Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I have already done several posts about sites that make cartoons, movies or videos (and there will be more!) Domo Animate is another one of these, coming from the same family as GoAnimate, which I have already blogged about (see the archives). I do like cartoons and animations, both for productive and receptive Spanish. I feel that it is particularly important to vary your productive Spanish tasks, as doing the same old ‘write a letter, write a description, write an essay’ task gets boring for pupils and anything different, creative and fun can stimulate pupils into producing better work. This was very much the case with a prep I set my 4th form (year 10s) this week, describing car crashes. I got some nice videos back from GoAnimate and Dvolver, having given them the choice of these and Chogger. I really only gave them three options in case one or two of them didn’t work! You never know with our school computer system!!

Domo Animate works in the same way as Go Animate if you are familiar with this tool. It has a slightly more amateurish feel possibly, though this in no way detracts from the finished product. It feels slightly more old school cartoony, rather than the slightly more modern feel of the characters and scenarios in most of the GoAnimate scenes. Having signed up (free, naturally), go to Create Animation and then you have a couple of options. There is a slideshow option or the Domo Animation studio option. For both there are tutorial videos which are well worth watching to get a feel for how to get started and make the most out of the program. If you want to have a look directly, just click on this link. (there is an annoying advert before the tutorial vids). Below is the options screen for which type of animation to create.

Using the slideshow option might be a good way of getting pupils to do a presentation in which they narrate a series of events based on the pictures that they have uploaded, and a good way to practise link phrases and speaking generally. However, there are other slideshow tools out there, and you of course can generally do this from your media viewer, but it may be worth trying out with pupils, particularly if you have maybe downloaded a load of random pictures. What could be quite fun is to upload some random pictures from the internet on a topic to revise, but without the pupils knowing what they are. They then have to think on their feet and describe what they see, maybe scoring points for describing lots of things on the screen.

The more creative option is to click on the Domo Animation Studio create button, as this gives you the chance to exercise those film director tendencies inspired by the latest Aardman or Pixar productions!. Once you have clicked ‘Create’ you will see the ‘studio’ below.

The scene on the right hand side is your canvas as it were, and on the left hand side you have the various tools, characters, backgrounds, objects and effect buttons that you use to create the show. The bottom shows you the different ‘stills’ or separate scenes that make up your animated movie. On the left hand side you have buttons for characters (the egg type icon button), the type of speech bubble you want to employ for the characters’ dialogue, backgrounds (the scenery type icon button), objects (the tree icon button), music and other random animation effects. By clicking on these, you see which options you have to use in your movie.

If we start with characters, pick a character you like from the decent selection of oddballs (I have a preference for the monsters and animals!) and click on one you like. Your character then appears on your canvas, and you can then moev him around by clicking and draggin, resize, by adjusting the picture dimensions in the same way as Office Publisher, and change the way the character faces by using the arrow buttons above the character when selected, or whether it goes infront or behind another object. Below, you can the see the first stage of my video, having set a scary type background and with a monster selected.

You can add various characters onto the canvas, as you can again see below, and give them things to say by clicking the speech bubble button, moving the speech bubble to where you want it (including moving the orientation of it) and then typing into the bubble. Fonts can be adapted too, and the size will automatically adapt to fit the text into the bubble. Here is the scene with another character added and some speech bubbles.

You can then add things as you want. I then clicked on the music button to add some dramatic tension music. The music lasts throughout the video, so there is no need to add it into each different scene. When you are happy with one scene click on the clapperboards in the bottom right hand corner below to either add a new scene, or delete a previous one. The characters will be left in the same places ready for you to carry on the conversation, or move them someplace else. When characters are selected, you will see you have the option to make them move and do actions, adding to the events and excitement. It all works the same way as GoAnimate if you have already tried this, but without the speaking aloud or uploading recorded speech option.  Go about the scene creation in the same way as before, adding scenes where you want to. It is fun to play around and see what all your options are, and also useful to know how it all works before you unleash your pupils on the tool to have a go!

When you are done, click ‘Preview’ to have a look at your masterpiece. If you are happy with it, click save. If not you can always go back to edit, adapt, or add or delete more scenes. Having clicked save, you then have to give the video a title, tags, short description and choose it’s language. You can then either save it, or share with friends or pupils. See the screenshot below.

