Video Reflection of Digital Storytelling Tools

Please check out my reflection. I used iMovie to make it.

Here is the full text:

I don’t know about the rest of you, but during this Module every program that I worked with was brand new to me. I had heard of a few of the programs before (Movie Maker, Audacity, Flickr), but to be quite honest, I never really pictured myself using them. After playing around with all of these tools, I don’t know what I was so worried about. I assumed they would be difficult to use and it would be more of a hassle to create products rather than a fun experience. In fact, the opposite is true for many of the programs. My three favorite programs thus far are Jing, iMovie, and Creaza.

If you own a PC, you can use Jing if you have Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. If you own a Mac, Jing can be used on an OSX system that features Quicktime 7.5.5 or later. It is highly suggested that you use Broadband in order to use Jing. With your Jing account you get an account for Screencast.com, where your work is uploaded for you to access at a later date. On Screencast.com you get a free 2 GB of storage for all of your creations.

Jing is offered both as a free version as well as a Pro Version that can be purchased for $15 per year. For many people, the free version is just the right fit. If you are more interested in saving your files as a MPEG-4 instead of SWF, as well as adding the use of your webcam to record, then JingPro is something to consider. Using Jing you can capture your screen in a screenshot or record a video of your screen. For video recordings you can also narrate as your screen is recording—which I think is a fantastic feature. You can then save your work to your computer or take advantage of your Screencast.com account where a link to your image/video can be found. You can then share this link by sending it in an email, chat box, or you can even embed it in a blog.

I love the feature of recording your screen—it is very easy to use. For example, if you wanted to walk your class through submitting a paper to Turnitin.com (which any subject area can use), you can record yourself submitting a paper. You could then share this video with your students who can view it individually at their own computers. In the past I have walked through this process with my students, and it was difficult due to computer problems, student pacing, etc. I look forward to using Jing next year, not only for this but for other activities as well. If you have created a class wiki that students will access throughout the year, you can use Jing to show students how to create an account, as well as walk them through adding comments to the wiki page. I think that any subject area can utilize Jing. As long as you have directions for students to follow, Jing is a great way for students to see these steps first hand and be able to follow them with ease.

iMovie is a standard feature on Mac computers. You can also buy an upgrade for your Mac in order to access the newest features of iMovie ’09. When I first got my Mac, I thought that this program was beyond my skill set. Much to my surprise it is very user friendly. You can make a movie by importing any video clips, either those already on your computer, or directly from any digital camcorder. After your clips are imported, you simply drag and drop them into the editing area. You can also drag transitions, music, and text into this area. You can even carry out fine tune editing such as work on precise timings (audio, transitions, etc.), tweak the color of your images, add animation … virtually anything.

iMovie can be as complex as you want it to be, depending on how much you choose to edit your movie. At any time, you can easily preview your changes. When you are satisfied, you can save your project to your computer, or share it on YouTube. Here’s an example that speaks to the ease of iMovie’s use: I took 3 short video clips of the recent snowfall. I imported them to iMovie and dragged them so they transitioned from one to the next. I imported “Winter Wonderland” from my iTunes and set it as background music. I then posted it to YouTube and shared the link with my parents in New York who were amazed at my video creation. The whole process took maybe 10 minutes, and I felt so happy that I created this movie!

I would suggest using iMovie at the upper elementary school age through upper grades in high school. The difficulty of assignments can change based on the amount of editing required. For example, a class of elementary school students can record anything—a Thanksgiving Celebration, a short film on class pets, a class show and tell session—and with the help of an adult they can make a movie out of these clips. The movie can be uploaded on a class webpage for parents/guardians/friends to see. A high school student in a World Languages class can create a short film on cultural aspects of their content language or create a travel advertisement for the country of the content language. In a Language Arts class, students can film dramatic readings such as acting out certain scenes of a Shakespearean play. It would be great to assign each group a scene, record each scene, and then string them together to create your very own class adaptation of the entire play. In Earth Science, students can work in groups to record videos for weather cycles and elements of the solar system. Often the students at my school have to make Power Point presentations for many of their subject areas. Transforming slideshows into actual movies would be an exciting project that the kids would remember for the rest of their high school careers.

The last tool I would like to highlight is Creaza. All you need to use Creaza is a Flash plug in and internet access. It can be used on any computer operating system and is free—you simply have to create an account. With a Creaza account you can access different features: Mindomo, MovieEditor, AudioEditor, and Cartoonist. I like the fact that with one login, students can access four very different programs.

Mindomo is a tool similar to Inspiration—where students can generate cluster maps to better organize their thoughts. You can include links, photos, and text on these graphic organizers. It is a great way for students to see that stories need to have organization as well as a fair amount of content. In regards to MovieEditor and AudioEditor, these are programs in which students can manipulate video/sound recordings in order to create their own movies/audio tracks. It is similar to MovieMaker, iMovie, and Audacity, but on a simpler level. However, Creaza does offer a version in which you pay to access services on these programs that take editing to a higher level.

I love the Cartoonist program, where students can create their own comics. I mentioned in my earlier posts on our class discussion board that I already have my students write a Shakespearean Comic, and would love for it to be done on this site. You can add animation, fun graphics, and customize everything in your comic frame. You can save it to your computer, present it on the web, as well as print it out. Again, I feel that students can use this program across the grade levels and subject areas. Elementary students can make a comic strip about a favorite birthday party, holiday, or field trip. Upper level students can create a comic strip depicting historical events, such as the Boston Tea Party or create short stories using certain sets of vocabulary, such as the Food Unit in a Spanish classroom. I think that any student would jump at the chance to prove that they mastered content material through such a hands-on and creative activity.

Overall, I can’t wait to implement some of these tools into my classroom. I think that even though we as teachers feel that the students are so much better at using technology, once we simply try it ourselves, we will find that it is quite easy to use. We can all integrate fun and useful tools into our classrooms; we just have to take the first step to experiment with them. I wish that we had such tools when I was a high school student—it certainly would have made all of the posters, papers, and book reports a more fun experience.

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