Muddling through the blogosphere

October 5, 2009
by blogwalker

Five Reasons Why I Love Photo Story 3

This year I’ve decided to add Photo Story 3 to my workshop offerings.  I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to introduce teachers and students to this extremely user-friendly program.  For a number of reasons (and I’ll limit myself to five), it’s a great beginning step into filmmaking and the art of digital storytelling.

Reason #1 – It’s all about the Next button! Yep, once you’ve uploaded your pictures, you basically just ‘next’ your way through this program.ps31

Reason #2 – Panning effects – If you’re a Ken Burns fan, you’ve got zooming and panning tools at your fingertips.  In fact, random panning and zooming are the default setting. You can, of course, turn off this effect for all or for individual pictures – or customize your pan (click on the Customize Motion button, click in Specify start and end position of motion box.


Tip: If you”re using Movie Maker 2 and are bummed about not having a “Ken Burns Effect” (Windows XP) or find the Vista panning effects a bit limiting, you can easily bring a still image into Photo Story 3, add the panning and zooming effects, and then import that image into your Movie Maker project. Easy-peasy!

Reason #3David Jakes’ video tutorials and handout – Short and excellent!  What if you wanted more information on zooming and panning? Check out Adding Pans and Adding Zooms.

Reason #4 – Concerned about copyright issues for music? Not to worry, PS3 has you covered with a built in music selections to choose from that allow you to select the properties that best match your story. Or you can upload MP3 files. Start with if you’re looking for copyright, royalty-free music.

Reason #5 – It’s a FREE  download from Microsoft.

Need more convincing why PhotoStory3 is a great program?  Checkout some classroom samples from Paul Hamilton’s Universal Design for Learning wiki. And if you have samples of student-created PS3 projects,  I would love to add them to the filmmaking resources page of Toolkit4blogwalker!

May 30, 2009
by blogwalker

Telling Our Classroom Stories

As the school year draws to a close, how do you document those moments, events, or projects that made a difference to you as a teacher – and to your students as learners? I really like the model National Writing Project colleague Bonnie Kaplan has produced. The combination of a 3rd person narrator using voice over (mostly) stills makes a good story even more compelling.

Dover DS Intro from Bonnie Kaplan on Vimeo.

And I’d like to thank my friend Kevin for sharing his reflections on bringing movie making into his 6th grade curriculum and for pointing me to Bonnie’s gem.

November 11, 2008
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Mathew Needleman’s K12Online Preso – Oh my!

I’ve blogged about Mathew Needleman before. Since attending his CUE 08 presentation, I’ve been following his blog and have even written videoconferencing sessions with Mathew into my district’s current EETT grant. But if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face with Mathew in real time or virtual time – or even if you have – you now have the opportunity to watch the amazing video he created for his recent K12Online Conference presentation Film School for Video Podcasters!

Mathew’s explanation of the storyboarding process will make you rethink those storyboarding templates (that I’ve been giving students). I also have a much better understanding of the Rule of Thirds now. He touched quickly on lighting too, an area I haven’t a clue about setting up, so I’m hoping maybe Mathew has an upcoming session on that topic.

What a strong case for media literacy in the elementary curriculum! Just wish I had joined Mathew live for his K12Online Conference session. Next year for sure!

August 22, 2008
by blogwalker

Why Filmmaking Belongs in the Classroom

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.” Stanley Kubric

For the past couple of years, Nikos TheodosakisThe Director in the Classroom has been my top recommendation to teachers wanting to venture into filmmaking as part of their curriculum. In addition to tips and wonderful graphic organizers, Nikos also lays out a compelling argument (on behalf on his own children – and all children) for why filmmaking belongs in the classroom, starting with Part 1:

  • Learning in a world of change
  • Living and learning in a visual world
  • How filmmaking develops higher order thinking skills
  • How filmmaking develops personal and social skills
  • How filmmaking raises awareness

I have a new favorite: Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom, by John Golden. I found this gem while attending the July National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Institute for 21st Century Learning. What a great resource for secondary teachers – and probably upper elementary too. “Even though this book deals with cinematic technique and film study, it is ultimately a book about using film to help students improve their reading and analytical skills.”

