Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Learn How to Use Pixar in a Box with Your Students

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- Hey everyone, this is Jeremy Schieffelin

from Khan Academy.

Thanks so much for joining us in a long running series

of Remote Learning 101.

It's gone on a little longer than we expected

at the beginning back in March, but we're happy to serve you

with whatever is most of interest.

We've heard from a lot of teachers across the country.

They say Yeah, technology is hard

and academics are hard right now.

But motivation and engagement, sparking

that fundamental curiosity and passion for learning

is really the toughest thing to summon

when everyone's feeling a little down.

And so into that void, has stepped

this amazing Khan Academy Ambassador, Laura gas,

who is an incredible sixth grade teacher

in Southern California, and who even before

this crisis started, highly motivating her students

with a very special part of Khan Academy that was built

in collaboration with Pixar, which is called Pixar in a box.

Basically, an online curriculum that's not about calculus,

or algebra or AP U.S. History,

but about how do you tell really amazing stories

using both human ingenuity and technology.

And so, I would love for you to learn

from Laura about her experience and her recommendations.

And I wanna give you a little bit of an extra bonus today.

In the spirit of Pixar and innovation,

we're gonna try a new way of asking questions

for these webinars.

So instead of just asking questions in the question box,

and then waiting to see if your question will be answered,

we're actually gonna use a new tool,

which you gonna find

I will chat that into the chat area right now.

And what you will find when you get there, is a list

of questions coming in from teachers across the country

that you can not only add to, but you can also upvote.

So if you see question that you're really excited about,

just go ahead and give it a thumbs up,

and those will rise to the top.

And those are the ones that will turn to Laura first

to make sure they get priority answers.

So that being said, Laura, we're so excited

to have you here today.

- Thank you - Thank you again

for sharing your expertise in the midst

of everything else going on.

Take a moment to tell us about

your own educational adventure

and how you got to this moment.

- Well, I'm a teacher here in Southern California.

I've been teaching about 20 years now.

And I teach in Victor Elementary School District,

at a school called Galileo Academy.

And I've been there teaching, I taught third grade

then sixth grade, is what I'm currently teaching right now.

- That's awesome, and tell us how things are going,

like how is the remote learning going for you?

What are you learning along the way?

- Well, I've become much more technological (laughing).

We've been really doing a lot of zoom classes

and it's been really great.

I'm able to see the kids still, and the kids are able

to see me and I'm still able to give them some,

a lot of different lessons.

Today We even took a virtual tour

of the Great Wall of China.

So, it was pretty neat.


- That's awesome.

Well clearly I can tell that you're really focused on

that engagement and motivation piece,

as well as the technology piece.

So, why don't you tell us a little bit more

about Pixar in a Box?

Like, what is it?

And why did you use it in your classroom in the first place?

- Well, one of the reasons why I started using it,

I actually started out as an elective.

We were able to choose, each one of us were able to choose

an elective, something that we really enjoyed doing,

and not something that I really enjoyed doing.

I really think that Pixar in a Box is,

the art of storytelling by storytellers.

Which is pretty fantastic.

And so the last couple of years, I thought,

this is such a fantastic, just these lessons

are just amazing that I'm gonna actually use them

in my writing block

rather than just using them as an elective.

And the kids, absolutely into it.

They really have blossomed as writers

and they really enjoy the process too.

- That's awesome.

And so tell us how you typically use it with your students.

Like how do you roll it out?

How do you get them excited about it?

- Well, we usually do lessons per day but, say for example,

the very first lessons.

So we'll go to the art of storytelling.

And in the art of storytelling,

it's just so fantastic, all of those different lessons

are just all about the storytelling.

So the first thing that I like to do,

is I'd like to show a Pixar short.

What's amazing is Pixar has so many fantastic shorts

and they are short and it's so great for the kids

to be able to tell back the story and they'll be able

to use those to help tell their stories.

So we start with, we are storytellers.

I don't think that the kids realize

what great storytellers they truly are.

They just don't know how to tell that story.

Or, you know, and they learn how to do it in a Pixar way.

So, first they learn what amazing storytellers they are.

In the first lesson, it talks about the characters

and the unique perspective of characters.

