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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An End of 2013 Video Project for Students

As the end of 2013 approaches we'll start to see most news organizations start to publish videos that review the biggest stories of the year. Some of these videos will feature serious news while others will be of a lighter nature. Instead of waiting for year-in-review videos to appear on the web, challenge your students to create their own year-in-review videos. Students' year-in-review videos could be about local news, national or global news, entertainment, sports, or a combination of all of these areas.

Four free tools students can use to create year-in-review videos:
1. The simplest of the options on this list is to use the YouTube photo slideshow tool. The YouTube photo slideshow creation tools allow you to specify the length of time that each image is displayed for. After uploading your images you can use the annotations tool to add as much text as you like to each frame of your video. Directions for creating a YouTube photo slideshow are available here.

2. Pixorial is the online video creation tool bears the closest resemblance to iMovie. The thing that I like the most about Pixorial is that the video creation and editing tools are laid out in an intuitive user interface. Most users will never find themselves wondering what any of the editing tools do or what to click on next. To create a video in Pixorial you can upload pictures and raw video footage then organize that media into the sequence in which you want it to appear. You can insert transitions between elements by selecting them from the transitions gallery. If you would like to add a soundtrack to your production you can select one from the Pixorial gallery or upload your own audio files. Pixorial also makes it easy to add text to each picture or video that you upload. Just click on "overlay text" in the video editor when you're viewing the element that you want to add text to. Pixorial offers a free plan to educators. The educators' plan provides 30GB of free storage. Pixorial offers Android and iOS apps too.

3. WeVideo is a online video creation tool that has been featured many times on Free Technology for Teachers. In the WeVideo editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. What makes WeVideo collaborative is that you can invite other people to create and edit with you. The WeVideo Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

4. Weavly is a video creation tool that provides a simple drag and drop interface that allows you to search for, trim and combine tracks without ever leaving the Weavly site. You can mix together video and audio from YouTube, Vine, and SoundCloud. You can also add animated GIFs from Loopcam, Tumblr, and Imgur. To start creating your Weavly video perform a search for video content. When you find a video clip that you like drag it to the Weavly editor where you can adjust the start and end times of the clip. Then move on to adding sounds by search for sounds and draggin them to the Weavly editor where you can again trim the start and end times. Finally, you can add some animated GIFs by searching for them and dragging them into the editor. You can repeat all of these steps as many times as you like to create your video.

Hemingway and Poe Animated

A couple of years ago I posted a short animated telling of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. This morning Open Culture featured a longer animated version of the same story. Both versions are embedded below.




the old man and the sea from Marcel Schindler on Vimeo.

In looking up the shorter of the two animations above I came across a post from four years ago in which I featured a short animation of Poe's Tell Tale Heart. That video is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Watching these animations is not a replacement for reading the stories, but they could make good support material for students who struggle with reading the text.

Knowmia Adds an Automatic Scoring Option to Flipped Lessons

Knowmia is a website and a free iPad app for creating, sharing, and viewing video lessons. Six months ago Knowmia introduced a feature that they call an Assignment Wizard. The Knowmia Assignment Wizard allows teachers to design assignments that their students have to complete after watching a video. Students can check their own Knowmia accounts to see the assignments that their teachers have distributed. This week Knowmia added an automatic scoring option that teachers can activate when they distribute flipped lessons to their students.

Knowmia's automatic scoring function works for multiple choice questions and numeric questions. The automatic scoring is based on your answer key. Assignments are scored when students make a submission. Along with automatic scoring teachers now have the option to see when a student initially opened an assignment and how many questions they've tried before submitting the assignment. Visit the Knowmia support blog for a complete run-down of the new assignment scoring options.
click to see full size image
Applications for Education
If you're using the flipped classroom model, Knowmia's new automatic scoring feature could save you time and help you form your next in-class lesson. Seeing the questions that are giving your students difficulty before they get to your classroom can help you determine which topics you should use at the start of your next lesson.

And if you're not using the flipped model, Knowmia can be a good place to find educational videos that your students can use to review or get "on demand" help when they cannot connect with you.

A Couple of Good Places for Students to Find Book Recommendations

One of the challenges of getting some students to read independently is finding books that engage them. The next time a student says to you, "there aren't any books I like," have them try one of these tools to find a book that they might like.

The Book Seer is a neat book recommendation engine that I discovered few years ago through Kristen Swanson's Teachers as Technology Trailblazers blog. The Book Seer is very easy to use. To get a book recommendation just type in the title and author of a book that you've recently read and the Book Seer will spit out a list of related titles and authors that you might enjoy. I tested the Book Seer with four different titles. The more obscure titles that I searched for, Snow in the Kingdom, and A Good Life Wasted didn't yield any recommendations. When I searched for The World Is Open and Hatchet plenty of recommendations appeared.

Your Next Read is a neat little site that provides you with a web of book recommendations based on the authors and books you already like. Here's how it works; type in the title of a book you like or author you like and Your Next Read will provide you with a web of books that might also enjoy. Click on any of the books appearing the web to create another new web. Below you'll see the web of recommendations that appeared when I typed in Gary Paulsen's book Hatchet.


Video - How to Use Google Books for Research

Google Books can be a good research tool for students if they are aware of it and know how to use it. In the video below I provide a short overview of how to use Google Books for research. You can also find screenshots of the process here.

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