Golden includes over 30 films, ranging from E.T. The Extraterrestrial to Life Is Beautiful , and provides strategies for viewing each, including reading strategies (e.g., predicting, responding, questioning, and storyboarding), textual analysis (e.g., characterization, point of view, iron, and connections/comparisons between authors’ and directors’ choices) and classroom tested suggestions for developing units. Tons of powerful images pulled from films, along with thought-provoking “Questions to Consider.”

I’m working on a presentation right now for our Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium‘s upcoming Video in the Classroom event.  I’ll be sharing both books during my session – and am seeking a third to add to the list.

July 22, 2008
by blogwalker

NCTE – Helen Barrett on ePortfolios

Helen Barrett is sharing her commitment to life-long portfolios and building the argument for portfolios in our own personal lives, not just for our students.

Realizing I had my camera with me, I logged onto and recorded Helen’s session.

July 2, 2008
by blogwalker

Digital Storytelling with Arnie Abrams

Arnie Abrams is opening the session by stating that digital storytelling should be more about the writing – and the writing process – than about the technology.

Benefits of digital storytelling:

  • can be made interactive
  • provides real audience
  • works for the “YouTube generation”
  • helps develop visual literacy
  • helps to understand mass media
  • requires presentation skills
  • develops writing skills

We can now do digital storytelling 2.0 – interactive (VoiceThread – my idea, not his;-)

Ten step development process:

  • start with a good story
  • write an outline/script
  • storyboard
  • brainstorm visual ideas, music
  • findavisual, shoot
  • edit visulas
  • add title , graphics
  • record narration
  • match visual to audio. add music
  • produce, revise, present, distribute

Meg Ormiston quote “Without a structure students will focus on adding images, music, and other elements instead of focusing on the content and organization”

Storyboarding – recommends using index cards so kids can move slides around.

Ways to build a digital story:

  • Stills in a folder
  • PowerPoint (export PNGs)
  • Slide show programs – Photoshop Elements
  • Video editing programs
  • Flash
  • DVD authoring

Software options:

  • iPhoto – Mac only and lacks features, such as titles
  • Photoshop Elements – has slideshow option – with 2 audio tracks! And nice pan and zoom effect; add clip art on top of images via drag and drop; good edit control – but only makes WMV format – appropriate for 5th grade on up
  • PhotoStory 3 – Windows only. You can work only with stills – and doesn’t run with Vista. You can bring in your own music – or create your own copyright-free music.

Video Editors:

  • Corel VideoStudio – appropriate for 6th grade up – Windows only. Allows importing music and video from DVDs. Bottom third option for text. Has 5.1 surround sound – nice for exporting to DVDs. Also allows exporting into all the basic formats (mov, avi, etc.)
  • iMovie – previous versions great, but iLife 08 pretty much sucks – but you can download previous version.
  • Clicker – works on Mac and Windows – Arnie has developed storytelling templates to get kids started. Appropriate for primary kids. Includes text reader, but they can also use microphone option.

Tip for copyright issues: Include a disclaimer on your site with offer to remove images, etc., by request. Here’s a sample one from Arnie:

“Many of the digital stories on our site include images and audio found on the Internet using commonly available search engines. The stories have been created for non-profit, educational use by students and teachers and we hope are within the fair use protection of existing copyright laws. If any copyright owner objects to the use of any work appearing on this site, please contact us and we will remove the work and review the propriety of including it.”

June 30, 2008
by blogwalker

Digital Storytelling

Bernajean Porter is asking us the difference between a story and storytelling. It’s a “lesson learned” that raises a story to storytelling. We’re watching the sample The Music in My Heart, with the tip that when justifying storytelling in your curriculm, make sure you always end by focusing on the difference it makes to an individual student.

Digital storytelling is tuned in tightly to the writing process. You’ve got to have some art to the story, plus a good beginning and solid end. It’s about stories having power and memorability.

