Thursday, September 29, 2011

Music and Learning in the FL Classroom -- Part 2: Camtasia

More Disclaimers:  Camtasia breaks both of my cardinal rules -- 1.  it is not free 2.  it requires a download.  Again, I make the case that I do not have students use it, and that is why I make the exception here.  It is simply too powerful a tool to pass up!

In my last post I discussed how I use the tunes of children's songs with rewritten lyrics to help my students learn various vocabulary and grammar concepts.  This year, I decided to "kick it up a notch" and create music videos to add a visual dimension.  So far, it has been very effective.

Camtasia is a video editing program, that, in addition to allowing you to edit already created videos, has a screencast feature to allow you to take video of whatever is happening on your computer screen.  There are two free screencasting apps available in the cloud -- screenr and  screencast-o-matic, and Jing, which is free, but requires a download.  I prefer Camtasia because of its editing capabilities.

So, allow me to guide you through the birth of a music video...

Step 1:  Create the video portion.  I use empressr, a free, cloud-based tool for creating presentations similar to Powerpoint or Mac's Keynote.

Step 2:  Run through the slideshow while running Camtasia, to take a screenshot of the slideshow beginning to end.

Step 3:  upload the sound file

Step 4:  use Camtasia's editing features to adjust the timing so the video and music are synchronized

Step 5:  Publish!  I use youtube for no other reason than my students are familiar with it.  It has recently been unblocked at my school (for teachers), so that is not an issue.

So far I am finding that the visual aspect is very helpful to students, even more so than simply having a copy of the lyrics -- the next best thing to "follow the bouncing ball"

Here's an example of the one I made to help them with the verb être:

(Please note:  the song/chant is not an original, it was posted to MFLResources on yahoo.  The "singers"  are my students from several years ago.)

What do you think?

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