Monthly Archives: April 2009


I can imagine this being really popular with the students, It is a graphic way of displaying search results (form Google) as 96 panels on a cube. The cube can be rotated and flipped, and pausing over each element brings up a thumbnail to the right.

Although it adds nothing in terms of functionality (and I don’t think you can do advanced searches) it still looks attractive and tempting, I’m sure I’lll be showing it to students quite soon!



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Movie Maker vs Photostory 3 – which editing software?

Asking around my colleagues for suggestions on a suitable piece of software on which to synchronise pictures to a sound track was interesting if only to find that no-one had much experience of the sort of digital stories I want to produce. Inevitably, several people said simply “Use a Mac”. However, as most of the students do not have access to one (and nor do I, sadly) I’ve looked at other options.

A few years ago we ran a successful project on video editing using Pinnacle Studio 8 (I could tell it was a few years ago when I looked up the latest version which seems to be Studio 12!). This currently costs about £30 which is remarkably cheap – but would deter students using it at home. So, I’m having a look at free downloads of Microsoft’s Movie Maker and Photostory 3 for Windows.

I used a series of photographs I had on file and simply tried to add them to an mp3 I’d created in Audacity.

Movie Maker operates like  most video editing suites: clips can be imported and then dragged down on to a timeline view or storyboard. Still photographs work in just the same way and have the advantage of being dragged to extend or shorten to fit.Transitions such as fades are easily dropped in too.

The advantages seem to be:

  • easy arragement of  images and sequences
  • the timeline allows you to follow the audio track closely
  • many ‘transitions’ are available

Disadvantages include:

  • synchronising images to precise moments on the sound track was quite fiddly and would need some practise
  • a black (and a white) blank image would be quite useful as the length of transition does not seem to be editable as it was in Pinnacle.
  • doesn’t have the ‘movement effect’ used in Photostory.

Photostory 3 for Windows doesn’t have the editing suit interface, but rather a series of staged instructions rather like a help wizard.

The advantages seem to be:

  • Very quick and straightforward to get a basic slideshow (default is set to give each picture 5 secs – but this can be altered)
  • Built in ‘movement effect’ so view zooms in or out or tracks across the images (these too can be altered manually.


  • You can’t see the audiotrack so synchronisation might have to be done by careful timings taken from the audio track.
  • You can’t  include moving images/video


There are several useful Tutorials to be found on You Tube for both programmes.




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Digital Stories

Center for Digital Storytelling seems to be a useful site on this topic and contains an interesting extract from their Cookbook

There are some excellent examples to be found on this site too. Basically they are short (approx 400 words) recorded personal stories, illustrated with sequences of (usually) still photographs with a soundtrack. Audacity is the obvious way of recording the soundtrack. I wonder which would be the easiest way of pulling in the photos and adding the soundtrack? Studio8 /Premiere? Windows Story Maker3?

I like the idea of using it to tell personal stories. It reminds me a bit of the protobooks from people like Yorkshire Arts Circus (?) I looked at a few years ago. The short text is appealing as it wouldn’t overface students and would encourage fine crafting  of their writing which simply doesn’t happen well with longer texts. It also makes the final product more manageable for sharing with real audiences.

The suggestions in the .pdf include:

  • getting students to record their writing three times so that they can then extract the best bits
  • record using interviewers and then editing the questions out
  • limit students to plan on 6×4 postcards

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Using Media in the Classroom

My classroom is very media-heavy.  I have a video, song or story to go with just about everything we do. It is all about placing hooks for students to hang their bits of knowledge.  I do not, however, show a lot of movies in class in full.  I rarely show more than one per unit and usually only when I have a substitute.  Instead, I chop movies and TV shows into 2-3 minute clips that I use in Powerpoint alongside notes on the topic. Are they all educational? On their own, absolutely not. However, showing Lisa Simpson read her in-flight safety directions and joyously claim “they’re written in haiku!” builds an interest in haiku that otherwise wouldn’t happen.  Introducing Martin Luther using R.E.M.s “Losing My Religion” may not teach the students much on its own but it is a hook that I can call on throughout the unit.

Our students live in a hyper-interactive world that constantly feeds them entertainment.  If educators don’t tap into that they are doing themselves a disservice.  Yes, in an ideal world students would come in, read four pages and memorize every word, but that obviously isn’t realistic. Frankly, I didn’t learn much that way 15 years ago either. 

This is from the site just mentioned. I suppose this is what I have been starting to do more recently. I really liked his idea of getting the students to look out for any media including references to History. Perhaps our department could encourage the students to do the same for English?

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Task setting

Mr. Roughton’s Classroom 2.0

Welcome to the next level

Interesting little site. This is a History teacher who seems to be well into exploiting elearning/web 2.0. He sets work using a system remarkably similar to the extended project we do in Year 8 where students amass points by selecting from a range of tasks which have been classified by learning styles/types. 
This is also where I first came across the attractive way of displaying selection choices run using a microsoft application called….er Silverfish?? Silverlight?? Another thing to go back to!

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Kevin’s Meandering Mind

Tomorrow morning, I am off to California for a weekend technology retreat with the National Writing Project. It’s a long way to go but I bet the discussions and work will be most interesting, as I am part of a group of teachers who are working on developing technology resources through a program partnership with NWP and the MacArthur Foundation, and others. This is pretty exciting work. Our Western Massachusetts Writing Project has proposed developing resources around some main themes:

  • using technology for social justice
  • using voice (podcasting, etc)
  • assessing digital media in the classroom

This is where I found the link to the stimulus photos. Wonder how the NWP looks these days?

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Bud the Teacher

NPM2009: Prompt 19

April 19th, 2009 · 3 Comments

This blog was suggested as a good source of stimulus images for daily poetry writing. Haven’t checked out archive yet but there may be a connection to National Writing Project and Missouri ‘Teacher of the Year’ – which takes me back to the heady days of the Write to Learn Project in Somerset and Wiltshire.

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