Taking the Shooting Gallery to the Wild Side – Jon Corippo’s new book

Studying environmental impacts and learning to think cinematically
Studying environmental impacts and learning to think cinematically

Yesterday presented a chance to work with innovative teachers and embed some technology instruction into middle school math and science investigations. Despite the 49 degree temps and constant mist, it proved to be a tremendously rewarding afternoon.

A lesson I have used for three years now is called the Shooting Gallery. It was developed by Jon Corippo as a way to lay film making foundations for students in the classroom. It is one thing to provide the opportunity for students to share learning in video form, but it is a whole other ballgame when you can give them techniques that greatly ramp up the quality of video they are producing.  That is how I use this lesson and it’s why I approached a couple of our middle school teachers who are leading an integrated math and science class that studies our local watershed.

Students in the STREAM class at Hamilton Middle School by Ted Malefyt and Nate Alkire study and then share their learning in a number of ways beyond pencil and paper. Coming up they will be presenting projects to a panel similar to the ABC show Shark Tank. We want to give these kids all of the digital tools we can so that their work impresses somebody besides their grandma.

Here is a slide deck Jon and his students built.

Download the shot sheet here so your students can track their progress as they practice these cinematic angles.
In addition to these resources you can now download Jon’s free iBook that is an expansion of this lesson. It can serve as a great digital text for giving your students more tricks and tools for making great videos.


Demystifying the new iMovie

Jon Corippo and I presented on Advanced iMovie techniques at the 2013 MACUL conference in Detroit. Since then, iMovie has undergone some significant changes.

A number of the old habit workflows no longer work. This was the scene at the Connected Educator Un/conference about a month ago. Several of us were completely stumped at using green screen in the newest version.

Jon recently overhauled the Advanced iMovie Techniques slide deck for the new version, demystifying all of the changes. Enjoy.

Make the amazing by combining Discovery Education and iMovie.

Here is a step-by-step screencast for using the great footage available from Discovery Education Streaming in conjunction with the superpowers the iMovie trailer feature delivers.

In the video I demonstrate making trailers on a Mac. The same can done with an iOS device as well. The process is similar but varies slightly. One of my edtech pioneer heroes Kathy Schrock offers up this super guide.

Check out additional hints and ideas on this process as I host Discovery’s “DENvice” this week on Facebook.

Update: #FlippedClassroom Flop

Mako by Emma from Andy Losik on Vimeo.

So it has been three weeks since my attempt to get second graders making movies crashed and burned right before my principal’s eyes for my formal observation.

I can’t tell you how much support my sharing that experience generated from readers of my blog and friends on social media. I stated then that it was actually an experience I needed because I was bound to grow from it and see this project through to completion.

Now three weeks later I am proud to share that over half of the second graders have successfully completed their projects. Check out Emma’s above.

Along the way the kids began to express their frustration over the amount of background noise that kept interfering with their voiceover work. Others simply struggled with using that specific feature in iMovie. To assist in this step, I slowed down the process and worked one-on-one with them on this part. One kid would record at a time with me away from where the rest were working quietly. To provide help to those still just trying to reach this step, I set up a Genius Bar just like at the Apple store. Kids who had mastered the process set up shop to help other students. Those completely done or waiting to record voice could select from a handful of problem solving games like Tinkerball and Tumble Town.

Projects are getting done with quality. Kids are getting one-on-one time with me. Kids are helping kids while others build additional skills…and I got better as a teacher. It just took a few lumps getting to this point. As far as the observation goes, my principal came back yesterday and liked the progress. He even spent a little time working at the Genius Bar helping kids with their videos.

#FlippedClassroom Flop

Yesterday I had my announced teacher observation for my overall performance evaluation and….well, let’s just say the hour could have gone a lot better.

Second graders were beginning the process of creating their first iMovies, ones that will involve the reporting of animal facts in a voice-over with stunning images from Arkive.org. I had taught this lesson twice in the last week and it had been a great experience. I figured it would be a home run for the evaluation. I however, fell victim to a trap I was consciously avoiding…trying to put on a good show instead of just good teaching.

In retrospect, I was really just trying to do too much. I wanted to show my ability to screencast or “DVR my teaching” so I prerecorded the steps kids would need to follow in order to make the movie. We would focus mainly on Day 1’s task of collecting three images and organizing them in iPhoto. I have the video posted at MrLosik.Blogspot.com and now as they work on the project, they can review the steps instead of me repeating myself.

Things started to unravel when I fired up the screencast as the introduction. I have done this before in other lessons and it allows me to “co-teach” with my own instructions. The problem this time was that I had no sound coming from my speakers. All the kids could hear was the laptop and it was too faint, even as I tried to explain things along with the video.

That was the “I do it” portion. Next we did a “We do it” where the kids helped me go through the process. By the time we were ready to send them to the “You do it” independent portion they were squirrelly from me keeping them on the floor for too long.

In retrospect, the screencast should have been held back until next time. It still have a lot of merit and when we revisit this activity. Showing it off to have it included in the observation clouded the educational benefit of it and caused the kids to be on the floor too long. I am also questioning when the right age is to use principles of the flipped classroom is with students. Second Grade might be a little young. That is the learning I took away from it.

As for the rest of the period, it took some work and individualized attention but all students completed their Day 1 task of collecting the images and organizing them. A number of them began to research their animal facts as well. Next time will go better I promised them and told them that their hard work will pay off in the end.

