Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Whetting your APPetite Vol. 7: Toontastic is Fantastic!

This. is. amazing. Many thanks to my new ADE friend, John Shoemaker - a technology coordinator from Palm Beach, FL - who shared this amazing app with me. Toontastic is Puppet Pals on steroids. I still care deeply about Puppet Pals, but Toontastic is my new app boyfriend.

So what caused this switch? Toontastic seems to have been developed with the writing student in mind. The app embeds writing lessons into its beautifully animated screens - but doesn't hit your kids over the head with the fact that they are learning.

For example, this app asks kids to story board before beginning to create their movie. It breaks the "film" into scenes labeled 'setup', 'conflict', 'challenge', 'climax', and 'resolution' -- all in that same graphic story arc we teachers use to teach writing. Once your student selects the scene he or she would like to animate, they have the option to either use a stock setting or illustrate their own. They have this same option for their characters - choose a pre-created character or create one with the paint palette. (An additional plus to these characters over the Puppet Pals figures is that these characters can move their appendages. Groovy.)

Next up, mood music. And I do mean mood music. After developing the visual aspect of their scenes, narrating the plot, and determining their plot sequence, students select the mood  of each scene and its intensity. They use a sliding scale to modulate exactly how happy, sad or frightening a particular plot element may be.

So far, so great - right? Well, it gets better. Your students can upload their toons to ToonTube -- and watch other children's masterpieces as well! I'm not sure if it is up yet, but I am told that this "channel" will eventually (if it doesn't already) allow students to view a globe and select various geographic areas -- then see all the toons uploaded from that locale. So now students from Chicago, IL can watch toons created by students in Seoul, Korea. Wow.

What's more is I hope to also use this in math. MATH?! Yes, math. I am going to have my students animate short real-world mathematical problems to pose to one another, then post them for a classmate in our room or across the globe to solve. Paired with Edmodo or Schoology I think this will be a powerful and engaging tool.

Moreover, who says a character can't be a pie slice? Let's animate a fractions lesson shall we? We can put on some extremely happy music, and narrate the visual addition or subtraction of mixed numbers using pie slices as the "characters" and the "whole" as the background.

Considering the endless opportunities that this well-designed and visually appealing app offers, can you blame me for wanting to go steady with it?

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