How I Use It
I had 5th grade students use this in groups of two to create a video using research that they did on a battle or a person of the Civil War. They took two days to research using our school paid databases. They then downloaded appropriate pictures to use in the Animoto (mostly from the paid database Britannica Images). The students created a story board before they signed into Animoto to create their projects. The students had to storyboard (on paper) their project before they logged into Animoto. This helped them organize their thoughts and made sure that they had all the information they needed before they logged into Animoto to begin creating their project. This whole project was done in 4- 30 minute class periods. I believe that using Animoto helped keep the students engaged and really helped them to zero in on the important parts of the subject they were doing their project on. Another important lesson with my students was trying to have them understand the qualities of digital stprytelling, having them choose music and styles that are appropriate to their subject (example, not having cheerful music or ribbons and presents style when talking about the battle of Gettysburg where so many people died).
One of my studnets finished projects: http://animoto.com/play/Yd3Q338oX76irG3BarGi7A?utm_source=onmycalendar.com&utm_medium=player&utm_campaign=player
I love this tool to have students show what they have learned in a fun way. I do wish that some of the options (like music) could be turned on or turned off. I also wish that it had a higher character count in the title areas. When using this tool, I do find that students need to be prepared and do their research and storyboard ahead of logging into the site. I find that with any digital storytelling tool, the students would like to plunge head on into it, but like any kind of project or writing, the students need to be taught to prepare before they jump in. In my case, I have the students create a storyboard on paper before they log into Animoto.
I have found that the students do not need extensive training before hand, I usually just do a quick tutorial on how it works and let the students play around and figure out what works for them on it.