My name is Richard Byrne. I write Free Technology for Teachers. When Wes asked me last week if I would guest blog during his vacation, I was flattered and immediately agreed. This post is based on a workshop that I will be leading in a couple of weeks at MLTI’s Summer Institute.
During the past school the projects that my high school US History students enjoyed most was creating video mash-ups to demonstrate their content knowledge. My students used Animoto and Remix America to complete these assignments. There are other web-based video mash-up tools available on the Internet, but these were the two that suited our needs the best. So that you can choose the tools that best suit your needs, I’ve included short summaries of Animoto, Remix America, Stupeflix, and Photo Peach in this post. In the projects that are described below, students had to find public domain and Creative Commons licensed images. For US History projects there are some excellent image sources including Flickr’s The Commons, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress. To conduct a more broad search for Creative Commons licensed images you should also use Compfight, Yahoo’s Creative Commons filter, and Google’s new Creative Commons filter.
To give you a little background on my work, I teach a class of special education students as well as college prep courses. In both settings my students have enjoyed creating video mash-ups to the point where they were suggesting video projects to their other teachers.
Project 1: “Using Animoto to Celebrate the Presidents.”
This is a project that my special education students did during the last month of school as a way to review the year. Each student (there were 13) was randomly assigned a president to research. The students had to gather some basic biographical information. The students also had to gather information about significant events and or acts from their assigned president’s time in office. The information the students gathered would be used for captioning images in their videos. After gathering the information students had to find, using the sources mentioned above, images for their videos. When all information and images were gathered, students then created their videos. Each image had to be accompanied by a short (one sentence) explanation.
The culminating experience for this project was an “Video Release Party.” During the “Video Release Party” students introduced their video to the class, showed the video through the LCD projector, and answered questions after the showing the video.
If you decide to try a project like this you should apply for an Animoto for Education account. It’s free and it gives you and your students access to editing features for which you would otherwise have to pay a fee.
Project 2: “Art as US History”
In this project students studied how artists created records of US History. Students again used Animoto for this assignment. Since my own knowledge of American artists was fairly limited and I needed a list long enough for a class of twenty-two, I worked with an art teacher to generate a list of notable artists. Students then selected from an artist from the list to research. Using the same procedure as outlined in project 1 above, students created Animoto videos about their artists’ work. An integral part of the assignment was for students to note what was happening in the US at the time their selected artist was working.
Project 3: “Make Your Own Civil War Documentary”
Remix America, launched last fall, makes it fairly easy for students to create their own US History documentary videos. Remix America provides video clips, audio clips, and images that students can arrange to create a Ken Burns-style documentary. If the stock media doesn’t contain what your students desire for their videos, they can upload their own media. My students used Remix America to create mini-documentaries about the US Civil War, but you could use Remix America to create mini-documentaries about any period in US History.
Other free video mash-up tools to consider.
Stupeflix allows users to drag and drop their images into the sequence that they would like the images to appear. Adding text to the images is easier in Stupeflix than it is on Animoto. Stupeflix offers only one default soundtrack so you have to upload your own audio clips.
Photo Peach is similar to Animoto although there is one difference worth noting. Adding captions to each image is a little more intuitive on Photo Peach than it is on Animoto. To add captions to your Photo Peach slideshow simply type your desired text into the caption box that appears as each image is automatically displayed by Photo Peach.
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