Beyond its impressive size with 31,000 students from grades 7 to 12 spread over 20 campuses, the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) is a definite attention grabber due to its proactive and tactical pedagogic program. Following the motto "learning for a purpose" and as a supporter of the Common Core national movement, the district offers 21 career pathway programs within 13 industries to ensure its students are college and career ready upon graduation. In the Design, Visual & Media Arts as well as Media Production Arts and Production Management industry pathways, the district has adopted Flip Boom All-Star, Toon Boom Studio, Animate Pro, and Storyboard Pro.
Dealing with a student population consisting of 24% English learners speaking 48 different languages and a low-income background (63.6%), AUHSD places great emphasis on aligning to common core standards related to literacy and language development. Its remarkable commitment to career technical education has resulted in an 87.5% graduation rate and 93.7% CTE graduation rate. "Students are motivated to stay in school and embark on a career pathway. Our program is giving them choices they feel connected to and are interested in," explained Diane J. Donnelly-Toscano, Ed.D, Coordinator of Innovative Programs, at AUHSD.
On one end, AUHSD decided to implement industry-standard technology for their animation courses, hence the choice of Toon Boom products. "We have five high schools and seven junior highs that teach digital animation classes. As junior high students feed high schools, it's important to give them access to technology that will prepare them for their career pathway as they go through the school system. Carol Shaw from South Junior High pioneered this initiative and blazed the trail for other teachers to follow and achieve the same positive results as in her classroom," added Diane.
On the other end, AUHSD places great emphasis on the CTE pipeline, offering its students the possibility to explore any career pathway they want, starting at junior high up to graduation in high school and college. "Digital animation classes are not computer classes. Students need to explain concepts and develop their communication skills as per Common Core Standards, ensuring they graduate with a solid foundation that will serve them throughout their career," commented Diane. At the end of each career pathway, students are industry prepared and certified. They are fully equipped with their acquired skills and have a solid portfolio. They're aware of their options, one of them being to pursue with their feeder community college. "We have articulation agreements with colleges in surrounding the district. For example, if a student succeeds and has a good portfolio, Cypress College will grant credits for some courses to reduce tuition fees accordingly," shared Diane.
In October 2013, close to 15 business teachers were trained so that digital animation classes could be rolled out in more junior high and high schools in the district. "We have high hopes of where it'sgoing to go. Seeing the students graduate with a diploma and a certification makes us feel very proud," concluded Diane.
AUHSD has also approached Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts to further their current CTE pipeline and train the students as professional artists. Always keeping the students' advancement and interest at the forefront, their goal is to expose students to high level drawing classes, provide field experiences, and present their work at the Directors' Guild screening.
Great Success Resonating Throughout the District
Debbie Pham, animation teacher at Dale Jr High, only had praise for Flip Boom All-Star and its impact in her classroom. "I'm already teaching it for the second year and my students love the product," she stated. Firstly, she starts by introducing students to the basic skills of animation and then the history of animation. As an assignment, students create a clip that illustrates their understanding of each of the 12 animation principles. "Students must present their work to the class, which is a great communication exercise," she added.
Then students start creating cross-curriculumprojects that relate to the curriculum, namely in English, science, mathematics and history. "I teach one 45-minute period every day. Students say this is why they want to come to school; it's their best class!" shared Debbie. She works with some core subject teachers and makes it mandatory to students to do their assignments using animation. "Based on their class notes, students choose how they will do their assignments," she concluded.
At Cypress High School, the feedback is just as enthusiastic. As students are from grades 9 to 12, Toon Boom Studio and Storyboard Pro are the tools of choice, while Animate Pro is gradually introduced. Dean Delgado teaches animation as well as video production. "Students took off running with Studio and Storyboard Pro. There was a very small learning curve. I only started teaching them Animate Pro recently, so they're exploring its greater capabilities," he explained.
In the Video Production class, students use Storyboard Pro before shooting their live-action footage. "Even though they create basic storyboards, they learn the importance of preparing before filming their project," explained Dean.
As for the Animation class, he covers the principles of animation, starting from the creation of an old-style paper flipbook to digitizing it using Studio and developing stories. "The class produces short clips, interstitials, and public service announcements for the school daily announcements," stated Dean. In the next quarter, students will integrate animation in the rest of the curriculum. "Using animation for topics such as the water cycle, cell reproduction, and forces in physics reinforces the material they learn in class," added Dean.
"Overall, students have increased their level of motivation to come to school. This is a rare class in which they develop skills such as story development and self-expression, progressing in steps that go far beyond animation," he concluded.