As educators we often forget to tell our story and to celebrate the great things that happen in our classrooms by sharing them with the world. Imagine the difference that could be achieved if only parents, community and colleagues could see the magic when it happens. All it would take would be a camera or video camera, the ability to make a movie, and a place to put that movie for others to see.

Fortunately, thanks to mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, we have the first need covered. AND thanks to super-easy, powerful, and FREE web tools like Animoto, we have the power to create professional looking videos in just minutes. Add to that a web presence tool like Weebly, Blogger, Twitter, Remind or Celly, and we can easily open a window to our classrooms, inviting stakeholders to see what makes our classrooms special.

What is Animoto, you ask?

And here is an example video created with Animoto for the ICATS Photo Challenge:

Getting Started

One of the great things about Animoto is that teachers can apply for free Animoto Plus accounts to use with their students. Use the button below to find out more.

After you have your account, it is easy to learn how to use Animoto to create professional-looking videos that show-off what is going on in your classroom. Here are a few resources to get you started:

You can also check out this post on the ICATS website for more information about Animoto in the classroom:

Suggested Uses

  • Create a video that introduces your class for parent night.
  • Create a video that captures the process students go through as they complete a project.
  • Create a video that celebrates a class milestone such as the first day of school.
  • Create a video that captures a special class event such as a guest speaker or field trip.
  • Create a video that advertises a special school event or function.
  • Create a video invitation to a school or class event.
  • Create a picture slideshow that shares your classroom with the world.

Why it Matters (Teaching Rubric)

An effective communication system in the classroom leads to a Respectful Culture (essential competency 3.4) by communicating in a way that is professional, positive, and inclusive of all students.   By regularly sharing information about the classroom to families, responding promptly to contact from parents, and developing activities designed to engage families successfully, Animoto can help you provide a venue for Stakeholder Engagement and Communication (competency 4.4).

Additional Resources

There are dozens of great web tools that allow teachers to create and edit video easily and for free. If you are looking for a few more creative possibilities, I encourage you to check out Magisto, Screencast-o-matic, or Stupeflix (website is no longer available).

Your Challenge

Today’s challenge is to look at the options in a video communication tool like Animoto and reflect on how you could use this resource to enhance communication with the stakeholders in your classes / school.  Share those reflections in the comments below and if you have another great video communication tool please feel free to add it to your comments as well.   Commenting on others responses is a great way to share ideas and make educational connections, just remember that “active participation” is more than just an “attaboy” for someone else.  Enjoy!

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  1. I love the idea to have students work together to help each other create a “Star Student” and highlight that child! I’ve been collecting pics for my Weebly, but how exciting to use this tool to add even more highlights of our days at school!

  2. I excited about trying animoto to showcase what is going on in the classroom. I like to share our classroom highlights with the students and others in the corporation. I show the presentations in the classroom and post them on My Big Campus. I share a lot of photos to our school Facebook page and am now thinking of making a video to share to the page. There are many possibilities of uses with Animoto. I am anxious to experiment with it. This would be great to use for Open House also.

  3. Wow, what an amazing tool. I teach 5th Grade Social Studies and I can see all sorts of possibilities for this. I am wrapping up a unit on explorers right now. I could have my students create animoto videos to go along with their presentations at the end of the unit, then we can easily post them for parents to see. I can also see using this as a way to create an awesome end of year video for them during their 5th grade graduation. There is nothing more exciting to a fifth grader than to get to make a video of something they did and show it off!

  4. I think this is one of the easiest ways to get students engaged. I think this would be a nice way to get kids engaged in their learning. How easy would it be to tell students to find pictures relating to a subject in English or History and tell them to create a 30 second video? The kids would then have to justify why these pictures relate to the topic. This seems to be an easy and quick way to make professional quality videos that the kids enjoy and get them engaged.

  5. Dan Meyer does an awesome job of creating videos to spark student interest in his 3 acts questions. He shows a video then makes the students ask the questions that will lead to the necessary information to solve the problem. With Animoto, I can make my own “Dan Meyer” videos that will be relevant to the new academic standards for math. I think Animoto is extremely useful if you have a good imagination for making math relevant.

