Gifted specialists use $30K grant for digital design tools

MADISON – A successful grant request has equipped all elementary campuses of Madison City Schools with sophisticated software/hardware for digital cinematography.

MCS gifted teachers wrote a grant this year and received $30,000 from the state to purchase Digital Design Creativity Resources for gifted classrooms.

The grant will help students demonstrate creative thinking and problem-solving skills as evidenced in their production of digital illustrations, animations and stop-motion videos, Elizabeth Woodard said.

Woodard was the grant writer. She works as Gifted Specialist at Madison Elementary School.

“Each of the 11 gifted classrooms in MCS received five iPads with Pro Create (software) for digital design, Do Ink for green-screen filming and Stop Motion Pro for stop-motion filming. In addition, each classroom received five stop-motion light boxes, five digital pencils, five ‘creativity monster’ OSMO kits and LEGO materials,” Woodard said.

“OSMO is a company that makes educational apps with resources for iPads. Their creativity monster kit is a small whiteboard with markers used in conjunction with an iPad. The monster app allows students to create animated interactive stories on the iPads using the whiteboard and markers,” Woodard said.

Woodard spent several weeks writing the grant, with plenty of help from MCS gifted teachers. Their research created a budget and selected resources to meet creativity goals for students. Amber Merrill, Gifted Specialist at Heritage Elementary School, was instrumental in researching materials.

In the project’s timeline, they submitted the grant in September 2022. After receiving funds in January, the teachers spent the funds and ordered materials. Teachers received materials in February, and students started using the supplies. Teachers completed the Analysis and Summary Report in May.

The students’ work in stop motion is comparable to movements for “Gumby, the green clay guy. The kids take photos of objects (in our case, LEGO people/animals) while moving them a small amount between each photo,” Woodard said.

Then, students run photos together to make a movie with objects appearing to move. “Students have been using an app called Stop Motion Pro, along with the iPads and LEGOs, to make LEGO movies,” Woodard said.

Jessica Schmauch, Gifted Specialist at Horizon Elementary School, has seen a wealth of “creative fluency as students used Stop Motion. They had to create many ideas and accept the possibility of (multiple) correct answers as they developed their storyboards and problem solved through limited materials available.”

At Rainbow Elementary School, Kerri Scroggins’ students are quite artistic and have loved Pro Create and iPad stylus pens. They used both to design their logos for BizWorld, a business simulation unit.

In Stop Motion, Amber Merrill has seen her students show creativity in telling stories. “They used background music to convey emotions. They used items found in the classroom for props; one student used blue beads to represent water,” Merrill said.

Most of Woodard’s students had no experience drawing digitally before using Pro Create with new iPads and digital pencils. Many students “became very frustrated as they found drawing on a screen quite challenging. Even my most creative and artistic students were challenged with the digital aspect.”

“Through the creative learning process, they not only improved their digital drawing and design skills, but they also experienced the satisfaction of learning something new. It has been a great experience for them,” Woodard said.

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