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Automatoon: Create HTML5 animations

What it is: Oh. My. Word.  I’m slowly but surely making my way through my Google Reader and stumbled on a post by @rmbyrne on his EXCELLENT blog Free Tech 4 Teachers about Automatoon.  I immediately started playing with Automatoon and cannot say enough about how COOL it is!  Automatoon makes it simple for students (or teachers) to create animations within a web browser.  My very favorite part? It was built-in HTML5!! Do you know what that means? It works on iDevices (like the iPad and iPod touch).  A non-flash animations site! Pure genius.  This is one of the easiest animation programs I have seen.  Students can draw characters in pieces (kind of like a puppet or paper doll) and then create points where the pieces connect.  The drawings can animate by moving, bending or adding pieces to the picture.  SO cool!  After watching the demo video, I think even young students could have Automatoon mastered in no time.  The tools built into Automatoon are pretty robust for what a simple program it is to use.  Your students will look like animation masters, bringing their creations to life.  When students are finished creating their animations, they can download them as a zip file to be uploaded to any site.  There are two ways to login, students can login with a “throwaway” login that will not save their animation (but will let them create and download a quick animation) or login with a Google account.  This is fantastic for schools that take advantage of Google apps for education! How to integrate Automatoon into the classroom: Kids of all ages love cartoons and animations, Automatoon gives them the tools to be the creator of those cartoon animations.  Students can create animations to animate processes in science (think the water cycle, plant life cycle, rock cycle, etc.), vocabulary words (in either native language or a second language), animate a piece of creative writing, animate a persuasive argument (think advertisement), animate a “book report”, animate solving a math problem, animate a story problem or animate an event in history.  The possibilities are really endless on this one, students will only be limited by their imaginations. Automatoon is easy enough to use that with a little pre-planning, students could create animations in 5-10 minutes.  This is handy for those situations where you have one or two computers in the classroom or a limited time in a computer lab.  After learning how to use Automatoon, students can quickly create animations to illustrate learning.  Automatoon is a FANTASTIC little tool for your visual learners…they will “get” it. Are your students having a hard time understanding a math or science concept or a vocabulary word?  Why not create an animation that illustrates the concept/word and share it on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer?  The animation can be saved on the classroom website so that students can go back and access it throughout the year. If you have a classroom website or wiki you could create a classroom animation collection.  Students can upload their creations to the class site for a great collection of learning.  It would be neat to animate sight words (Snapwords style), math or science vocabulary and create a visual “glossary” online that all of your students have contributed to.  Classes can add to it every year or you can work with other classes around the world to create a collaborative glossary.  This would also be a great tool to aid students in creating their own “e-textbooks” about any subject.  Students can create animations to embed in their other research, reflections and links. Way cool. Tips: Be sure to watch the intro video (above) to get a 5 minute low down on how to use Automatoon…very useful! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Automatoon in your classroom!

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Popcorn Maker: Mashup video with images, articles, text, maps, etc.

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Geography, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2013

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What it is: Popcorn Maker is a super cool site that I learned about from Michael Zimmer’s blog, The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness.  Popcorn Maker is an online video mashup tool that makes it easy to integrate several different forms of online media into a video.  A clip from YouTube can be enhanced with article clips, images, text, audio, maps, other live feeds and social media content. Add some “bling” to any video clip…interactive is better! Videos can be mashed without logging in.  Creating a user profile let’s you save and share the finished project.

How to integrate Popcorn Maker into the classroom: Popcorn Maker is a great way to enhance videos.  Teachers can use Popcorn Maker to mashup media for students to engage with.  This could be adding a map to an historical video so that students can better visualize where an event is taking place, adding a wikipedia article to expand on an idea that a video touches on, adding a live social media feed with student comments as a “backchannel” video, etc.  This type of use is great for expanding on Kahn academy type instructional videos (which can be a bit boring/dry), educational videos, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a real-life example pop up during a Kahn academy instructional video?  Students can connect number sense and computation.  (What a novel concept!)  For young students, create a video with embedded directions (audio or text) and next steps for learning.  This would make for a great learning center for completing a science experiment, multi-step directions, or next steps of learning.

Students can use Popcorn Maker to enhance videos that they have created, to further expand on an idea, to help explain a researched topic to the rest of the class, or to share reflections on a video with others.  Because students can add text, it is easy for them to add their “blogged” reflections directly in a video to be shared with others.  So often our students start their research with a video search.  Ask them to create a mashup of all of their research using Popcorn Maker.  This will help them to dig beyond the video for other relevant content that adds to their understanding.

In the “flipped” classroom, Popcorn Maker takes the videos to the next level.  Popcorn Maker could be a great way to help apprentice students in the art of learning.  Students can see the way that connections are made among different media types and are led through how to think and expand on an interesting topic.  After students have viewed a few mashups, ask them to create their own.  This could be really helpful in discovering misunderstandings in learning, gaps in the way research is being completed, or difficulties in making connections.

Tips: The tutorial on the first page is really useful. I recommend it before beginning a project!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Popcorn Maker in your classroom.

Comments (2)

We used this briefly for a mobile journalism course and I found it to be great in regards to layout, easy accessibility and immediacy of outcome. This is a great journalistic tool

I think the Popcorn Maker is a very smart invention! I remember when I was younger and I would get so tired of just listening to my teacher talk, but now teachers can really make a lecture interesting! It can also increase your knowledge about something by explaining it in different ways! Assigning it to be used by students can also improve the knowledge of things because they have to research all different types of resources and combine them. I’m very glad that I read this article and I may even start using the Popcorn Maker when I become a teacher!

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