We LOVE to share our thinking!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today our class wanted to share our thinking with you in response to a video we saw and loved from YouTube.

Last night Ms. Babalis saw a tweet made by George Stroumboulopoulos (from the CBC) about a video created during a snow blizzard.  She became curious, especially since her students are inquiring about snowflakes, and couldn't wait to show them!

The video is entitled "Projector Snow" by Brian Maffitt.

Brian created this video on February 9th, 2013 during a blizzard in New York City.  He pointed a video projector out of the window and projected a movie onto the snow.  As he states in his "about" section on YouTube, "these are results in motion."

It has been less than a week and over 255, 000 people have viewed his video.


After watching this video, I asked our kindergarten students (4-6 years of age) the following question:

If you could send a message to Brian Maffitt about his video what would it be?

R.J.: I liked your video, because it was beautiful and magical.  It reminded me of a rainbow!  I think that the snow is falling too fast!  That made the colours!

G.G.: Thank you for making the video.  I loved it, because it was colourful!  It made me feel happy, because I like colours. 

T.M.: The snow storm was making the projector keep changing colours every moment.  Why did you put the projector close to the window? 

L.N.: How did you make this video?  I was wondering this, because your video was so cool!  All different colours were coming off when the snow was falling.

Mrs. Green: I wonder how we could ask Brian how he got this idea of the projector.

Thank you to George Stroumboulopoulos for tweeting about this and for Brian Maffitt for creating it.  

How innovative indeed!!!

Please share with us your thoughts and reactions to this extraordinary moment captured in time.


  1. Dear Ms. Babalis Class,

    I was so happy to read that you had watched my video, and am very glad to answer your wonderful questions. But first I want to congratulate your teacher Ms. Babalis, who was very clever to put these questions online where I could find them! So let's see…

    RJ: That's a great observation that the colors are interesting because the snow was falling so fast. You're absolutely right! The way a projector works is it plays back a whole bunch of images one after the other, so fast that your eyes can't even tell they are a bunch of images, and your brain thinks that the picture is moving instead. And when the snow was moving slowly, just drifting around, all we see is colorful snowflakes. But then the snow started coming down harder and the wind blew quicker and the snow was moving so fast that the still images were hitting the snowflakes at different times in different places, and that's what makes all the lines of colorful dots that you see!

    GG: Thank you very much! I like colors too. One nice person on YouTube wrote to me about their two children, who are deaf. So, they couldn't hear the music, but they really liked looking at the colors!

    TM: You're right about the color changing really fast on the snow. It was sure a lot of snow and it was moving very fast too. The video is actually slowed down a little bit so you could see the snow more clearly, but you would never know, that's how fast it was moving! I shone the projector out the window because I was hoping it would make for pretty pictures, and it sure did!

    LN: Thanks for your question! I went to a window in a dark part of the house, because a snowstorm is usually mostly white, even at night, and I wanted to see the snowflakes on a dark background so they would stand out more. I set the video projector on a windowsill, pointing out into the snow (but not too far! Snow is made of water, and water might hurt a projector, and a camera. If you decide to try this yourself, make sure to have a grown-up nearby!) I also put my camera on the windowsill and pointed it into the snowflakes that were lit up by the projector's beam. Then I took lots and lots and lots of pictures, changing settings and trying different pieces of equipment, until I finally got the photos and the video that you saw.

    Mrs. Green: A few years ago I tried to use a projector in a video studio to project onto the actors to make a special effect. It worked OK, but the projector didn't really put out a lot of light for the camera that I had at the time, and so I gave up on the idea. But when the snowstorm came and I started trying to take pictures of the snow, I wondered what it might look like if the snowflakes were multi-colored… and I remembered the projector trick! So I gave it a try, and this time it worked!

    Thanks everybody for the wonderful questions! It makes me very happy that you liked my video, and I hope it inspires some of you to experiment with making your own videos!

    Yours sincerely,
    Brian Maffitt

    1. Dear Ms Babalis, Ms Ham and Ms Ali
      I wanted to share with all of you what Ms Ali (student teacher from Seneca College) and I documented during my visit to this classroom today.

