Tag Archives: video

What is Innovation?

When I posted last month about Innovation in Education, I was starting to work on my application for the Google Teacher Academy in Seattle this summer. Well, now that I’ve finished, I thought I’d share my application video with the few of you that read this blog. Before sharing, here is what GTA says they are looking for in application videos:

Create an original one minute video on ONE of the following topics: “Motivation and Learning” OR “Classroom Innovation.” This video is a very important part of your application. We’re specifically looking for educators who creatively address one of the specific topics listed above. You do not need to be in the video, but, the task is designed to demonstrate your technical ability, your resourcefulness, your commitment, and your unique personality and interests. Please do not submit videos produced for another project or videos created by others. We realize that you may have never produced a video before and that you may not own video equipment, but through perseverance we are confident you can find a way to meet this requirement.

With that in mind, here is the video I created. I’d love to hear what you think.


Classroom Tech, Part VII: “Everything’s Amazing; Nobody’s Happy.”

In this, the final post of the summer-long Classroom Tech series, I conclude with a little reflection on the state of educational technology (for previous posts, feel free to click here, here, here, here, here, or here).

Our amazing librarian shared this video during a training a while back and I thought I’d share it with those few who read this blog. While I wouldn’t recommend this comedian’s other YouTube videos, this one is pretty funny (and of course it would be on Late Night with Conan O’Brien). I think it fits with what I’ve been covering this summer in the Classroom Tech series.

As I conclude this series, I am very excited about integrating some of these ideas into my classroom, whether keeping students organized with iGoogle or teaching students how to make more effective presentations. But I am now in my third year of teaching. I have two summers’ worth of excitement under my belt, and those have been greatly tempered with two years’ worth of harsh reality. The reality of our schools is that, while we may get excited about some of the new things we’re planning or some of the technology we’re using, our students likely will not be.

I am coming to realize, however, that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Do I want my students engaged in what we do in class? Of course. But I also know that not all students will be engaged in the sense that they are excited and eager to come to class every day. It is still school, after all, and no matter what teachers might do, some students will apply their paradigm that school=boring. This is true of writing, watching movies, or using cell phones in the classroom – because it’s happening at school, students’ paradigms are often negative.

But what I must continue to remind myself is that technology is not about engagement. I am not integrating technology because it will be more fun for my students. My job isn’t to make all of my students happy, no matter how amazing the technology is that we’re using. While I certainly hope this is true, it is not the goal. Instead, I am integrating technology for two much more important reasons:

  1. The technology I am choosing to use will somehow enhance and improve the lessons I am already teaching. For example, Google Docs is not useful in and of itself. It is useful because it will make the writing assessments I’m creating more relevant and more efficient.
  2. Technology is, and will be, an integral part of my students’ lives. If I choose not to use technology in my classroom, then students may not learn how to use it or use it responsibly. In addition, if they don’t learn how to use today’s technology effectively, then the technology of the future will be even more confusing. For example, if I had never learned how to use MS Word 98, and I tried to immediately jump into Word 2007, it would be much more difficult to learn.

As I continue on this teaching journey, these are the two things I feel I really need to remember about using technology. As much as I want my students to love coming to my class, and as much as I want them to have fun, it is infinitely more important that they are coming to class and learning something that is valuable, both to their future educational pursuits and to their lives in general, even if they’re not happy with the amazing things I’m trying to do with them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this summer’s Classroom Tech series. I’d love some feedback on what you liked or what you would like to see improved. Best of luck to all of you in this upcoming school year, and stay tuned for more discussions here on Edumacation.


Classroom Tech, Part III: Animoto

I am in the midst of a series of posts outlining how I plan on using technology during the coming school year. I’ll share some tools, resources, and ideas that I intend to use with students in the classroom, and hopefully you, the reader, will share some advice or thoughts of your own, either in the comments section, or on your own blog (just let me know if you do!).

Another tech tool I’m planning on integrating this year is Animoto, the free slide/movie site. I’ve previously discussed Animoto and some of the highlights here, but I’m finally starting to figure out how I can use it productively with students without maxing out our school’s bandwidth.

