Storytelling inspired by RSA Animate

Many of you will be familiar with the RSA Animate series, in particular the below animation that was developed to bring to life Sir Ken Robinson’s amazing TED Talk “Changing Paradigms”.  The goal of the RSA Animate series is to visualise knowledge and to spread great ideas further.  I remember being blown away by my first encounter with the series but it wasn’t until I discovered a few blog posts about teachers using the medium that it even registered as a possibility.

In my role as eLearning Coordinator, I am extremely lucky that I get to work with a range of curriculum areas and after a conversation with Jess, a Year 10 Humanities teacher, we decided to use the RSA Animate approach to demonstrate student understanding of a particular battle of World War II.  I first collected and curated an Edcanvas series to show to students.  Section 1 showed another example of the RSA Animate series (Dan Pink’s great TED Talk – Drive), section 2 showed a student example and then section three contained instructions that I thought would work for this particular approach.  As it was a work in progress, these instructional steps were only basic guidelines.

Edcanvas on RSA Animations

The content for the story was an essay that students had already written as part of their course assessment.  These essays were great and captured key elements of World War II but there was no narrative.  The challenge for each group was to develop a written and visual narrative that would capture the attention of their audience.

Students split into groups of four and had to cover the following roles as a group: Narrator, Script writer, script editor, illustrator, camera operator and video editor.  The script was largely developed from the essay with a particular focus on creating a “story flow”.  The next step was to storyboard the script with visuals.  Some groups decided to use the large white paper you see below to document this and others used the whiteboard in partnership with smaller images (put together like a jigsaw piece).

The next phase was the recording and editing process.  As the sound from the initial recording was going to be removed, this really allowed students to collaborate and talk through the next illustration, about hand positioning (Was it blocking the screen?), the size and quality of the image and general teenage banter.  Actually, good thing the sound was removed on a lot of these!!  Jess and I both agreed that the highlights from using this methodology were the increase in student autonomy and motivation, the rise in performance of generally disengaged students and the depth of knowledge and understanding of each group’s own chosen battle.  After all the editing was done, we had a film festival and set up a Socrative assessment (multiple choice only) that students completed whilst watching another group’s video.  This was done so that the audience engaged with the video as opposed to just consuming it.  Below I have attached the process that we settled on at the end of this unit as well as a finished example.  Tips for next time – use tripods from the start, teach students about good audio recording strategies and highlight the need for the visuals to support and enhance the script, not just retell it with illustrations.

Thanks for reading!
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