Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Learn it in Five March 25, 2013Posted by Donna Baratta in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Check this out!.
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Want to embed technology in instruction? Working to introduce your students or colleagues to cool and useful online tools? Overwhelmed by the constantly evolving array of Web 2.0 resources? Pressed for time? Learn it in Five < http://learnitin5.com>, featured on the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2012 list, provides a library of five-minute (or less) how-to videos on Web 2.0 resources. The resources are selected for their educational value.
The Learn it in Five videos are organized in seven categories:
Social Media for Teachers
Classroom Video Tools
Wikis for Teachers
Web 2.0 Lessons
Videos for your Class
The Search for the Right Tools:
The categories are an excellent starting point when searching for potentially valuable resources. Use the videos to start screening resources before setting up accounts or trying to figure out “how they work.”
Tip: Send students to Learn it in Five to look for alternative ways to produce and publish their original content.
In addition to using Learn it in Five as a resource for quick introductions to online resources, teachers can investigate the Digital Classroom Strategies section of Learn it in Five for ideas on implementing digital resources.
Tip: Use Learn it in Five’s subscription feature for daily updates. Having information sent to you is a great time management tool.
Finally, just as the site’s title suggests, you can use Learn it in Five videos for quick how-to introductions to online tools.
Tip: Have students create their own “Learn it in Five” videos based on the models provided.
AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning: Comic Master February 17, 2013Posted by Donna Baratta in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Check this out!.
Tags: Comics; Comic Master; AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning; Reading
In today’s blog post we will take a look at Comic Master, one of the AASL’s Best Websites in the Digital Storytelling category. This sleek-looking, interactive site lets students create original comic books and graphic novels. Comic Master is part of the Reading for Life literacy advocates program. A banner at the top of the site’s work area proclaims “Reading isn’t only books, it’s everywhere!” Educational resources are provided and target boys ages 11 – 14. Recent box-office hits have demonstrated the popularity of comic book superheroes. Entice reluctant readers to get involved in creative writing as they create their own superheroes and stories with Comic Master.
The site is easy to use as it is very intuitive. The single flash-based work page uses simple pop-up windows to guide students through the step-by-step creation process by first having them select cell layouts and backgrounds. To these they add characters, props, captions, and speech and thought bubbles. The simple click-and-drag elements make the creation and design stage effortless, along with editing and revising their own original content. The final product is a completely colored comic strip that prints out beautifully. You do not have to register or provide any kind of information to create and print your story; however, if you want to save a story to work on later, registration using an email address is required. Most of my students needed more than one session to finish.
Using Comic Master in the classroom to allow students to craft original stories cultivates important 21st century learning skills in communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Creative writing activities using this site can address many of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards in the production and distribution of writing strand. Students can work through the writing process using this new approach as they consider the assigned task, their purpose and audience. Using the website’s technology they can collaborate with partners to produce and publish their work.
Comic Master can be used across the curriculum in grades 3 and up. Members of my school’s student council have produced and published comic strips about drug prevention that were distributed during Red Ribbon Week and also about anti-bullying for school counselors to use. After demonstrating Comic Master to our teachers, I collaborated with several to re-design existing projects to incorporate this website. ELA teachers included the site in creative writing assignments focusing on a literary genre . Students wrote their own mystery stories demonstrating their understanding of the genre’s characteristics and specific vocabulary. Students retold events from the American Revolution using a superhero slant for a social studies assignment. Some of our middle school math classes had lots of fun writing and designing comic strips that incorporated a list of math vocabulary words.
Fun, easy to use, and so versatile! Give Comic Master a try in your classroom. Find it here: http://www.comicmaster.org.uk/
Elizabeth Poole Dumas, Committee Member, AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning
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Welcome to the American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee blog post. Our 2012 list of 25 Outstanding Websites was released in June at ALA Annual in Anaheim, bringing our total number of sites to 100! The sample of sites chosen here cover topics naturally aligned to the AASL standards. We hope you will find many of these and other Best Websites helpful as you work within your own programs and with colleagues to meet the challenges of the Common Core State Standards. Each site on this post includes the link, a brief description and an explanation of how it can be used in an educational setting. Each month, one of the chosen sites will be highlighted in this blog by committee members.