My principal was understanding and commented that he liked my ability to make adjustments. He says that he is looking forward to coming back and seeing the finished product. That is fair. I trust the projects will be amazing.

Disclaimer: No, this is not a flipped classroom in the truest sense but uses principles of the flipped classroom. It was still a flop.

iMovie McGyver Green Screen Special Effects Collection

Mr. Losik’s iMovie McGyver Green Screen Special Effects from Andy Losik on Vimeo.


Action Movie FX and Extreme FX are tremendously fun apps….especially if you are forced to kill time in a Children’s Place while your wife and daughter shop.

Don’t limit the destruction to just what you can capture on your phone. Filming nothing but a green background allows these clips to be downloaded and dropped into any footage on iMovie using the green screen effect.

Check out the initial post I wrote after discovering this was possible this summer. That should give you a little bit of how-to.

Have fun and see what magic you can create.

Download the collection clips directly from Vimeo.

 Google Drive Folder with individual clips

Action Movie FX plus green construction paper equals iMovie McGyver gold

While finishing an unconference session with Dennis Grice at the Discovery Education Summer Institute on ways to create cool effects and titles for iMovie by using Keynote slides with the funky asparagus color, I had an “oh wow” moment.

“What if?” I excitedly asked myself, “I pulled out the silly JJ Abrams created Action Movie FX app and instead of filming an object to flood or explode I just filmed green?”

free app available for the iPhone.
free app available for the iPhone.

Would it work in iMovie (iLife ’11 not iOS version) as a green screen layer?

I frantically raced around looking for green construction paper and to my assistance came Kyle Schutt and Chad Lehman. They pulled a piece out of a supply case and I was off to try it.

I recorded the effect and saved to camera roll.

Record a few seconds of green.
Record a few seconds of green.

Next I imported the effect clip over green I had saved to iMovie and created a new project. I dragged a clip up onto the project timeline of Dean Shareski who was one of the lead facilitators of the institute. Another group of guys and I had been working on a silly mashup video and we had a fun clip of Dean acting surprised.

The next step was to drag the effect clip of the flood directly on top of the Dean clip until an options menu appeared. You have to be using iLife 11 and you need advanced tools selected in your iMovie preferences.


Next I selected “Green Screen”.

select green screen

After getting the effect clip in the right place, I tested it and the water was coming in too high. I simply used the crop option and tweaked the effect oh so slightly. This tweaking was a Dennis Grice idea and really speaks to the increased flexibility that creating the effects on green provides over trying to do everything with the iPhone.


Below is the final product.

Sure…this is silly. Just think though of the creativity that students can generate. Think of the fun. Think of all of the language arts that can be fostered by creating “What if…” video writing prompts like “What if dinosaurs invaded the Obama inauguration?” or “What if Justin Bieber was trapped under a rock?” and kids had to write about how the problem was solved. Seems like pretty good pedagogy starting out with an anticipatory set like that.

What I plan to do for my students is record all of the different effects on green paper and then place them on Google Drive in a folder students can access. For appropriate use, students can then download effect clips and import them into iMovie projects. There is then no need for them to all have devices with the app on it. Since the app is free I also feel good that we aren’t skirting any process that would be outside the ethical bounds of sharing. We can apply to an endless amount of footage which expands the app’s capability exponentially.

See what other cool ideas you can think of. I would love to hear them in the comments.

EdCamp OAISD: Video production with the junk in your pocket and teacher bag

Here are some places to get ideas and information on making the most of getting video together with your class.

Ken Robinson and Uncle Buck beg you to save creativity.


My vimeo channel

Popcorn Maker

Shooting Gallery Shot Guide

Handheld Creativity Resources

Sony’s Education Ambassador site: Video Production across platforms (Android Users click here.)

Amazing info-graphics from Canal+

Royalty Free Music from Incompetech

Wow! That’s just about all I can say about these book report trailers.

Sometimes you get an idea and it seems like it might be pretty cool.

I really liked what my Apple Distinguished Educator buddy Sean Junkins had created when he used Discovery Education footage to make historic movie trailers.

Since we don’t have access to Discovery Education anymore, I was perplexed how I could do something similar with our kids. Coincidentally at about the same time I was thinking how kids still need chances to do old fashion arts and crafts and little skits. Somehow this project ended up lending itself to the best of both worlds. They would use the Apple iMovie app’s trailer building capabilities but would have to get really creative on how they would produce the footage. It was completely open-ended but after a week of brainstorming we had really focus on the project being do-able.

The other guidelines were:
A) Trailers had to provide important information about the plot or focus on character traits.
B) Trailers could not be “spoilers” for anyone who had not yet read them.
C) Trailers had to be non-violent.
D) Several students could work together and there was no limit on the number of projects in which students could participate. Students could work solo but all students had to be included in meaningful ways.
E) This was basically an introduction/exploration activity and I didn’t fully know what we would accomplish so there wasn’t a set evaluation rubric beyond my formative checkups along the way.

The results were mind-blowing. Here is one on the Hunger Games Trilogy’s Mocking Jay. More can be found in the project’s album on Vimeo.

My biggest reflection on this project is that you never know how a project might go. Sometimes they flop but as long as you salvage the key points, that is okay. Sometimes you get way more than you ever expect. Also, don’t think this is rocket science and beyond your capabilities. I completely left completion of it up to the kids (with some progress monitoring and coaching along the way) but it was them who knocked this thing out of the park.