Without getting into too many details, Animoto is a way to convert slideshows (read: Powerpoints) into visually exciting movies. It allows users to upload and rearrange images, add text, and add stock or custom music. Once these are all set, it will process them into a short (or, if you prefer, long) video complete with well-timed and animated transitions between images and text. Here’s an example of Animoto at work:

As you can see, Animoto creates something that the average educator could never hope to duplicate. It gives us a product that can be used to better engage the visual learners in our classrooms. I’ve struggled to think of ways we could use Animoto in our school, particularly because a classroom full of students using Animoto would create a bit of an overload on our servers. In spite of this, I’ve found a couple of ways to use the tool that are worth sharing. As always, please feel free to share your own ideas with me and other visitors to this site.

  1. Book trailers are a great way to pique students’ interest before reading a book. If you’re reading a book as a class, you can create a short Animoto book trailer to advertise/preview the upcoming unit (like I tried to do above with Romeo & Juliet). If students are doing Reader’s Workshop or Literature Circles, they could do a group trailer after they’ve read the book and share this trailer with the class.
  2. If students are doing presentations, they could use an Animoto video in lieu of a Powerpoint as their visual aid. The omission of text encourages good “presentation zen” and makes them focus on how the visual enhances the aural.
  3. Animoto would be a great way to create a sort of visual dictionary for the class. As a homework assignment (so students aren’t tearing up the school’s bandwidth), students could create a short 15-second video on a particular vocabulary word. It would have the word, a definition, and several images that help visually convey what the word means. If these were each submitted to the teacher, they could then be shared on YouTube or some other video sharing site (Fliggo, perhaps?).

Obviously these are only a couple of ideas, so please feel free to share your own.

Stay tuned for the next post in this Classroom Tech series, which will be on Shelfari.


Moviemaking for Dummies

Those that have done any serious video editing know how time consuming it can be. And despite all of the time that goes into the process, it always seems to come out lacking something. Enter Animoto -a video creation tool that mashes together your pictures and music into a dazzling video, and does it in a matter of minutes.

Instructify, @edu, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, Mr. B-G’s English Blog, U Tech Tips, Huff English, and of course the huge tech blog, Webware, have all posted on this cool tool already. I guess that means I’m late to the party. Nevertheless, I’m excited to share a little bit about Animoto. To avoid beating a dead horse, though, I thought I’d mention the features that most educators will find relevant and exciting.

  • While most people can get a free account that allows them to make 30-second clips, Animoto has seen fit to spoil educators by giving us free full-access passes. All you have to do is subscribe, they’ll review your information and will give you a pass to create unlimited videos of unlimited length. Kudos to Animoto for this amazing gift!
  • Animoto provides a (limited) selection of royalty-free music for you to use in your videos. Ranging from classical to rock to hip-hop, you can use whatever style of music you want to spruce up that slideshow you were planning.
  • Animoto links directly to YouTube, allowing you to upload your video quickly and seamlessly to your YouTube account. It’s also very easy to embed Animoto videos directly into a blog or website.
  • Some pictures are just more important than others. Animoto lets you “spotlight” certain pictures so they appear both in the background and appear longer and brighter than other pictures.
  • The newest feature of Animoto is the one thing that it was missing before: text. Now, along with the pictures you upload, users can create “images” in your video that are nothing but text. And like everything else on the site, the text is about as professional looking as you can get. The only downside is that there is a character limit – 20 on the top line, 30 on the bottom line. Even so, this was a much needed improvement.

Rather than going on and on about Animoto, here are a few examples that I’ve “created.” Enjoy!

First, a quick video tribute to my alma mater:

And a mashup of headlines from around the globe on November 5, 2008 (via the Newseum – another amazing site I’ll talk about sometime).

And finally, a remake of my first ever trailer – the prologue from Romeo & Juliet (a little longer than I’d like, but still pretty darn cool).


More on Book Trailers

TPretty cool that I was thinking about this book trailer idea a while ago (here). Right around the same time (I promise I had no idea), an article was published in the journal, Educational Leadership, advocating a great, yet simple and probably obvious modification: have the kids make trailers. Derp.

I like this idea because, as the article notes, students are engaged in both the reading and in the technology. Ideally, the connection between the two would help cement the skills we’re trying to teach. I’m thinking this would be a great culminating project for our Reader’s Workshop unit. We could have students make a 2-minute trailer for the book they chose and we could teach them to use either Windows Movie Maker or Adobe Premier Elements (depending on what is available at the time). Then we could have a movie day in class [30 students x 2 minutes each = 60 minutes of movies (plus down time)] at the end of the unit.

Definitely something I’d like to try. Check out the full article here.