Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Digital Imaging Supplement -- Shape

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Digital Imaging Supplement -- Shape

Article excerpt

Case Study: Savannah R-III school district.

Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premier Software Enrich Learning for Gifted, Educationally Motivated Students (GEMS)

The 40 Gifted, Educationally Motivated Students (GEMS) in the Savannah R-III Elementary School attend regular classes four days a week, studying topics such as social studies, history, mathematics and English. One day each week, however, they come under the tutelage of Byron Williamson, the district's GEMS teacher, whose job is to stretch the gifted students' capabilities, inspiring them to reach new heights of creativity, confidence and resourcefulness. For dramatically enriching the learning experience and enabling his 8- to 12-year-old students to explore topics in new ways, Williamson taps the power of computers and Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere software. "This software lets the GEMS develop superb communication skills and create work that is highly professional," says Williamson. "They can easily keep revising and becoming more creative, improving upon their ideas. The results are often astonishing."

Learn by Doing

When Williamson's fifth-grade GEMS class began studying Australia in social studies, he invited them to explore the topic in-depth by creating a five-minute video news show. This would not only let students learn more about the country, but also hone their public speaking skills and memorization abilities. The eight students began by conducting comprehensive research about Australia's history, geology and even its dialect. They selected anchorpersons and reporters, wrote the script and hand-painted set backdrops, including a huge map of Australia. After shooting video footage for each story segment, the students reported on what they had learned, speaking in Australian accents and using common slang phrases. Students edited the news show together using Adobe Premiere. "Premiere is so intuitive," says Williamson. "My students are immediately able to use the software to add sophisticated titles, transitions and other elements, then export their footage back out to videotape."

Williamson notes that the Adobe programs share many of the same tools, commands, palettes and keyboard shortcuts to promote quick learning and efficiency. Students usually hone their skills with Photoshop, the GEMS program's standard program for image editing, and print and Web publishing. Once they have mastered the basics of this mainstay tool, Williamson finds it easy to extend students' skills to other software programs like After Effects and Premiere.

Creating Web Sites

The integrated Adobe environment enables students to create Web sites or printed reports that incorporate sophisticated images or visually rich videos and animations. Students can easily import layered Photoshop artwork into Premiere or After Effects, or publish it on the Web. In 2000, the GEMS used Photoshop to create visually compelling content for a Web site focusing on the Missouri River -- its history, Lewis and Clark, steamboats, wildlife and the students' own experiments with flow rates. The project presents scientific information, but also tests their knowledge through a series of quizzes.

Telling a Story

For another assignment, students were asked to create a one-minute animated cartoon telling a story. A major goal for the assignment was to encourage the students to develop their communication skills. In a remarkable feat of creativity and imagination, 8-year-old Zachary Beattie created an animation of a pterodactyl that grabs a ball and flies around with it. When the pterodactyl drops the ball, it breaks open to reveal another pterodactyl, which breaks open to reveal another, and so on. In the end, the pterodactyl flies to a nest where a baby pterodactyl is leaping up and down.

After developing a script for the animation, Beattie scanned sketches into Photoshop, where he colored the artwork and added sophisticated effects like gradients to make the artwork look more three-dimensional. …

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