The list covers the following categories:
Media Sharing: Web 2.0 technologies that enable sharing, editing, and creation of video, audio, mash-ups, and more
Digital Storytelling: Online storytelling in a digital format
Manage and Organize: Web 2.0 technologies that enable users to classify, take notes, brainstorm, gather data, etc
Social Networking and Communication: Group projects, across curriculum areas, locally and globally, using Web 2.0 technologies
Curriculum Collaboration: Tools that allow teachers and students to share materials with others and to make deeper connections with content
Content Resources: Lesson Plans and More: Sites that provide materials for teachers and others to build class content and lesson plan
The Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Award honors websites, tools and resources of exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning as embodied in the American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21-Century Learner. The winning websites promote the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. The Landmark Websites honored sites because of their established histories for authoritative, dynamic content and curricular relevance. Together these websites provide dynamic resources that support 21st-Century teaching and learning.
You may find The Best Websites of Teaching and Learning here:
Websites are selected for inclusion using this criteria:
- Allow Free Access for an extensive (majority) of the site
- User Friendly
- Low on advertisements; when ads are present they are age and educationally appropriate
- Encourage curricula integration
- Promote collaborative teaching and learning
- Promote collaboration among students and/or the global community
- Facilitate a community of learning
- No blogs, wikis, or search engines
Great ideas for using the AASL Best Websites can be found by using past blog entries to take a brief look back at a sample of some of the committee’s previous posts. These entries will explain how each site can be used in an educational setting, either in the classroom or library, to enable student learning, professional development, collaboration and/or networking. Search past blog posts for additional sites, information, and ideas.
Social Networking and Communications:
Twitter Build a Professional Learning Network (PLN) using the social networking tool, Twitter (http://www.twitter.com), one of the first winners for Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. At the core of using Twitter as a Professional Learning Network (PLN), is choosing appropriate people, organizations, and companies to follow. These selections help make Twitter an indispensable tool to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in the field of library science, education, technology, publishing or practically any other discipline or interest. Using Twitter is still a great way for librarians to reach out to students to advertise services, and announce library hours, new books, and programming. By building a following on Twitter, libraries can market services, resources, databases and programming reaching beyond the physical walls of the library.
Animoto (http://animoto.com) One of our original 25 winners in 2009, Animoto, is a classic favorite. This application still makes it easy to match content to music for professional presentations. Animoto is a wonderful slide show creator that will excite your students as they create new visual projects for their classrooms and libraries. We have used it for our presentations throughout the years and still enjoy it and we hope that you will too
Piclits (http://piclits.com) is a graphically dynamic site focusing on text and graphics as inspiration for writing. The idea for PicLits was sparked by word magnets that people typically have on their refrigerator doors a step further by transforming simple word tiles into carefully selected word banks paired with stunning photography that are sure to inspire the writer in students young and old! PicLits provides a wonderful opportunity for school librarians to collaborate with teachers in a variety of subject areas such as writing haiku, poetry, short stories, lyrics, or essays.
Manage and Organize:
Evernote This bookmarking tool (http://evernote.com) takes clipping websites and online tools to greater heights by letting users capture anything they wish including: keeps websites, notes, clips, files, and images. A winner in 2010, it has gone mobile and is available on a variety of platforms. Evernote syncs between all devices, so whatever is clipped or loaded on one is on all. Evernote has a web clipper icon that can be added to your desktop or laptop. When a website is useful or worth keeping simply click on the web clipper, decide on a tag for the site, and it is instantly loaded into your Evernote notebook. Users can edit, share, and even tweet their Evernote tags.
In 2009, the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee members created a landmark list of sites to be released along with our first list of Web 2.0 best Websites. The Landmark Websites were honored due to their exemplary histories of authoritative, dynamic content and curricular relevance. They were then and continue to be free, web-based sites that are user-friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover while providing foundational to support 21st-century teaching and learning. Reacquaint yourself with these classic sites by visiting the AASL Best Website webpage
Discovery Education ( http://www.discoveryeducation.com/) was then, and still is, a one stop shop of free high quality resources for teachers, administrators, teacher-librarians, students, and parents. There are resources for teachers in all grade levels in language arts, math, social studies and science. Puzzle Maker continues to be a favorite for students and teachers alike
Although not included in past year’s blog posts, the following sites have been recognized for excellence in the more recent categories of Curriculum Collaboration and Content Resources
Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org) This popular fast growing math library provides thousands of videos with alternative, engaging instruction in math, finance, and history. Constantly expanding and improving, this is a rich resource for instruction and learning.
iEARN (http://www.iearn.org/) Be a part of the network and join the global community! Through International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) and an Internet connection, students and teachers from over 130 countries can transcend linguistic, national, political, religious, and social borders to collaborate on meaningful educational projects in hopes of making a difference in the health and welfare of people and our planet.