And what we do is, it's so relatable

to the kids because once we watch the videos,

because that's another really important piece,

there's always a video on there and Pixar

has allowed us to see a lot of the different stories

that come from people who actually work at Pixar

that they are able to share their stories about

how they became storytellers.

So, then when it asks the student to do is then allows

the student to self Reflect.

But what's great is most of these kids have already seen

these Pixar movies.

So, they'll ask you, pick your three favorite, Okay.

Now let's apply what we've learned.

So, if there are like, for example, in the first activity

it's about, you know, the emotions

and it's about really starting to try to express a memory

that they have.

So, they'll take it and they'll put it in the same concept

as that memory is a story that I can expand on.

So that's what it asks the kids to actually draw

on their own experiences to be able to

tell those stories, which they soon find out

that they are now storytellers.

And then we work into just the structure

of the story or that I've loved the what if activities.

In one of them, the what if this happened or that happened.

And what's fantastic is you can take,

say, "The Incredibles", and then I'll ask the kids,

well, who asked what if?

What is that What if they asked?

And they'll be able to tell me exactly

what if there were superheroes

that couldn't be superheroes anymore?

Well, so there's your story.

And that's how you can start it.

And then after that, we'll work into character.

The kids will start creating their characters

which is really fantastic because once they really get

their character developed, because we spend

a lot of time on developing that one character.

So once they get the character developed using

that internal and external characteristics,

they have to draw the character, they have to tell me

who is this?

Do they have a list?

Do they limp?

You know, and so they have to really define

their characters really well.

And so once they can define that character,

they can then put the character into a world.

So then we talk about setting, Okay.

Let's go ahead

and we'll talk about, what kind

of world do you want to live in.

And I love that one piece where it talks about

the wants versus needs.

Because it's an amazing way to start the story.

They can, what does your character want?

And what do they need to do to be able to go

and get what they want?

And then after we get our character,

we wanna know, you know, What's happening to the character?

Where are their stakes?

You know, those kinds of things.

Then we start looking into the story structure,

which is where the kids really start to develop

their story itself.

The one thing that's absolutely amazing is this story spine.

This story's spine is just something

that gets their juices really flowing.

The once upon a time, every day until one day

and then because of that, because of that,

because of that, until finally.

And it's a great way to start the story.

Sometimes what we'll do in class is, I'll put up

the story spine and I say, "Okay kids, tell me

"once upon a time."

And we'll do it in a group and then the kids

will tell me once upon, and then I said,

"Okay now, every day what did they do?"

And then somebody will tell me, this thought

or the other thing.

And then we'll have a class story that we can repeat

and we Just have a really good time with that,

because sometimes they turn out pretty funny.

- You could even do that over Zoom this days,

have that sort of like, class wide story building.

- And then after we work through the story spine,

I love that, the spine then turns into three different acts.

So then we have act one.

And then we have the three, there's act one,

beginning, middle and end.

Act one is the once upon a time, every day, until one day.

So then we work through act one.

And then we go on to act two, which is the because of,

because of, because of,

and we've worked through that and they get

their middle meat part of the story.

And then finally, we'll go on to act three,

and that's until finally and then ever since then.

And then they have a story, which is really fantastic.

And then after that, what we do

is then we'll start storyboarding our story.

So we'll work through that and they can see

what their story is gonna look like.

And then once they have their story, we were talking

a little bit earlier about, then they have,

then they really get excited about writing

their story into a script.

So what we then do is we go to, there's an extension

in Chrome, that is youMeScript.

And the kids can download this into their Chromebooks

and they can actually write a script.

So, they end up having a complete story's full script.

And sometimes we talk about, we're doing this

and we're gonna go from beginning script to screen and,

so sometimes, if we end up being able to have

a little bit more time, we can maybe recorded it

or do a live action or sometimes they can do claymation

and do a stop motion.

And so they get a complete story.

But the other wonderful thing about this, we've been talking

about narrative for a while here.

This also, I have used in expository

which has been really great.

We will study something like the ancient cultures.

And so what we'll do is, I will give them a prompt

and tell them, "okay, now you are the character

"in this ancient culture."

So now you can then, they have to do the research

on their ancient culture, they have to find out everything

there is to know about that culture because they have

to be able to write the setting for that.

And then they can have an adventure.

In the meantime, they're also learning

how to write an expository to be able to show

an ancient culture or even scientist,

they can become scientists too.

