During my practicum at West Van Secondary, I tried out an assignment with my Art West students using .gif technology. These students were fairly experienced with digital technology and were advanced users of photoshop, so I had them create .gif animations using photoshop as the final assignment for our unit on illustration. Most students chose to hand-draw the frames for the animation, then photograph and upload them into photoshop were they completed the animation, however one students chose to create the whole drawing using digital software (see below.)
When I moved to Mulgrave School and began working with the younger students (grade 7-8), I wanted to do another .gif assignment but knew I would not be able to have the students make it in photoshop because the technology was not available and most students had never worked in the program before.
Luckily, a couple free websites exist that do all the work for you, making this assignment accessible for nearly any age level!
www.gifcreator.me and www.gifmaker.me are two very similar sites that allow you to build .gif animations easily using any collection of .jpeg images. For the younger students, I had them hand draw 4-6 frames for the animation, using light tables or a window to help quickly reproduce the images. The key is to have each image just slightly different from the last image, so that when played quickly in succession, the image appears to move (just like a traditional flip book.)Then, students photographed their work using their cell-phones or the digital cameras in the classroom, and uploaded it to the website where they can modify the speed, music, and size of the animation.
In the future, I would also like to do this assignment with photography that students have taken, to make real-life gifs!
While .gifs are an awesome way to introduce students to simple animation in art class, they can also be used in any other classroom subject area by students to show their understanding of a concept, process, or skill.
Additionally, .gifs can be created and used by the teacher as a teaching tool. For a class on multiliteracies, I created a slideshow using gifs synced to music to show the steps involved in darkroom processing in a way that was more engaging and descriptive than the textbook I had in my practicum classroom.