Video Editing & Collaborative Learning WOW!

Wow, today was one of those Ah-Ha moment days for me.  I had recently decided to have my students create a simple 30 second promotional video.  My intent was to create some awareness for upcoming events in our school and to expose my students to the basics of making a good video.

As I expected when I asked my students who knew how edit video using imovie, Windows Movie Maker and Adobe Premiere Elements only one or two students raised their hands. So my plan was to sit them down and walk them through how to use all three software applications.  I decided that I would use students to demonstrate how to do basic tasks in each application and I would utilize the Promethean Whiteboard so all students could see the demonstration.

Moments after I began something amazing began to take place.  The students began working as a collaborative unit.  Students began assisting the group up front and with-in a couple of minutes I became obsolete.  As I faded into the background I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently the students began to teach each other how to use the video editing programs. This immediately made me think that my plan would have just slowed them down and possibly confused them.  The examples and analogies that they used were amazing and highly effective.  I quickly found myself in the role of coach/facilitator, not teacher and the lesson was highly successful.  By the end of the period all of the groups had chosen an application to use and were editing video.  I was left thinking WOW, I have got to figure out how to utilize that type of learning again!

Below is a small video clip of my students in action during this lesson.

20 Student Favorite Cartoon Creators

As I watched Tom Wujec’s TED talk today I was struck by the simplicity of his message. All teachers know that a good visual is key to success in the classroom. But what really intrigued me was the concept of students creating visuals to cement their learning. Over the past two years I have noticed that students who create visual projects in my class often retain information better than those who wrote papers.

In my project based classroom one of the most popular mediums for students projects has become cartoon creators. Not only do students enjoy creating these projects but the the process of taking their knowledge and depicting it visually on paper seems to be very effective in their learning process. I have often talked to students about one of their projects that they created at the beginning of the year and not only can they tell me about the project but they still remember the underlying concept taught at that time. This has always intrigued me and led me to create a long list of cartoon creators for students to use.

For those of you interested in giving this a try here are 20 of the most popular cartoon creators my students like to use.

  1. GoAnimate.com
  2. Toonlet.com
  3. Toondoo.com
  4. Pixton.com
  5. Chogger
  6. Comic Creator
  7. Comic Lab
  8. Make Believe Comix
  9. Strip Creator
  10. Strip Generator
  11. Zimmer Twins
  12. Do Ink
  13. Comic Strip Generator
  14. Comic Master
  15. Captain Underpants
  16. Comicbrush
  17. Marvel Comic Creator
  18. Witty Comic Creator
  19. Cartoon to Customize
  20. Bitstrips

14 Student Favorite Project Websites

Over the past two years my students have been allowed to create their projects in any format or medium in which they choose.  This had led to some amazing and creative projects that have not only inspired me but opened my eyes to what my students are truly capable of creating. I have noticed however that there seems to be certain sites and programs that they gravitate to every year.  So the following list, are sites that my students seem to use at some point every year and really seem to enjoy.

  1. Glogster: is always a fan favorite since they can add music video and images all in one project.  This virtual poster site is always one that I see multiple times a year.
  2. Photo Story 3: has become a big hit over the past year and a half.  This is a simple video creator that allows students to take a series of images place them in any order and then narrate each image and/or add text to each image. It then generates a movie adding in transitions and panning automatically to the video.  It is simple and creates great short informational videos. They do also have a mac version.
  3. Museum Box: This is a great site for history classes.  Students place items in a box that would help describe a person or event. They can add video, audio, images and text.  This site has led to some great projects.
  4. Goanimate: takes a bit of learning but is a animated video creator that students love to create their projects with.  It generates great animated cartoons that my students have used to explain many different historical events.
  5. Google Search Stories: is a great video creator for quick informational video clips.  It uses the Google search engine and results to tell a story or explain and event.
  6. Picture A Story: allows students to tell stories about history, explain topics or concepts using preloaded images characters and objects.
  7. Flixtime: Is another video creator that allows students to take a series of images ad create great videos to explain concepts or historical events.
  8. Poster 4 Teachers: Is a free program that allows students to create online projects and reports in a poster format.  It also allows them to create simple websites to explain or discuss topics presented in class.
  9. Slideroll: This site allows kids to create simple slide shows to tell a digital story.
  10. Animoto: This site allows students o create professional looking videos projects.  This site is easy and fun for students to use.
  11. Alice.Org:  A animated story creator. That also teaches programming. I have had a few students really get into programming after using this application.
  12. Digital Story Teller: This is similar to Photo Story 3 students can add text and audio to their digital stories.
  13. Kerpoof: Always a favorite site for students to create movies and other digital media.
  14. Fotobabble: This is really a card creator but students have used it in a variety of ways to narrate  a digital story and have used it a segment in other digital projects.

 

Top Five-Creative Projects- “Book Creators”

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957
Image via Wikipedia

Over the past two years I have been exploring project based learning.  I have asked students to come up with creative ways to present what they have learned in class.  My students have amazed and inspired me with their ideas.  One project that seems to be really popular this year is creating picture books for younger students.  They take the concept learned in my class such as “explaining why the Articles of Confederation failed” and create a book that would teach this concept to younger students.  I have found that these projects really re-enforce what they have learned in my class.  As students put these concepts into terms that younger students can understand they really gain a more developed understanding  themselves of the topic they are covering.  I have been amazed at the the learning that takes place in some of these projects. Here are the top five book creators that my students like to use.