If you click Save and Share you can then choose to email it to your friends or class, or get an embed code for a blog, wiki or Posterous (which I will blog about when I have worked it out fully! This may be the best way to save class material for everyone to see).  I’ve embedded my very short video on Posterous if you want to have a look. (http://pedroelprofesor.posterous.com/domo-animate-trial). Or you can click on the following link: http://domo.goanimate.com/go/movie/0NqL6jaS7d4U?utm_source=emailshare&uid=0GIJlU_3sETw

Domo Animate takes a little time to produce, but is great fun and the results are excellent. You will need to tutor your class yo use it which might take a certain period of your lesson, but it is worth it! Enjoy!

Today I’m going to blog about Lingt. Lingt is a worksheet creation site, which enables you to embed videos onto the worksheet, as well as spoken questions for pupils to answer orally or in written form. Therefore, it is possible to assess all four language skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening on one document, which is a nifty premise, a real interactive worksheet. The best thing about it at first glance is that you can really get pupils practising the vocabulary or grammar in every way outside the classroom, hence promoting the ‘classroom outside the classroom’ idea.

To use Lingt, go to the following URL: http://lingtlanguage.com and click on Signup. After signing up, you will be taken to your homepage. As a free user of Lingt you can only create a certain number of assignments (6)which is a bit of a shame. To be able to do more, you will need to extend your membership (click on upgrade your account). The price does not seem too exorbitant if you want to upgrade to say 50 exercises (currently $39 a year), but I’m not really sure I would need to upgrade to have all the features for a $79 per year subscription. This is just something you will have to decide for yourself based on how effective you feel Lingt is for what you need it for.

I would suggest the best step now is to watch the Lingt tutorial video. Click ‘Help’ from your home screen (or click HERE to watch the tutorial to get an idea what you can do.) This is a well made Screencapture video explaining how to do everything and I strongly recommend watching it and making notes. The video goes through how to create a class, and then how to create an assignment for the classes you have created. There are a number of other useful questions answered for you on the help page.

When creating a class, you do not need to input anything apart from the class name. There is no need to input all your pupils, or even for them to signup to Lingt, as when you have created an assignment, the pupils will simply just go to your Lingt page (more of this later) and click on the relevant assignment for them. They will do the assignment online (on the web browser, before filling in their name and their email address at the end which will alert you to the fact that they have completed the assignment.

When you create your assignment you have a variety of tool buttons to create the texts. You have Voice, Text, Image and Video  (YouTube only) options for teacher prompts, and text and voice buttons for when you want pupils to answer. I have created a Prepositions and Furniture work sheet for my 3rd form. I have a video from Youtube going through the prepositions to start with, with questions in English underneath. Then I have uploaded an image of a bedroom with questions in Spanish again underneath, and then I have finally recorded some questions requiring spoken answers, before leaving one final question for a longer written response, describing their bedroom.

I have yet to test this out with the 3rd form but there appear to be a couple of risks involved with Lingt. Firstly, many schools have blocked Youtube (in my school only the 6th form can go onto Youtube) and I don’t know whether by ’embedding’ a Youtube video into your worksheet on Lingt it will allow the 3rd-5th formers to watch it, or if it will be blocked still. Secondly, pupils will need to have the ability to record their own voice (necessitating a microphone) and not all school computers or pupils will have one, and it could mean them being excluded from a task, or being able to complete it properly. Hopefully they can upload / save their recordings on Lingt – I have experienced problems with Voki and GoAnimate with uploading recordings on a browser, and I don’t know if this would be a problem with this website as well.

Hopefully these problems can be overcome without too many difficulties as the IT technicians in schools become more aware of the potential uses of Web 2.0 tools and other sites for the classroom and education generally, and unblock and allow full or timed use of them. There are of course risks with using Youtube, but the benefits are huge as well, and this should mean that a more sensible policy regarding its use can be found.

I do feel that Lingt has much to recommend it, and after the exam period I will investigate it further and see if I and the pupils experience any problems with its use. It does seem particularly useful for speaking and listening practise outside the classroom, and providing a really interactive worksheet, something I feel would appeal to a lot of students of all ages.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who already uses Lingt regularly or who has tried it out to see what you think and if it has worked well or not. Please leave a comment below or tweet me @pedroelprofesor.

Just a quick blog entry today, as it is the eve before the onslaught of the summer term begins. The next few weeks will be choc-a-bloc full of speaking tests, moderating and marking past papers as well as cricket, so will just do quick blogs here and there when time allows. Probably while waiting for the rain to stop in deepest darkest Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, while taking refuge in a pavilion!

