Archive for February, 2011

Here are a few tutorials that I put together in hopes that I can eliminate some of the confusion and aggravation that comes with Movie Maker. There is certainly more that I could add in each of these tutorials, but my goal was several short segments that would get a person started. I have found that most people just need a little boost when starting the first video. After that, because of the intuitive nature of Movie Maker, most people figure out the rest on their own.

There are four segments. Here are the links to the individual videos:

1. How to use Movie Maker #1

2. How to use Movie Maker #2

3. How to use Movie Maker #3

4. How to use Movie Maker #4


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Yes, that’s right. There is room for technology in the music classroom. Think about it. How much of the music students hear today is produced without technology. Not much. That is for sure.

Recording, sound editing and mixing tools are very cheap. A cheap microphone is not going to produce professional results, but a cheap microphone will definitely achieve the goal for most classes if all you really need to do is capture some music for students to work with. They can be bought for as cheap as five or six bucks. Audacity is an excellent sound editor and recorder, and it has the best price: free! Another free app is Myna, part of the Aviary suite. It is also free and is hosted online where Audacity is downloaded to the computer. Either of these are excellent to use with students as they are both intuitive programs, and will produce a quality product.

This past week, I worked with a 7th grade beginning keyboarding class. Their goal was to record their own track. First, they had to write, play, and record their own melody. Then, using JamStudio, the students put together their own backup music and beat to be played with the melody. When this was done, students took the back-up music and the melody and mixed it together using Audacity.

This really stretched the minds of most of the students. For most of them, this was something totally new. They had never thought about how music was made, the music they listen to every day, but now they were making their very own.

The students spent a several days working on and recording their own melodies. Then, students spent 4 class periods (40min) in the computer lab putting everything together. This seemed to be an adequate amount of time for most of the students to get all the work done.

So, what do students gain from a project like this. First of all, a knowledge and appreciation for how something works that affects their every day lives. Second, they have to think to do this project, and they aren’t working with material that someone else produced. It is all their own!  Third, students have recorded a track that they made all on their own. It is their own original music. They can post it on their Facebook or Myspace and let the world listen to their work.


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Heretofore we have harvested creativity wild. We have used as creative only those persons who stubbornly remained so despite all efforts…to grind it out of them…If we learn to domesticate creativity-that is to enhance rather than deny it in our culture-we can increase the number of creative persons in our midst by about fourfold.

-J.C. Gowan   1977

Do you believe in harvesting creativity wild? Or, do you have a classroom that promotes it, fosters it, allows it to grow?

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A big part of engaging students in any class activity or lesson is giving them the opportunity to share their work with a larger audience. When students know that their work is going to be shared with the whole world instead of just the teacher or a single class, they tend to work harder.

This doesn’t have to take a bunch of extra time. Sometimes, thinking about tech projects stresses a teacher out. It seems like a lot of extra work. This doesn’t have to be the case. Sure, there is going to be a little extra work, but the work with be worth it.

Most assignments can be turned into a digital media of some sort. I want to show how a simple book report can be turned into a digital media project with just a little extra work. The funny thing here is that the students won’t even realize they are working. This is what they love to do!

This video was made from a book report project. To start, the book report was made on paper. This, I feel is important. Just because we can make most anything we want on the computer does not mean that we have to. Students should be given (and probably required at times) to use their hands and just good old fashioned art supplies. This requires some good thinking. I don’t believe these hands on activities should ever go away. The cool thing about integrating technology is that they can be shown to a broad audience which allows for collaborative learning across the globe.

After the art project was finished, the student took pictures of each of the drawings with a simple digital camera. Some of the pages had two or three drawings, and other drawings filled up the whole page. It didn’t matter because the pictures were cropped using a photo editing program, so they filled a whole frame.

The pictures were then imported into Prezi. There are a host of other programs that could be used to do what was done here. Movie Maker and PowerPoint would also work fine. Another fun option would be to use Animoto.

Once the presentation was made, the student used a screen shot tool called Screen-Cast-O-Matic to record the voice over while flipping through the slides. For the voice over, the student read the text that was written on the original art project. After the screen cast was recorded, it was imported into Movie Maker for a few finishing touches, mainly the title and title effects.

The video presentation was then complete!

Okay, I can hear the naysayers now. “But you used like 5 different programs to make this one video. My students could never do that.” You’re right. They never can do that unless they have someone give them the chance. The first project like this is probably going to feel like a disaster. It will be chaotic, but the second one will be 100 times better. Once student learn to use the tools, then they can use them to learn, but they have to learn how the tools work. With some training, a project like this can be put together in 90 minutes.