  1. Zooburst
  2. Flip Book
  3. Kerpoof Studio
  4. StoryJumper
  5. Storybird

For more links check out this link Digital Story Telling Book Creators.

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Toonlet Class Project

This past week I decided to use Toonlet in the classroom.  Being near the end of the year focus and attention can be hard to replicate in the classroom.  So my hope was that by having students show their knowledge by using a cartoon might be an engaging activity.  The assignment was simple  choose from a variety of topics, I provided in class, and then create a cartoon to provide me with the who, what, when, where and why of the that historical event.

I have to say that I was very impressed and excited about what I received.   I was further encouraged by how engaged the students seemed in creating their cartoons.  They acted as if it was not the last week of school.  The project seemed to captivate them and keep them engaged.  The depth of knowledge was a little bit of a disappointment for me but that I believe had more to do with the nature of the project.  This is definatley an assignment that I will do again in the class but will need to look at reducing the amount of information to be presented in this project.

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail
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Piloting 30 cell phones in the classroom: Test One “Twitter”

This past week I introduced my students to the 30 HTC Touch Pro2 I am going to test for the remainder of the year.  Each student was assigned their own phone.  After allowing the students a day to familiarize themselves with the phones I decided to try them out.

My first use with the phones, as a resource, in the classroom was to test out Twitter with my Jr. High Students.  As I presented information to them on Washington State history specifically the fur trade and missionaries.  They were allowed to participate in a back channel on twitter. If you are not familiar with back channeling is when people in the audience converse online about the topic being presented to them live.  To do this they use a designated hash tag in Twitter to see and respond to people in the class.  I was surprised by the by the results of my little experiment. Students were very engaged with the topic and obviously the technology.  I was also very surprised to see that they stayed on topic.   Not only were they on topic but they answered each others questions and posed other questions to each other.

On the second day, I decided to post questions to them on the topic and have them respond to those as well.  This really seemed to keep them engaged on the topic being presented.  I even had a student at home who logged on to Twitter and was participating in class from home. I did find that conducting a class and monitoring and posting to Twitter was quite difficult.  Although by the second day, I did see how it could be done.

While I was encouraged and saw the potential of this type of technology use in the classroom I am not sure if this would be a great fit for Jr. High students.  Some of the students a hard time using the phones and got frustrated with the technology.  As a result this pulled them off task as they tried to fix their phone or interrupting class to vent about their phone.  I felt that there is some true potential to using this type of social networking in class.  Will be revamping my use from what I have learned over the past week and giving it another try. Will post the results when I do.

One of the issues that I had was the Twitter client that I used.  I was using a Twitter client called MoTweets.  Does anyone know another mobile application for a windows mobile phone that that works better?  I felt that this client was not very reliable and often very slow to post to Twitter.  If you know of one please leave me a comment.

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Simple K12 Edtech Guest Blog

Check out my guest blog post on Concrete Classroom.  This post is the first in a series on a Augmented Reality experiment that is going to take place in my classroom over the last few weeks of school.  The object of this series is to look at the use of smart phones in the classroom to create Augmented Reality learning environments.

Click here to check out Concrete Classroom

30 Smart Phones and 5 Weeks: An Augmented Reality Classroom Experiment

http://concretekax.blogspot.com/2010/04/30-smart-phones-and-5-weeks-augmented_29.html

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Revamping My Classroom: Goodbye Desks Hello Couches and Bean Bags

So over the past year I have toyed with the idea of removing the desks in my room. Why you ask? Well, I have always felt that rows of desks and has always added to the robotic nature of an industrialized school system. This type of environment really is not very conducive to creativity. What our schools really need at this point is to teach students how to be creative.

Creativity is becoming a key to success for our society so as teachers we need to promote this and teach this in our classrooms to truly prepare students for the future. The first step in developing creativity is creating a comfortable environment where students feel safe to explore and try out new ideas. This is not done just with a change in decor but room setup as any teacher knows is essential in developing a classroom atmosphere. So, I have taken out the desks and moved in the couches and bean bags. Today, students may be shocked!

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Launching of my 7th Grade Class Blog (Comments Greatly Appreciated)

My 7th grade social studies class decided that they wanted to do a class blog.  They created this blog and placed all content on this blog themselves.  They have decided to do this with as little help from me as possible and see how they do.  I was impressed by their motivation and effort in creating this blog.  It truly was a class collaboration.  Please have a look and post some comments on the content.

Link to class blog.  http://studentthoughts.wordpress.com/

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Help!! 32 Handhelds and Two Months to Show Relevance in Education!

Over the past year I have been looking into augmented reality and how I can develop this medium for the classroom.  I have discussed this before in my blogs multiple times. (See links below.) At this point I have been lucky enough to convince my district to pilot 32 HTC Touch Pro 2′s in my classroom.  These devices will run windows mobile 6.5 and Goknow mobile software.  The district is going to pay for the data plans through Verizon.  This will allow me to begin to develop different types of augmented reality learning environments for my students.  At the present I see that I will use Mscape and Goknow, including  their multiple applications that they provide  with their service, to begin creating these learning environments.  The purpose of this blog is to asked others what have you used to create these type of learning environments?  Also what are your experiences using augmented reality in the classroom?  Since this is a pilot program that is getting started late in the year I don’t have much time to convince my district of the validity of these types of learning environments.  So any help here would be great so that I can prove the worth of these devices and be able to retain them for the upcoming school year.

  1. Augmented Reality How do you use it?
  2. Augmented Reality Lesson Plan “History Detectives”
  3. Augmented Reality with Bing Maps The Wave of the Future?
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