5-8, 6-12, Computer Science, Education, Math, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

Pixar in a Box

Pixar in a Box is the result of a collaboration between Pixar and Khan Academy.  A student who is interested in a career in computer animation, or even just wants to know what happens behind the scenes, can learn the basics in six topics: Environment Modeling, Character Modeling, Animation, Crowds, Sets & Staging, and Rendering.  Each stage includes videos (with interviews from some of the Pixar employees as well as samples from movies), online practice, and hands-on suggestions.  Portions of each topic are targeted for “all age levels” while others are for middle and high school students.

My daughter, who is 12, tried out the beginning unit, which is Environment Modeling.  She was quickly engaged in learning how to animate a blade of grass.  The lesson videos were the right length and she really enjoyed the practice.  I question whether “all ages” would have found it as interesting as my daughter did; for her it was the perfect level of challenge.

Khan Academy has been the topic of controversy.  In my opinion, that has been because it has been used incorrectly by some.  Khan Academy lessons should not be assigned to replace the guidance and feedback of a live teacher.  However, they offer a wonderful opportunity for students to learn at their own pace about something of interest or as a supplement to lessons that might not have been initially understood in school.

I think my daughter enjoyed Pixar in a Box because I was sitting beside her – just as enthusiastic to learn and practice.  She has shown an affinity for both math and art, so learning more about animation did not seem like work to her.  If you have a child or student who also shows those qualities, then I would definitely recommend the two of you check out Pixar in a Box together.

image from: Khan Academy/Pixar
image from: Khan Academy/Pixar
Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Language Arts, Motivation, Philosophy, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Writing

Rules of Storytelling

photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via photopin cc
photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via photopin cc

I recently saw this article on Boing Boing that shares a tweet from Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist, in which she relates the 22 Rules of Storytelling.  I am regularly trying to encourage my students to do #12:  “Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.”  That rule could apply to many enterprises, not just storytelling.  Perhaps if my students see that it is advice from the studio that produced Up, they will find it more trustworthy!

One of my favorite bloggers, Sonya Terborg, also posted about this list.  The following day, she produced her own, modified, version, called “16 Rules for Sharing Your Story”.  She made an excellent graphic to accompany it.  You can download the PDF here.    I think it would be an excellent poster to put in your classroom, or to print for students to use as a binder or notebook cover.