Posts Tagged ‘Animoto’

National Poetry Month 2018

Railway Station

This week my students and I read an article in the Scope Scholastic magazine about the Kindertransport.  Jewish families paid for their children to board a train to Great Britain where a group of people welcomed and fostered these children escaping the dangers in Germany in 1939. The article focused on the story of one girl, Lore. For some of my students, this was their first exposure to the horrors of the Holocaust.  They became fascinated and touched by the terror these children had to go through.

Amy VanDerwater is writing a poem everyday on her blog and featuring one of the methods in her book Poems are Teachers.  I am using this prompt daily.  Added bonus: my students are learning about Orion because Amy is writing about one topic, Orion, 30 ways.

On day 2, she used story structure.  I thought this prompt paired well as a response to the Scope article.  As a follow up, my students created videos in Animoto with their poems.

Today, I am sharing my poem as well as a powerful video from my student, Erin.


Alone with a suitcase,
a photograph,
an accordion,
Lore waited at the station
to be saved.

Hitler fanned the flames of hatred.
Terror washed over her.
Why did her parents send her away?
To be saved.

The only way they knew how,
they sent her away
to live with strangers
to learn a new language,
to find new friends,

to be saved.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018


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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Cherish is my 2017 one little word. So when my youngest daughter came home and wanted to go on a swamp tour, I took the morning off to cherish this special time. Whether it was the high air pressure or the slant of the sun in May, but the cypress swamp on Lake Martin was glowing. I wished I had brought my big camera, but my phone had to do. Even so, I captured some amazing images.

Lake Martin is a nature preserve and bird sanctuary, so there is no feeding of the animals of any sort. The guides do not attract the alligators to the boat. Even so, there were plenty of gators around to see. All sizes, from a small baby about 2 feet long to an old grandpa at 14 feet. Many of them were perched on branches sticking out of the water sunning themselves. Gators have no sweat glands, so they open their mouths to cool off. This makes them look fierce. They pretty much ignored us, though.

I learned that there are few snakes in the swamp because the birds and the gators eat them. The lake is home to all kinds of birds from the largest species of heron, the grey heron, to the littlest chickadee. We were mesmerized by the roseate spoonbills flying above, a spray of pink on the sky.

I enjoyed being a tourist in my own home. We should do this more often. I loved learning new facts, some of which I want to “fact check”, such as Spanish moss was brought into Louisiana on a bird. How do they know that?

If you plan to come to South Louisiana, you should plan on a swamp tour. However, it’s pretty warm, so you’d probably not want to take the trip during the summer.

I made an Animoto video and digital poem about the cypress swamp. Enjoy!

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I missed the Saturday Celebration post, so I am double-dipping today.

I want to celebrate good old-fashioned snail mail.  This week I received the invitation to my daughter’s wedding (coming up very soon on Oct. 1st), a #clmooc postcard from Karen Fasimpaur (she tells me she lived and taught in Tanzania?!), and a poetry exchange card from Joy Acey (make that 2 cards from Joy: the heart and the zebras.)

I celebrate the connections I have made through this blogging adventure that encourages me daily.

snail mailzebra card


Today is #DigiLitSunday.  I tweeted out the topic of #motivation.  This year is my tenth year teaching young gifted students.  I have redefined my role of teacher from someone who imparts knowledge to someone who motivates learning.  My students are way smarter than I am when it comes to a measurement of intelligence.  I am ineffective if I stand before them and tell them what to do.  It just doesn’t work.

I have learned the art of motivation.  And technology has been right beside me.  I love Animoto for its immediate access to cool designs and background music for video production.  I turned to Animoto this week to motivate my students to explore Wonders on Wonderopolis and to practice creating a thesis statement.

My students were motivated by choice as well.  Many of them find interest areas through their reading.  I Survived has become a favorite series.  Andrew wanted to know more about tsunamis after reading I Survived the Japanese Tsunami.  He watched videos, read a Wonderopolis post, and then branched out to search further questions.


Kaiden was inspired to learn about club foot from the book The War that Saved my Life.  