      I was interested in observing and listening closely to Ms Babalis' introduction, viewing and discussion in response to Brian Maffitt's video that was shared with the children in her classroom.

      I am hoping that these shared reflections will invite other student teachers and teachers to reflect on how her values inform her teaching practices while validating children's thinking.

      While announcing what was about to happen, Ms Babalis commented on why she was inspired to share this video; it was "magical and it connected to the snowflake and colour inquiries" that the children are researching. I admired how Ms Babalis informed the children about why she was inspired by the video, how she found out about it and then acknowledged the creator of the work, Brian Moffitt from New York City. (Making connections to the children in NY that they are blogging with).

      Ms Babalis played the video twice so the children had more time and experience to observe closely. This was important as an interesting discussion was about to take place!

      Ms Babalis and Ms Ham respectfully documented children's conversations and asked them for their ideas with respect to comments, compliments, wonders and connections. Ms Babalis encouraged the children to think deeply, adding "details" to their thoughts. Repeated use of these terms is teaching the children that their ideas are valued, powerful, can be organized and worth thinking about further. I heard Ms Bablis reminding the children that thinking deeply helps them learn "persistence".

      The children were reminded that they can "agree or respectfully disagree" with other people's ideas. Imagine learning this at 4 - 6 years of age knowing that this sets the foundation for learning within a social context.

      I admire how Ms Babalis uses technology and social media as a platform for learning. Brian, thanks for taking the time to respond to the children's observations and wonders. I wish I was visiting tomorrow too so I could experience the children's delight in hearing about your thinking. Your responses are strengthening children's learning and you have sent a strong message to the children; they are valued and worthy!

      Thank you to the children; you are incredible thinkers!
      Thank you to Ms Babalis and Ms Ham; your calm and respectful essence makes learning a joy!
      Thank you to Ms Ali for thinking deeply while reflecting on this experience with me!

      A visit to this classroom and to the Acorn School in Richmond Hill on the same day, how inspiring!

      Cindy Green
      School of Early Childhood Education
      Seneca College, King City

    2. Brian,

      Words cannot express how thrilled the students (and teachers!!) were to receive your response. Last week was a long weekend for our students, and we have not had the chance to formally reply to you.

      You will not BELIEVE where the students have taken the learning from your YouTube clip "Projector Snow." We are currently working on a visual representation of their favourite part of your clip, and how it connects with their theories about where snow comes from and how it is made. (This is part of our snowflake inquiry.) Please stay tuned and we will tweet about it to you!

      We also spoke about how impressed we were with how you demonstrated persistence with using your projector technique and being patient to find just the right background to create this magical effect upon.

      As a class we couldn't believe that the real inventor of this innovative video read our blog post and commented so thoughtfully to us. Your kindness will always be remembered by our students and ourselves.

      Thank you for making our Valentine's Day that much more special!


      Joanne Babalis

    3. Cindy,

      I read your comment during my Valentine's Day dinner out-loud, because I was so excited to hear your thoughts of your experience within our classroom.

      Similar to my sentiments from Brian's response, I cannot express in words to you how much I value your feedback!

      Thank you for documenting this special experience for us, and for sharing it with your students. What a wonderful morning filled with learning together!


      Ms. Babalis

  2. Hello Joanne!

    We thoroughly enjoyed reading about the engaging experience your students had with the video, and all within the dynamic network of social media. How wonderful to read the thoughtful responses from Mr. Maffitt as well.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon.

    Laura Murgatroyd
    Director of Community Life
    Richland Academy
    Richmond Hill, Ontario

  3. Thanks Laura!

    I agree that social media is a very powerful platform for professional networking and student learning! More-so than I had ever anticipated!!!

    I was very hopeful that Brian Maffitt would see our tweet and that it would peek his interest to visit our blog page. I never expected such a positive and carefully written response!!

    We thank him so much and cannot wait to share with everyone our visual arts response to his video clip.

    Hope to see you again very soon,