Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Middle School, The Gimp, and Copyright Choices

Things have been humming along in the sixth through eighth grade. I am working on the students knowledge of copyright and the existence of Creative Commons. They took the survey during the first week of September (see the results at the end of the post).

Putting Knowledge to Work
I wanted the students to have ownership of a digital project to practice copyright and Creative Commons first hand. The sixth grade created a personal avatar, seventh created a personal logo (think Coca Cola), and the eighth grade is making an animated aquarium. Once their design is complete, we will be uploading the images to our wiki. This is our first time using PBwiki. The students will be choosing how they would like to license their image. We viewed several videos at the Creative Commons website: Wanna Work Together, Building on the Past, and Mix Tape. This has introduced the concept of selecting a license based on how you want others to use your work.

Learning to Use Gimp
Each of the classes had several lessons in using the Gimp software. One day, we explored the paintbrush, the clone tool, paint, and patterns. On another day, we explored the paintbucket, gradients, the smudge tool, and the various selectors (rectangle, circle, and lasso).

Understanding the Need to Export
Once all those tools were explored, each student created three images and save them as Gimp files. Next they saved them again as JPEG images and imported those files into Word. All these experiences readied the students for creating their own image in the sixth and seventh grade.

Animation is Awesome
The eighth grade learned how to create layers. Gimp makes it so easy to animate a set of layers. At the end of the layer name, you put a bit of text in parenthesis which sets the timing for each layer. For example: (1000 ms) will instruct Gimp to show that particular layer for 1000 milliseconds.

The Filters menu option has an Animation sub-option with a Playback feature. Each layer is shown in the window in a manner similar to a flip book. Next week we will save the images as GIFs so they can be placed online.

In Case You Were Wondering
Survey Results

1. You are making a video for your classmates at the end of the year with photos of everyone from the last nine years of school. You own Martina McBride's song "Blessed". You include the whole track with a large selection of photos. Is this fair use? Yes/ No

42% of all 7th and 8th graders correctly thought it WAS NOT fair use.

2. You work to put together parts of news clips from ABC, CBS, and NBC on a computer video. You like it so much, you want to put it on a CD the school sells to promote the projects students create. Is this fair use? Yes/ No

72% correctly thought this WAS NOT fair use.

3. You interview people in Cranford about their roles in 9/11. It is loaded on the Saint Michael School web site to demonstrate your work. Another school in the US downloads the video clips for a 9/11 night. Is this fair use? Yes/ No

40% correctly thought this WAS fair use.

4. You write the DAR essay and find a web site that really provides great information on spies in the American Revolution. You cut and paste sections into the report. You don't include it in your bibliography. What is this called? Copyright/ Fair Use/ Plagiarism

74% correctly called this PLAGIARISM.

5. You created a project about topics you are learning in science class. It is so good, your teacher wants to post it on the school wiki. You found photos on the NASA and Discovery Channel's web sites. Which photos have to be removed from the project? NASA/ Discovery Channel/ All/ None

32% correctly thought DISCOVERY CHANNEL information needed to be removed because it is a commercial enterprise.


  1. Your effort in sharing your resources and ideas are much appreciated Ann. I am teaching a Tech 8 class this year on a 4 day rotation. We just did some work on internet safety

    We are beginnning to look at copyright, fairuse and creative commons. I really like that you got the kids to make an orginial animation that they can choose the type creative common license. I'm sure that would make it all the more meaningful to them!

  2. Opps meant to for the second URL.

  3. It's good to hear from you! My (now) seventh grade students were asking how you were recently.

    Thank you for including links to your wikis. I really like to see how others approach these subjects. We work on Internet safety a little bit every year. There is a great little video using Disney clips to explain fair use.

    Is the Tech 8 class a year long class? If so, let's brainstorm a little later in the school year. I know my seventh grade would really like to do something again this year. We could do something with the eighth grade if you prefer.