Lino it, is an alternative to Wallwisher, which I blogged about a couple of days ago. It is an online notice board, which you can use for your class to add sticky note ideas to a question or theme.

Like Wallwisher it is free to use. You will need to sign up which takes a minute or two, but does not require much information. Pupils will also need to sign in. Once logged on, click on ‘Create a New Canvas’ and then follow the prompts. Pick a name for your canvas, select a background, decide who will have access to it and then click ‘Create Canvas’. People adding to the canvas can choose the colour of stick they want to use, before typing their note in it and then clicking post. It is that simple. After that, just let your pupils know the URL to find the canvas for them to add their own ideas.

It is really your decision if you decide to use Lino it or Wallwisher. Both do the same job. Lino looks a little more professional perhaps, but there isn’t much of a difference. Hopefully your school computers will allow your pupils to use both easily!

Dvolver is a nice little tool, if a little limited in its usefulness. It is a tool to create a short ‘movie’ though more like an animated cartoon. The language that will be used will be produced in the form of speech bubbles, so it will more be useful as a way of practising reading and writing, rather than speaking and listening. In this way it compares to the comic strip creators that I have blogged about already, rather than the animation creators like GoAnimate. It is quick and easy though so may be most relevant for beginners in the language. A program like Domo Animate (yet to be blogged about) is a much more ambitious and flexible tool that does the same thing, but may take longer to get used to using.

To use Dvolver, go to the following URL http://www.dvolver.com/moviemaker/index.html and click Make a Movie. There is no need to sign up, login or register, which also means that it is harder to save your movie creations on the flip side, though movies can be emailed and embedded. Having clicked on Make a Movie, your futuristic looking control panel will come up. First you pick a background and sky by clicking on the icons that you like the look of, and then click next (bottom right). Then you choose the type of scene you want, either rendez-vous, pick up, chase or soliloquy (this will be how the characters interact and move around on the video). Having clicked next, you then choose your two characters who will star from the lists provided. The you add your dialogue. There are some limitations here which make Dvolver of limited usefulness, as you only have three lines per character, and are limited to 100 characters of text, hence why I said it would be best for beginners in the language. In the next panel you add your music soundtrack and then in your final panel you pick the way you want your title to appear. Then you can see your movie and can send it to the person you want to send it to by inputting their email. After you have sent it, you then have an embed code given to you, so videos can be saved onto a blog or webpage. It is worth asking pupils to send you this as well in case you want to make a page with all their creations.

Here you can see my quick movie made for you lucky people

http://www.dvolver.com/live/movies-715275

For this reason, I would use Dvolver as a tool for short written work and preps from students, and would ask them to email it to me. I can then show the pupils their movies in class through projecting the videos onto the whiteboard.

 

Wallwisher is described as an ‘online’ notice board maker on its homepage, and this is an accurate description. Basically, what it allows is you to create a noticeboard on a particular topic, and then you and pupils can add sticky notes to it, creating a collaborative board full of ideas.

To begin you register for the grand fee of £0 or $0. When you have logged on, simply click ‘Build a Wall’ and then you will get some preferences including what you want the URL to be, the background colour of the wall and who can post onto it. You also have the option about if you want to approve the stickies first or not which will be an important decision. If you leave this unticked, there is the risk of wall ‘abuse’ potentially, with outsiders leaving inappropriate messages, although this is unlikely. It is maybe safer to vet the messages first however. (For some strange reason, when I build a new wall, my ‘Open File’ opens as well, indicating some glitch which is a little worrying perhaps). You also have to give the wall a title, a description and choose a picture for it (including the option to upload your own)

When you have created your wall, all you have to do is to double click to add a sticky note. The just type your message into the note and click ok. You can also upload images, audio and video to the sticky leading to a few more options. And that is basically it. Just send the URL of your created wall to pupils and they can go to the site and add their own sticky. Once pupils have put on their notes, you need to approve them so they can be viewed by others in the class.

The premise is very simple and effective and there are a variety of ways that this tool could be employed with classes. It could be used as an essay planning tool for example – you could set a question with a central stickie, and pupils could put their ideas about the points they could mention around it. It could be a way of setting quick written preps to encourage extra participation, for example asking basic questions with pupils writing their own answers. It could be a vocabulary revision tool with pupils adding 2 or three new words to a topic. It could even be a little story. Maybe you start off a story, the first person to log on adds a sentence, then the next pupils adds another line and so on.

