Getting Creative With Video in the Classroom

walmart receipt.png

While watching the Oscars tonight, I was intrigued to see a promotion that Walmart was running to celebrate the craft of film making. I don’t normally pay a lot of attention to  commercials, but these ads managed to catch my attention, and I think that they have some interesting potential for teachers who are looking to add some creativity to video projects in their classroom.

Walmart contacted four award-winning directors, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Neighbors), Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw, The Magnificent Seven), and Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner). They sent each of them a receipt with the same six items and challenged them to make a one minute movie that was centered around the six items on the receipt. You can learn more here, but take a look at the videos below to see what these talented directors came up with…

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The New Adobe Voice: Digital Storytelling With Style!

Adobe launched a new free iPad app today called Adobe Voice, and it has great potential for the classroom due to the way that it lets you effortlessly create digital stories, explanations, or stylish presentations by adding your voice to a variety of images.

adobe voice screenshot

Adobe Voice has several great features for teachers who may be wanting to use this in their classroom. For instance, Adobe has included a wide variety of searchable images and icons that students can use in their projects. This saves having to worry about finding images online because they are all there inside the app. Better still, as model of good digital citizenship, they are all cited correctly as sources in the credits.

When you first create a project, you get prompted to choose the type of story you want to tell. Why would this matter? The app gives prompts at each step of the way in order to help encourage you to develop a well structured tale. Here’s an example of what you will see if you choose the Hero’s Quest template:

  1. Tell us about the hero and their world before the quest begins.
  2. What happens that causes the hero to undertake their quest.
  3. Show the trials or challenges that the hero encounters along the way.
  4. Show how our hero overcomes the odds and accomplishes their goal.
  5. Tell us how the world is better now.

Of course, these prompts are optional, but the fact that they are there as a scaffold for students is a nice touch, and the prompts vary for each template you choose.

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Creating Interactive Choose Your Own (Google) Adventure Stories

A fond childhood memory of mine was going to the library once a week to check out some of my favorite types of books – the Choose Your Own Adventure series. They were created by Edward Packard and were very popular in the 1980s and 1990s. While the books are less popular today, the legend lives on in digital formats that are always appealing to students. Here is how to create some interactive stories of your own using Google Apps.


Recently I saw a great example from a fellow Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer, Michelle Anderson. I’d never thought about using Google Forms for this before, but clearly it is a great use of the tool. The choices hinge on a feature inside Google Forms that let you go to a certain page based on how you answer the question. So, once you have planned out your narrative, all you have to do is select the right page to link to for a given response. Simple, but very effective. You can try Michelle’s adventure here, and don’t forget about the ability to add images to Google Forms!

Choose Your Own Adventure Google Form


Want to try something different? Try using Google Presentations. Instead of creating pages, like you would with Forms, you create slides to tell your story. This gives you a little more flexibility in the visual design of your story, but it also opens up more options in terms of the media you can include…namely video. Slides can be linked together via the link function that you may normally use to insert a hyperlink, only this time you select “Slides in this presentation”.

Google Presentation for Interactive Storytelling


You can use Google Docs for your Choose Your Own Adventure story too. It would work in a similar way to Presentations, but this time you would use bookmarks to jump around in your text. Create the bookmark by placing your cursor or highlighting text next to where you want to jump to and clicking Insert > Bookmark. Then highlight the text that you want to jump to that point, and click Insert > Link and choose Bookmarks to select the point in text you want to navigate to. Links can be changed or removed later if needed. For bonus points, be sure to rearrange your text so that it will not read in a linear fashion, just like the books of yesteryear that made no sense when read chronologically page by page.

Google Docs for Choose Your Own Adventure


An increasingly popular way to create your own Choose Your Own Adventure story is to use YouTube. There are countless examples of these types of videos on YouTube with some obviously better than others. However, when done well, these can be very effective ways to communicate a story. To create your adventure, you first need to shoot all your movies, (including alternative outcomes), and upload them to YouTube. Best keep them private to start with, but you can change your privacy afterwards. To link between videos and give the users a choice in your story you use the YouTube annotations to link between your videos. Below is an example of just such a video that Greg Kulowiec created with his Social Studies class.

Not Using Google Drive?

If you’re not using Google Apps in your school, check out Inklewriter, a free story telling tool that was created to help students build exactly this kind of interactive journey. At ISTE 2013 this year, I went to a session led by a couple of EdTech Pirates. It was presented with the help of Inklewriter, so we had a choose your own adventure PD session where we voted on what we wanted to hear about next! Genius. More on Inklewriter in the video below.

Did this give you some ideas? How would you use Choose Your Own Adventure stories to enhance your Language Arts or Social Studies lessons? Feel free to leave a comment below to share your experiences.

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