Exploratorium (http://www.exploratorium.edu) Dive into a unique exploration of science, art, and human perception in the Exploratorium. Watch, view, experience, learn and play using hundreds of web pages and activities. Take a gross-out walk, dissect a cow’s eye, make your own petroglyph…the choices and opportunities for learning are endless.
The National Archives’ Digital Classroom (http://www.archives.gov/education/) The National Archives’ Digital Classroom offers a multitude of resources for the use of primary sources in the classroom. With access to copies of primary documents from the holdings of the National Archives of the United States, teachers can develop their own activities and lesson plans that make historical periods come alive for their students or choose from dozens of resources that have already been developed and are featured here.
All of our previous winners from 2009 – 2012, including Landmark Sites, can be found on the AASL website (http://www.ala.org/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/bestlist/bestwebsites)
This year’s blog posts will highlight a number of the sites that brought us to the last 25 of our Top 100 sites in 2012, including sites such as History Pin, Popplet and IWitness.
We hope that you will continue to submit your favorite websites, making sure that they meet the criteria listed at the beginning of this post and found with the nomination form at http://www.ala.org/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/bestlist/bestwebsitesnomination. We look forward to hearing from you about your best websites for teaching and learning as we work together to gather and explore the next 100 sites!
Mrs. Susan Hess, Library Media Specialist, Retired and Dr. Donna Baratta, Library Media Specialist, Committee Chair
AASL Best Websites: 100 Sites and Counting June 12, 2012Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Committees.
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On June 23rd at ALA Annual in Anaheim, California, starting at 8 am, the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee will be presenting the top 25 websites for 2012. This is the fourth year that the committee has been reviewing sites, putting together the list, and presenting the winners at ALA. This year marks the presentation of the committee’s 100th site. As a committee we could not be more proud.
I have had the privilege to serve on this committee almost from the beginning. I have had four great years of reviewing sites, meeting on Skype, comparing, and deciding which sites would best meet the criteria for Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. Last year I was asked to serve as committee Chair and this past year has been an absolute blast.
Just about everyone in AASL knows the Best Websites list. Many people outside of AASL know about it as well. It has become the list to look to for top websites to use in classrooms and libraries. It is the place where educators go for new ideas in technology integration. Those of us who serve on the committee are constantly receiving comments on the usefulness and importance of the list. We plan to continue bringing top sites that will be of value to the areas of teaching and learning.
My time on the committee is coming to an end for now. This is a wonderful committee with which to serve and work. We review over 100 sites a year, meeting monthly, and email on a continuous basis getting everything ready for ALA Annual. We have, what we hope, is a wonderful list of sites ready for you this year. We are excited to share them and we hope that you will enjoy them. So come and join us Saturday, June 23rd from 8-10 in Convention Center room 213D to see the Best Websites for 2012.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair)
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: You Are What You Read April 22, 2012Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Committees.
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What five books have shaped your life? Who does your textual lineage connect you to? You Are What You Read (http://youarewhatyouread.scholastic.com/kids/) is a safe, secure environment for students to engage with a network of other readers connecting Bookprints from around the world. An AASL Best Websites winner for 2011, this reading based website has a student and adult level that lets readers compare books and more.
There are many different ways to use You Are What you Read in the library and classroom. Students can explore the Names You Know feature to see the Book Prints of famous celebrities, authors, and even Presidents. Students can share books and reviews with peers online or with their friends at school. This site is also a great place to get ideas for new books to read from the Booklinks option. There are ballots for students to vote on, genre clouds to try out different reading categories, and a section for most listed books. Students, teachers, and librarians can get as involved as they wish. Sign in only involves a screen name and a password, no personal information is needed. Books featured on the site do lean toward Scholastic’s press but in all it’s a great site for reading and sharing information about books.
Some more ways to use this site could include:
Following a class discussion about favorite books, teachers can have students create a list of their five favorite books. After creating an account, students can access the web site to share their favorite books by creating a Book Print. Students’ Book Prints consist of the titles of their five books and the reasons why they are favorites. Reasons why are chosen from a drop-down menu.