Some students were motivated by watching each other’s videos.  Jacob decided to research earthquakes after seeing Andrew’s video about tsunamis.  (Andrew and Jacob attend different schools, but they keep in touch on our Kidblog site.)


Motivation can come from me, the teacher, from other students, or from books, and even from conversations.  I went to Tanzania, Africa this summer and was chatting with Lynzee about the giraffes I saw.  She wanted to know why giraffes have such long necks. Wonderopolis answered her question.  Here is her video.

Obviously, I had a hard time choosing which video to share with you.  Another cool aspect of teaching with choice and technology is the variety of projects that are produced.  My students can now learn from each other as we post each video on our Kidblog site.

Please share your motivating #DigiLitSunday posts here.

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Poetry Friday round-up with Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect.

Poetry Friday round-up with Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect.

Every once in a while a volume of poetry comes along that blows me away. The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry is an anthology that will keep my poetry self satisfied for a while. Edited by J. Patrick Lewis, the poems are illustrated by amazing images. This glossy book even smells good.

book of nature poetry

Laura Purdie Salas posted last week about her poem Brinicle which is included in the Book of Nature Poetry. This was a totally new subject for me, so I took the chance that it was new to my students. They were transfixed by the video she posted. Then we read and discussed her poem. Laura gave us lots to talk about. (free verse, imagery, personification, metaphor, and sounds)

The assignment: Turn your Wonder into Poetry Using Animoto. Since I am traveling to NCTE this week, I wasn’t sure how or if my students would write their poems and make a video. I’ve checked in on their kidblog site, and they have been posting some cool poem videos. I’ll share a few here.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

The creative process is nothing if not elusive. As soon as I’ve figured out what direction I want to go in, my other self takes over, and we go somewhere else entirely.

The Clmooc community welcomes this kind of wayward creative thinking. In fact, it depends on it. If you are not participating, you should at least lurk. Twitter is #clmooc. Facebook page here. Google plus here.

This week’s make assignment comes from the University of Illinois Writing Project. They posted a video, and they all look so young. No worries. That was me, once.

The make instructions can be a bit confusing. They ask us to remediate. But the word isn’t what we typically think about in education as remediation. The word comes from re- and media, meaning taking something and changing the media, creativity at its best.

I thought about this while I perused Facebook, a typical avoidance behavior for me. But this time, I was looking for what I thought would make a found poem. On Sunday, I posted a picture of a baby baptized in our church. This post got an amazing number of likes and comments. I decided to remediate the picture using the app WordFoto. The words came from the comments on the picture.

remediated baby

I wasn’t satisfied. So I kept looking. I saw a post that read, “Same sky. Same moon.” That did it. I wrote a poem using these lines as the kick off. I went to Animoto to build a video. Last week was a monumental week in the life of our country. We all know this. I was riveted by our president’s singing of Amazing Grace during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
Amazing Grace has taken on new meaning for me. Always a favorite, I now see it as a song that gathers people together, all of us together under the same sky, the same moon, the same grace.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Last week on a whim I invited my readers to a DigiLit Challenge. Many of you responded, so I started a Pinterest Board. There are already 12 pins on it. Let’s add to it this week.

This week’s DigiLit Challenge is an Invitation. You can create your invitation on the app of your choice. For Memorial Day, I went to New Orleans to visit with two of my girls. I was inspired by the art on the electric boxes. The project is a nonprofit organization to rebuild and beautify New Orleans. You can read more about it here.

electic box statue

My blogging friend Julianne (To Read, to Write, to Be) is coming to New Orleans this summer, so I wanted to show her some of the more beautiful parts. I took pictures and stored them. I tried Haiku Deck. The result was not exactly what I envisioned. I tried to make it into a movie using iMovie but some of the words were lost. My frustration made me quit. Here is one of the images and a link to the haiku deck. (I wish it would embed on my site.)



For my second attempt, I used Animoto. I just love this app. I have even paid to get a longer time. I can make movies that look expertly done without having to go through the cumbersome steps of iMovie.