- That's awesome.

- Yeah.

- I have to tell you like, I am super impressed because

not only is everything you shared the kind of stuff

that I think any student would love to work

on during normal times, it's a special kind of material

that a student could work on,

even in these very strange times, whether it's with

the class or Zoom or on their own through assignments.

- Yeah.

- That being said, I know there are a tonne

of questions coming in.

I do wanna remind folks

that if you wanna ask those questions,


And if you don't mind, Laura, I'd love to start at the top

with some of the top questions coming in.

Okay, so I think this is kind of the elephant in the room

at this point, which is Laura is a sixth grade teacher.

But do you have any recommendations as far as like,

would this work for younger elementary,

would you recommend it all the way up to high school,

like who is this really for?

- Well, I'm actually going to be,

next year I'm going to be doing third grade

and I am gonna use it in my third grade class.

I think this can be used for all ages.

If you're in kindergarten and first grade, you can do it

as a directed instruction and they do it a talk through

in kindergarten and first grade, and even Second grade.

Once you get to third grade, I think this

is really something that they can absolutely do as well.

When you reach the sixth grade is just gonna be

a little bit more sophisticated writing, they're gonna

have a little bit more, the language is gonna look

a little bit different.

But this can be used, I would suggest in kindergarten first

and maybe even second, for it to be a whole class direct

and maybe write a story all together.

But third through six, it works out wonderfully.

- Great, and we'll also mention, we've talked mostly about

the storytelling element.

But there are a number of technical sections focused

on animation and visual design and all that.

And those are actually recommended for fifth grade

all the way through high school with some of the chances

to really apply advanced offerings, if your students

are hungry for that.

So, definitely serves a wide range.

- Yes, yes.

I'd use the animation in my sixth grade class,

but some of my kids will come and tell me,

"Oh, we've already done this, you know,

"we did this when I was in fourth grade,

"or we did this when I was in fifth grade."

So, it depends on, if the kids really loved it.

Just really go in there and try and use it.

- Very cool, and then, in terms of actually finding it,

I'll send out this link again,

but it's basically, right here in your chat.

And if you ever have any trouble hunting it down,

just flat out type Pixar into the search box,

and there you go.


So, next question that was coming in is,

that unit that you describe a storytelling

all the way from coming up with inspiration,

to building a finished script,

how long does it typically take Laura?

- Well, it depends on the group.

And, I think it's really important to when the kids

are really working hard

and they are so interested in these things.

Take as much time as the kids wanna take.

I typically will do a lesson a day,

but there's quite a few times when I'll take, like

the character development, sometimes

they'll take maybe two to three days, because we really want

to get that character really down.

So, we can put him or her into, or it, into a whole bunch

of different situations.

So, I would typically do it,

maybe a lesson every two days or so.

The first couple of lessons are gonna take maybe,

you know, an hour.

But as you work through it and start getting into

the meat of it, the act, the three acts,

that's gonna take a little bit longer,

maybe two to three weeks to get through that.

But it's typically, we work on trimesters.

So typically, in a trimester I can have

all the Lessons finished.

- That's great.

So it sounds like if a teacher started right now,

depending on when their school schedule goes through,

they could probably finish it up

by the end of the school year.

You'd have a nice thing to end the summer with.

- Yes, Yes, I think so.

- Great.

Now going back to the sort of mathematical piece

that we alluded to, the more technical side of things.

Can you talk about how that works, what that looks like,

and how you may incorporate math into some of that?

- Well, that's mostly for the ones that,

when you look at the Pixar in the Box

when you're looking at, there's with the animation,

they are working through math with third in artistry.

So, they're just learning how to plot and how to program,

how to do the animation, how they're using animations.

So, really in the animation there,

that's where they're using the mouthpiece there.

We don't do it as much but,

the kids get right in there.

And with the animation, there are so many tutorials in there

that actually show them exactly what to do.

And they plot it out for the kids.

And it's so exciting with the one

that you're showing round now with a bouncing ball,

they get so excited when they get the bouncing ball.

But most of the kids will go right in there,

and plot it themselves.

- Very cool.

And then just sort of expand upon

what we were talking about before.

For each of these more technical sections,

there's both an introduction,

and then a more advanced mathematical section.

So if you have fifth graders, you can start with

the intro and stop there.