Students can use the Book Links tool to discover new books to try. By typing in a book title they will connect with Book Prints of readers who liked the same book and see the other books they read. When students move their cursor over the book covers, they can click on the Book Profile button to read a summary of the book. In this way students can discover new books to explore in the school library.
You Are What You Read is a great online site focused on reading. We were very excited when it wonlast year and we hope that you will enjoy it as well. This is a site filled with books, games, and more. We on the AASL Best Websites Committee have thoroughly enjoyed exploring it and trying it out and we hope that you will too.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair) and Elizabeth Dumas (Committee Member)
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Evernote March 6, 2012Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Committees.
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For this blog entry from the AASL Best Websites Committee, as the chair, I would like to talk about one of my personal favorite sites, Evernote. This bookmarking tools takes clipping websites and online tools to greater heights by letting users capture anything they wish. A winner in 2010, Evernote has gone from a bookmarking style tool with the advertising phrase of “Remember Everything.” To truly letting users do just that.
Evernote keeps websites, notes, clips, files, and images. It is now mobile so it works with devices such as the iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry. Evernote syncs between all devices, so whatever is clipped or loaded on one is on all. Evernote has a web clipper icon that can be added to your desktop or laptop. When a website is useful or worth keeping simply click on the web clipper, decide on a tag for the site, and it is instantly loaded into your Evernote notebook. Users can edit, share, and even tweet their Evernote tags.
Newer Products to Evernote
1. Skitch: Draw annotations, notes, and sketches in Evernote. Can aid in pointing out important sections of articles through illustration.
2. Evernote Hello: Helps users to remember people and their profiles.
3. Evernote Food: Remember food memories, take pictures, recipes and more.
4. Evernote Clearly: Save blogs, articles, and webpages all in one place to read.
5. Evernote Peek: Use Evernote and your iPad cover to create study notes. Wonderful idea as a study aid for students.
I personally use Evernote to start putting together potential sites for the next top 25 websites for the AASL Best Websites Committee. As we are finishing and presenting one list new sites are being released and nominated. Before we can start discussing them for the next year the committee needs a place to hold them all. Evernote is a great location to hold the new sites. I am always looking for new sites and tools through blogs and Twitter. So when I see something exciting or intesting I click on the web clipper and save the site. Having Evernote on my iPad is great for pictures, clips, and images as well. There are multiple bookmarking tools out there but Evernote is one that has truly worked its way to the top. It is continuously growing and adapting. They have a lot to offer, we were excited for them in 2010 when they won, and the site just keeps improving each year.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair)
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Skype February 9, 2012Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Committees.
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For the first February blog entry from the AASL Best Websites Committee we want to discuss one of our most commonly used sites, Skype. This web conferencing tool is a basic and easy-to-use service that offers free voice, video calls, and instant messaging. For a nominal monthly fee users can move up to a premium level for group video calls. This is a great tool that we on the Best Websites Committee use for monthly committee meetings and website winner interviews.
John Schumacher, co-author for this blog entry, uses Skype on a regular basis. It has completely changed how he teaches. This is a great site for author chats. More and more authors are willing to give a 20 minutes free Skype session, especially during book launchings. For example Laurel Snyder, author of Bigger than a Bread Box, gave 100 Skype visits when this new book was released. Tom Angleberger, author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoga, will have 1 or 2 Skype visits a month. Kate Messner, author of Sugar and Ice, also offers author visits via Skype. Many other children and YA authors are willing to visit schools via this web tool as well.
John and his distance education teaching partner Shannon Miller have Skype author visits between their two schools. Ruth Spiro visited via Skype on Bubble Gum day on February 3rd. When more than one school can group chat on Skype with an author this is when true community can be achieved. Shannon and John’s students have also been using iPads and Skype so that students can talk face to face to each other. This can also be a wonderful tool for collaboration, group work, and peer to peer storytelling. Skyping between schools also has the benefit of collaboration between librarians for team-teaching. If one has a skill that the other doesn’t, they can teach the class that day. Older students can teach younger. There are so many opportunities for collaboration.
John has also seen how Skype has made a difference in public speaking for his students. Last year they were able to present on a panel for the International Reading Conference. It would be very difficult to bus 100 elementary school students to this conference, but it costs nothing to bring them to the conference via Skype.
A few other examples of uses
- World Read Aloud Day: Different authors talk to your school throughout the day
- Picture Book Month: Various authors and illustrators visit via Skype through the month
- Celebrate an Animal Day: Example- John and Shannon celebrated Happy Pig Day by having a pig in the library on Shannon’s side of Skype and all of the students on John’s side were able to celebrate as well.
