Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Six Good Places to Find Free Music and Sound Effects

In my post earlier today about tools for creating book trailer videos I mentioned a couple of sources of free sound effects and music. Picking the right music or sound effects can have a drastic influence on how we react to a scene in a video. Here are some places that you and your students can find free sound effects and music to download and use in video projects.

Royalty Free Music hosts music tracks that can be reused in numerous ways. Royalty Free Music charges the general public for their downloads, but students and teachers can download quite a bit of the music for free. To access the free music tracks students and teachers should visit the education page on Royalty Free Music.

Musopen's collection of free recordings contains performances of the works of hundreds of composers. The collection can be searched by composer, by performer, by instrument, or by form. You can stream the music from Musopen for free. You can also download five recordings per day for free from Musopen.

The Internet Archive hosts an extensive collection of music and other audio recordings that you can download for free. You should point out to students that they need to look at the usage rights closely when they find things on the Internet Archive. Not everything that is available to download for free is eligible to be reused for free.

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.

The next time you need common sounds like doorbells ringing, dogs barking, or car horns honking to use in a multimedia project you could try to record those sounds yourself or you could turn to SoundGator to find free recordings that you can download. SoundGator offers free sound recording downloads. There are twenty-three recording categories that you can browse through to find the perfect sound for your project. You do have to register on SoundGator in order to download recordings. After registering you can download recordings directly to your computer to re-use in your projects.

The Four Things Students Need to Create Good Book Trailers

Creating book trailer videos is a great alternative to a traditional written book report assignment. In a book trailer video students highlight their favorite elements of a story and try to entice viewers to read the book themselves. Much like a movie trailer that tries to get viewers to watch the full movie, a book trailer should give viewers just enough to be interested in the full story without giving away the conclusion to the story. If you have heard of book trailers and wanted to try having your create book trailers, here are the four things they'll need to get started after reading a book.

A script/ outline:
Before I let students start to assemble a video, I make them write a script or outline for the video. Writing a script or outline forces students to think about the points that they want to emphasize in their videos without thinking about the technical aspects of the video creation process. By having students submit a script or outline to me before they start creating a video I can review it for accuracy.

Images:
Your students will want to use pictures in their videos to represent key elements and characters in the books they have read. You could have students draw pictures to use in their videos. They might also take pictures of their own to use in their videos. Both of those methods avoid any danger of copyright infringement.

It's not always possible for students to use images they own. In those cases you'll want them to use images that are either in the public domain or images that are labeled with a Creative Commons license. Some video creation tools like Adobe Spark include a Creative Commons image search tool. Otherwise your students will need to conduct an online search for images. One place that I frequently use to find Creative Commons licensed images is PhotosforClass.com. Flickr's The Commons and Pixabay are two places I often visit for public domain images. You can watch video overviews of those resources in this post.

Audio recordings:
At a minimum your students will need to have a music track in their book trailer videos. Many video editing tools include a library of free music that students can use. The odds are good that your students will also want to include some voice-over elements in their videos. The video editing tools Stupeflix, Adobe Spark, WeVideo, and iMovie all have built-in voice-over recording tools.

Many of the aforementioned video editing tools offer sound effects too. Your students may want to look for sounds beyond what's included in their video editor of choice. The following two resources offer nice collections of free music and sound for student projects.

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.

Video editor:
Currently, Adobe Spark and Stupeflix are my favorite tools for creating simple book trailer videos. In the videos embedded below I provide tutorials on how to use both of those free tools. Stupeflix does not require users to have an email address or to register for an account. Adobe Spark does require users to register.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Keep Kids Active With GoNoodle or Sworkit Kids

GoNoodle is a free service that is designed to promote physical fitness in a fun environment. GoNoodle features tons of free videos that lead students in short, 2-5 minutes, exercises. These are fun exercises like dancing that can be done in your classroom or at home with parents. GoNoodle provides an online environment in which students track the minutes that they spend exercising. Students choose avatars to represent themselves in the GoNoodle environment. New avatars are available once a student completes enough activity time to reach a new level. Learn more about GoNoodle in the videos below.


