How to Flip Your Classroom Without Screencasting Your Face: Video Creation Tools

Updated: Jul 9, 2018

NOTE: This post is part of a series, How to Flip Your Classroom Without Screencasting Your Face. Please see the explanation here.


So you want to flip some lessons, but you don't like the idea of screencasting?


While I absolutely LOVE Screencast-O-Matic (It's one of the few tools for which I'm willing to pay the premium version), I know that often when I screencast, a few things end up happening:

  1. I sound flat (Maybe one day I'll sound conversational teaching a screen.)

  2. I ramble (Like why are my videos 14 minutes long?)

  3. I end up criticizing my hair, my makeup, my posture, my voice... (I understand that many flippers argue that we should just suck it up and not be so critical. But... Sorry?)

  4. All of my videos end up looking the same (I try not to teach the same way each lesson, so why am I making the same flipped lesson each time?)

Therefore, I went on a treasure hunt to find different ways to flip my lessons, through video, without screencasting (my face).


Below is a living list of the video creation tools and examples I've found and used. Please feel free to comment below with other suggestions of video creation tools you've used. In addition, I've included a chart comparing and contrasting each video creation tool.



1. Powtoons


Powtoons is a video creation tool that allows users to create animated videos. The website offers several distinct animation styles as well as a live-video-style option. While the premium version offers access to more templates and storage, the free version offers enough to be able to make some quality cartoon-lessons, allowing users to create animated slides that are sewn together into a complete video.


In this Powtoons flipped lesson example, I teach the difference between mood and tone. I used the cartoon teacher to review the definitions of both terms, then provided example sentences where the teacher pointed out the vocabulary that demonstrated mood and tone. To wrap up, I ended with a sentence and question that asks them to identify the words that signify mood and tone. While I embedded this video on Canvas, the LMS my district uses, teachers could use a Google or Microsoft form or a tool such as Poll Everywhere to gauge understanding of new concepts.


Through viewing my students' answers, I was able to see that they all understood mood; however, a lot of them were struggling with tone. When they returned to class the following day, I was able to then begin the class with more instruction on tone and then was able to jump into analyzing literature for mood and tone.




2. Mysimpleshow



Mysimpleshow is another video creation tool that allows users to create cartoon videos, except that these cartoons appear as still drawings that are pushed and pulled in and out of the video frames by a mysterious hand (No, class. It's not the teacher's hand.)


The cool part about Mysimpleshow is that you can begin by uploading a text-heavy PowerPoint and Mysimpleshow will create a script using your original text. Or you have the option to write or paste a script right into the drafting section of Mysimpleshow's video creation studio.


After writing a script, Mysimpleshow is smart enough to use your language to curate images that go along with your script. However, you have the option to swap out drawing, add more drawings, or upload your own images.


Finally, after visualization is complete, you have the option to record your voice over or use of the tool's automated voices. The record feature provides a teleprompter, allowing your spoken words to match perfectly with the drawings being featured. In addition, the recording is broken down into slides, which allows you to easily rerecord just a small section after making a mistake.


Ultimately, the Mysimpleshow video ends up being around two minutes long, a perfect video lesson length to teach a simpler concept. In addition, my students always enjoy my voice, and with Mysimpleshow's very easy recording feature, I was able to make sure that my voice was energetic and lively.


In my Mysimpleshow lesson, I taught my students about the persuasion techniques of logos, ethos, and pathos. Traditionally, this lesson would've taken me 15 minutes via direct instruction. However, in two minutes I was able to demonstrate the three concepts and then gauge my students' understanding via a quick check in. I asked the students to post three images that showcased logos, ethos, and pathos. While I, again, used Canvas, this could've easily been assessed via Padlet or a shared Google or Word doc.


Through viewing my students' responses, I was able to see that they all understand logos and pathos, but needed some extra clarification on ethos. I was then able to provide this clarification at the beginning of class before jumping right into analyzing editorials for logos, ethos, and pathos.





3. Biteable



Biteable is a video creation tool that allows users to create videos that feature some distinct characteristics. Users can select from hundreds of slide templates featuring not only animated symbols but claymation and live videos. There are also a variety color choices and free music options.


In the following flipped video lesson, I taught my creative writing students about open letters, a type of writing that only some of them were familiar with. Being a course that a student from any grade level can take, some of my younger students were not familiar with some of the open letters that have gone viral recently. To avoid spending class time teaching about a type of writing that only some of my students were unfamiliar with, I was able to create this flipped lesson and allow students to watch the video in class, while I worked with my other students as they began working through the writing process.



4. Adobe Spark Video



Adobe Spark offers a trio of free tools that help users create webpages, memes, and videos and is a popular choice due to its very easy-to-use platform. Adobe Spark Video is organized by slides where users may add images, text, videos, icons, or a voiceover.


While Adobe Spark Video's ease-of-use is sometimes overshadowed by its limited choice of template, color and font choices, and that it sometimes resembles a screencast of a PowerPoint slideshow, its benefit is the 30 second time limit they allow per slide, a feature I found to be helpful considering it forced me to be concise and choose my words wisely. When I had originally recorded this lesson as a screencast, the lesson was twice as long (and as a traditional lesson in class, it was probably four times as long). However, Adobe Spark Video required that I think carefully about what I wanted to say.


While I typically teach this lesson through direct instruction, I decided to flip it because students would sometimes be absent and I would then have to talk them through my entire PowerPoint. Recording this lesson through a screencast resulted in a nine minute long video. However, as stated before, by using Adobe Spark Video, I was able to cut down the lesson time, while still including the essential content.




Video Creation Tools Comparison Chart



Do you have examples of lessons you have flipped with video? Please feel free to add them below.
Furthermore, do you have other video tools that you use to flip your teaching? Please comment below and I will add them to this ever-growing list.


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