How I Use It
I've used Powtoons with my class for a number of assignments now and my students cannot get enough of it. At first, I used Powtoons with my advanced students who were working on enrichment activities during math and language arts. They had to research a mathematician, specifically looking at 8 aspects of the person. They then could choose and presentation method to share to others. Many of my student did a Powtoon, because I had used Powtoons to present information to them before. They used the Powtoons to present related information on Albert Einstein, Issac Newtoon, Charlotte Angus Scott, and Galileo. Those students absolutely loved the program and wanted me to give all students more opportunities to use it. I then allowed students to use Powtoons during their free write time so they could get used to the program before I used it in a specific lesson (it does take some time to get used to). They were constantly asking me if they were going to have the chance to free write and work on their Powtoon. I soon found them using this application before and after school and whenever they had free write time. They became experts on the program! I even had teachers ask me to send some students over to show their class to learn how to use it. My students are currently working in collaborative groups to develop speeches for persuasive writing using Powtoons. They are super engaged during the whole assignment and everyone can contribute to it. I have English Language Learners, students with Special needs, and advanced learners and they can self-differentiate the video to fit their needs. The recording aspect allows my English Language Learners and students with Special needs to voice their opinions without worrying about spelling, grammer, etc. My advanced students have learned how to be leaders using this tool, and now show other classes how to do it with examples of their presentation, and help their other group members. They can also use this tool to develop very in-depth animation videos of any topic they have learned about. My students quickly figured out how to use many of the tools on Powtoon, however, there are a few that are difficult to find or hard to use. For example, uploading pictures can be difficult. There is limited pictures and if they wanted to find specific pictures, they have to ask the teachers permission before searching the internet and downloading it onto the computer. I wish there was just more pictures on the application already for them to use. Also, some tools are part of the "premium" packagae and are not free. Students wouldn't have to use the recording part of this program, but it does add to the presentation and therefore would require a computer with a microphone.
I absolutely love Powtoons for a number of reasons. The first being that it can be a completely student driven tool. This tool fits under the "create" level on Bloom's Taxonomy, which is the highest level on the pyramid. Students are having to develop an animation video to inform, persuade, or entertain a variety of audiences. They can work together to accomplish their video , which would require collaboration and communication for it to be effective. Third graders can have a difficult time working in collaborative groups, but because this program is so engaging they want to be able to work well together in order for their presentation to be successful. This website fits under the Redefinition category of the SAMR framework. They are making a short digital animation video that they wouldn't be able to create otherwise without the use of technology. This video can be used to teach other classes or audiences about a subject they are currently learning about. Students can also be as creative as they want to be with the Powtoons and all of the animation features it provides. As a recommendation and prior experience, I would recommend telling the students they need to write or record their information first before they get caught up in all of the animations.
In addition, this tool serves a lot of the needs of my students. It allows English Language Learners to voice their opinions with the recording element on the program. It helps my students who have a difficult time organizing thoughts and ideas. With the slide tool on the program, it allows students to organize their thoughts into groups. Each subtopic or idea can have it's own slide. Many of my students are very out of the box thinkers, and get bored with writing down their speeches or anything that doesn't allow them to be creative. This tool allows those students to show off their creativity while still meeting the needs of the standards or expectations I am giving. I have a student who currently receives speech therapy, but because this tool is so engaging she wants to use the voice recording and talk as clearly as she can. I especially like that Powtoons require my students to give their thoughts fluently and expressively. I have them write down their speeches beforehand and then record it, so they are working on their reading fluency and accuracy at the same time. Sometimes I use Powtoons to present information in a different way. This is very helpful for my students who are visual learners and need to see pictures to access the information given.
I wish some of the tools on Powtoons were easier to navigate or use however. Like I mentioned before, I had to give my students a lot of time to explore the website before using it in an assignment. It is very easy for the students to login using their gmail account, but that also means that I have to have their email account to access their presentation to check it. This can be a safety concern, because I'm not always aware of how students are using the program or the information they are putting on it. I wish that they had a set up like "Google Classroom," where the teacher could set up an account and then the students could get on the account by a code and create videos through the classroom. I think this would also allow students to use their critical thinking skills to evaluate each others videos by commenting on it through the classroom.