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Students really animated by computer class

February 12, 2014|By Jennifer Lane, Special to the Independent
  • Leroyce Hernandez helps Jackson Williams, 12, during a visual animation class at Dwyer Middle School in Huntington Beach.
Leroyce Hernandez helps Jackson Williams, 12, during… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Students use computers — and their imaginations — to bring to life pirates walking on ships, pumpkins talking, oranges getting bruised and balls bouncing in the ACME Animation class at Ethel Dwyer Middle School in Huntington Beach.

The class, which is taught by Leroyce Hernandez, instructs beginning and advanced students on, of course, how to use computer software to make cartoons, but also on how to prepare for and execute a presentation, as well as give and receive feedback.

"The best thing about the class is getting to work with partners, and seeing other people's animations is pretty awesome," said student Sapphire Brilliant, 13.

One of her projects features an orange rolling off the top of a refrigerator and bouncing, causing the skin to bruise. She also made a Halloween cartoon featuring a singing pumpkin and colorful costumed characters.

Though she enjoys art, and even took some art classes, they just never stuck. But Sapphire, who is also a teacher's aide, loves the animation class.

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"The cool thing is you don't even have to be good at drawing to create animations. They can look cool anyway," she said.

Most projects, she said, take roughly two to three days to complete, though sometimes students are given a week to a week and a half.

One of the most fundamental parts of the class, according to Hernandez, is similar to learning to write: the revision process.

"I always tell the students you never get it right the first time," she said. "Even professionals don't get it right the first time."

That is why the students go through various steps with their projects. The first part of the process is the creation, followed by an informal presentation, where students pitch their ideas to two peers.

"They tell the students what story they are trying to tell through the animation, and then the students comment on whether that was conveyed and what they can work on to improve," Hernandez said.

The students take the feedback, revise their work and then schedule and give a formal presentation. Their classmates then critique that presentation.

"The students follow a three-step process during peer review," the teacher said. "They comment on something they like, then something that could be improved, and end on a positive note."

Sapphire said the students are great about giving feedback.

"Everyone is nice about it," she said. "It may be scary the first time you present, but after that it is a lot of fun because everyone gives feedback."

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