How I Use It
Powtoons is a wonderful tool for developing digital storytelling skills and strengthening student writing. I have used Powtoons with my second grade students for the past two years to encourage, promote and strengthen their writing skills. The reason I chose this approach is that I noticed my students responded well to this platform. Initially I started using Powtoons to present instructional content in a more engaging way. The results of this approach were amazing because my students loved my new method of delivery.
On the flip side, motivating students to creatively write a story has always been a challenge. I have also noticed a decline in student writing and creativity throughout the years, which caused great concern. Therefore, to tackle this issue and to ensure my students also met the increased writing demands required by the state of Virginia, I decided to give Powtoons a try.
To begin this five day process, I start with a whole group brainstorming activity in Popplet. Then I provide students with an example topic for a story and begin by providing several examples related to the topic. Once I have provided several examples, students are then encouraged to provide their ideas until the Popplet has been completed. Following this activity, I ask the students to choose a topic of interest and create their own bubble map to brainstorm their ideas.
The next day, I begin the lesson by revisiting the Popplet that was created the day before. I discuss how the bubble map serves as a good visual guide to begin the writing process. Then I model how to take the ideas that were constructed to write sentences. After I have demonstrated this process, the students are then required to use their bubble maps to begin writing sentences from their ideas. Once their sentences are completed, students are partnered with another student to conduct a peer review. The peer review requires students to provide suggestions for revisions before the sentences are typed.
On day three, students type their revised sentences into a Google Document. Once this process is completed, I provide suggestions for revisions in the comment box and students make final corrections. Once revisions are completed, I work with students in a small group setting to model the storyboarding and scripting process. I provide students with a blank storyboard frame and demonstrate how to combine their sentences into a logical story format. The sentences are then written into the numbered frames and visual ideas are sketched to emphasize the content.
By day four, students are ready to begin typing or recording the written content into a Powtoon presentation. This activity is also completed in small groups until the students are familiar with Powtoons and no longer require assistance. Once students have either typed or recorded their information, I assist the students in locating and adding images similar to their sketched ideas. I then model how to use the timeline feature to create animation.
Generally by day five, most students have either completed or are nearing completion of their Powtoon presentation. Students that have completed the presentation are able to present their stories to the class on the SmartBoard. Students that require a little more time, are given extra time and present their stories the following week. Although the process seems a bit time-consuming and tedious, it has been well worth the time spent. What I discovered from this process is that after the initial Powtoon has been created, students become eager to write a new story and create another Powtoon presentation.
My overall opinion is that Powtoons is a wonderful tool for teaching second graders to enjoy writing and enhance their writing skills. The once familiar dread of writing a story no longer exists. This experience has taught my students that writing can be fun and engaging, while allowing more opportunities to be creative. Powtoons has allowed my students to see the big picture and the necessary steps that are required to achieve the final goal. I would highly recommend this process to other educators, because it has provided my students with a newfound passion to write and become better writers. Providing digital tools, such as Powtoons, provides students with a more motivating and engaging alternative to learn and grow in this digital age.