In order to practise this, I have started a Wallwisher notice board for people to add their own ideas about how wallwisher could be employed. Click on the following URL to leave your ideas!

http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/mfllessonideas

Stripgenerator is another comic strip creation tool. I’ve blogged about a couple of these already (see Chogger, Witty Comics and Make Beliefs Comix) and Stripgenerator works much the same as these. Basically, the main difference between them all is really the style of comic strip character and artwork that you want to produce. Stripgenerator has a fairly cool, alternative-type thing going which I quite like, and I would probably use this one more than Make Beliefs Comix perhaps, as it also gives you a variety of items to pick from as well as characters. I reckon boys particular would like the style of characters that Stripgenerator offers.

Signing up is as usual free, and little information is asked for apart from a username, email address and password. Signing up means you can hoard your comic creations in your gallery and use them whenever you want, rather than having to print them out immediately (or screencapturing them) as you need to do with Make Beliefs Comix. You can also find created comics by tags or description by using the search function. Completed comics can be embedded onto websites or emailed to pupils, the email option being good for pupils to send you their completed work without having to worry about printing problems (a common excuse at my school! – either paper is missing or printers are seemingly always broken!)

Creating the comic is easy. Just choose which character and items you want to use and drag them into the panels. You have a choice of how many panels you want to use, and the tools to adapt the images are very easy to use. Here is a rapid creation of mine that I made in about 5 minutes.

Quick and easy and cool looking as well. As I say, it is worth having a go with this comic creator as well as Chogger, Witty Comics and Make Beliefs (and probably others too!) to find out which you and your pupils most like and which is easiest to use for what you need.

As any of my old art teachers will tell you, or even some of my pupils who have had the misfortune to see my attempts at drawing on the whiteboard, my ‘art’ is ‘artbreakingly bad. I can’t draw very well at all, something which always disappointed me. Luckily there are a number of comic creating tools on the internet which solve this problem for me, as I enjoy using comics both as comprehension tools, and increasingly, as ways for pupils to produce language in a more fun way. I have a number of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes Spanish comic books which I often photocopied and put on my door for pupils to read, or tippexed out the words and got them to write in new words for and now I can create my own.

My favourite one at the moment is Chogger. It took a little practise to get used to how it worked, and I found a few of the controls a little fiddly to begin with, but I really like the results it gives, and you have a lots of options to make your comics. In fact I used a chogger comic in a job interview I had, a job which I got! I used a comic to introduce the present subjunctive and one of its uses. Below is a picture of it, and you can see the whole thing here.

Signing up is free (you will see this trend of using free stuff developing – I think it is my natural Scotish miserliness!) When you have logged on, or accessed the site, click on ‘Build Comic Now’ and it will take you to the comic creator tool. Firstly you choose your layout for your strip, which gives a variety of comic panel options. Then you have the option of choosing your image. I tend to find pictures from the Google Images option, which gives you a massive choice of course, though you can also drw your own, take a photo or upload images you already have. Pictures taken from Google Images can be adapted to a small extent and once you have picked one you simply click ‘Add Image’ and it will be stored in the section in the top left corner with the shadowy head! The image can then be dragged and resized into the panels. To add speech bubbles, click on the bubble icon in the top left and then drag the type of bubble you want into the relevant panel. Then you can type into it, adjust the font size and size of the bubble and you then just continue the process until you have filled up your comic panels. For accents, you will have to use shortcuts, or cut and paste from a word document.

You can always add more panels if you find your comic beginning to expand from its original length. When you are done, simply click ‘finish’ and then give it a title and description to help you and others find it afterwards. This is the one downside I think of Chogger; the way of searching for comics is not ideal, you have to know what you are looking for. When you have clicked Publish, I strongly recommend copying and pasting the URL at the top of the page and save it somewhere to help you use it again. Obviously you can print them out as well, but in my view Chogger needs to sort out how your comics are stored in a more organised fashion, possibly on your profile page for instance. Hopefully this is something they will improve.

My 4th form had a go at making Chogger comics and it worked really well. I did it in a language lab lesson so I could show them how to do the fiddly bits with speech bubbles. Be ready to stop the faffing around looking for loads of images but apart from that they can produce nice looking comic strips in a very short period of time. It is an easy way to do lots of written tasks and better than simply just setting a fairly standard written prep, especially for younger age groups perhaps.

As always, if you do any chogger cartoons and wish to share, please let me know!