Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My first GoAnimate Cartoon

I recently signed up for a GoAnimate 4 Schools account to see how the system works. What features it has and what it could offer me as an Instructional Technologist.

I am very surprised at how easy it was to get into the creating aspect of the website. After I enrolled for my Teacher Plus account I received my login info after a couple of days. The Teacher Plus account provides for both the teacher and the students in your class a Private controlled area for students to put their work and some Social Networking features to help them. You can upload your own sound, music and images to the site to import into your animation. The website also allows you to record sound or rather voice record for your animation creation. Here is the full Features list for you to look at. GoAnimate 4 Schools also has a Forums page for you to ask and get answers to questions you or your students may be having when they are using the site.
The Lesson Gallery offers 6 different category headings that you can put your Animations in. They are Technology, Languages, Literature, Science, History and Math which you get to choose from when you are Save as a Published completed project.

Now how easy is it to create an animated scene with GoAnimate? It is very easy, here is a breakdown of the panel page. When you go to either edit a current project or create a new one the GoAnimate screen shows with three distinct parts to it. You have a Storyboard area which runs along the bottom of the page where the individual scenes are stored while you are creating. There is the screen editing area where you can set up the animations for objects and characters you have placed in the scenes. Then lastly on the left side of the screen is what I would call the tab viewer. There are six tabs to assist you in creating your animation.
  • Character Tab - Choose from the preloaded characters or create your own
  • Thought Tab - Series of thought and speaking bubbles
  • Background Tab - Choose form the preloaded backgrounds
  • Object Tab - Choose from the preloaded objects
  • Music Tab - Choose from the preloaded music, sound fx or record your own voice
  • Effects (FX) Tab - Choose from their pre-scripted effects.
And of course you can upload your own stuff as I talked about earlier, sound, images, video and swf files can be imported to the site to use.

So I could not give a proper review unless I went through and created my own animation. It was very easy, I selected my characters and used the canned voice tracks. Oh did I forget to tell you the system uses Text-to-Speech software to translate up to 120 characters that you type into voice. And I also used some other special animation features to have the characters interact on the screen. All in all it took about 45 min from start to finish to put together about a minutes worth of video. And the nice thing about go animate is that you can pick out the web address of your video or you can embed it directly into your webpage or blog page using the provided code.

So here is my very first GoAnimate cartoon video on
How to Insert Media into a Promethean Flipchart

GoAnimate4Schools.com: Inserting Media by EHerreid

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It's free and fun!

So the video is still a little raw and needs some additional tweaking to get everything working like I want it to. As well I want to see how much I can do with this program and what other features I can find that I have not seen yet. I think students and teachers will really like this and will want to use it in the classroom to help students focus on computer skills as well as their curriculum. Who knows students might just enjoy creating cartoons to explain their literature readings or to demonstrate math problems, or how about cartooning through history. You make the call, go to the site, check it out, sign up for a FREE account and play for a while.

video created by: eherreid

Monday, January 3, 2011

Interactive Social Studies for PreK-5

One thing that I have heard from Elementary teachers, while I have been training on Interactive Whiteboards, is that there are not a lot of activities out there for Social Studies that will utilize the IWB to its abilities. They are looking for quick activities that they can use to either start or reinforce a lesson with.

PBS offers a lot of online interactive activities to aid teachers in getting their students engaged in learning.

Here is a sampling for PreK-2 Teachers
1. Build a Neighborhood - Allows students to create their own neighborhood
2. Coast to Coast - Test students knowledge of Geography in the US
3. Connect the States - A matching game that helps students learn flags, animals, foods and other facts about states.
4. Connect the World - A matching game that helps students learn flags, animals, foods and other facts about other countries.
5. On the Job - A matching game where you pick the best tool that goes with the worker.

Here is a sampling for 3-5 Teachers
1. Sticker Race - Analyze the bumper stickers from around the US
2. Mapping the West - Discover how the land west of the Mississippi was divided prior to the Louisiana Purchase.
3. Search for the Lost Cave People: Be an Archaeologist - Examine why clay is a good material for making containers.
4. Secrets of Lost Empires II: Construct an Aqueduct - Determine where to place the Aqueduct in your Roman City.
5. Be your Own Boss - Learn how good decision making can help you run a successful business.

This is just a sampling of some of the Interactive Activities that PBS offers that you could use on your Interactive Whiteboard. Check out PBS Teachers for more information and activities.

The More You Know... ActivInspire

Did you know that there are a number of combination keys in ActivInspire that offer you easy access to features that you may not be aware of. The one thing that makes ActivInspire more user friendly than before is its ease of use. The software has a lot of multi-use buttons and quick access options built in to make the tools easier to find.

Take for instance if you want to see the ActivInspire Dashboard and it is no longer showing on the screen because you closed it out. Well you could go to the View Menu because that is what you want to do, "View" the Dashboard or you could press the F11 Key. It is what I would call built in redundancy, the software offers you many different paths to get to the same end result. How about this example, for some reason in the middle of a Lesson the board seems to not want to respond to your stylus touch and you need to go to the next flipchart page. Since your board is not responding to you what do you do? Well you would go to your computer keyboard and press the Page Down Button that will advance the flipchart one page. Or maybe in the same situation you want to Copy and Paste an item from one flipchart page to another. You would be at your keyboard to press the CTRL + C (to copy) Page Down (to advance a page) then CTRL + V (to paste).

So in order to help out with some of the keyboard commands in ActivInspire, I have created a cheat sheet list of all the Control, Special and Function Key commands that you can print off to have close at hand when you are working, whether you are connected to a board or not, on your Flipcharts. If you click the image it will take you to our Wiki page where you can download the ActivInspire Special Keys pdf as well as take a look at the other information we have to offer.