For your invitation, you can create a movie or a still image. I created this invitation for blueberry picking on Canva.

Blueberry Picking 2

Have fun creating. Tag me in your posts @MargaretGSimon and use #invitation and #digilitchallenge. And as always, link up with InLinkz.

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SOL #22

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Digital Literacy Sunday is here. If you have written a DigiLit post, leave the link in the Inlinkz button. (I think it is working this week.) Use #k6diglit on Twitter and tag me @MargaretGSimon.

Cathy Mere and Julie Johnson have started a Google+ Community set around the design of the Digital Maker Playground Workshop. Every two weeks they are meeting face to face with educators who are interested in playing with digital literacies. Some of us are joining the community virtually.

Digital Maker Playground is a unique opportunity open to everyone near and far. All educators are invited to play with us as we explore new tools, create and compose projects around the themes listed, as well as share and collaborate with other educators around the world. Our work will be housed in our Google+ Community, which will allow us to connect with each other easily. Use #P2Lmooc when sharing your work on Twitter for another way to connect with others.

  • Our makes: February 17: One Little Word
  • March 5: What’s Your Maker Space?
  • March 19: Lift a Line from Literature
  • April 2: Make a Statement
  • April 16: Rock My World
  • April 30: Connected

I am behind on the last two makes, so I took some time yesterday to do them. I showed my maker space using Nutshell which is an iPhone app that others were using. It uses a great deal of space on the phone, so my first problem with it was I didn’t have enough space. I had to delete. I did not know that your phone stored every single text message ever sent. That was a lot of space. Then I took my pictures. I did not know that it continued to record even after you snapped the picture, so you will see some weird door opening and hear Charlie’s tag tinkle as I come back inside. You also see me hide a dragon sculpture before taking a picture of my talisman collection. I feel like this was a way for the silly dragon to exact his revenge about not being chosen for the photo. I am not really sold on this app.

I went back to an old favorite, Animoto, to make a poem movie. I used a quote from St. Teresa of Avila. You may have seen the original poem in my Spiritual Thursday post. I used nature images that I had taken. (The hawk was borrowed from my friend Chere Coen.) I like the way this one came out.

My student Kielan experimented with Animoto this week to write one of her slices. She is a fifth grader, and I love her comfort level with using technology to express herself. I am pretty sure her images are copyrighted, though. We have a blocker on our network that keeps us from getting free Flickr or Creative Commons images.

Would you like to join the Digital Maker Playground? It is a fun place to play. Go here to join the Google+ community. Lots of creativity happening here.

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SOL #8

SOL #8

In addition to joining the Slice of Life Challenge at the Two Writing Teachers blog, I have committed to hosting a DigiLit Sunday round up each week.  If this is your first time here, consider joining us on Sundays.  I love reading about all the new tools available for students and how teachers are using them.  Use the button below on your site.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts


This week was the last of our third nine weeks.  How this year is flying!  My students do a book talk presentation each quarter, so this was the week to get them done.  I love how the room buzzes with computer activity and how talk revolves around books.  I added a new requirement this quarter: found poems.  These were their instructions:

1. Find a section of 50-100 words.  This may be your favorite part or the climax or a part with a good description.

2. Copy words or phrases from the section.

3. Rewrite or type as a poem.  Notice line breaks.  You may change the order or add words only if necessary to add meaning.

4. Check your poem for tone.  Does it reflect the tone of the book?

My students choose the technology they wanted to use for their presentations.  Some used Emaze, Powtoon, Animoto, or PowerPoint.  Some used the technology to guide their talks.  Other used it as a hook or to enhance the presentation.

I want to share some of the found poems, a Powtoon, and an Animoto trailer.

Vannisa used chapter epigraphs from Counting by 7's.  Each phrase connects to the character in some way.

Vannisa used chapter quotes from Counting by 7’s. Each phrase connects to the character in some way.

Tobie wrote this poem from the Halloween chapter in Wonder.  He could relate to the black hole August wanted to go into.