Sworkit Kids is a similar app (Android version, iOS version) that will also help you get your students moving for short exercise breaks. Sworkit Kids doesn't have animated videos like GoNoodle does. Sworkit Kids simply features short video demonstrations of a movement like diagonal hopping accompanied by a countdown timer.

Applications for Education
As the new school year gets underway you may find yourself looking for new exercise and "brain break" activities that you can do right in your classroom. If that's the case for you, GoNoodle or Sworkit Kids could be the tool for you.

The Threat of Invasive Species

When you drive into my home state of Maine two of the first signs you'll notice are a sign to watch for moose and a sign banning the importation of firewood. The reason for the moose crossing sign is fairly self-explanatory. The reason for the ban on importing firewood may not be so obvious. Importing firewood is banned because we are trying to prevent the introduction of invasive insects. The part of the explanation of why we're concerned about invasive insects can be found in a TED-Ed lesson titled The Threat of Invasive Species.

The Threat of Invasive Species is a TED-Ed lesson that explains the problems caused when plants and animals are introduced to non-native habitats. The lesson explains how plants and animals get introduced to new environments, what happens when they are introduced to those environments, and what some governments do to try to control invasive species.


Extending the lesson:
TED-Ed lessons include a small selection of multiple choice and short answer questions. You can use the TED-Ed platform and questions as they are written or you could use another platform to develop your own flipped lesson. The following three tools make it easy to develop your own flipped lesson or simply have students record and share notes with you while watching the video lesson.

Using VideoANT anyone can add annotations to any publicly accessible YouTube video. To do this copy the URL of a video and paste it into the VideoANT annotation tool. Then as the video plays click the "add annotation" button when you want to add an annotation. To have others annotate the video with you, send them the VideoANT link. You are the only person that has to have a VideoANT account. Your collaborators do not need to have a VideoANT account to participate in the annotation process with you. Nathan Hall wrote a complete run-down of all of the features of VideoANT. He also posted a how-to video. I recommend reading his post and watching his video here.

Vialogues is a free service that allows you to build online discussions around videos hosted online and videos that you have saved on your computer. Registered users can upload videos to Vialogues or use YouTube videos as the centerpieces of their conversations. In the video embedded below I provide a short overview of how Vialogues works.



MoocNote is a free tool for adding timestamped comments, questions, and links to videos. To do this on MoocNote you simply paste a link to a YouTube video into the MoocNote editor. Once the video is imported you can start to add your comments, questions, and links. The link features is particularly useful for providing students with additional resources for learning about the topics covered in your shared videos. MoocNote allows you to organize playlists (MoocNote calls them courses) of videos according to topics that you identify. MoocNote could be a good tool for high school teachers who want to organize playlists of videos for their students and add some clarifying information to those videos. You could also have students use MoocNote to annotate videos to demonstrate an understanding of the topic at hand.

A Good Lesson on Hurricanes

The Atlantic hurricane season season is here and It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS) has a new video lesson about hurricanes. By watching Hurricanes: Engines of Destruction you can learn how the Coriolis effect influences the direction in which hurricanes rotate, the role of heat in hurricane formation, and the origin of the word hurricane. The video is embedded below, but you should also take a look at the video on YouTube to access the reference materials used in the creation of the video.


Try one of the following tools to build a flipped lesson around this video.

Vizia is a free tool for creating video-based quizzes. On Vizia you an import a video from YouTube or from Wistia and then add questions along the timeline of the video. You can ask multiple choice questions as well as short answer/ open-response questions. Adding a poll question into the video is also a possibility in Vizia. All of the responses to your questions are collected in a spreadsheet that you can download and or open in Google Sheets. When you create a Vizia video quiz you have the option to require that viewers enter their names and email addresses before they begin. Alternatively, you could make the first question in the video a prompt to enter a name.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. You can use VideoNotes to have students submit questions to you and each other while watching videos. Of course, you can insert questions into the conversation for your students to answer too.

EDPuzzle is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and text questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students and track their progress through your video lessons. Within EDPuzzle's editor you can select portions of videos for students to watch. EDPuzzle offers the option to share your videos to Google Classroom.