Monday, April 27, 2015

The One Where I Share All Things OSMO

I've been aware of the Osmo for about a year and watched its development from afar. About 6 weeks ago, I saw this video and knew I had to have one in my classroom:

Osmo was designed with the idea of playing "Beyond the screen". It is a really simple idea and product but it transforms the iPad. So the Osmo is basically a white cradle for your iPad to sit in and a red reflector clip that attaches at the top. Inside the clip is a mirror. This mirror takes the video camera of the iPad and projects it down to the table space in front of it. This allows for the iPad to "see" what is going on and respond. 

There are currently 4 Osmo Apps for the iPad:

Words: Students use letter tiles and slide them in front of the iPad to correctly spell words. This can be done cooperatively or in a Versus mode. The best part is that teachers can upload their own pictures/word lists for their students to use. I recently uploaded pictures of the class and they played in Versus mode, trying to spell all their classmates names correctly. My next big project will be to upload Words Their Way lists and Pearson Reading Street Vocabulary lists.

Four of My Students in a Spelling Challenge in Versus Mode

Tangrams: In this App, students use included tangram pieces to create the various shapes they see on the screen. While this seems fairly basic it gets a lot more complex as the student continues through the levels.
A Cat Made with Osmo Tangrams

Newton: In the Newton App, tiny little balls drop from the top of the screen. Students try to get them to hit targets elsewhere on the screen. To do this, they can draw lines and shapes on paper, the app will "see" them and the balls will bounce off them in different directions. The app will also see any items they put in front of it and the balls will move off of them as well (pencils, erasers, keys, books, their own fingers, etc.) This one develops spatial relations, cause and effect, and problem solving skills. 
The Newton App in Action
Masterpiece: This brings us to the app called Masterpiece. The App I bought the Osmo for (in the first place, at least). The App we have used most in my classroom of 4th graders. Masterpiece is AMAZING. Take a picture of someone or something OR search for something online and import it in. The App takes the photo and turns it into a line drawing which it then projects down in front of the iPad. Put a piece of paper in front of the Osmo and get drawing! I've had students draw everything from wolves and snakes to Groot, Thor, and the Tardis. And, maybe best of all? The entire time you are drawing, it is recording you (well - your hands, the pencil, and paper) and when you are done it creates a 20 second video file that's about 6MB in size (very small) that can be saved and shared (See some examples below)

A Student Drawing a Picture of an Ocelot

Another of my Students Drawing a Picture of Her Mother
While all of the Apps are very inventive and amazing, the rest of my post is going to focus mainly on the Masterpiece App. I know some people might look at it and think, "What's the big deal? They're just tracing." I met with some veteran art teachers and asked their thoughts on Masterpiece. This is the response I received. Masterpiece.......

  • Builds fine motor skills.
  • Helps develop stamina for doing tasks that are longer and require more attention
  • Builds fine motor muscle strength.
  • Teaches students to pay closer attention to details of art such as thick and thin lines, shape, shading, shadows, composition, size. All of which are some of the elements and principles of art. The core foundation to a beginning artist.
  • Students learn so much from this type of observation and tracing that it helps with overall memory and drawing from the brain in years to come, rather than only working from images.
  • Through tracing, students are emulating other art works/artists and thus learning to draw in the style of a particular image. Which helps them to begin to understand art styles and learn multiple ways to draw.
  • Tracing is a stepping stone to being able to draw free hand and independently. It promotes line control and quality

And with the video recording component:
  • Students can record their drawing and it would help us and the students analyze their drawing in order to see where changes need to be made such as pencil grip, movement and much more. A great way to show process and growth in fine motor skills and muscle strength. Not to mention just a great teaching tool to use as demonstrations and as a critique. 
What do students think of it? I had some of my 4th graders eMail me their thoughts and here is an unfiltered sample of them:
  • My experience with the Osmo was amazing. The Osmo is an attachment for the iPad or iPad mini. There are four apps you download called, Tangrams, Newton, Words, and my favorite, Masterpiece. When I drew with the Osmo I was stunned at the work of art I made. I never knew that with help from the Osmo, I could draw a husky like that. Doing it your first time can be difficult, but the next time you try, it gets easier. I think this is educational because it helps you become a better artist if you practice it. It also helps you to focus and pay attention to what you are doing. That was my experience drawing with the Osmo.
  • I LOVED using the Osmo! Since I am a great drawer, I think it was very educational because it will inspire you to draw more. I have been drawing a lot since my turn, WAY better that I used to be able to draw. (Thx Osmo!) My parents are very Impressed. The Osmo can help my little 5 year old brother draw, my 8 year old sister, my dad, me, and my mom. My grandmother too! The Osmo is an awesome IPad add on. I believe that the Osmo is great for classrooms, science fairs for drawing your project animal, thing, e.c.t. I believe that the Omso should keep up the good work!
  • My experience with the Osmo was great! I had a great time drawing Thor! It was really cool when I was done to see what I had drawn. I was very happy with how it turned out! One of the hard parts about it is following the lines. It was hard looking at the iPad but drawing on the paper. Another hard part was when it would get moved or bumped, I would have to try to put it where it was before. That was really all the hard things though. I think the masterpiece app for Osmo is educational be cause it brings out your inter-artist. It shows you that you can draw even if you think you are bad at drawing. Another way I think this could be educational is for young children. I think that you could use this to show numbers and letters on the screen and the kids can trace them. I think that will help them learn their numbers and letters.
  • I think the Osmo is super awesome! Some things I loved about it was how you could choose what you wanted to draw and it would show you the shading button and how many lines you wanted. But it was challenging because it was hard to keep your paper In place and keep the lines with your paper. It would make your hand hurt it would fall asleep and it would tingle but other than that it was amazing. Thanks for letting us use the Osmo.

The most interesting comment I read (and it appeared many times in different student's thoughts) is that they are drawing at home more now. Masterpiece has inspired them to try their hand at art again.... to become a better artist. You know... as opposed to playing video games or watching television. 

So... what uses do I see for Masterpiece in the future? I have to be honest. Even if I only had a single Osmo in my classroom, I'd probably be content to run it as a center all day, every day - running Masterepiece and have the students draw what they'd like. 

However - here are some other ideas I had:

  • Draw self portraits and use them as autobiography book covers.
  • Make a "Teacher's Gallery" at our school and have the kids draw pictures of all the staff
  • Use it in math to work with certain specific geometric concepts like symmetry, rotational symmetry, transformation, reflection, and other "geometry in motion" ideas.
  • Portfolio Covers
  • Use the ability to combine multiple images on one "Masterpiece" to have students create murals, or other artwork, that summarizes weekly reading stories or vocabulary concepts.
  • In Social Studies use it draw masterpieces of famous historical figures 
  • In Science it could be used for sections on the Solar System to draw planets or Sci-Fi planet landscape for discussions on "If there is life elsewhere in the universe"
  • To illustrate student work when writing stories.
  • To create a wall of imagery out of masterpieces that have been shrunk down and drawn on sticky notes.

So - What do you think? Can you see possibilities for Osmo in your classroom? What ideas could you add to the list above? Do you already have an Osmo? I'd love to hear from you and ways you are using it in your classroom.

I leave you with a link to a page that has a compilation of all of our Osmo Videos on it. There are a few sample below a many more if you follow the link. Enjoy: