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.

  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

Poll for Student Response, Here Is a Great Tool!

Getting feed back from students is critical.  I am always looking for ways to elicit feedback from students on content and learning styles.  Often times the feedback needed by teachers is not comprehensive but simple in nature.  I have often used online survey makers and quizzes, but these can be difficult to make and often hard to link to your class or school websites.  However, today I cam across a website called Pollmo Polls.

Pollmo Polls is an easy to use poll creator that is easy to embed in your school or class website.  It is so quick and easy to use it can be created and posted ion less than 3-4 minutes.  I highly recommend this site to quick poll and  assess your students online. This is one that I definitely plan to use in the upcoming new year.  Check it out at the following address:

I found out about this site through Mr. Byrne’s website “Free Technology For Teachers” if you have not read this blog I highly recommend it. To read it go to this address:

View Qualtrics Poll
Qualtrics Survey Software
Enterprise Feedback Management

Want to revamp your presentations? Try these 10 programs!

Presentation ProgramsLets face it, when students see a PowerPoint presentation they moan and grown.  PowerPoint has been used so much that anymore students often tune out.  As a teacher I am always looking for new ways to present information to my students.  I still do use PowerPoint occasionally but have begun to use other programs as well and have found some of these to be quite useful.  After talking to some colleagues about this topic I decided that I would share some of the different programs I have found.  These programs are not only easy to use but a nice change for the students.  So here are the top ten alternate presentation programs that I have been using over the past year.

  1. Prezi is the first program that I found to be easy to use and entertaining for students.  This program allow you to simply place words, images and video in any order you would like.  It is very simple and the transition from topic to topic is very captivating for the students.  Also once you have created the Prezi it is saved on their website and available from any internet connection.
  2. Empressr is a lot like PowerPoint in its lay out and delivery.  It is an online program that allows you to upload video, images and audio.  It saves it on their server so that you can easily share your presentation on your own website, blog, or social networking page.
  3. Museum Box is a great site that students love.  This site allows you to create a box with different drawers and number of boxes to display your information.  This is very interactive and easily shared.  Again like the others you can add video, audio and images.  Great one to have student come up to the interactive board and explore each box and share what they find.
  4. Animoto is a great site to easily and quickly create videos for your classroom to present information.  This site will take your images, sound and video and then it creates movies that look like movie clips that can be fun for students to watch.  This is also a great site for students to use to create projects for class.
  5. Glogster is a site that allows you to present information in the form of a virtual poster.  You can imbed photos, sounds, videos and text right on the poster for students to view on their own or present to them in class.  Like Animoto, Glogster is a great site for kids to use to create projects for class.
  6. 280 Slides is simple put an online version of PowerPoint. However, it does allow you to easily link videos and images from the web into the presentation and it allows you to share your presentation easily on the web.
  7. Present it This site is like 280 slides this is a online version of PowerPoint.  This site does allow you to download your presentation so that you can use it offline as well.
  8. Wix is a flash website creator.  This site allows you to create interactive presentations or website to use in your classroom.  They have a great look to them and students seem to respond to these types of websites well.
  9. VIDDIX this site combines video with your PowerPoint type presentation.  It is a double window player that has video on the right and presentation notes or information on the right. This combination can be very powerful and really help to drive home your learning targets.
  10. SlideSix is a unique presentation application it allows you to record audio and video directly into your presentation.  It embeds the audio or video into your presentation allowing you to narrate slides and video.  It is easy to embed and share your final project.

Need a Simple Visual try “SimpleDiagrams”

Need to express a relationship between concepts or give a quick visual to make your point? SimpleDiagrams might just be the tool that you have been looking for.  This is a free desktop tool that allows you to quickly create a visual that you can use to express your ideas to your students.  It has some very simple features such as the ability to drag and drop, export to png, and add images.  These quick learning images can then be stored on your computer or posted to the web.  This is a simple and small utility program that is free and worth a look.  Check it out at

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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Fantasy Football Lessons for Education

2007 homecoming game at Northeastern State Uni...
Image via Wikipedia

So this past Sunday I sat down with a few friends to watch a football game.  As we screamed at each other and the TV I was struck by two interesting educational practices.  The first was was how the teams we were interested in watching were teams that until this year we would never have sat down to watch.  Being a teacher natural this intrigued me, why are we all so excited to see this game.  The answer was simple we were invested in this game.  We all had a stake in it because of Fantasy Football.  I immediately got to thinking about my class and how I could create this same type of atmosphere.  If I could get kids invested in a topic even a small portion of that topic I can keep them engaged and actively participating.  While it seems so simple it often is quite difficult for teachers and students to find that topic or subject that will captivate individual students.

As I continued to sit on the couch and tease and cajole  the others in the group another revelation hit me that made perfect sense.  Allow them to play.  So often we stifle kids creativity and do not allow them to play games and with each other in class.  If teachers are able to create an atmosphere of play and interaction among the students students would be engaged and actively participating in their education.  We live now in an ever increasing social world with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social websites.  Students need to feel connected. They are connected 24/7 to friends and family but at school often feel isolated and alone because they loose that connection.  If teachers can simply providing that connection in class they can help to create a learning environment better suited to the students of today.

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