Using Animoto to promote speaking in the foreign language

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When Animoto launched its Education Program earlier this year, offering access to premium features free of charge to educators, it became obvious that Animoto had great potential as a powerful educational tool.

Earlier this term I looked at using video as an assessment tool and discovered how powerful video can be when you allow your students the freedom to be creative with only the simplest of briefs: this is your topic, go and create.

Animoto lends itself tremendously easily to this philosophy, as it allows students to work creatively towards a given goal: learning Spanish in this case. The video above was the first to be handed in (via Edmodo).

This is why I decided to keep returning to Animoto regularly with different year groups as way to exploit the enthusiasm and creativity that students show when using technology and harness it so that some of it would transfer to the relatively less exciting task of extended writing and practising oral pronunciation in a foreign language.

This term I challenged my Year 12 students (16-17 year olds) to produce a video using Animoto and Audacity, sourcing photos and music from Flickr, Stock.xchng and Jamendo.

The brief

Once more the brief was simple:

  • Write 200 – 250 words on How we can improve the environment in Spanish
  • Create an Animoto photo montage
  • Record your script, edit and mix it using Audacity and upload it to Animoto

Click here to read the original instructions in a post in our subject blog.

Why do it this way?

Firstly, it fits nicely with my schemes of work. We had just completed the topic The Environment and were about to start the topic Technology, which allowed me to introduce the Animoto Challenge -El Desafío Animoto- in the target language, bringing up and highlighting all the vocabulary that my students had to learn in this new topic anyway, such as: upload, download, website, save, record, etc.

Secondly, in doing it this way, the students learn some skills which they will find useful outside my subject, such as recording and editing sound or using online video editing tools. These are transferable skills which can be applied in any subject or, indeed, in any situation, in and beyond education.

Thirdly, students get an enormous sense of achievement at the end of the process. They are proud of their work and, to top it all, their work can be showed off to friends, family and discerning educators such as yourselves ;) .

If you are interested in seeing some more of my student’s work, visit our subject blog.

What do you think? Are you doing similar stuff? I’d love to find out if you are!

José Picardo

José is Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School and a Fellow at Naace. He is interested in improving education and the way technology can be used to enhance and transform teaching and learning. José has been curating Box of Tricks since 2007 and holds a MA in ICT and Education.

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  • Adam

    This is just too weird José I’ve been thinking about how to get kids using animoto. Scary.

  • Adam

    This is just too weird José I’ve been thinking about how to get kids using animoto. Scary.

  • http://www.edmodo.com/ Jeff O’Hara

    Awesome, I love Animoto and we really want to figure out some way to partner with them at Edmodo.

    -Jeff

  • http://www.edmodo.com Jeff O’Hara

    Awesome, I love Animoto and we really want to figure out some way to partner with them at Edmodo.

    -Jeff

  • http://primarymfl.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=738935%3ABlogPost%3A20649 Jo RJ

    Fantastic – a really great example of how versatile animoto is in the classroom. Thank you for this!

  • http://primarymfl.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=738935%3ABlogPost%3A20649 Jo RJ

    Fantastic – a really great example of how versatile animoto is in the classroom. Thank you for this!

  • http://www.thefrenchcorner.net/ Samantha Decker

    Wow, what a great idea! This blog really is a box of tricks!

  • http://www.thefrenchcorner.net Samantha Decker

    Wow, what a great idea! This blog really is a box of tricks!

  • Guest

    @Adam Well, you know what they say… Great minds;) I am really interested in learning about how other people are using Animoto and video in general in the field of Modern Foreign Languages, so I can’t wait to see what you get up to.

    @Jeff Now there’s an idea! I hope it works out. I’m sure Rebecca at Animoto would be amenable to such partnership. Have you been in touch with her yet?

    @Jo and @Samantha Thank you so much for such kind comments :)

  • http://www.boxoftricks.net José Picardo

    @Adam Well, you know what they say… Great minds;) I am really interested in learning about how other people are using Animoto and video in general in the field of Modern Foreign Languages, so I can’t wait to see what you get up to.

    @Jeff Now there’s an idea! I hope it works out. I’m sure Rebecca at Animoto would be amenable to such partnership. Have you been in touch with her yet?

    @Jo and @Samantha Thank you so much for such kind comments :)

  • http://choulo.wordpress.com/ Carles Caño

    First of all I want to say that you are doing a GREAT job not only with your students in your classes but also with teachers like me that get our motivation boosted when we read your posts. Thanks!

