As I sat in various presentations at the MACE conference last week, I envisioned how the various web sites and software tools being demonstrated could be utilized to enhance student projects. Capitalizing on the poetry the freshman recently wrote over the book, The Outsiders, I decided to experiment.
My first experiment was to use the Wordle. website to create a picture to illustrate one of the freshman poems. Wordle utilizes words to create a picture. The size of each word in the picture is determined by the number of times it is entered. Thus, if one wants a word to dominate the picture, that word is entered numerous times. Below is the resulting picture:
The orientation of the words can be altered, but the positions of individual words within the cloud cannot be manipulated. The user can select from a variety of color combinations and font styles to personalize their cloud. Using a screen capture program such as Gadwin, the picture can be saved as an image and added to the word processed copy of the poem.
My next experiment centered around the use of voice. Ideally, this would involve a recording of the student reading his/her poem. With the Voice Thread web site, one can record the reading of the poem directly from the computer. A picture can be uploaded as a visual behind the poem. A very creative student could divide their poem into sections and record each section with its own picture backdrop.
If a student wishes to enhance the visual presentation he/she could use PhotoStory or MovieMaker. With each program, individual pictures can be added to a timeline. The audio can be recorded with the handheld voice recorders. These recorders create a “.wma” file which can be added to the timeline. If desired, MovieMaker would allow for the addition of music behind the voice. PhotoStory saves the file in the “.wmv” format and MovieMaker creates a “.wp3” , “*.avi” or “*.wmv” file. All can be viewed with Windows Media Player.
The final experiment was with the Animoto web site. This site is a quick way to create 30 second clips utilizing pictures and music. In order to use the audio clip created with the digital recorder, it was necessary to convert it from the “.wma” format to “.mp3” format. This was quickly done utilizing the ZamZar web site. With this particular project, the length of the poem was longer than the 30 seconds allowed by the free version of Animoto. Thus, the audio fades away before the poem is finished. This site would be an easy way to visualize a shorter piece of student work.
None of these projects were difficult to complete and each could be completed in a class period if students have a clear idea of what visual imagery they wish to use. Some of the projects could be shared via the web depending on the file formats required by the various web sites.