Make Reports Come Alive Through Video

Guest blog by Stephanie Shackelford, an EdTech Trainer in Mansfield ISD.

Typically when a teacher hears “this is a video-making app,” they automatically tune me out because they think only of kids acting out a scene from a book.  But there’s so much more you can do with video.  Got a math concept students need to learn?  Have them show you the concept visually through a video.  Got a science report due?  Have them turn it into a cartoon video.  Got a research report due with a visual aid?  Have them record their findings instead. Many things that can be done on paper can be transformed into a video presentation!

Another misconception is that video presentations have to be several minutes long.  False! Videos don’t have to be long. If you want to really challenge your students, limit their time to get across their information. In fact I’d recommend having students keep the videos down to under a minute. It challenges the students to be inventive and creative. It forces them to think critically about what information is necessary for the presentation.

There are many video making apps out there, but here are three of my favorites.

adobe spark video Adobe Spark Video – I love this app for its ease of use and professional-looking product.  All you do is add pictures, text, voice, and music.  The program does the rest.  You can choose from your own pictures, from their royalty free library, or use their clip art.  You have the choice of adding text over the visuals.  For audio, you can record your voice and add background music.  The app adds in the transitions and themes to give it a professional look.  When I say this is an easy app to use, my 7 year old used it for an oral report in school.  He had to research an animal, provide pictures and give an oral presentation over it.  I helped him find pictures but he did the rest; he wrote out his script, recorded it, and then added the music. The best part – I didn’t have to go to the store for poster board and glue!

toontastic Toontastic 3D – My 7 year old had a blast with this cartoon video app as well.  He did more recording for his own fun than for his actual project! I think he made 5 different stories when only one was required.  One thing I like about Toontastic 3D is that it has templates to guide the user as to what goes in each section.  For example, with the 3-part story, the program tells you that the beginning (first section) is where you introduce your characters and the setting of the story.  You choose from a variety of pre-made backgrounds and characters or you can create your own.  Then you record your voice telling the story as you move the characters around on the screen.  Toontastic 3D has templates for 3-part story, 5-part story, or science report.  Imagine! A science report that is as creative as it is informative!

my simple show My Simpleshow – My Simpleshow is web-based only, but as long as your mobile device gets internet access, you’re good to go.  This is a program that is perfect if you’re like me and hate having your voice on video.  You type in your text and the program turns it into a video.  Simpleshow selects key words from your text and adds clip art based on those words. You can change the clip art or the “key” words.  When you play it, the program reads it back to you with their visuals.  Easy peasy!

Like I said, there are tons of video making apps out there (check out Hyperlapse or Stop Motion if you have time).  I’d like to leave you with this challenge: try to take something that would be done on paper or posterboard and have students make a video about it instead.

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