    I love these kind of educational methods, we are already in the XXI century so our tools are computer based more than pencil based :)

    And I totally agree with you regarding that when they CREATE something they can show their works to the relatives, friends and so on and be very proud of it. Some years ago, we brought to our parents some drawing or hand-manual work. Nowadays, students have only to open the web browser and call mom or dad to show them what they did in some subject. That’s so great!

    I also agree about the transferable skills, sometimes they are even more important than the subject by itself. I never had to make an oral presentation when I was studying my degree and I then I had to learn it by myself.

    Last course I made something similar to your experience but with Powerpoint. I talked them about visual and simple presentations (“Death by powerpoint “-like) and I assigned a subject for each one (mainly related with web 2.0 or technology). I uploaded some of them to slideshare.net. The key point was they the student WAS the presentation by itself and the slides were a visual complement, that’s the reason why you won’t get most of the presentations they did because nobody explains it to you (unless you download them and read the notes).

    You can find them at (they are in spanish and catalan):

    http://www.slideshare.net/carlescv/slideshows

    This course I’m thinking of making something similar but with some ScreenCast tool like Wink or Camtasia Studio.

    About Animoto, I think it’s great but, are you limited to 60 seconds? If true, I found that it’s too short.

  • http://choulo.wordpress.com Carles Caño

    First of all I want to say that you are doing a GREAT job not only with your students in your classes but also with teachers like me that get our motivation boosted when we read your posts. Thanks!

    I love these kind of educational methods, we are already in the XXI century so our tools are computer based more than pencil based :)

    And I totally agree with you regarding that when they CREATE something they can show their works to the relatives, friends and so on and be very proud of it. Some years ago, we brought to our parents some drawing or hand-manual work. Nowadays, students have only to open the web browser and call mom or dad to show them what they did in some subject. That’s so great!

    I also agree about the transferable skills, sometimes they are even more important than the subject by itself. I never had to make an oral presentation when I was studying my degree and I then I had to learn it by myself.

    Last course I made something similar to your experience but with Powerpoint. I talked them about visual and simple presentations (“Death by powerpoint “-like) and I assigned a subject for each one (mainly related with web 2.0 or technology). I uploaded some of them to slideshare.net. The key point was they the student WAS the presentation by itself and the slides were a visual complement, that’s the reason why you won’t get most of the presentations they did because nobody explains it to you (unless you download them and read the notes).

    You can find them at (they are in spanish and catalan):

    http://www.slideshare.net/carlescv/slideshows

    This course I’m thinking of making something similar but with some ScreenCast tool like Wink or Camtasia Studio.

    About Animoto, I think it’s great but, are you limited to 60 seconds? If true, I found that it’s too short.

  • Guest

    @Carles Thanks very much for your kind comments which, in turn, led me to your very interesting blog. I’ll make sure I add it to my aggregator.

    Animoto is not limited to 60 seconds, in fact, it’s not limited at all. The basic version is limited to 30 seconds, but educators get free access to the full features for free. You only need to register with them.

  • http://www.boxoftricks.net José Picardo

    @Carles Thanks very much for your kind comments which, in turn, led me to your very interesting blog. I’ll make sure I add it to my aggregator.

    Animoto is not limited to 60 seconds, in fact, it’s not limited at all. The basic version is limited to 30 seconds, but educators get free access to the full features for free. You only need to register with them.

  • http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/ Ann

    Liked very much your use of Animoto, have used it a lot with teenage students learning English. You can see an example at http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/2007/12/making-video-with-animoto.html

  • http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com Ann

    Liked very much your use of Animoto, have used it a lot with teenage students learning English. You can see an example at http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/2007/12/making-video-with-animoto.html

  • Guest

    @Ann Thank you very much for your comment and for the link to you blog :)

  • http://www.boxoftricks.net José Picardo

    @Ann Thank you very much for your comment and for the link to you blog :)

  • Laurence Read

    Hi!

    Great information and really good to see yet again something new – every time i think I’ve found the new holy grail of language teaching something else comes along! I have recently started using GoAnimate (creating cartoons using written language) and also want to try using Voki to get students to record themselves! Has anyone else got experience of either of those two actually in the teaching and learning and not just for fun?

    Laurence

  • Laurence Read

    Hi!

    Great information and really good to see yet again something new – every time i think I’ve found the new holy grail of language teaching something else comes along! I have recently started using GoAnimate (creating cartoons using written language) and also want to try using Voki to get students to record themselves! Has anyone else got experience of either of those two actually in the teaching and learning and not just for fun?

