Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making Current Events Projects with Animoto and Wordle

If you're like me, bringing current global, national and local events into the classroom is always a high priority. The problem lies in how to make that happen while keeping it student-centered and of interest to them. When I first started teaching I would require my students to write summaries and/or make a poster board of their news story and present it to the class. Those days are long gone as students and teachers now have access to so many more tools to enhance and engage current events. This past year I was working with another teacher, Rachelle Lamoureaux, and together we created a different way for students to connect with what is happening in the world around them. Below are the student instructions to a project you can use in your classroom. Students can present them to the class or post them to a class wiki. I did both. 

Welcome to my latest tech integration project. Everyday important and not so important events happen around the world and some elicit excellent class discussions. Some of the questions and responses from you have been very powerful and thought provoking to say the least. In preparing for class, I have researched or have received links to a variety of amazing resources that can be used as a source and/or starting point to continue the learning and collaboration. As a result, I think that we must capitalize on these resources while combining Web 2.0 tools to create "The Week in 30 seconds" project.


The goal of the project is investigate and analyze online news reports, images and videos to inspire you to build a list of reaction words, use those words to create a Wordle, and finally to make a 30 second Animoto video that represents and reflects their synthesis of the events in Northern Africa, Middle East or other parts of the world.

  • Student task #1: Analyze a minimum of 5 of the 10 sites I have provided which all relate to the most current events happening in Northern Africa, the Middle East or other parts of the world
  • Student task #2: Synthesize the information from various sites to build a list of words that describe your observations, feelings and reactions to these events. Your list should reflect what YOU have learned and YOUR feelings. There is no incorrect reaction or adjective! Try to write as many "reaction" words as you can for EACH site you investigate. Keep track of the reaction words as well as site they correspond with. You may use the same reaction word as many times as you wish. A minimum of 15 reaction words are required.
  • Student task #3: Create a Wordle of your reaction words at Wordle Type the set of your reaction words for each site you investigate into the wordle text box. Click on "Create." Name your wordle so that it is connected with YOU. Once you have created your Wordle, take a screen shot (shift+command+4) of it to be used as an image for your 30 second Animoto video. You can also save your Wordle to the public gallery and then save the image to your desktop or take a screen shot from there.

  • Student Task #4: Choose from the following list of sites to investigate. As you read through the information and look at images make a list of reaction words and/or phrases that describe what you are learning. Be creative and list words of how you feel about what's going on.
2. CNN

  • Student task #5: While you are investigating the sites above, find images that reflect the list of reaction words. Copy and save the images to your desktop. Go to Sign up for your free account. You will need to verify your account via the email address you used to sign up with. Once you have verified your account you can begin creating your Animoto video using the images you have saved on your desktop. Your Animoto video will allow you to upload between 10 and 13 images. Keep in mind that you will also use your Wordle image twice in the Animoto video.

In "create" mode, you can chose from the free templates provided. Next you will upload the images that you saved on your desktop.

Step 1: pics & vids - upload the images that you saved on your desktop.


Step 2: Music. Select a track from the list of songs provided. Animoto allows you the option to listen to the track before you chose it. The track you select should convey the reactions words and images you chose for your Wordle and Animoto video.

Step 3: Finalize your Animoto video. This step will process, rendor and finalize your video. Depending on the song track, and images used....this may take some time.

If you would like your students to produce longer videos on Animoto, you can sign up for an Education account and have each student register through a phony email address you provide them. Instructions are on the Animoto site. I did this and had some students producing two to three minute videos that were creative and outstanding.  

Have fun with this project and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.