  6. After viewing the Animoto videos and links on this blog, I think this could be used in the postsecondary environment in several ways. This would be a great way to do an introduction to the courses I teach, both on campus and via distance education. I have used Screencastomatic to deliver the introduction to my distance ed class, but Animoto could be used as well. Animoto might be a good way to do a visual review of the vocabulary units in my class. I can also see this being used as a marketing tool to promote a particular course to prospective students. It would also be a wonderful way to advertise events coming up on campus.

  7. LOVE this! As a working parent I hate that I can’t be in my own son’s classroom more. This would be a way to invite parents “in” on their time. In addition, what a great way to “bring experts in”. Although visitors can’t always make their schedule work with ours, this tool would allow that to happen.

  8. I love Animoto and so do my students. One of many projects that I use Animoto for is in my 8th grade social studies class. The students create videos to convince people to move to the colony of their choice. I love seeing how creative they can get and it is amazing how quickly they can pick up on how to use the site. I also think it helps to foster some higher-level thinking, because it limits the amount text and therefore the students have to be much more precise in what they choose to say. We have all seen the power points that are so text-heavy you want to cry. I feel silly in the fact that I never even thought to use it myself in the classroom. What a great and simple way to showcase what we are doing in the classroom. I often send pictures home to parents, but a video would be much more impressive. The beautiful thing about Animoto is that people who are unfamiliar with the site would probably think that I spent hours on the video!

  9. I’m pretty familiar with Animoto, and it’s really easy to use. Because I have Adobe Premiere software, I don’t typically use any of the online editors out there. However, I see Animoto as a student resource for creating video projects, In my journalism classes, we usually create a podcast project and edit audio. I could see adding a TV broadcasting project in the near future, and Animoto would be at the top of my list. The students could create high-quality videos with our DSLR cameras and edit them without any special software.

  10. Little work big return. That is how I felt using Animoto. I have been using slideshows and photo albums on Weebly to share with students, parents, and stakeholders the things we’ve been doing in the Academy for five years now. However, it has always lacked those “exciting” features that we’ve all become accustomed to, movement and music. The first time I created a video using Animoto it took me longer picking out the pictures to use than it took the program to put them into an interesting and professional looking video clips complete with sound and graphics. There are other more complicated and expensive programs that I’ve considered but Animoto provides the best bang for the buck (our time) that I’ve come across so far. This will be a staple I use on my Weebly site and that I offer students to use when creating their own projects.

  11. Animoto is a great resource we can use for a DI Research Option. For instance, in a social studies choice board, our students can choose to make a historical fiction movie trailer detailing the events of the time period being studied. It would be great to let them create a theme and mood with their script, filming and music.

  12. Animoto is a great, fun, and creative way to allow students and presentations to be made. A great Lang. Arts teacher I work with uses it for students to make introduction videos about themselves at the beginning of the year. Students just used it in math to create a presentation about the Pythagorean theorem which I was just sharing Animoto with another teacher as her students were to make short commercials in class. There is a free version but with more options you can buy a class/school account.

  13. I think it would be great to use at the start of class like a movie trailer to peak student interest. I teach elective courses, so I also think it would be great to create one to highlight all of the great activities that we do in my class. I could post this on the school website or play it during an activity fair to build interest in my program. I had my students create animoto videos on ways to reduce bullying in schools. They wrote messages on paper, took pictures, and put them together in Animoto to tell a story.

  14. I love how simple it is to use Animoto! Our school book fair coming up and it would be a perfect way to advertise for this. You could also use it to promote your school to incoming Kindergartners.
    In the classroom, it could be used for any kind of a presentation in almost any class. I read in one post where it could be used for book trailers, what a wonderful idea!

  15. Animoto has been a favorite of mine for awhile. Super easy to use and share with others. As a social studies teacher, I used Animoto to have students prepare for parent-teacher conferences. The students chose which pieces of work to include/reflect on. Then, the kids would incorporate the video that they made into telling me and their parents about their interests, successes, and goals for the next nine weeks. I love finding ways for kids to be the authors and narrators of their story! What I have found is that the kids were more invested and took ownership of their goals. I witnessed tremendous student growth.

  16. I do several projects in class that I could use this with. I will be changing the way I do some things the the classroom

  17. Animoto could be a great tool for my students that are on homebound services! They could feel more like a member of a classroom by watching what happens there. The students in the class or the teacher could send personalized videos to the homebound student too. The homebound student could send a video back as well :)

  18. Animoto proves to be an interesting format for creation of student and teacher presentations. This would be an excellent and powerful venue for budding to adept techies to use.