If you have middle or high schoolers,

you can even go all the way to the end.

- Exactly.

- Great.

What do you think about this

as a whole course versus supplement?

Think it goes back to

that elective versus integrated approach?

- Well, I have to say that when I gave it

as an elective, I only had an hour, maybe a couple of days

a week, and the kids wanted more, more and more.

And because they've really enjoyed it,

they also enjoy watching the Pixar movies in short.

So everybody wanted to be in

that particular elective.

But, I think that this is such an incredible program,

Pixar in the Box, that it it helps the students so much

with their writing and their writing block.

I think it's just, I use it in my writing block,

and I will continue to use it in my writing book

for my whole class, from now on because,

I just think the quality of their writing

that's coming out is fantastic.

And then when they writing in the scripts,

they also start learning about dialogue,

and they also start learning about,

they learn about how to place the action

and those sorts of things

and, I just like it.

I would recommend doing it as a writing block.

- Wonderful.

I know folks are asking about Google Classroom,

which is something that you mentioned to me before

we got started here.

What do you recommend there as far as the integration?

- Well, I really have to say, Khan Academy has done

an amazing, and Pixar together, have done an amazing job

with creating the Pixar in a Box when the lesson.

So the lessons are just right there for you.

But then what I would do is, I would go ahead

and create a Google Classroom.

And then you can share that with your students

and that gives your students an opportunity

to start adding all of the lessons there, so you can see

all the different things they're doing.

I've had quite a few students, what they'll do is

they'll take pictures of their character

with them, side by side and they'll send that to me.

You can have each, you can separate your Google Classroom

into different activities.

Start with the storytelling activity 1, 2, 3, 4

and then work it that way.

And then you're able to see what the kids are able

to create when you're there.

And then we also do, you know,

our distance learning Zoom meetings, and kids are able

to share all of their information that way too.

But I think Google Classroom is probably one

of the best ways to get some assignments and be able

to give your kids some feedback on how well they're doing.

- That's great.

And so we do something as simple as take that URL right out

of the assignment or the exercise, and then paste it

into an assignment in Google Classroom.

- That's it.

- Okay, cool.

That's awesome.

As far as a teacher guide, obviously it's gonna feel

a little overwhelming at first cause it's such

a big piece of content.

Any sort of resources you found that are useful for like,

digging in and making those first steps.

- Well, again, when you're going

to the Pixar in a Box, what I would suggest doing

is just looking at that educators guide

and it really will explain a lot of the,

what's behind Pixar on a box?

And how the lessons were created.

And I would just go through each one of the lessons.

And teachers are just amazing kinds of people,

they always take things and they do it

and make it their own.

Some of the things that I have done, I have added

a little bit to their learning.

So really look at it and try to make it your own.

You might see something and go, "Oh, this is fantastic.

"That's why I added bragging scripts to it."

I would suggest going through each, look at

that educators guide and then I would actually look

through each one of the lessons.

And they're pretty straightforward

because they've done a great job at explaining exactly

what they want the student to learn.

- That's awesome.

Okay we shared that link there.

I know someone else is asking for a link to

that script writing extension, we'll put that in as well.

Let's see what else here.

Can we see a finished product?

You don't have to violate any

of your student's confidentiality or PII,

but can you give folks a sense of like,

what your sixth graders are coming up with?

- Well, I've been getting a lot of stories about unicorns.


A lot of pictures of unicorns and things like that.

I wish I could, I had some of those things,

but we left before we got to get

a lot of the finished products.

But, a lot of the students, some of the students

will come up with amazing narrative scripts about things

that are happening in their own lives,

and, I just I wish I had some to show you

but, you're gonna be amazed at what you find

and what you guys are gonna get.

Some of the pictures that they draw for me

and then with the characteristics, you have to draw on

the outside, the external and then the inside, the internal

and some of the pictures these guys are sending me,

you can tell they really enjoy it.

- That's awesome and especially right now I think.

You know, like talking about

the really tough emotions of this moment.

And for students to have an outlet to share

how they're feeling, even

if it's through a fictional scripts,

like it's so powerful to be able to get that out there.

- Yeah.

- Okay.

As far as the scripting piece, I don't know if you're able

to speak to this Laura, but have you heard

of anyone doing something similar on an iPad,

if they don't have access to Chromebooks?