- Feature Books with Music or Art: Invite a musician or artist via Skype to talk to students
- Veterans/Memorial Day: Talk or interview soldiers via Skype overseas or at various bases.
As with any technology there can be challenges. Sometimes connections fail either on your side or the other. Make sure to be flexible and always have a back up lesson plan just in case the Skype connection doesn’t work out. In general Skype is very reliable; it still stands as one of the most popular web chat tools available, and has so many options when it comes to collaboration and teaching. We on the AASL Best Websites Committee use it frequently. We highly recommend it and hope that you can find some wonderful, creative uses for it in your library and school.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair) and John Schumacher (Committee Member)
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Tagxedo January 27, 2012Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Committees.
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In this blog entry Cathy and I are going to talk about using Tagxedo in your school. This site won in the most recent 2011 list and has been a presentation favorite since it was announced. If you have never used Tagxedo, this site is a word cloud generator. But the website takes word clouds to a whole new level. Tagxedo lets users create shapes out of their word clouds. Use the shapes that Tagxedo has available or load your own art or pictures and create the clouds from those. The site is completely free and very addictive once you start trying it.
Tagxedo can be used to create designs of all types. It can be used for conference logos, to create t-shirt designs, or posters. Students can create a tag of themselves. Import a close cropped headshot of a student and they can create a Tagxedo of words that describe their personality, or their favorite books, likes, dislikes, and more. Tagxedo can be incorporated into school art contests as well. This site can be used for a vocabulary introduction activity and it can help students gain familiarity with unknown words.
This website is perfect for differentiation of instruction. Students who are visual learners can express their work through word images. Tagxedo can be the unwritten research paper, a detailed representation of library investigation and work. Those students who have difficulty writing out long passages can use this site to explain their work graphically. The images from Tagxedo can be embedded into Power Points and other media. Instead of bullet points on a slide, a word cloud can do the job instead.
Assigning a Tagxedo as a way to demonstrate concept mastery does not eliminate the need to for background research or reading about a topic to develop a word cloud. On the contrary, students have to dig deeper in their thinking when they are visualizing how to represent their research or findings in a graphic format through a word cloud.
Tagxedo is a site that the AASL Best Websites Committee for Teaching and Learning highly recommends. It is a site that many of the committee members use personally and recommend to their students and faculty. The Tagxedo website offers 101 ways to use their word clouds. Copying and pasting images is very easy. It is a very user-friendly, intuitive site that we feel your students and you will enjoy.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair) and Cathy Jo Nelson (Committee Member)
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Prezi January 21, 2012Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Check this out!, Committees.
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For this year’s first blog entry from the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning committee, we’d like to present some practical tips and ideas for using Prezi in your libraries, classrooms, and professional development. A 2010 Best Websites award winner, Prezi is a zooming presentation editor that allows users to create fantastic, brain-friendly presentations. The site’s “zebra wheel” allows users to easily create and customize non-linear, creative presentations that can be saved for online access or downloaded for personal or professional use. Prezi makes it extremely easy to embed images, YouTube videos, and more.
Prezi can be a great tool for differentiating instruction in the classroom. The automatic zooming and panning features of Prezi imitate shifts in thoughts and are especially useful for those who think visually. This presentation site helps users and viewers to see connections and relationships. It is a break from the standard Power Point slide format.
When teaching students how to use this website, it will be important to instruct them in good Prezi practices. Just like in PowerPoint, students are prone to including every bell and whistle possible. When teaching Prezi, recommend small movements so that audiences don’t have motion sickness. Tips and recommendations for teaching good Prezi practice are available on the Prezi website. Rubrics and assessments can be created for Prezi presentations, and existing ones can be found online.
Some ideas for using Prezi are:
1. Use Prezi to enhance any presentation. Prezi is a great tool for showing relationships and connections in a way that other tools might not. Existing PowerPoint presentations can easily be uploaded an converted to Prezis.
2. Create interactive, multi-media timelines for presentations or class projects. It’s easy to insert diagrams, frameworks, and drawings into Prezis, so creating a timeline is a snap!
3. Show classification relationships for presentations or class assignments. Users can easily show relationships by adjusting size, adding shapes or arrows, and including images or text.