  19. I used this last year with my 8th graders. We took the books that they read in 6th grade and then assigned each student a chapter. Each student then was supposed to create an Animoto of the the chapter. After all of them were completed, we complied a link list and gave them to the 6th grade ELA teachers. The hope was that they could use them as in intro to the chapter, a recap at the end of the chapter, or a review before a quiz.

    The downsides to this project was 3 fold: some of the students didn’t complete their work so there were gaps in the story; some of the students just created what they wanted and did not follow the story line; and some of the teachers admit that they did not use the videos-all of the teachers appreciated the work that students put into them but they were just not used in the class setting.

    • Even if the result wasn’t exactly what you had hoped for, this still sounds like it was a success for the students that did the project! Thanks for sharing!

  20. I used Animoto several years ago and somehow had forgotten about it. This is a great reminder of a tool that’s good for book talks, book trailers, and general promotion of our Media Center. I think I would like to create a project for my library helpers to use Animoto to make some book talks or book trailers. It’s very simply to use, and creating projects doesn’t take a large amount of time.

  21. I started looking into this, and email I received from Animoto said the students need to be at least 13 years old. I was really hoping to use this in my English classes for producing mock campaign commercials using persuasive techniques we are working on. Do you think i could still do this?

    • Yes, The “13” rule applies to almost all internet accounts because it is the legal age to enter a contract in many places. Basically, Animoto along with many web tools offers an education account that is free to teachers and allows you to have student accounts (under age 13) providing that the students create the account with you in the educational setting, they do not share personally identable information and that what they produce is done under your supervision. It is in their “Education” terms of use policy.

  22. Unfortunately I’m not real impressed with Animoto. I think it may work with other disciplines but I teach high school math. I currently use the Interwrite software along with my smartboard and PowerPoints to capture my presentations, including voice and anything I write in on the smartboard.

    Plus, when I went to sign up for Animoto, the Basic (free) account only allows for 30 second clips. I was allowed to sign up for a free Pro account but was told the videos would be watermarked, which I didn’t want.

    For now I will stick with the Interwrite software. It works great on the smartboard. It allows you to record everything as an avi file, which students can play using Windows Media Player.

  23. Animoto looks like this would be a very good tool to use for community events, pep sessions or a film literature class. I am concerned about the cost of the program for the everyday classroom teacher/experience. Often the free pats of an app or software do not do what I am looking for and then the cost makes it exclusionary. If a school has the budget for this system or a class where the tech would be utilized, I can see it as very useful.

    • Hi Laura! I love the applications you imagined for this tool. If you use the big green button above, you can apply for a free educator account which allows for unlimited videos, longer videos, more features, and just a Animoto branding bumper at the end. For all intents and purposes this is a pretty good deal for teachers :)

  24. Last week at the ICE conference I was reminded of Animoto again. She created her presentation using Animoto. In part of the presentation she had where some K/1 students had drawn pictures and written a sentence. Then they used Animoto to record their voice and picture they had drawn. She played them for Grandparents Day and of course their were many happy tears to be had. I think this would be a great digital portfolio that the kids create. What tools are you using to capture the video/pictures to then put into Animoto? Do the netbooks work? We only have a class set of Ipads other than the netbooks. What is the easiest way to capture? Thanks for the feedback.

  25. No matter the device or technology, sharing projects visually has always been a powerful medium. Animoto is yet another tool to add to our respective belts. At the high school level, this is something we can use for booktalks, projects, synthesis of articles/stories, etc.

  26. My geometry students just finished making their Logic book of If – then this— (think If you give a pig a pancake) but this could make it more video/movie like. A few students use PhotoStory to put their books together but many still come back to basic ole powerpoint slides. I encourage them to look at a list of Digital Stoytelling sites that I put on MBC for them to choose from. Creating a video might bring these stories to life more than flipping through a book or slides.

  27. I am thinking about using this to showcase successes in my classroom and having students create short videos about topics we are learning about. I am in the process of starting a Lego League team at my school, I am thinking of doing a video to promote the program and then next year creating a video to show our school board what we accomplished in our inaugural season. I love tools like this, they really make my mind run through the possibilities.

