“A” is for Animation

Telling stories, animating them, provides a different stage for student work. Over the past year, cartooning sites have exploded, ToonDoo was my go-to, especially once they made the “keep it private” option for cartoons (almost a problem for me a long time ago), but now there are so many more options: Kerpoof (K-5), MakeBeliefs Comix (multi-lingual too), BitStrips (free individual accounts and an “Education” option that isn’t free but has a free 30 day trial), PikiKids (with real images) and Read-Write-Think are some of the comic generators now. And not sure what to do with cartoons in the classroom? The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) have lesson plans, the Daryl Cagle site (great for education-friendly political cartoons) has a teachers’ guide section, and the National Association of Comics Arts Educators has ideas and lesson plans, study guides and more for using comics in the classroom.

And if interested in animating video, Muvizu is intriguing for making 3-D animations, scripting and more. I especially like that it allows a “gatekeeper” account to be set up by teachers or people who work with people under 13 years old so you have administrative control over the account. I have loved Xtranormal in the past, but it isn’t as easy with students as it has been in the past. Memoov also looks like it has a lot of potential for making animated movies in the classroom.

A is for animation.

Summer Technology Symposium Preview

I am so excited about the opportunity our staff has this summer – to spend four mornings learning more about PowerPoint’s capabilities, Web 2.0 tools, podcasting, movie making, games, and more!  Today’s Friday Five invites you to take five minutes to check out some student projects that showcase some of the things we will be learning about this summer.

1. Working with podcasts and making movies.  For this assignment, students (seniors) took one of President Bush’s Saturday Morning Radio Addresses and turned it into a movie. For many of them, it was their first experience making a movie. A works cited list was submitted as part of the assignment. Two of the students submitted their work to YouTube, one of them is linked here.

2.  Use cartooning and music videos to tell stories, teach about Supreme Court cases, whatever you want them to.  Here you will find examples of cartoons and music videos designed to teach about Landmark Supreme Court cases – students created them then posted them to the class wiki to showcase their work.
(The music videos play when you click the play button on the green screen.)

3. An example of a digital flowchart – while this was for the Crusades, the possibilities are endless.

And we will do so much more! It will be an exciting week.

Well done, ToonDoo, well done.

So at least three of my seniors were honored as Editor’s Picks in ToonDoo and each time, I was concerned about the comments left by “the public” when they published their cartoons. Well, earlier this month, ToonDoo announced a new option for publishing toons, the opportunity to keep them “private” and share just with a select group of people. I look forward to trying this new option with my students and as they can then have the option of opening their cartoons to potentially crass comments from “the public” or keeping their cartoons private and only sharing them with our selected audiences. Especially as they are still students, I definitely appreciate the options.

Reflecting on Toondoo

Have you tired Toondoo yet? A super user-friendly cartoon making site combined with my squirly seniors inspired me to set them loose with Toondoo. They each made a series of political or government-based cartoons, some about the Legislative Branch, some the Executive, and some about the government in general. They really enjoyed Toondoo and found it extremely easy to use. I even had two students who are more on the fringe than some, and they said a couple of times, “If school was always like this, I would like school.” So I thought that was pretty cool, and so did they. Turning the cartoons in was an interesting process, I chose to have them post them on our class wiki (I admit, I chickened out on having them post to a blog this time, but I think next year I will). Those who read directions did fine.

Once the cartoons were published, it was interesting to see that two of my students cartoons were selected as the “Editor’s Picks” for the day. My students noticed the first cartoon but said nothing until I mentioned the second. The student who authored the second cartoon was extremely proud that his work was on the front page of Toondoo, and his classmates were excited for him too. That was exciting to see.

I was disappointed to see that the comments left for the first editor’s pick student cartoon used a misspelling to leave a variation of swearing in their comments. I am sure I will write about that type of netiquette in a later post, but for now, I will just say that I am going to think differently now about how to best use these tools as I don’t want my students hurt, and we are part of a private religious school. I know the students did not say anything, but it bothers me.

Overall, I know I am a Toondoo fan. Check it out but know, as another blogger wrote a couple of weeks ago, it can be addicting…