March 21

“Sparking” Creativity

Often my ideas for tools to share come from questions of colleagues. Keep the questions coming! 🙂 Today I was asked about free online video creation tools. As we looked at a tool I had previously used that was once free (WeVideo) we found it now to be a subscription based service with a hefty price tag. So instead I suggested a relatively new tool called Adobe Spark.

This tool allows you to create media in various forms, Posts (for social media graphics), Pages (more of a presentation style tool) and Video. Since this is a tool from Adobe, the emphasis as always is on professional looking visual composition. Its ease of use and its cost (FREE) make it worth investigating. It has many features that automate the editing and design process, but still allows for customization.

The web version of this  tool wraps all three of the design platforms into one, but there are also mobile app versions of each; Adobe Spark Post for social graphics, Adobe Spark Page for web stories, and Adobe Spark Video for animated videos.

Creating an account can be done quickly by using either a Google or Facebook login or by creating a new account independent of those. A downside is its use in the classroom with all students. Currently it doesn’t have the capability of creating student accounts with a teacher login. Maybe that will be coming soon. Older students with Google accounts could sign up themselves. Adobe Spark is certainly a tool that you could use to spice up your lesson presentations or use personally to create professional looking videos.

I’ve included a link to a more extensive review as well as a short tutorial video on how to use.


March 1

Shadow Puppet EDU ~ Simple, Fun, Powerful!

This week’s tech tip is about an app I recently found called Shadow Puppet. Now I apologize to you Android device users because this is for use with iPhone and iPads. It was just too good not to share.

This is one of the easiest video slideshow creators I’ve seen. You’ll find the EDU version of the app in the iTunes store. It’s FREE and it allows you to make videos up to 30 minutes long using up to 100 images. These videos could be created by the teacher to explain an idea or document student progress to share with parents. Students could create to tell a story or share their work. The images can be those within the camera roll of your phone or you may search for images right from within the app. Image search links out to sources such as the Library of Congress, Metropolitan Museum of Art and NASA.

Creating a video is as simple as:

  1. selecting and/or searching for images and placing them in the proper order (they can be reordered easily by dragging and dropping)
  2. adding background music, if you’d like, from a list within the app or from your iTunes library
  3. recording voice narration as you scroll through the images
  4. saving video to device or sharing with many options for this

There are editing options which allow for fading in and out within images and adding text to them. Rerecording of audio can be done on each slide rather than having to do it from the beginning.

Within the app there is an idea section with 30+ideas organized by topic and include CCSS alignment. And if these aren’t enough ideas, there is a site available for support and even more classroom ideas. Downloadable storyboards, story maps and more detailed instructions for use can also be found here.

Sharing of videos can take many forms, from sending via direct text message or email, to posting to YouTube, Twitter or Instagram. This is easy, and yet something that you need to keep an eye on in terms of student privacy.

So don’t let the simplicity of the tool and its name make you think it’s not powerful. The ideas for its use are many and broad. So go out and have some fun with Shadow Puppet!