe TV
It is time that instructors learned about this incredible resource. Adobe has developed hours of fantastic instructional video resources and offers it free through the Adobe Media Player. Check out all that they have to offer at:
http://tv.adobe.com/channel/students-educators
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Learn by Video
This is the first resource that I have found that is specifically design to prepare students for the ACA exam. It has a easy to use interface, tutorials that you download to your iPod and well delivered content that will help your students prepare for the exam. I have really appreciated the book that accompanies this because it helps to explain the non-software specific topics covered on the exam. I also appreciate the test at the end of each unit both monitoring my students progress and helping them prepare for the type of exam questions they will face in the real ACA exam.
Classroom in a Book
Of course these books have been around for year providing a great resource for students and teachers. They provide great instruction on the application but you will need to supplement the lessons to fully prepare your students for the exam.
Online Software Training
If you or your students are looking for high quality online training on Adobe software then I strongly recommend the following resources:
Lynda.com: http://www.lynda.com/Member.aspx
Total Training: http://www.totaltraining.com/
Atomic Learning: http://www.atomiclearning.com/
Of course my own software workshops (free): http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/index.html
Professional Development
Faculty workshops through Knowledge Network Solutions
Master education consultants from Knowledge Network Solutions come to your school to run workshops for faculty on how to use Adobe tools and effectively integrate them into their courses. Workshops are available to higher ed and K-12 institutions.
For more information about the Adobe Certified Associate Exam go to:
http://www.adobe.com/education/instruction/ace/

3:00 PM Permalink
September 12, 2009

My High School Students are Certifiable….

ACA_headerHome.gifMy students are excited about the prospect of earning their Adobe Certified Associate credential this year. I work in a small school district in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. Being a small school district, we don’t have a bunch of money to pay for all my students to take industry exams. So we partnered with the eight other school districts within our regional consortium (NEVAC). This has allowed us to purchase a Certiport site license ($2,500) for the ACA exam at my high school. We are currently working on hiring one of our building computer techs to proctor the exam for a few Saturdays ($1,000) at the end of each semester.
By setting up a regional testing center and sharing the cost, we will be able to offer the exam to ALL of our students at a fraction of the cost. What is even more exciting is an idea that grew out of the sharing of resources. We are currently working on setting up Saturday teacher workshops and student study sessions that will culminate in the certification exam. This way, all our instructors can collaborate with each other to prepare both themselves and their students for this exam.
For more information about the Adobe Certified Associate Exam go to:
http://www.adobe.com/education/instruction/ace/

7:24 AM Permalink
August 21, 2009

Integrate with Stop Motion

Stop motion animation is one of the best ways to build digital communication skills and team work into any curriculum. You don’t need fancy equipment or temperamental actors, just some craft materials and the digital cameras from your friendly librarian.
Integration
The really great thing about stop motion animation is that it can be used effectively with any subject and at most age levels. I have worked with students that successfully animated subjects from science (life cycle of a butterfly), social studies (scenes from Lewis and Clark), math (slope), and of course language arts with any dramatic or comedic narrative. Check out some examples at: http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/storytelling/example_stopmotion.html
Pre-Production (planning)
Stop motion is a great way to integrate writing and decision making into your curriculum. Planning is a critical step in the process of creating any story. I start my students out with a simple treatment that helps them focus their story by making some simple decisions about the target audience, objectives and other basic parameters of the project. (http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/storytelling/handouts/treatment.doc) Then we plan each scene out with a storyboard, but first we talk about shot variety and do a quick exercise with our digital cameras. (http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/storytelling/handouts/Composition_still.pdf) Storyboarding is an communication skill that is useful in most disciplines so the time spent creating and reviewing storyboards is very valuable. (http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/storytelling/storyboarding.html ) I keep a handful of three ring binders in my room so each group can keep all this planning materials together and the group will always have it even if a member is absent.
Team work
One of my favorite things about stop motion animation is that it brings students together in such a natural way that you will see amazing results. Throughout the process there are multiple jobs that take different skills and abilities. During the planning process you will have those that prefer to write the script while others prefer to draw the storyboards. Next, some of the students will naturally gravitate to building the sets and creating the characters while others prefer to set up the cameras, lights and computer. During the actual animation process we usually have one student run the computer, one on the camera, one handling the lighting, and two animating the characters. Then once we have shot all the scenes and move into the post production process we usually have a couple students work on editing the rough cut while the rest work on sound and graphic design. No other activities I do brings students closer together than stop motion animation.
Digital storytelling
Stop motion animation is a powerful communication tool that students can control better than any other digital medium. They can use a either a digital still camera or digital video to express their stories through unique camera angle and composition. I prefer to hook up a cheap digital video camera to a computer and use Adobe Premiere Elements to capture our images. The reason I like this method is that the software provides us with a couple invaluable tools:
• Onion skinning – this is the ability to see a ghost images of the last couple moves you make when shooting your scene. This makes your shots smoother and easier to shoot.
• Preview and delete – this is the ability to watch a sequence of shots as a video clip to judge the pacing and smoothness of your shots. If you accidentally got your hand in one of the shots you can easily delete just that one frame.
• Save as video clip – this is the ability to save a sequence of shots as a video clip that you can then apply effects and adjust the speed to easily.
• Editing environment – once you finish shooting you have a powerful video editing environment that allows you to work with up to 99 video tracks and 99 audio tracks!
I just have one twelve foot firewire cable for each pod of four computers in my room. This gives the students enough room to setup their camera and set, but is close enough to work with the computer operator easily.
Control
One of the cool things about stop motion animation is that your students have complete control over the small world they will be shooting within and it will cost you very little! We usually use three sides of an old card board box as our set and either legos, clay or pipe cleaners for our characters. For lights we simple purchased the 8 inch clamp light for around $10. This really makes your colors and images pop and allows the students some creativity with shadows.
Post Production
This is where those digital communication skills come into play. I usually break up the group into three parts. One group is the editor(s) that will put the scenes into the right order, adjust the speed of some clips and usually adds titles. Another group is the sound designer(s) that will create the voice overs, sound effects and find copyright free music or create their own if it is called for. The final group is the graphic designers that will create the movie posters, DVD labels/covers or invitations to the movie premiere.
Sharing
Once you and your students have made your stop motion animation master pieces make sure to share them with your community. Ask your local theater if they will have a special showing, make DVD’s for the families of your students or post them online at web sites like School Tube. Last year a few of my students earned an award of excellence at the Northwest High School Film Festival for their stop motion film “Kichinjo”. Enjoy.
http://www.schooltube.com/video/40226/Kichinjo
Getting Started
Now it is your turn to get out there and have some fun with stop motion animation. I have posted a bunch of video tutorials that will walk you and your students through the process at: http://www.mountsihighschool.com/directory/_dockeryj/conferences/storytelling/05session.html

9:59 PM Permalink