Toolbox: Exploring Animated Media for Primary Education

As an educator striving to empower my students through new digital media, I’m constantly on the lookout for 21st century tools available to accomplish traditional tasks, like book reports.  The objective is always to strive for those Higher Order Thinking Skills, while socializing students to the power of digital media tools. Through their ToonUp5M campaign, PowToon for Education is currently giving away over 50,000 free classroom accounts. Each account is worth about $96 for one teacher plus 60 students and is good for one year. PowToon lets users create animated presentations and is currently including two free templates (with the promise of four total soon) with their EDU Classroom accounts.

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I edited the School Rules template to create my animated version of our library expectations. This year the resource teachers at my school agreed to implement the same classroom management plan based on Michael Linsin’s rules. While PowToon offers a number of video tutorials to help you get started, I decided to jump right in as I’ve always been one who learns best by doing. Although I initially had some issues figuring out the duration bar, I quickly realized that it is the most important tool when creating a Toon. It’s where one determines those nifty presentation effects, including when and how objects enter and exit the screen, if the text should be added one letter or word at a time, or the type of slide transition to insert.

PowToon Screenshot

One of the soon-to-be-released templates will be to create animated book reports, which I am hoping will be a user-friendly tool for my savvy 3rd grade students. I’m just a bit concerned that PowToon’s limited library available with the free account may not offer a great enough variety of characters, props, or backgrounds. The good news, however, is that images and audio can be uploaded, giving me the opportunity to teach the kids all about finding free-to-use files.

Currently, you may download PowToon in the Chrome store. If enabled by your organization, you can also install it as an add-on in your Google Drive. Since we have several 1:1 iPad classrooms, I would love to see a PowToon app. Please stay “Tooned” for my follow-up post on  using this tool for creating book reports with my students.

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