Google just launched a complete overhaul of the popular Toontastic app – meet Toontastic 3D – a 3D cartoon storytelling tool. It really hits a sweet spot between ease of use and just enough customization to unleash your inner Pixar.
While it’s being promoted for elementary and middle school students, I think people of all ages could have fun with it. It’s a free download and runs on iOS or Android phones, tablets and “some” Chromebooks.
You begin the process by picking a story organizer. Choices include “Short Story” with 3 scenes, “Classic Story” with 5 scenes and Science Report. (Much cooler than Powerpoint and shown below). Or you can create your own story structure.
The app provides a step-by-step guide for organizing your cartoon. For example the “Classic Story” includes – set up, conflict, challenges, climax and resolution (with helpful thinking prompts). Then select and customize your characters. You can even use an in-app tool to add your face to a character. (Yes, that’s me below.) Next you’re guided through the design of each scene. You move your characters in the scene by tapping on the screen and adding your voice tracks for each. You can also activate their special actions (in this video, my character can break dance). Many of the background objects are interactive and can be activated with a tap. Finally you can add mood music from the app library with some simple controls to customize the soundtrack. Scenes can be reorganized before saving your final project.
Your finished cartoons can be save locally in-app or on the device. You can export them to your device’s photos app or library. The finished high-resolution video is saved as an mp4 and easy to share – you can import it into projects or upload to YouTube or other sharing services. Once it’s on YouTube it’s easy to embed into a blog or other Google tool.
Best of all, it’s designed to be school friendly – no ads or in-app purchases, no email or login required and you can even use it off line. Google states that they do not store your finished content nor any user info.
I plan to use this app with my EdTech Methods class. I’ll share some of their work when I do. Till then, here’s a finished video by DeeDee I found for you to enjoy.
It features eight engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. The units draw from a fascinating collection of text and multimedia content – documents, posters, photographs, audio, video, letter and other ephemera. “Stop-and-think” prompts based on CCSS skills guide students through analysis of the primary and secondary sources. Essential questions foster critical thinking. All documents include links back to the original source material so readers can remix the content into their own curated collections.
All of my student’s wrote for a public audience on our class blog and persued three class goals:
Learn to think like a historian.
Become a skillful instructional designer
Develop technical skills for production, reflection, growth and professional networking.
The lesson design process began early in the semester when students designed lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. Then students identified essential questions worth answering and gathered documents to explore the question in an extended lesson design process.
“To All the Klans and Klansmen of Texas Greetings:
Kool Koast Kamp. The Healthiest road to the Koolest Summer.”
"No worry. The Fiery Cross guards you at night and an officer of the law, with the same Christian sentiment, guards carefully all the portals."
As xenophobia takes a front row seat in American political culture, a bit of historical perspective is in order. In wake of WWI, the 1920s saw an explosion of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. This brochure, from the Duke University Library Digital Collection, promotes a 1924 KKK Family Kamp near Rockport, Texas.
Middle-class white supremacy had another wave of popularity in the 1920s, when the second Klan, which had a nationwide following, drew on the ideas of [Madison] Grant and others to sell white supremacy to both the rural and urban middle classes. It printed newspapers and books, held seminars as well as rallies, and even tried to establish a Klan university in Indiana.
Along with drumming up racial fears, the 1920s Klan relied on scientific and theological racism in The Imperial Night-Hawk, its national newspaper. Writing for the paper in 1923, a Louisiana Klansman and minister, W. C. Wright, outlined the Klan’s intellectual position on white supremacy, in which white people were “the leading race,” America was “a white man’s country, discovered, dedicated, settled, defended, and developed by white men,” and the distinctions between the races were scientific and divinely created.
Each red dot shows a local unit or "Klavern." The official numbers for each Klavern indicate a basic chronology for the chartering of the Klaverns, and they also reveal patterns of Klan organizing. This map invites you to learn about the second Klan in your area and across the U.S. and to study the courage of those who opposed the Klan.
To see more of what was driving KKK thinking, you can view a 1921 KKK application here.
