Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Powtoon with Chromebooks, Marcia Mariscal, Goethe Elementary

 I wanted my middle school students to do a book summary for the month, but needed something new and lively.  I was excited to see that Powtoon was an available app that could be accessed through Google Drive. What is Powtoon? Powtoon is  a program that allows you to create energy filled animated videos with eye-popping images and active text sequences.  This application is similar to PowerPoint presentations, with an animated feature, so it is easy to use.  What I really liked about using Powtoon is the variety of animated characters that could be used to capture your audience’s attention and imagination. It was very exciting to see that almost all of my middle schoolers  had never worked on Powtoon before. So here are the steps I gave them for accessing Powtoon.  

Instructions for Students *
  1. First to to your CPS Google Drive
  2. Click on Create or New (red icon)
  3. Click on Connect More Apps
  4. Search Powtoon EDU, and click on the green connect button
  5. Proceed to go back to Create/New (Red Icon) and click on it and the Powtoon icon should be there.
  6. Once Powtoon opens, go to “Edit Ready-Made Powtoons” to get started.
*Instructions could change based on Google Drive updates

Quick Wins about Powtoon

Powtoon has ready made animated slides (Less than 1 ½ minute in length)  that can be edited to fit your project. I had my students choose “Edit a Ready-Made Powtoon Book Report.”  Then they quickly click on the ready-made templates and fill in the blanks.  It is that simple.  It includes eight slides with an introduction and an ending.  The notebook paper theme, animation, font, and music have been selected for students who are beginners with video creation. Animation tools that help you create professional-looking animation videos are located on the top of the page.  Some icons include, add and delete slides, undo, redo, cut, copy, paste, text, sound, image, and embed video icon.   You also have the option to change your presentation from an animated video to a slide presentation.
For students that are more advanced, they can add additional animation, change the music and theme.  I usually have a 45-minute class period.  As I circulated to help my students, I found Powtoon to be a safe and easy application to use by all my students.  Since my students have different varying degrees of video-editing experience, it allowed for my advanced students to explore its additional easy to use features.  For the tech-advanced students, you can point out that the bottom of the page bar controls the sequence of the text, animation, and music in the video.  They can manipulate the icons to where they want them to appear on the page.
Another quick win is the ability to be able to access Powtoon in their Google Drive.  It is important for them save it or the changes will not be able to be accessed in Google Drive.  When they are ready to share they can do so through their CPS Google Drive (click on the box, share it) or publish it.  When it is published they cannot edit the video.

Here are tips for guiding students through when working with a ready-made Powtoon:
  1. Play the animated video for each slide and then pause, so that you can see what changes need to occur.
  2. You won’t notice until the arrow goes over each section, but there is a tiny pad and pencil on the left side of the text box. Students need to click on this icon and then they can edit.  Or they can do it the traditional way of double-clicking, that sometimes is not as quick.
  3. Always change the font size.  Some of the font sizes are 40 and can be too large when sentences are added.
  4. Students should not write paragraphs, which they want to tend to do because they want to summarize the book.  It is vital to choose words, phrases to describe the book.  The slides are animated and move to fast for the reader to be able to read what has been written.  This is usually very hard for students to do.
  5. Finally, students tend to want to add many animated free features.  Set a limit or you will have overkill.  

I find that using Powtoon for book reports was a way to get my student to really think what were the important themes, plot, strengths, and weakness in the book.  Using a few words or sentences was the hardest part for them.   The best part about teaching students to use Powtoon is their ability to transfer this knowledge to their other classes.  Some of my student told me they were now using this application to present projects for their other teachers.  This made me very happy.  Thanks for reading.
See a sample here:  http://bit.ly/1DGjO0i

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