Monday, May 18, 2015

Once Upon a Time in the Land of Technology: Making Movies

Stories have been a means of communication throughout history, starting with oral stories that passed down traditions, histories, and information to the next generation or the next travellers.  Stories are still important today and not all of them begin with "once upon a time."  Today's stories include the news on TV, movies, both informational and for entertainment, social media, blogs, screencasts, and more.  In the classroom, they tell the story of what our students are learning or can be creative, fun stories for others to read.  While creating stories, students practice doing research, evaluating resources, writing, reading, collaborating, presenting, and using technology. When our students create stories, they are practicing researching, identifying the best resources, writing, reading, using technology, collaborating with others, and presenting.  

In this series of blogs,  a variety of platforms for storytelling with technology will be introduced.  With the amazing amount of apps, websites, and software out there, this list will not be complete, but hopefully will give you some ideas to get you started.  In part I, we will look at ways to have your students create videos, which is a great project for collaboration.  As for doing the research, analyzing sources, writing the script, and the other components that go with creating the video, there are plenty of resources out there for you to use and maybe we will blog on those at a later date.

iMovie is available for the Mac and iPad.  It is easy and intuitive enough for beginners, yet has several advanced features that will lure in a competent producer.  Students can choose templates for their videos (there are several for videos and movie trailers), then shoot the video to place into the template they have chosen.  It almost seems like magic as you place the videos and iMovie creates your masterpiece.  The movie trailers are great for creating book reviews, advertisements to promote a school event, making political advertisements, and more.  Below is an example of using the trailer feature of iMovie in the classroom.

"Aztec Knights" Expedition Theme-iMovie Trailer Explorer Project

Microsoft's MovieMaker has been around for a while and is still easy to use and works on Windows based technology. It allows you to add and edit video clips, add music or narration (including changing the volume of the music so it doesn't overpower the narration), and you can add still pictures, animations and transitions to create a profession looking video.  Videos can be used to create debates, interview a character from history, or as a research topic instead of the traditional written report.

WeVideo is web based and free for up to 5 minutes of video a month.  Other plans are available.  You can drag and drop your video clips and still pictures into a template as a beginner and move on to doing it all on your own once you know the ropes.  Transitions, special effects, and audio can easily be added.  The best thing is that it can be used on all devices since it is web based, making it an easy choice for the BYOD classroom.  Advanced features include picture-in-picture and green screen.  Students can create a weekly news show, create a video on a historical figure, present the biography of an author, or tell how the author used tone, setting, and characters to get a specific message across to her readers.

Wideo is a web based animated movie maker.  Wideo is free, but limits each of your videos to just 45 seconds, which is great for a short report.  There is education pricing for other plans.  Students can start with their built-in templates, then advance to creating on their own.  Add images, backgrounds, and music to tell your story.  There is also an extensive image library to choose from.  Wideo does the rest.  Since Wideo is an animated short video, students have to tell their story with animations, movement, sound and music, which is a challenge, but a fun one!  Have them create advertisements for a product or a book, show a scene from history, or get across a point of view.

For those of you using Chromebooks in the classroom, WeVideo and Wideo are excellent resources that will have your students creating in no time.  Both can be added to Chrome from the Chrome Store or accessed via their website.

Digital storytelling is a multifaceted practice that is hands-on and interactive, combining art, technology, and education into one stimulating piece of work. It may help teachers integrate material and reach their study group, or allow students to develop multiliteracy skills. It’s possible to combine tradition with creativity by means of text, images, sound, voice, and why not animation?  (
By engaging in creating, students are using a multitude of skills that they will need for the rest of their lives.  If we go back to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, storytelling moves students up to the top levels of creating, analyzing, evaluating, and applying in a way that has been difficult to do in the past without technology. Storytelling is more than just videos in today's world.  Next time I'll look at screencasting in the classroom, which is a great way for students and teachers alike to create stories by capturing their screen and their voice.

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