Thursday, February 5, 2009

Animoto Book Trailers

I worked on a project with the 7th graders a couple weeks ago. We used Garage Band and Animoto to create book trailers for the novels they chose for an independent reading assignment.

They searched for photos in Flickr Creative Commons, used music from Royalty Free Music and Free Play Music, used Power Point to create Works Cited slides and saved them as JPEGs. I did let them find their book and author images from a Google images search, figuring if they're not public domain, they should be! I'm not sure that's an argument that would actually hold up in court, of course....

There is an issue with Animoto cutting off the end narration and the final (Works Cites) slides, but I'm trying to figure out a work around for that. I think if you allow the soundtrack an extra 15 seconds or so of music beyond the narration, that will force Animoto to use those final slides. That's my theory, anyway!
Here's a sample of the result.

Monday, February 2, 2009

EtherPad Does Google Docs One Better

A new Web 2.0 tool launched in November: Etherpad. If you've ever been frustrated trying to use Google Docs--inviting all the students, wait time to see changes, not knowing who added what--Etherpad may be for you. It's in beta test right now, and it's been so popular, they've had to go into closed Beta mode. But there's a link to email and ask for an account, and it only takes them a day or two to respond.

Etherpad creates an online collaborative document with real time updating as people add information. Our middle school history teacher is using it currently to teach his students note-taking skills. Better yet, as each student signs in (they only need a URL, not an account), they are assigned a different color, so you automatically know who is writing what.

It allows you to save different versions of the project, creating a unique URL for each one.

Right now, it only supports plain text, but RTF is a possibility in the future.