Stop Motion Animation

The animation spark really ignited with Elmwood School’s art teacher, Bonnie Gaus.  Diving into Stop Motion head first, Mrs. Gaus and I collaborated in order to bring this fabulous app to several third grade classes.  Selfishly, we had a blast practicing together and knew that if we were having fun while learning, students would take it to a whole new level.  They certainly did and this is what we found.

Students were immediately engaged.  They understood the patience in completing one frame after another was absolutely worth it once they saw what they could create.  Many worked together to plan a story before capturing each scene and several students were quite original in creating artistic backgrounds to make their stories come to life even more.  Thanks to Mrs. Gaus, they were able to use a variety of toys including plastic vehicles and animals, and they took full advantage of the phrase “action packed.”

We also noticed that students were motivated.  From the very first Stop Motion experience, we felt it was important for students to have an opportunity to share their work.  We found that students were empowered to start, knowing they would soon have an audience.  Spotlighting students has also given us an opportunity as a class to discuss and honor the creative process verse only the finished product.

Check out some third graders in action.

 Even Mrs. Carver was able to stop by and learn from these amazing film makers.    

As I continued to support several classes with the Stop Motion app, I discovered this video by Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook, and was amazed by what I saw.  Stop motion animation through Google Sides?  What a great opportunity to connect what students had been learning with Mrs. Gaus.  Sharing this with classrooms would also give teachers and students a chance to animate right on the chromebooks!  I have shared the first five minutes of his video with two classrooms so far as well as modeled the basic steps using my own Google Slide animation.  It is nowhere as good as what students have been creating and just as they did with the Stop Motion app, they took their learning to a whole new level.



Once students began their own animation on a slide shared through Google Classroom, they were unstoppable.  Creating characters using shapes forced them to think about geometry.  They also received intense practice with copy and paste in order to use symmetry efficiently.  More than anything else, just as they did with the Stop Motion app, they honored the creative process as well as the patience necessary to adjust frames ever so slightly, this time with grouping items and using the arrow keys.

Check out some third graders in action.

Students have only just entered the world of animation at Elmwood School and I can’t wait to see where their journey will take them.  One thing I do know is they seem to be running home to keep creating.





You’ve been using Google Docs, slides, sites, maps for awhile? Perhaps you’ve tried flipping your class and looking for differentiation ideas. What’s next? How do you take it to the next level?

Hyperdocs are a great way to personalize your lesson for students.

Think of students working collaboratively and independently but still engaged with your lesson. The doc (or your chosen platform) is created to do this so you can freely move to individuals with specific needs.This is not just a webquest, it is a carefully designed lesson for differentiation and digital collaboration.

See how it works:

Keep this in mind:

What is it that you can do now what you couldn’t do before when creating a hyperdocs?
You can easily use Google docs, slides, sites, maps for packaging.

Check your lesson with the SAMR model for Transformation and Enhancement:

What else?

Learn more here

Get free lessons here

Hyperdoc resources here

Hyperdoc Bootcamp





Blinding Me with Science

Students presenting arctic plant prototype

Walk the halls of Hopkins School and you just might find yourself immersed in scientific discovery and engineering. From students actively engaged in designing water filters in the classroom to prototypes of plants designed to withstand the arctic sprouting up in the hallways, you will observe the young scientists at Hopkins hard at work. 

What force of nature is propelling their inquiry?

In 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released new a Science and Technology/ Engineering Curriculum Framework based on the Next Generation Science Standards. The new framework, which views science learning as three-dimensional, integrates domain content knowledge, the big ideas that transcend science domains, and the practice of scientific and engineering processes.

MA Science Technology/Engineering Foundations

MA Science Technology/Engineering Foundations

This year, Hopkins rolled out the new framework with the adoption of STEMScopes NGSS curriculum. The STEMScopes digital platform allows students to engage in authentic problems and apply scientific principles to help them understand the natural world. In their study of matter and energy in plants, 5th-grade students were challenged to design a plant that could thrive in the arctic tundra.

Touted by STEMScopes as a one to two-hour activity, science teachers took the task to varying extremes — from a quick prototype design to a problem-based learning experience guided by an expert botanist. All iterations of the challenge showcased the new three-dimensional learning and then some. In addition to the physical prototypes, many students created digital artifacts to present their designs.

Ms. Kaufman’s students worked with an expert botanist to refine their designs and then presented using Google Slides.

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Ms. Tremblay’s students created videos of their plants while answering questions of essential needs.

Celebrating What Works

For teachers, experimenting with the new curriculum is a delicate balance and changing out all of their lessons would throw the system into chaos. To help maintain equilibrium, Hopkins science teachers integrated existing, tried and true inquiries alongside the new lessons. One such activity is the water filter design from the Boston Museum of Science Engineering is Elementary (EiE) Water, Water Everywhere unit. The environmental engineering challenge specifically addresses the Earth and Human Activity standard 5-ESS3-2(MA). Test a simple system designed to filter particulates out of water and propose one change to the design to improve it. This EiE activity embodies the spirit of the three dimensions while engaging its spirited scientists.

A team of scientists in Mrs. Wilkie’s class runs their first trial.

As the new Science Technology/Engineering Framework takes hold at Hopkins, budding scientists will continue to bloom. The district’s commitment to STEAM education and support of its outstanding science staff will ensure that all students have the nourishment they need to thrive.

By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @BlendedTeaching / @HopkinsTechLib
 Cross-posted to

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