We love learning from other educators on social media! For educators trying to transform their practice, what a great way to learn new ideas! Especially with educational technology, because we can learn new ways to engage our students and involve them as creators! But occasionally, we see posts from others that may or may not be in the classroom (perhaps they once were) posting an assignment a teacher has given- criticizing it in isolation without knowing context of how assignment is given. We don't like this for many reasons, but one is that "shaming" people or "shaming" assignments doesn't grow people. So it inspired this graphic...
On July 24th, we went into panic mode about the possibility of MS Paint being discontinued. Evidently, so did the whole MS Paint community.
See, we have a special love for MS Paint as most of our images at first were made using it! (See our About Us page). Over time, we have used a growth mindset to continue to improve and we use different tools now in trying new projects. Still, Paint---with all its simplicity---is a great tool and also works well for creating in the classroom.
While it turns out now that MS Paint is here to stay, we had been doing some exploring of alternatives that would work well in a classroom setting for creating back when we thought it might disappear. We LOVE AutoDraw, a Google project.
Other than being able to use A.I. technology to guess what someone is drawing (especially helpful for Pinky as you see the suggestions for the bird in the screenshot below), this program also requires NO downloading and works on all device types.
While we never want to focus just on a technology tool as tools come and go (with good pedagogy remaining), you will find that AutoDraw has the potential to be an awesome classroom tool for all kinds of creating. Vocab comics on a virtual word wall? Frames for a GIF? Yes, AutoDraw is fabulous for student classroom creators.
You can learn more about AutoDraw here: https://aiexperiments.withgoogle.com/autodraw
For the most part, we love YouTube as a platform for our videos. YouTube allows us to host our videos and build a community. We're almost about to hit our 4 year anniversary of being on YouTube, and we thought we'd share some YouTube tips for our viewers that we've learned along the way.
Before we start, however, we want to mention the role of educational videos on YouTube. Our goal is that our short videos present content that is relevant, humorous, and memorable to students--- so the teacher will have more classroom time for more important things like hands on labs, opportunities for students to create with content, and discussion time. No educational videos will ever replace the work of a great teacher.
1. Restricted Mode in YouTube
Are you an educator or parent concerned about inappropriate videos or comments in YouTube? Did you know there is a restricted mode that you can easily turn on so that these will not appear? In fact, an institution's network administrator can turn this on for an entire institution (like a school district). More info here: support.google.com/youtube/answer/174084?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
For young children, there is an app called "YouTube Kids" for Apple and Android which significantly limits what is shown. This app is very selective on what content it allows, but hooray--- you can find us on there!
2. Turn off the Pop-Up Annotations
Annotations are the pop-up messages that YouTube creators can put in their videos. Note: Annotations are not the same thing as advertisements. Sometimes annotations are helpful pieces of information or links that the creator has added, but in some videos you watch, they may be distracting in the classroom. In May 2017, YouTube stopped the ability for creators to make new annotations, but all the annotations already present will remain. You can turn off pop up annotations using the sequence in the screenshot below!
Many educational YouTube videos have captions. We do, too, for all of our videos! If you click the CC button at the bottom right of the video, you can see the captions in English. Find any mistakes? Please help us by fixing them, which will then let us know to approve. More info about how to fix them on "our videos" page.
4. Free Music from YouTube to Download and Use in Your Creations
It can be tough to find royalty free music when you or your students are creating that you can place directly into your video creations. Awesome music for video projects is offered by the YouTube Audio library. You can preview them all directly on the website before downloading! www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music
5. View a YouTube Video Transcript
By clicking on "More" and then "Transcripts," you can see the video transcript. This will also let you click anywhere in the transcript to skip to that portion of the video. (screenshot below).
Click "Share" underneath the YouTube video, and you will have the option to type in the time that you want the video to start. This is really helpful if you are an educator and only want to show your class a quick segment of a video that is midway in the video. After selecting and typing in the time, you will notice the link changes to include that start time. This link can now be bookmarked, and it will play the video from that specific point.
