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Monday, September 10, 2018

5 Free iPad Apps for Making Videos in Elementary School

In the next weeks I'll be spending quite a bit of time working in elementary school classrooms that are equipped with iPads. One of the things that I'll be doing is helping teachers help their students make short videos. These are some of the apps that we'll be using. Teachers will try them with me and then decide which one they want to have their students. (The criteria for selection will be discussed in a future blog post here on Free Technology for Teachers).

Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that students can use to draw scenes on blank pages or to color coloring pages provided in the app. After creating their drawings or coloring a page, students can then record themselves talking about the drawings. That's an easy way for kids to tell a short story and save it in video form.

ChatterPix Kids comes from the same developers as Draw and Tell. ChatterPix Kids is a free iPad app that students can use to turn pictures into talking pictures. To create a talking picture just snap a picture with your iPad or import a picture from your iPad’s camera roll. After taking the picture just draw in a face and tap the record button to make your picture talk. Your recording can be up to thirty seconds in length. Before publishing your talking picture you can add fun stickers, text, and frames to your picture. Using ChatterPix Kids can be a great way to get students to bring simple stories to life.

Shadow Puppet Edu has been one of my go-to apps since its launch nearly five years ago. The free iPad app can be used by students to create audio slideshow videos. The app offers an integrated search tool for finding pictures from the Library of Congress, to search for images from NASA, and to find Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr. You can also import pictures and videos from the camera roll on your iPad. After selecting a set of images students you can arrange them into any sequence by simply dragging and dropping them into order. Then to create a story press the record button and talk while flipping through your images. Like the previous two apps listed in this post, Shadow Puppet Edu does not require students to create accounts or have a log-in ID.

Toontastic 3D is an app for making animated videos. The app provides students with three basic templates to follow and then customize each scene within their chosen templates. Their options are "short story" (a three part story), "classic" (a five part story), or "science report." Once they have selected a story type they will be prompted to craft each part of their stories in order. A short description of what each part of the story should do is included before students start each section. Students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own within Toontastic 3D. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. After the characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next.

Adobe Spark Edu is a relatively new version of Adobe Spark. The education version enables school districts to create accounts and grant students access to Adobe Spark's tools. It is because of the education version that I can recommend Adobe Spark Video for some elementary school classes. Adobe Spark Video is a good app for making audio slideshow style videos. Students assemble a series of pictures then record themselves talking about each slide. The pictures that students use can imported from their iPads or selected from the integrated image search results within the app. Students can also write on each slide. When writing on a slide, the font is automatically adjusted to fit in the space available. This is the app that I often recommend for making things like short history videos or a "highlights" video.

An Excellent Guide to Infinite Campus Gradebook

I haven't had to use it for a few years, but I do remember Infinite Campus' gradebook being infinitely frustrating. This morning, thanks to Larry Ferlazzo, I learned that the Infinite Campus gradebook is still frustrating to set-up. Larry shared a new Infinite Campus gradebook tutorial video created by a teacher named Ed Maltbie. Ed also published written directions for setting-up your Infinite Campus gradebook, but you'll have to visit Larry's blog post to get those.


Thanks to Ed for making the video and thanks to Larry for sharing.

How to Become a Mystery Skype Master!

In a post earlier today I shared an explanation of the Mystery Skype game and some places to find partners to play the game. But if you're not sure how to get started, Microsoft offers a detailed overview in the form of Become a Mystery Skype Master.

Become a Mystery Skype Master is a nine part course that walks you through almost everything you need to know to conduct Mystery Skype activities. The only thing it doesn't teach you is how to install Skype. (There are lots of YouTube videos about how to do that). The course includes ideas for variations on the "traditional" Mystery Skype activity,  how to use Mystery Skype if students speak different languages, and how to find Mystery Skype partners. In the course you will also find some practical classroom management tips for making your Mystery Skype activities run smoothly. You can watch the following video to learn those tips.

What is Mystery Skype?

Last week I reTweeted someone's request to find a partner for a Mystery Skype activity. That generated some new connections, but it also generated a few questions from people who wanted to know what Mystery Skype is and what it entails.

What is Mystery Skype?
Mystery Skype is an activity in which you connect your classroom to another classroom somewhere in the world via Skype. The focus of the activity is to have students guess where in the world the classroom is located based on their knowledge of geography and culture. When the classes connect students aren't allowed to simply ask "where are you?" Instead, they have to ask questions like "are you north or south of 45N?" The students answering should only give "yes" or "no" answers. Watch the following video to see Mystery Skype activities in action.


Where to Find Mystery Skype Partners
Members of Microsoft's free educators community can complete their profiles to indicate that they are interested in participating in Mystery Skype activities. You can also find a list of potential Mystery Skype partners here.

If you're not a member of Microsoft's educators community you can try to find Mystery Skype partners through one of the many Facebook groups about Mystery Skype. And if you're on Twitter, try Tweeting with the hashtag #mysteryskype to find potential Mystery Skype partners.