Some of the KKK application questions echo today's voices of fear and xenophobia:
4. Where were you born?
5. How long have you resided in your present locality?
7. Were your parents born in the United States of America?
8. Are you a gentile or a jew?
9. Are you of the white race or of a colored race?
10. What educational advantages have you?
11. Color of eyes? Hair? Weight?
12. Do you believe in the principles of a PURE Americanism?
13. Do you believe in White Supremacy?
15. What is your religious faith?
17. Of what religious faith are your parents?
19. Do you honestly believe in the practice of REAL fraternity?
20. Do you owe ANY KIND of allegiance to any foreign nation, government, institution, sect, people, ruler or person?
I’m fascinated by old maps, so it’s been especially fun to follow the #MapMonsterMonday hashtag started by the Boston Public Library on Twitter and Instagram. Both have become hashtags for others to upload imaginative creatures.
Here’s a 5-minute PRI interview with Dory Klein, education assistant at the library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. She started #MapMonsterMonday because “I wanted to connect people with our collections and make these maps a little more accessible and a little more fun. … They’re beautiful and fascinating and the stories behind them can turn into just a wonderful rabbit hole of research.”
If you’re looking for a great Map Monster lesson, I recommend Medieval Maps and Monsters by the education team at the Osher Map Library. It’s a fascinating lesson for grades 3-5, but also filled with resources for older students. It includes an editable PowerPoint presentation16MB ppt, Sea Monsters Handbook 4MB pdf and even materials to make a Dangers of Sea Exploration Board Game. You also find links at Osher Map Library to other great map-based lessons on medieval maps, Renaissance, colonialism, thematic maps and more.
Feature image from (Ortellius, 1573) Instagram post by American Geographical Society Library
I’ve been asked to pilot a new edtech class this spring for undergraduate ed majors in University of Portland’s School of Education. I’m still in the brainstorm phase and I thought I’d like to share some of my initial thinking.
First off – a few things that I don’t want to do:
Oversell edtech. Too often educators try to force the latest edtech tool into the classroom because they think it’s cooler. Faster. Shinier.
Focus on teaching apps. Oh how I hated being forced to sit in a computer lab and suffer though PowerPoint professional development as a teacher. When I need students to use a specific app, I typically create a YouTube channel of short screencast how-tos. Or students can use the University’s Lynda account for more.
Take sides in the platform / device religious wars. These students will end up teaching in different settings, each with it’s own unique edtech landscape. They’ll need to be able to use what ever they find in their placements.
Instead I’d like to first “teach” adaptability – the mindset that’s helped me navigate the ever-changing edtech environment since I began my career in the early ’70s – an era of filmstrip projectors, 16mm movies and ditto machines. I’ve always thought first about my instructional goals, then tried to leverage whatever resources I could find to reach them. That calls for flexibility and a willingness to figure things out on your own. I couldn’t wait around for some school-sponsored PD.
A second, equally important goal would be to teach critical evaluation of the intersection of good instruction and technologies. A good teacher is skeptical, always re-assessing what’s working and what’s not. That’s especially important in the dynamic edtech world.
I envision a problem-based approach where I layout a series instructional challenges (opportunities?) and invite student teams to come back with a plan for achieving the goal using as much or as little technology as they saw fit. They would be expected to find a way to share their work in or out of class (why not flip that as well?) We would then go though a group evaluation, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t. Was the juice worth the squeeze? Move on to the next instuctional challenge. Reflect, rinse, repeat.
Here’s how I thought I might open my first class: “Good instructional often begins with a pre-assessment. This is an edtech class, so as a starting point we need to get sense of where everyone resides on edtech landscape.”
What would be useful to know?
How should we gather that info?
How do we store and share (represent) what we find out?
Would any digital technologies be useful in this task? If so, which ones?
How do we set that up so that your peers can be successful participants?
Brainstorm over: Any thoughts on this approach? Anyone else out there teaching an edtech course and care to share?
Image Credit: Civilian Conservation Corps, Third Corps Area, typing class with W.P.A. instructor ca. 1933
National Archives and Records Administration Identifier: 197144