Monday, May 12, 2014

Bringing Poetry Objects to Life

student working on her ChatterPix videoI started my day working with 3rd graders on publishing their poetry. Because we only had a short amount of time, I knew we needed a quick and easy app. We chose to use the app ChatterPix Kids to bring the object of their poetry to life. In planning with the teacher, we decided students would come ready that day with their poem and an idea for what to find or take a picture of, related to their poem. Then we would make the object say the poem! What I didn't know walking in was that students were writing a poem about "what's in my desk." Perfect! Because they obviously had the object, the picture hunting went nice and smooth! I did a quick, five minute demo of the app, we talked about putting their object on a contrasting (dark/light) background, and how voice levels should be while we were recording audio. Then students were turned loose! 
We ran into a couple issues with the app not being on the iPad and students clicking "Don't Allow" for pictures and microphone, which we fixed in Settings-->Privacy, but those are pretty common occurrences for Day 1 with a new app. We had a couple students who, when they went to save to their Camera Roll, it took longer than normal. I did a "force close" by double-clicking the home button and swiping up on the app. We then re-opened the app, clicked on Gallery to find the project (auto save, for the win!), and the second time we exported it worked. I've had to do this process with a couple different apps when they get "stuck" in a task. It's not a big deal, but it's pretty obvious when you are used to the export being rocket fast.
ChatterPix icon
Apps like ChatterPix are very simple to use. Take a picture, draw a line for a mouth, record 30 seconds of audio, then dress up your picture. ChatterPix walks students through the creation steps in a very easy-to-understand manner. Your final project becomes a QuickTime video file. The regular ChatterPix lets you publish to social media and email. Because we were using ChatterPix Kids, which doesn't have those social media sharing options, students saved/exported their final video to the Camera Roll, then opened up the Photos app and emailed their creation to the teacher. We didn't publish ours to YouTube, but as I was looking for a quick "how to" video to share, I found lots of other examples (click here to see).
Two alternatives I've played around with are Morfo & Yakit. Morfo (which also has a paid version that contains all of the "extras") is a little more advanced in terms of function and content. The eyes move in a little more life-like fashion than the others (click here for teacher example). Morfo also has a more detailed eye & mouth placement, which may be better suited for older kids. Yakit has some pretty cool animated objects, but is limited to fifteen seconds of audio recording. In working with my grad class, they also found getting Yakit to save properly without a Facebook account was not as intuitive as we'd hoped. The app crashed a couple times and did not save the work. Like ChatterPix, there is also a Yakit Kids alternative, which may fix our Facebook account issues. Yakit is an iPhone app, so if you search for it in the App Store, you may need to switch your search from iPad only to iPhone only.
ChatterPix worked perfectly for these single poem activities. They would also work very well as a simple app smash with something like Book Creator that allows you to import videos from your iPad. The Morfo teacher example linked above was supposed to be just that - students write a book about a famous person, use Morfo to record a famous quote, and then put that video in the book. Unfortunately, we used a book making app that didn't support video import. We know better now! 

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