The best thing about my job as a K – 12 instructional tech coordinator is that I get to bring passion and creativity into classrooms. Content standards and state tests are important, but too often those things get the focus at the expense of what makes learning exciting. I am extremely grateful for the many times each school year when I’m part of a project where creativity and the content come together into a memorable learning experience.
That happened last week in a high school Mythology class. The teacher, Melinda Newcombe, asked me if we could pilot GoAnimate for Schools with the small group of students remaining after the seniors were out for the year. I know from experience that nothing reinforces learning like a well-planned video project, so I was excited to try one using this application that was new to me.
I took some time over a weekend to make a sample video to familiarize myself with the elements of the interface. I created this short animation about the meeting between Ariadne and Theseus before he entered the labyrinth. (Tell me you don’t get chills when Ariadne explains to Theseus who she is. I love that voice!)
So I arrived at the classroom the first day of the project and I was a little taken back by the group I’d be working with. They obviously were hoping to coast through the next few days with as little work as possible! One girl actually asked if we were going to make them doing anything for next two weeks.
Regardless, I gave my best sales pitch for this video project and I showed them my video. The teacher told them their assignment was to simply use the application to tell a myth that they had studied in class. We explained that they were helping us out because we all wanted to learn how this might work for students in the future. Most of them were at least interested enough to choose a favorite myth and start working on a script.
The next day we met in the computer lab and they got to work using GoAnimate for Schools. Within ten minutes the teacher and I could tell this was going to be a great project. The engagement was incredible. Instead of the usual lack of motivation that we often see this time of year, students were into their textbooks and searching online to confirm facts. Over the total of four hours that we worked in the lab I never saw one student off task visiting other websites. The interface was intuitive and I only had to answer a few questions over the course of the next three days.
Here are some other details of the project:
- Students worked in pairs except for a couple special cases.
- Everyone was expected to contribute to all aspects of creating the animation.
- Due to time constraints they used the text-to-speech features for dialogue.
- We gave them the guideline of using about 25 scenes or around two minutes for the entire animation.
- As an informal goal I told them I would love to finally have some videos from the high school this year that we could post online.
When the videos were finished we took some time in class to watch them. I was extremely pleased with each group’s work. There was plenty of laughter at the funny parts and a good round of applause at the end of each video. While all of them had room for improvement given more time, the storytelling elements were fantastic. Obviously the students set personal standards and worked hard to achieve them. The final products were definitely good enough to post online, so I added them to the school website. You can see each of them below.
Without a doubt Mrs. Newcombe and I plan on assigning the project again. We discussed these changes for next time, keeping in mind we’d likely have a larger class to work with:
- She wrote up a detailed rubric involving requirements for both the storytelling and animation elements
- She will set some clear deadlines for each part of the project such as a script, character creation, backgrounds for scenes and progress each class period.
- I suggested we require a catchy title and a good description for each video. (I always remind students that the hard part of any creative project is getting noticed among the thousand similar projects that others can create just as readily.)
- Next time we hope to let the students record their own voices for the dialogue. This class had a lot of fun exploring the text-to-speech features, but there were times where more emotion in the lines would have greatly enhanced the video.
All things considered, this was the most positive project that I worked with at the high school level this year. I am already looking forward to trying GoAnimate again with classes at different grade levels and in other subjects!
Here’s a short video that sums up our experience with GoAnimate.
You can find more projects and ideas at my blog (http://classroomgamesandtech.blogspot.com) where I regularly relate my experiences using technology and games to bring passion and creativity to K – 12 classrooms.
-Mike Petty – District Technology Coordinator, K-12, MI
Enjoy some more mythology videos from Mike’s students below, or check them out in our Lesson Gallery!
To learn more about GoAnimate for Schools visit http://goanimate4schools.com.
Are you using GoAnimate for Schools or GoAnimate in an interesting and engaging way in your class, or know someone who is? Are you interested in guest posting for us? We want to hear about it! Email EdEx@GoAnimate4Schools.com, tweet at us (@GoAnimate) or send us a message on Facebook.