4. Create mindmaps. While there are a lot of great mind mapping tools available online, Prezi has the added benefit of easily turning mindmaps into impressive presentations.
5. Collaborate on presentations. Prezi Meeting (included with all licenses) allows users to edit and share Prezis with remote viewers in real time.
6. Teach with images. Embedding images in Prezi is simple, and the zooming features make it easy to show details or the “big picture” behind the image.
Prezi’s free teacher and education licenses include 500 mb of storage, as well as the ability to present both on and offline. Prezi also has a desktop option which allows users to edit and save their work offline, which makes it very different from many of the web 2.0 presentation tools. The desktop version is free for the first 30 days and then available for a yearly fee. Prezi also offers a free app for iPad users for viewing (but not editing) Prezi presentations.
A fun alternative for learners, the AASL Best Websites Committee has always enjoyed using this site and hopes that your students, teachers, and you will too.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair) and Jessica Hinman (Committee Member)
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Animoto December 20, 2011Posted by hmlang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Committees.
For this holiday blog entry we are going to discuss a site that is a big favorite among the members of the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee, Animoto. As one of our original 25 winners in 2009, Animoto is used by our committee for every ALA and AASL presentation. It is the slide show that we have going as people come into our sessions. We match the slides to music, we simply love this site and how easy it is to use and we hope you will to.
My co-author for this blog is Elizabeth Dumas and she too has many ideas for Animoto. First let’s give you a little background. Animoto is a video slideshow maker with music. Users can use background templates and royalty free music provided by the site and then load in their own images, art, and pictures to create dynamic slide shows. You can make an unlimited amount of 30 second videos for free. After that, there is a cost for longer videos. There is also a free educator’s plan where teachers receive a classroom code to set up student accounts that enable students to create full-length videos. Teachers are also able to monitor students’ work. This web-based tool allows students to work on their videos at school or home.
Animoto and 21st Century Skills go hand in hand. Below are some examples of how this site addresses various skills.
- Creativity, effective communication skills and critical thinking skills come into play when students use this Web 2.0 tool to design and create videos. Creative juices flow when students suddenly become video producers.
- Students must critically look at their choices of images, text and music to make decisions as to the best choices and arrangements. Critically evaluating each video, editing and revising as needed, and remixing videos develop important 21st century learning skills.
- Decision-making skills and organizational skills used as student prepare storyboards for their Animoto videos.
- The site’s text blocks have a limited number of characters so students must write concisely and succinctly.
- The visual, audio, and textual elements in producing the videos help students produce visual messages and strengthen visual literacy skills.
From the Animoto website: All videos are completely private. The only way someone can watch a video is if they are directed to that video’s specific URL, or if that video is posted to another website. Also, no one will be able to contact your students via Animoto.
Elizabeth and I also wanted to offer some ways to use this wonderful site in your classrooms and with your students. Examples are below:
Teachers/Librarians can create a video -
- As an introduction to an upcoming curriculum lesson/unit- a “preview” or “teaser.”
- To activate prior knowledge before beginning a new lesson.
- To showcase library resources during Open House or faculty meeting.
- To inform students & faculty of new books in the library.
- To share the highlights of a school event such as an author visit, Teen Read Week, etc. with parents/community.
- As an introduction for a presentation.
- For conference presentations.
Students can create a video –
- As a “movie trailer” for a novel they’ve read.
- As a scrapbook project following a field trip.
- To demonstrate knowledge of a concept or person. (This year our students created videos about biomes, people and events in the American Revolution, Christmas traditions in other countries, and science fiction authors.)
- To explain a new vocabulary word. (Our sixth graders created 30 second videos about new vocabulary words for a weather unit.)
- To inform the school and community about a community service project – PSA. (Each year as part of Teen Read Week we always include a community service project. The last project was for the local animal shelter. Students were asked to bring in pet food and other items on the shelter’s “Wish List.” The video played on the school’s broadcast channel and on the school’s website.)
Animoto is a site that many of us on the AASL Best Websites Committee have personally used. Some use the free version. Others have gone ahead and purchased the pro version for longer videos and more effects. No matter how you want to use it, Animoto is a wonderful slide show creator that will excite your students in creating new visual projects for their classrooms and libraries. We enjoy it and we hope that you will too.
The AASL Best Websites Committee wishes everyone a wonderful holiday season and will be back with more ways to use the winning sites in the new year.
Heather Moorefield-Lang (Committee Chair) and Elizabeth Dumas (Committee Member)