May 12, 2013

Animoto: a GREAT Teacher Tool!

One of the best technology "things" that I've stumbled upon in the past few years is a video processing site called Animoto. If you have not seen this website I encourage you to hop on over and check it out. It allows the user to create 30 second video slideshows featuring original photos and/or downloaded pics from the internet. Paid subscription accounts are also available, but Animoto does a great service for educators. Teachers can apply for FREEBIE educational accounts for themselves and their students that allow them to develop videos of longer length. Education accounts are similar to a paid account with a few very minor exception. The one drawback to the educational account is that it expires at the end of six months. Teachers can renew their accounts and their student accounts but it is a bit of a process. My suggestion to Animoto is that they increase the length of the account to one year, or at the least nine months.

One of the first videos that I created is this brief one that I used with my fifth grade class last year as we were delving into Newbery Literature. I have a great poster that features all of the Newbery award winning books from the inception of the award through 2012, but I wanted a video to capture the attention of my fivers. They loved music and singing and all things technology. Animoto was the perfect tool for me to whip up a quick video to accompany my lessons. This was playing when they entered the room. They LOVED it! If I recall I think I played it four or five times before I could go on with the lesson.

Animoto is exceptionally easy to use. Animoto provides an instructional video but I chose to skip it since I found the site quite intuitive. Additionally, there are several good tutorials on YouTube for anyone who likes step-by-step instructions. Just use any internet search engine to locate them or go directly to YouTube to search.

Animoto's interface is user friendly and works similarly to a typical word processing program. To begin a project you select a template. Depending on the type of account you have will depend on the kind of template that you may select. Free accounts have far fewer choices and fewer privileges, however, stunning videos can still be created. The next step requires the selection of photos, either from Animoto's vast onsite collection or by uploading your own. Snippets of videos can even be added if there is enough time available in your project (this is where it is advantageous to have an education account). Each template has a pre-selected audio file. This, too, can be changed. You may select from Animoto's list of musical pieces (a rather limited database) or once again, your own. Finally, you can tweak your video using a few special effects, the variety and number vary with the type of account you are using, and then produce it.

Your video can be shared on social media site, such as FaceBook, with the click of a button or embedded in blogs and websites with HTML code. Individual video links can even be shared via email by copying and pasting the web address. Education and paid account users can even download their videos for playback on PC's and handheld devices.

The following three Animoto videos were completed as an assignment by sixth graders. The class had been reading realistic/historical fiction centered on the Holocaust. We had spent time learning and researching actual historical evidence (newsreel videos, history texts, personal memoirs, et al.) and comparing this with the fictional text in The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. My sixers could select from several methods of presenting what they learned: an Animoto video, a powerpoint presentation, or a Social Media book response (something I developed and is available for purchase in my TpT Store and Teacher's Notebook Shop). This assignment was very open-ended. I really was interested in seeing what my kiddos would do without strict parameters. I had spent the year developing these types of projects with them, giving specific directions and instructions. They had made Animoto videos before, had watched me use and demonstrate PowerPoint, and the Social Media book responses were patterned after Pinterest, FaceBook, and Muzy, all sites I used with them on a weekly basis.

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.

Needless to say, I was quite pleased with what they had produced. The only complaint I have is that some took an improper shortcut to their image citations, simply stating they got their images from Google, even after I had talked and talked about this over and over, off and on, all year... get my frustration? I would've required those who had taken this shortcut to make corrections, but their accounts had expired on Sunday, May 5th... thus my suggestion to Animoto as I mentioned above.

If you are interested in using Animoto with your students you might be interested in seeing a few of the items that I use with my sixers as I first begin teaching them about making videos. The first project that they do is making a book trailer, patterned after a Hollywood film trailer. You can download the instruction sheet HERE and the assessment tool to accompany the project HERE or by clicking on the individual graphics. These items might provide some help for you as you begin developing video projects with your students.

Do any of you use Animoto? What are some ways that you use it with your class? Do you use any other video websites? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

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  1. I haven't used it yet but was planning to use it for book trailers soon so I grabbed your freebies. :) Yay...I love reading other upper grade blogs. There's so much to learn from each other! :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Brandee. I, too, love to read other blogs, especially the upper elem. ones. I've gotten such terrific ideas! It's definitely NOT true what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks, 'cause this old dog has learned a TON of new things from her fellow bloggers!

      Have a great week,

  2. This looks so cool! I wonder if it is something I'd be able to use with my new grade next year? I'm moving from fifth to 2/3... Yikes!!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

    1. Many good wishes for your move to a new grade. Sounds like a challenge, but also fun!!!! I bet you could use Animoto or something similar with your younger students. Might be fun trying it! I did some poems last year when I was just starting out. All the kiddos had to do was key in the lines of their original poems and use the artwork and music already there. I even picked out the templates for them. Easy Peasy!

      Have a great week,

  3. I've never heard of this site. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Tales from Outside the Classroom


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