Updated: March 2018
We are often experimenting with new tools to create our videos and illustrations. It's a changing process! Tech is simply a tool in our eyes, and because of that, we focus on our goal of what we are trying to do as our driving force---not the tech itself. It's why we believe that you can do video creation with students in the classroom even when tech is limited. One thing we love to present on!
When we started (in 2013), we only used a cell phone to record audio, Moviemaker (free), and Microsoft Paint. You can see our milestones here from when we first started.
As we grew, we wanted to create more types of things with more detail. We now make infocomics, GIFs, misconception comics, and add more detail to our videos---so we have looked for tech to help us meet those goals.
Here's what we use as of June 2017 with a limited budget:
Drawing Software- Petunia has no artistic background, but she practices a lot. She started with MS Paint. Over time, her style of drawing has changed. She now uses the software Sketchbook Pro for all video illustrations and GIFs. All of the illustrations---for videos and for GIFs---are individual image files. To make a GIF, the images can be looped together in a GIF maker. Sketchbook has this ability. If you are trying to make GIFs with your images, here is a very easy to use GIF maker: www.gifmaker.me. Additionally, here are some other suggestions for free drawing programs on a variety of device types.
Drawing Hardware- It's hard to imagine (or maybe it's not ;P), but Petunia used a simple computer mouse to draw for a long time for a lot of our videos. As her drawings have evolved, she now uses a Cintiq 13 HD drawing tablet by Wacom.
Movie Editing Software- We used to use free Windows Moviemaker to put the audio and pictures together, and it really is an easy to use, great program for the classroom. After wanting some extra features, we switched over to Camtasia, which we really like. If you are looking for some free options for movie editing, check these out.
Audio Software- Pinky still uses the free program Audacity to record. It works for both PC and Apple computers. While you don't technically need any audio software (we didn't in the beginning), it adds a lot of awesome features like cutting things out or removing background noise.
Audio Hardware- Pinky no longer uses a cell phone to record audio or the internal microphone on her laptop. She now uses this Yeti microphone. She also made a "portable sound booth" to put her microphone in which we think has made a difference in our more recent videos. You can find a lot of instructions for making one of these online!
I notice you animate some portions of your videos. What tool do you use to animate?
Our videos are mostly a series of comics timed to audio, but sometimes they contain minor animations. At this time, we do not use a fancy animation program. We create an image, save it, reopen it to make a slight change (such an image rotation or position change), save the new image, and repeat--- and we eventually end with a series of images that can appear animated once they are all put into a movie editing program in order. If trying this out, we would suggest naming your images numerically in sequence as shown below.
P.S. We're very passionate about involving students as video creators in the classroom. Check out our student creation page for step by step instructions on a teacher-student collaborative video creation procedure that maximizes your classroom time.
Reviewing? We have a resource that uses our GIFs in a powerful way! We think reviews can be great with visuals and questions- and these Google Slides use our Amoeba Sisters GIFs (animations)! Click the GIF below to access our "Biology Discussion Topics with GIFs!" These can make GREAT warm-ups and exit tickets, and they also can be powerful in facilitating discussion.
Instructions on how to use and present it will be found in the second slide. Click the purple button below to access entire slideshow.
Sorry, this GIF review is not set to allow for editing, but you can get the individual GIFs found in this slideshow to use in a different way. Visit our GIF page. Are you looking for a print-out? Scroll down at bottom of this post for a PDF copy.
Do you need a PDF of the questions that can be printed? You can download it below. (Note: GIFs are not animated in a PDF. See our GIFs page to access individual GIFs.)
About This Page
Disclosure? If we share a tool or website on this page, it's because we like it and find it useful. We are not endorsed by these tools, and we are not affiliates of the tools on this page. If our disclosure changes, we'll update it here.