Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Now Playing at a Classroom Near You...End-of-the-Year Movie

Pin It Now! When a certain time hits at the end of the year, does it seem like the remaining days just avalanche and all you can do is hold on for dear life till it stops? I always think it would be great to create a year-in-review gift for my students using the tons of photos I've taken during the year, but more often than not, once the end-of-the-year activities roll around, the idea parks itself in Stephen Covey's time management quadrant 3 (important, but not urgent).

I finally got around to doing something with the idea when my colleague introduced me to Windows Movie Maker. (On Macs, it's counterpart is iMovie.) I'm not a pioneer in the field of integrating technology into the classroom, but I do my best to investigate and experiment when I can (quadrant 3). So, yes, this little movie studio program has been around for a while. It's not new thing, and I'm sure there are some similar programs out there, too. Still, it's something I discovered in the past couple of years that was just the thing I needed to put something special together for my students. These free little movie studios on your computer are pretty simple to use. I was self-taught using YouTube videos and search engine results. You basically upload your digital photos, images, and videos into the program, then insert them into movie frames. You arrange them in any order you like. You can also upload music or record narration to accompany your movie. Add some frame transitions, title screen, credits, and necessary text, and voila! You have a little movie for all to enjoy.

This would be a great place to insert an example movie I made for my students, but out of respect for student privacy, it's not possible. I can tell you what's included in mine, though. I started the movie with photos of each student I took from the first day of school, then organized the rest of film according to event or topic. I used photos from field trips, class parties, regular classroom activities, Science Fair, Track & Field Day, and other occasions. Then came one of my favorite parts: choosing the music! My music tastes are frozen in time at around 2003, and I don't think I've tuned into a "today's hits" radio station since that year so I went back to the grooveyard to find some good ones to use. I definitely did a once-over with lyrics to make sure there was nothing inappropriate. The nice part of these movie making programs is that you can edit the length of the music, as well as splice the music if you want to include certain parts of a song. My favorite song I used was "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo, which corresponded with Science photos! (I know music can be a touchy topic with copyright so you may want to look into legal uses, especially if you plan to do something other than view it in your classroom with your students.) I finished the movie with a "credits" frame that looked just like the credits of a movie with a producer, director, writer, music by, etc. Under "Starring," I listed all my students names.

The students really enjoyed seeing themselves on the big screen. It was a fun way to reflect on the year, and I enjoyed putting it together for them. You don't have to be a particularly tech-savvy teacher, but if you are willing to put in a little effort to learn how, this is a fantastic way to put your digital photos from the year to use.


  1. Hi!

    I love this idea! I teach high school English, but this would be fantastic to do next year since students are always doing collaborative activities, projects, etc and not sitting listening to me lecture.

    I am your newest follower!

    Bergin's Classroom

  2. Hi, Colleen--

    It's a great activity to do on your own--or even to have students do. Our 5th grade students made their own Movie Maker projects, and they just loved it!



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