    Laurence

  • Guest

    @Laurence Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, I have experience of using both Voki and GoAnimate with some of my classes. I’ll put the links below should you be interested. You might also want to try Glogster to create online posters which can incorporate sound and video as well as pictures and text.

    Using Voki in a sequence of three lessons
    GoAnimate: Animate your homework
    Integrating Glogster into my lessons

    Hope that helps. Do let me know how you find using these tools, as these are very much tentative first tries and I am keen to improve the technique! :)

  • http://www.boxoftricks.net José Picardo

    @Laurence Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, I have experience of using both Voki and GoAnimate with some of my classes. I’ll put the links below should you be interested. You might also want to try Glogster to create online posters which can incorporate sound and video as well as pictures and text.

    Using Voki in a sequence of three lessons
    GoAnimate: Animate your homework
    Integrating Glogster into my lessons

    Hope that helps. Do let me know how you find using these tools, as these are very much tentative first tries and I am keen to improve the technique! :)

  • http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/ Ann

    Here’s a tutorial I did on creating Voki characters and using them with your classes: http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/2007/09/creating-voki-characters.html

    and a couple of examples from students: http://theheavyblog.blogspot.com/2007/09/conversation-hilary-wonder.html

    And a tutoiral on using VoiceThread: http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/2007/12/voicethread.html with an example from one of my students included

  • http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com Ann

    Here’s a tutorial I did on creating Voki characters and using them with your classes: http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/2007/09/creating-voki-characters.html

    and a couple of examples from students: http://theheavyblog.blogspot.com/2007/09/conversation-hilary-wonder.html

    And a tutoiral on using VoiceThread: http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/2007/12/voicethread.html with an example from one of my students included

  • http://ochoamores.typepad.com/morespanish Sherry

    I just wrote a post this morning, stating I couldn’t see a use for Animoto in the FL classroom. Alice Ayel directed me to your post, and I am so glad she did. I did not realize you could include audio in the presentation. Thanks so much for the idea.

  • http://ochoamores.typepad.com/morespanish Sherry

    I just wrote a post this morning, stating I couldn’t see a use for Animoto in the FL classroom. Alice Ayel directed me to your post, and I am so glad she did. I did not realize you could include audio in the presentation. Thanks so much for the idea.

  • http://kesmfl.wordpress.com/ Rob Courtney

    Another use I’ve found for Animoto is for speed vocabulary tests. Upload all the images from the slideshow you used to introduce a topic and you’ve got a test with a twist. Or have a bunch of images and students have to identify those that are feminine nouns or belong to a particular category or whatever. There are lots of possibilities …..

  • http://kesmfl.wordpress.com Rob Courtney

    Another use I’ve found for Animoto is for speed vocabulary tests. Upload all the images from the slideshow you used to introduce a topic and you’ve got a test with a twist. Or have a bunch of images and students have to identify those that are feminine nouns or belong to a particular category or whatever. There are lots of possibilities …..

  • Guest

    @Rob Thank you for your comments Rob. I really like your idea of using Animoto for vocabulary tests, must give that a go.

  • http://www.boxoftricks.net José Picardo

    @Rob Thank you for your comments Rob. I really like your idea of using Animoto for vocabulary tests, must give that a go.

  • Angela Nix

    Hi Jose.
    I teach K-2 technology! It’s amazing how quick the little ones catch on to technology. They were born in the perfect age!! My second grade students are ready for Animoto. How do I get an unlimited pass for my students. I am so excited! I have used Animoto before, however I did not know I could allow my students to use it. I like your lesson idea about ways to help our environment. Any other simple suggestions for my wee ones. I will have this lesson before the school year is out.

    • Guest

      Hi Angela, thanks for your comment. The post above has a link to the Animoto Education Program, follow it to request your pass for you and your pupils.

  • Angela Nix

    Hi Jose.
    I teach K-2 technology! It’s amazing how quick the little ones catch on to technology. They were born in the perfect age!! My second grade students are ready for Animoto. How do I get an unlimited pass for my students. I am so excited! I have used Animoto before, however I did not know I could allow my students to use it. I like your lesson idea about ways to help our environment. Any other simple suggestions for my wee ones. I will have this lesson before the school year is out.

    • http://www.boxoftricks.net José Picardo

      Hi Angela, thanks for your comment. The post above has a link to the Animoto Education Program, follow it to request your pass for you and your pupils.

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