That might sound like a lot of time when the students can just draw the pictures, write the text, and be done, but what good is that for the students. The do a bunch of work on a project and then throw it away after a few people look at it. Students want to show off their work. The other nice thing about a project that is turned into digital media is that the students can start collecting a portfolio of work they can share and refer to in the future.

Now for the big question. What standards does a project like this satisfy? Well for starters, we can look at the CC (Common Core) speaking and listening standards. This project is particularly relevant to standards 4 and 5.

4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely,
and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the
organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose,
audience, and task.

5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest

Turning a book report into digital media is a fun opportunity for the students to learn and show off their work and can be done with almost any art activity normally associated with book reports.

Now you just need to do it. Find a way to work this into your classroom in the coming week. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email: .

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After two weeks of hard work and a whole bunch of learning, the fifth grade Revolutionary War videos are finally done! There were a few times when things got a little crazy. The class had nine groups working on recreating different battles. This meant that there were also nine cameras to watch over and nine scripts to be recorded. In the end, there were also nine videos that needed rendering. This was a bunch of work for both the students and the teachers, but now that it is all done, it sure was worth the work.

Here are few of the lessons that I learned while participating in this project:

1. Students will step up when given the chance. The videos are a little rough, but consider that these were made by 5th graders who, for the most part, had never heard of stop motion animation when we started. I am also guessing that most of them had never wrote, read, and recorded their own script. Once they knew what they need to do, they worked hard, and did their best work. Doesn’t every teacher want a classroom full of hard working, learning students?

2. Working in groups is hard for students, but necessary and valuable. While working on this project, it was interesting to watch the different groups. Some worked well together. Other did not. One group had a hard time getting their things together. They had a student that wanted to be the leader, and the rest didn’t really like all his ideas. The teachers in the classroom were a little worried that their project was not going to get done. However, in the end, they had a great video. Somehow, they overcame their differences and got the work done (and they were all still friends at the end!).

3. Students love to see and hear themselves. It is the same with almost any project I have participated in, and I am convinced again that a video project like this is highly engaging for students. When students know that their work is going to be posted on Youtube, they want to do the work. They want to show others what they know.

4. Learning is fun! Somewhere in the past, much of our school learning became entrenched in tests and mundane book work. Students hate it. Teachers hate it. I think everyone involved hates this kind of teaching, but we still seem to do a lot of it. Do a video project, and it will show you that learning doesn’t have to boring.

5. Video projects require a great deal of higher level thinking. In the case of this video, much of the higher level thinking  came in developing a script from a set base of knowledge. Students also had to figure out how they were going to depict a battle with the materials they had at their disposal. That is why we saw Barbie and Ken starring in Paul Revere’s Ride, and G.I. Joe figurines in many of the battles. Not only does the project require the students to use their imagination, but he teachers need to be open minded as well. It is important to not get caught up on whether or not Revolutionary soldiers had machine guns.

This project really was a blast. I can’t wait for the next one. If you aren’t familiar with the project we were working on, you can read more here. I am going to post one video, but if you want to see them all, check out Mrs. Chisum’s Youtube Channel: click here.



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As the several schools where I work, students are making a bunch of videos right now. Almost everyday, I have a call or email from a frustrated teacher who is working with a frustrated student who can’t get the video they just made in the computer lab to show up on the teacher’s computer in the classroom. If I had a sheet where I tallied all the questions that I get asked in a week, this would by the most asked by far.

There is one rule that is more important than any other when working on Movie Maker; before a movie file will open in the media player, it has to be saved as a movie file. Opening up the project files does not typically work on any computer but the one where the project was built and results in lots of cussing on the part of the student and usually the teacher.

ANGRY-ANNphoto © 2010 Josh Janssen | more info (via: Wylio)

The key here is to make sure and save the project as a “movie file.This will take all of the audio, video, pics and effects in the project file and compress them into one file that can be played with a media player.

This one tip will help those working on video projects with students avoid a bunch of tears and unwarranted drama (this applies equally to students and teachers :)).

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I ran across this video this morning and thought it was a pretty good resource for showing how Web 2.0 tools can be used in the classroom. The content of this video was developed around a university level classroom. However, I think what they say here equally applies for the all students, especially those attending middle school and high school.

If you enjoy the video, check out the other videos posted at the COFA Online Gatgeway website. Hosted by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, the site has several videos showing the reasons for using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom.

Here are a few titles:

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