Tobie wrote this poem from the Halloween chapter in Wonder. He could relate to the black hole August wanted to go into.

Matthew’s Animoto book trailer for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.


Mission Impossible is a favorite background.  Tobie used it to create this Powtoon presentation about Wonder.


Digital Learning Day is on March 13th.  My plan is a Crazy Comment Challenge in which my students will try to write as many comments as possible on other SOL posts.  Please consider joining us.  More about Digital Learning Day can be found here.  Use the hashtag #DLDay, #sol15, and #crazycomments in your Tweets.

If you have written a Digital Literacy post, please add your link in the comments.  I will add them to this post.  I am having some trouble with link up apps lately, so I’m just using the old fashioned way.


Cathy Mere struggles with teaching students about copyright when using photos.  Tough lesson for us all.  http://reflectandrefine.blogspot.com/2015/03/digilit-sunday-helping-students-with.html

Julie Johnson writes about using apps with her after school digital writing group.  http://www.raisingreadersandwriters.com/ 

Tara Smith writes about teaching resources for Selma.  https://ateachinglifedotcom.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/sol15-march-8-2015-living-history-commemorating-the-march-on-selma/   “Teaching the events of Selma empowers our students with what the President called, “the imperative of citizenship”, which brave people like John Lewis have been willing to die for ever since we first became our nation.” Tara Smith

Holly wonders about the use of technology versus the way we grew up with limited TV channels and certainly no Internet.  Join the conversation here: http://hollymueller.blogspot.com/2015/03/slice-of-life-story-challenge-what-i_8.html

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Find more Poetry Friday at Tabatha's blog, The Opposite of Indifference.

Find more Poetry Friday at Tabatha’s blog, The Opposite of Indifference.

Do you know what a bandicoot is? I didn’t. Neither did my students. We looked at bandicoots for the Wonder of the Week. After we read the page, watched the video, talked about the words, my new little first grader announced, “Now we write a POEM!” After only a few months he knows how my teaching flows. So, of course we did.

One of my colleagues found the poem Benjamin Bandicoot by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson.

If you walk in the bush at night,
In the wonderful silence deep,
By the flickering lantern light
When the birds are all asleep
You may catch a sight of old Skinny-go-root,
Otherwise Benjamin Bandicoot. (Read complete poem here.)

I asked my students to use alliteration in their titles and use at least 3 facts in their poems. I wrote, too, and settled for the acrostic form. It took me all day to write. Acrostics are not as easy as they look.

Australian marsupial
Nesting in a pile of leaves
Darkness cloaks
Insects are a delectable snack.
Creature with a ratty tail
Outback wanderer
Over land forager
Terrified of a bush fire,
Busy Bandicoot skedaddles.

Kielan worked more than a day on her poem and even created an Animoto video with it. I love her title, Banjo Boomsnicker Bandicoot.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

This last week before our Christmas break, my students created book talks. Unfortunately, Powtoon is being blocked by the network, so the choices of digital media were limited to Emaze and Animoto. I am still a big fan of Animoto. I have even purchased a longer time for my students’ videos. The platform does not allow for much text, so I tell them that the bulk of the text needs to be written in their book talk. The Animoto enhances their talk. Another thing I like about Animoto is the videos can be uploaded to YouTube and easily embedded on a blog.

A few weeks ago, Julie Johnson posted this blog about reflecting digitally. While my students do not have tablets, they could still reflect. After each presentation, I asked them a few reflective questions. I was pleasantly surprised that their choices for design were intentional. I will continue to use Animoto and hope the site continues to be free or reasonably priced and easily used.

Andrew, a second grader made this Animoto (his first) about Kate Messner’s Ranger in Time.

Emily chose the music on her video to reflect the idea that each person is an individual. She thoroughly enjoyed Sisters and her excitement over the book showed in her video. She asked me to take pictures of certain pages in the book to make her point clear.

Use of technology is a line on my rubric for book talks. Technology offers a wide range of choices for enriching presentations and motivating students to be intentional about their choices.

Add your own DigiLit Sunday post with Mr. Linky.

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