    • Animoto is a great tool for marketing. Sharing what we do in the classroom doesn’t always take priority in our busy schedules, but as Kevin Honeycutt says, we can’t be secret geniuses. We have to tell our stories.

      • I agree 100% with that! He couldn’t have put it better. It goes back to your pre-session at eRev as well. I have done better at it this year, but I still need to do more.

  28. I currently use Windows Movie Maker to make the videos that I put on my classroom Facebook page. I really enjoy making videos to put on my Facebook so parents can see some of the fun learning we do in Room 6. I was interested to see what Animoto had to offer. I liked that it was easy to use and offered a variety of different templates. One thing that is nice is that they have licensed music that you can use with your videos. I usually have to hunt for royalty free music online. I did notice though, that the upload time for pictures and video clips is extremely slow. Also, you do have to buy the pro version or apply for an educator’s account to get the large watermark removed from the middle of your finished video.

    • It’s true that you need the educator’s account to take full advantage of Animoto for free, but I found that it took no time to get approval for that. Click the big, green button above to learn more. It’s definitely a nice tool to have in your toolbox for when you want to put a fresh theme to class videos.

  29. Animoto has my attention! This could easily be incorporated into lessons, but closer to the end of the year. Students in my elementary class already know some things about this kind of technology, so they could help assist other students. Do families usually give signed permission for students to create videos that are shared with the class? Creating videos could easily be implemented, both at home and at school, so I’m keeping this on my idea list for the spring.

    • Generally not, It is like any other project that is shared with the class, a book that the student has written, a science project, etc… Even if it is not a class project, opening the doors to students by making a digital equivalent or option for a project can lead to creativity by the students. I would often take a small amount of time in class (10-15minutes) to introduce the basics of a resource or web tool to my students and then gave them some time to “press the buttons” lets say. That way when a project or assignment was a good fit the students had a toolbox of webtools to show their understanding of the topic. Basically, even if you leave the project open to a little interpretation in your expectations, then your students can wow you with some possible digital experiences.

  30. My [5th grade] students each chose a state to research for Social Studies. At the same time, they were working on persuasion in their Language Arts class. To combine the two, they created tourism videos using Animoto to advertise their state to tourists. They did a great job choosing the music, choosing the pictures, and deciding on the most important text (since it was a commercial!). Highly recommended for students!

  31. This has a lot of promise for promoting the media center! At the very least the annual report could be presented in a much more eye catching method and easily viewed online.

    • I like the idea of using Animoto for promotion. If I think about how many videos I’m willing to click on as I peruse Facebook, I’m much more likely to get and remember a message that way than through an email or newsletter article.

    • I’ve used Animoto for making book trailers. I run them on my computer to broadcast over the TV that is in the center of the library for all to see. Make your book trailers able to be view without sound and you have the perfect promotion of action in a library without the noise. :)

  32. I really love the ease of use with animoto. It does not take much skill to create a good looking video in just a few minutes if you have all the pieces together. One way I have seen animoto used in the classroom in Chemistry was to create a safety video for laboratory safety. You can incorporate still pics of glassware, safety equipment or videos of proper use of different equipment and then animoto will help put text in and nice music. All in a short time frame.

  33. One of the schools I am in has recently started a “Teacher of the Week” program as part of their PBIS plan. Students submit nominations for their favorite teacher. Once a winner is chosen, the nominating student (alongside one of the PBIS coordinators) produces their own Animotos to highlight traits of that teacher and the video is shared with all staff members. Here is an example of one:

    I think it would be neat to use Animoto to highlight an outstanding community member. Have a student team (maybe newspaper or Student Council) interview that citizen, tell a bit about what they do, about their educational background, and how they contribute to the community. This could make for a strong college and career readiness piece in schools!

  34. I love Animoto. As an eLearning Coach it has been a great way for me to get reluctant teachers to let me into there classrooms and share something awesome. Elementary students have no trouble signing in and making high quality videos. In less that 20 minutes you can shoot video and pics on your phone, plug them into an Animoto template and have a finished product. Amazing!

    • So true, JT. I’ve found that this tool is definitely usable at all levels. Younger kids may need a little bit of support, but when kids see the final product it encourages them and gives them a sense of pride in the work. It’s also nice because the resulting video can be shared so easily online, creating opportunities for authentic audiences.

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