Friday, October 19, 2018

Three Ways to Make Social Media Profiles for Historical and Literary Characters

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who was looking for a way that her students could create fake Facebook and other social media profiles based on historical and literary characters. The tool that I used to recommend for creating that kind of fake Facebook profile hasn't been reliable in recent years. The other problem with the old Fakebook is that kids now see Facebook as something their parents use. Using the old Fakebook is not as engaging an activity as it once was. My recommendation today is to either create your own template for fake social media profiles or have students make them. There are three tools that make that process relatively easy.

Storyboard That
Storyboard That has many wireframe elements that you can use to design a simulation of a phone or computer screen. Once you've made a screen you can then start adding icons and characters to design a fake social media profile based on a historical or literary character. Storyboard That has a gallery of more than 40,000 unique drawings that you can use in designing frames.

Canva
Canva, like Storyboard That, has lots of wireframe elements that can be used to create a simulation of a screen. Then within that simulation you can add pictures and text. You can set custom dimensions for your frames in Canva which is something you cannot do in Storyboard That.

Google Drawings
If your students are already using G Suite for Education, then Google Drawings can be a good option for designing a fake profile. The downside to using Google Drawings is that the selection of pre-made design elements is limited compared to Storyboard That and Canva.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on this blog. 

How to Create Storyboard Templates in Google Slides or PowerPoint

Creating a storyboard is an excellent way for students to plan video projects. Storyboards provide a frame-by-frame outline of the plot of a video. Even if your students are going to use tools like Adobe Spark or Powtoon that have frame-by-frame video editing, it is still helpful to have students plan their videos before jumping into those tools. Making simple, printable storyboard templates is easy to do in Google Slides and in PowerPoint. Watch the following videos to learn how to use those common presentation tools to make storyboard templates.

How to create a storyboard template in PowerPoint.


How to create a storyboard template in Google Slides.

How to Set Start and End Times for Videos in Google Slides

This morning I answered an email from a reader who had a question about ytCropper. The link ytCropper link for her cropped video wasn't working in Google Slides. My solution was to not use ytCropper and instead just use the built-in formatting tools in Google Slides. The video formatting tools in Google Slides includes the option to specify specific start and end times for the videos that you include in your slides. Watch my video to see how to set start and end times for videos in Google Slides.

The Curse of Knowledge

Earlier this week I shared the 101st explanatory video published by Common Craft. More than a decade ago Common Craft pioneered using simple paper cutouts to tell stories and explain difficult concepts in videos. Six years ago Lee LeFever, the founder of Common Craft, published The Art of Explanation. It's a great book containing concepts that can be applied to video production or nearly any story-telling format.

Shortly after the The Art of Explanation was published I recorded a short interview with Lee LeFever. You can watch that interview here or as embedded below. One of my big take-aways from the book was the idea of avoiding "the curse of knowledge." The curse of knowledge is basically knowing so much about a topic that you forget that what you take for granted is not as easily understood by non-experts. Explaining things is something that we do every day in our classrooms and I know that I'm guilty of sometimes suffering from the curse of knowledge.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Why Have Students Make Simple Animations?

Last week I wrote about having middle school students create presentations from a combination of illustrations and videos that they made. In that post I shared Brush Ninja animation tool. That's just one of many tools that students could have used to animated GIFs to include in their slides. The point of the activity wasn't to have students learn how to use Brush Ninja, it was to have students create animations to demonstrate their understanding of a process.

In the example that I shared last week students made animations to illustrate forms of energy. That topic was a fairly natural fit to illustrate with animations. But animations can be used to illustrate nearly every topic that is taught in K-12 schools. I was turned onto this idea many years ago when I read Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin and Unfolding the Napkin books. These books make the point that if you truly understand a concept, you can illustrate it with simple drawings on the back of a napkin or other blank canvas.

You don't need to be artistically inclined at all in order to make effective illustrations. In fact, in Unfolding the Napkin I learned that simple stick figures were often all that is needed to illustrate a concept. And if you do use the concepts of Unfolding the Napkin in your classroom, you will have to remind some students to focus on the concepts first before getting hung up on the aesthetics of their sketches.

Watch the following video in which Dan Roam explains the concepts of Unfolding the Napkin.