Sample exercise: The prompt is “write about a time when technology made a difference in the life of a student” Check out samples and tips at Become a Storykeeper Wiki. Bernajean’s passion for the need to make and share stories about making a difference in the lives of children is infectious. She’s proposing a national project.

“There’s amazing power in storytelling for learning and for spirit. We have to start celebrating from our hearts how teachers make a difference for kids.” Bernajean Porter

January 30, 2008
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Escape from Kenya – Current Events in a Digital Age

Sunday morning, I received an email via the NWP Tech Liaison’s listserv from Scott Floyd. It was an invitation to check out a post in his A Piece of Mind blog about the recent violence in Kenya:

I was fortunate enough recently to be in contact with someone who lived the Kenya unrest firsthand. She (Ellen) and her twelve year old son were in Kenya volunteering at an orphanage when the presidential race unfolded and the violence began. She shared her story of escape in a blog post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog. I contacted her, and we worked together via the Internet to create several versions of her story using various Web 2.0 tools. I used it this past week while training school staff on integrating more technology, and we are going to use it with our high school world history students where Ellen will video conference with them via Skype after they view her story and send her questions about the events. The feedback I received from the teachers showed just how powerful digital storytelling can be regardless of the subject being taught.”

Scott has shared not only an amazing story but also another take on the possibilities for telling stories – even a current event – in a digital age.

It just gets better…Scott will be joining tonight’s Teachers Teaching Teachers session to share more about the project. And Scott will be joined by David Karp, 21-year old founder of tumblr, and Felicia George, who will share highlights from EduCon 2.0. Many thanks to Paul Allison for his organizing time and efforts! I already have the headset out, ready to logon at 6:00 pst.

January 4, 2008
by blogwalker

A Few More Favorite Digital Storytelling Resources

Thanks to Kevin H for posting about Mathew Needleman‘s re-launching of his Video in the Classroom site. I am always in search of good models of filmmaking in the classroom mathew.jpgto share with elementary teachers and their students. I also want to recognize Mathew for his Open Court site, “which aligns units of the basal reading series, Open Court Reading, with integrating technology activities and is visited by thousands of teachers across the country daily.”

I also like many of the video tips for students posted by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium website on their Student DV page. The SECC team members are local heroes in supporting teachers’ efforts and journeys into filmmaking in the classroom, starting with DV Loaner Starter Kits and culminating every spring with the SEVAs (another great site for finding great K-12 video projects!).

Since lighting can enhance or hinder a quality project, I especially like Center High School’s Vernon Bisho’s Outdoor Lighting Tips:


December 31, 2007
by blogwalker

Tools for Becoming a Better Digital Storyteller

Even higher on the New Year’s resolutions list than weight loss is my wish to improve my photography skills. In a nutshell, I suck at taking both stills and video. The more I watch well crafted digital stories, the more I recognize the need for some major video tips and tricks! I am therefore very glad to have access to the three resources in particular:

1. doggie.jpgKodak’s site boils it down to 10 tips, with an accompanying animated visual for each tip. I wonder if anyone else needed Tip 6’s simple explanation on how to lock down a shot as much as I did!? A very kid-friendly approach – perfect for me :-). The interactive demos are great too (although it took me five attempts to master the rule of thirds tutorial).

2. Atomic Learning also comes to the rescue of the camera challenged with their Video Storytelling Guide. Although a fee-based program, for those who want to sample before committing, you can have a 15-day free trial, during which you could walk your students through the video tutorials that cover everything from basic shots to basic and/or more sophisticated lighting techniques – and after which, you will probably want to become an Atomic Learning member! Tons of great tutorials including many freebies, such as the online storyboard.

3. krishna2.jpgI hope during the New Year to share more tips and tricks from the wonderful Krishna Harrison-Munoz, the videographer I have the privilege to work with in the DOLCHE project. As soon as she thinks through some copyright issues on how to best make available parts of her original Roadmap for the New Video Producer materials, I will post some sample tutorials, including my favorite: How to make a video that stars a talking dog.

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