Simply Animoto

Logo-V2_Full-Color1-e1382125340276If you’ve poked around this website a bit, you may have stumbled across a couple of videos I created using a nifty web-based program called Animoto. You can find the videos here and here.

If you scroll down you’ll also find an Animoto Tutorial video I created for my students showing how I made the above video.

Animoto is great because it is super simple to create a short video using text, pictures, and video files that are already on your computer, iPad, or SmartPhone. You just log in, click “create,” select a style, then drag and drop! It is so simple and intuitive, even young elementary students can create a video with Animoto.

At this point, you may be wondering why use Animoto when there are plenty of other tools out there that students can use to create a glorified slide show. For me, it’s the platform. Most other video-editing programs I’ve used require a full-blown lesson on how to actually use the program. Aside from getting the kids logged in, I won’t have to teach an entire lesson on how to use Animoto. I can just give them the computers, tell them where to go, how to log in, and what I expect them to create with the program. After that, I can focus on teaching content again. If they need a little extra help maneuvering the program, I’ll just direct them to my nine-minute Animoto Tutorial below.

Animoto and the SAMR Model

samr_coffeeNow that you’ve become acquainted with Animoto, you need to create meaningful lessons. In an earlier post, I discussed the importance of using technology as a way to enhance student learning. The SAMR Model is a great tool because it serves as a reminder to use technology to create new learning experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. If you want to know more about how to apply the SAMR Model to your own lessons, check out the first post in this series: Doug, SAMR, and Me: Reflecting after a week of PD.

Animoto in my English 9 Class

Mandala Project

Ever since I started teaching, I’ve always had students create an artsy-fartsy representation of themselves to present to the rest of the class. Some years I’ll have them create shields, others they’ll create self-portraits, and last year my American Lit classes made personal flags. It’s a great way to learn names and get to know the students. Plus, I have a ton of student artwork to hang on the walls, which helps the students feel more comfortable and proud to be there.

Last year, however, after presenting his flag, I had an English language learner (ELL) write about how anxious presentations made him because he didn’t speak English very well. I realized that by requiring presentations the first or second week of school, I was already setting some of my students up for an anxiety-ridden year in a classroom where they don’t feel socially safe; the exact opposite of what I intended for this particular project.

Animoto will help me change that. This year, my students will create Mandalas for their artsy-fartsy Ms.Hayes-needs-art-on-her-walls project. Since Animoto is so quick and easy to use, I’ll give students the option to use Animoto to present their Mandala to the class instead of a traditional presentation. Since Animoto has apps for smartphones and tablets, shy or tech-savvy students can use their own technology and their own time to create the video, and ELLs can recruit help from friends or teachers so they feel confident about their English usage in the video.

Vocabulary Review

My students will also have Greek and Latin root-based vocabulary quizzes every Friday this year. When I taught juniors and seniors, I didn’t provide any vocabulary instruction during class (unless students asked for help, that is). I told them that in order to prepare for college they needed to get used to studying on their own outside of class, and if they needed help or explicit instruction I would be happy to give them one on one tutoring. That worked for juniors and seniors. That won’t work for freshmen.

Since I’ve designed my vocabulary units to give students repeated exposure to the same nine Greek and Latin roots over a five-week period, I can use Animoto as an assessment tool or as a review activity before unit tests or the summative vocabulary exam during finals week. Here’s a basic idea of what that’ll look like:

  1. Break students up into nine different groups.
  2. Assign each group one root word from that unit.
  3. Students then must use Animoto to explain how that root word operates within words we use in different contexts.
  4. I can then take all of the videos, use iMovie to squish them together, then share them with the rest of the students to use as a study guide before the big exam.

Reader Chair Share

Many teachers have had their students use Animoto to create a book trailer for something that they’ve read in class. While I think that’s a great idea, I don’t want to watch 150 Animoto trailers on the same book.

Instead, I might modify their idea a bit, and have students create a book trailer on something they’ve read for fun outside of class. If a student is reading Harry Potter outside of class for example, they can make a book trailer on Animoto and use that to sell the rest of the class on the series that their crazy English teacher is obsessed with. I might set aside time for students to present their Reader Chair Share videos, or – perhaps when we have a little extra time at the end of class, or when the students’ brains are zonked from endless standardized testing in the spring – I can play a few student-created book trailers to encourage them to read for pleasure outside of class and over summer break.

Creating a Teacher Account on Animoto

If you’re interested in using Animoto in your classroom, you’ll want to set up a teacher account so you can have free access. Since we live in a society where teachers make plenty of money to spend on their students and their classrooms (note my sarcasm), Animoto has made it a bit difficult for teachers to get free access for twelve months. If you’re going to set up an account, make sure you follow the directions below:

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 10.53.10 AM

Unfortunately, Animoto thinks that most teachers only have fifty students. Ha! That’s why I’ll either have students work in groups, or students in different classes will have shared accounts. Digital citizenship lessons are imperative to any modern curriculum!

That’s all I’ve got for you today! If you want to read more about strategies using technology and the SAMR Model, check out my post on using PollEverything in the classroom. You can also read the first post in this series here.

Check out my next post on making Flipped Videos with EDpuzzle!

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