Last week I went to the first of two Pearson FreeWeb PD sessions with Paul Mears. I learned some new tricks with FlickrStorm beginning with loading up my own set of Images of England. At home I had a further play and created a set of coral reef pictures that I can use next time I do this unit of work with the Juniors.
The workshop was especially useful because Flickr doesn’t seem to have a link to FlickrStorm so you’d never find it if not told about it, and also FlickrStorm isn’t very intuitive. It has a minimalist interface and rather unobtrusive icons!
After that, we played with Picasa. I already have a Picasa album (see the blogroll at right) but Picasa 3 has new features, and I learned how to upload from images to album direct. However, what I really liked was learning how to manage those pesky folders, because previously Picasa would scan everything – including every little picture in every little program I had – which was very annoying. To select which folders you want it to browse, go to the Tools Menu, and then select Folder Manager. I explored further at home and discovered that it will even automatically add the photos to Blogger, which will be nice next time I have travel photos for my Travels with Tim and Lisa blog. Alas it doesn’t work for uploading photos to WordPress which is what I use for my professional blog, nor for Global Teacher or Edublogs… Paul also showed us to make a Gift CD which is really nice for Prep teachers and at home I tried out making a collage, of my dogs, naturally.
We had a very quick look at Rubistar – which is a beaut site for rubric making. Last time I looked at it (which is a while ago) it was rather primitive, with lots of awful rubrics for American projects that seemed fearfully dull and rather fuddy-duddy compared to the tasks we set using DATT tools and other graphic organisers. But now it is much more flexible and even has a drop down menu. Having just finished doing term 4 projects with about 360 kids from Year 1 to year 6 I’m just a little bit tired of them LOL, so I shall leave exploring more of Rubistar till next year.
Our final task was to create a PhotoStory. This is another free program you can download. By coincidence I had just learned how to do one of these at the weekend, but as always with ICT there was more to learn. The first trick is to use Picasa to get your photos. You can insert up to 200 photos; if you want more, make two photostories, then combine them using Moviemaker (another program I am just learning to use). The next trick is to ignore that ‘test your microphone icon’ which was what mucked up the narration I tried to do at the weekend. The other crucial distinction I learned was that you must always save the project so that it can be opened and edited; save the finished movie as a file name (use the prompt in the middle of the menu i.e. as a wav file) because it can’t be edited. So before finalising the movie, always save it as a project. Make sure that students understand the distinction and use proper file saving skills especially naming.
Then we did some fancy editing. Zooming in happens by default, but you can set the opening and closing position using Customise. To make a title slide, make some simple colour image files, which you can then import, and then add the title, and use jazzy fonts etc. (You can also use Effects in the program. )
You can even write a shared digital story by getting students to create the text & narrations for 1-2 slides and then put it together using MovieMaker. Paul showed us one that he had done, and it did look impressive, especially if you burn it onto a CD and let the kids take it home.
It was a fabulous workshop, even if I did have to drive through a hailstorm to get there. We were given a CD with further resources including a most intriguing program called Scratch, the purpose of which I don’t really understand yet. I shall have a play with that in due course….