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Teaching Flash in Middle School

For the 2003-2004 academic year, I volunteered to teach a digital media course in my son's middle school class at the Woodinville Montessori School. The middle school is very small, only 20 students for all of 7-9th grades. My class was 8 students.

After a few weeks, it became clear that the form of digital media that excited them the most was the web, and that web animation was the most exciting of all. So, we decided to see if we could learn Flash. I didn't actually know how to use Flash myself, but had always wanted to learn. We downloaded trial versions of Flash MX 2004, and to my delight, they immediately began to make little movies.

Macromedia offered a very good academic price for Flash, so each student was able to buy a copy to use throughout the school year. All of the students learned basic timeline animation, tweening, and how to add sound to Flash files. Many of the students used a microphone to sing or narrate their animations, as well as including their favorite songs. Some of the students also learned ActionScript, which is the scripting language for Flash. Many of these students produced games, including one competent implementation of Pong.

By the end of the class, we had produced a website showcasing the students' work. The main pages were designed by one of the students using Microsoft Publisher. Another student designed the logo. All of the students produced portfolios of their work, so naturally I had to make one too. Enjoy!

One of the students become so enthusiastic that he created a movie for each person in the Middle School, including the teachers. Here I am, courtesy of Robert, with gray hair, blue jeans, and all three of the family cats. Click on the image to see the movie. Warning: it is very weird and full of obscure references.

I enjoyed myself so much that I decided to teach the class again in 2005-2006. Once again, we created a class web site, and a good time was had by all.