Maybe a scripting app or something like that.

- You should be able to, if you go into Chrome

and you're opened up, you should be able to access

the YouMeScript on any device that you have.

I haven't had any one tell me that they haven't been able

to access it because it's an actual, app that comes from

the Chrome Web Store.

- Yeah. - So if you

have Chrome you should be able to find and have it.

- So it looks like the extension is a nice thing if you do

have Chromebooks, but even if you just have a web browser,

like Safari on an iPad, you can still go to

and get started it looks like.

- you should be able to do that.


- Great.

Then sort of the question around,

isolation versus whole unit,

obviously, there's a huge cornucopia of lessons here.

Do you think it's okay just to sort of pick and choose,

like hey, if they wanna do a little bit of geometry

or a little bit of stat, or is it really better

to go through that full unit of storytelling?

- Well, it's better to go from beginning to end,

especially with storytelling.

Now with the animation,

some of them build upon the other ones.

So it's really better to go in the sequence

of how the lessons are provided for you.

- Makes sense, Yeah, I think storytelling is such a like,

additive cumulative process, that you don't wanna just dip

in and out for that one.

What about this question, especially for younger students.

So maybe like, sixth graders and below,

obviously anytime you have students who are under 13,

there are very specific policies in place

when it comes to technology.

Do your students actually have Khan Academy logins,

or is that actually irrelevant?

Every single one of my kids has Khan Academy login.

That's one thing that we have emphasized.

It's been incredible to be able

to be a Khan Academy ambassador because I've been able to,

specifically at my site, be able to show

all the teachers how to get on Khan Academy,

how to get their classroom set up, all of that.

And so they are able to, every single one

of our teachers are able to use Khan Academy

and they all have their own accounts on Khan Academy.

- Great, I'll just mention like, I think that's probably

the best scenario in the sense that that way, you can track

their progress using Khan Academy reports

and things like that.

However, I know these are very different circumstances

than we're used to.

And so if you're just like, I wanna roll this out,

but I don't have time for another platform, another set

of passwords, like we were just saying a second ago,

you can always come over to Google Classroom

or whatever LMS is, and just flat out paste the URL in.

Anyone can access it, even without a login.

- Right. - and then just say,

"Hey, send me your finished product.

"Send me your brainstorm, send me your script,

"send me whatever."

And then, your students get all the benefit

of all this goodness, without having

to create another password, another registration process.

So, just throwing it out there.

Let's see here.

Here's a really interesting question

around special education students.

So actually, we did a session dedicated to this audience

a couple weeks ago, which was one

of our most registered sessions ever.

And there's a real concern right now

that I think, every student feels like

they're being left behind in some ways,

but special education students have unique challenges

that we have to solve as educators right now.

Do you think that this program could work

for that audience and drive that same level of engagement?

- Yeah absolutely.

I work pretty closely with our special ed team.

And I'll go back to when I was doing it as an elective.

I had some of the kids that were from sped

that came into my classroom and they were going through

all the lessons together with us.

But we work closely together and I absolutely,

some of those sped kids have great imaginations,

and i think that they can do it without any problems.

- Cool.

Yeah, it does feel like this is really happening something,

pretty universal in this moment,

which is our desire to tell our stories.

And doesn't matter where you're coming from or whatever,

like this is a chance to really have that outlet.

- Great.

- Cool.

Well, I know we're at the bottom of the hour,

and I wanna respect your time law,

cause I know you have your own students to serve.

Any final words of wisdom that you

wanna leave your fellow educators with, as they go off

on their own journeys.

- Like I say, Pixar in a Box,

it's just the art of storytelling.

And we are gonna create a generations,

if we continue to use this.

We're gonna create a generation of storytellers,

which I think is gonna be fantastic.

And, I would just keep plugging away and, like I say,

it's very straightforward, it's pretty easy to use,

and, you just can't imagine the wonderful stories

that you're gonna get from your kids.

- Cool.

I think that's what we all need

a little bit more of right now.

Right, thank you for sharing your story, Laura.

And then I wish everyone else incredible adventures yet

to come and stories yet to be written.

And please, please, please wish you all incredible success

on that tough road ahead.

Thank you so much, Laura.

Thanks to everyone.

Hi y'all.

The Description of Learn How to Use Pixar in a Box with Your Students