We have had Toontastic on the school iPads for a while now. They have added new features over the last few months and the most recent update has made it even better.
What is it?
It is a platform for creating animated cartoons which you can manipulate on screen and record over at the same time. You can design your own characters or use the characters provided (of which there are many). The newest feature allows you to insert the face of someone into a character (I’ve been a spaceman this weekend!) using the iPad’s camera. You can repeat this over several scenes and save as an animated cartoon when finished.
How can I use it?
The voiceovers help guide you through the stages of creating a story (setup, conflict, challenge, climax, resolution). The interface is intuitive and students quickly pick up how to use it. Some suggestions ‘off the top of my head’:
English – use a cartoon to tell a story/play that you have written or instead of writing it/performing it.
Geography – create an animated guidebook to another country by inserting background pictures researched from the internet.
Science – create an animated set of instructions about how to conduct an experiment.
MFL – create an animation where the character introduces the audience to Paris where the spoken parts are all in French (students can record and re-record until it is perfect before publishing)
I would be wary of ‘forcing’ all students to use the app as part of task but only in the sense that compelling all students to use a particular method of producing a piece of work hinders choice therefore engagement. I would simply have it as one of a number of options.
Why should I use it?
It is what I would call a ‘transformational task’ – something that cannot be done without the iPads (therefore is an example of how iPads can transform pedagogy in the classroom – see the SAMR model I referred to in some of the iPad training). Students who are not that confident when giving presentations from the front are able to produce some amazing work which can then be shared with the class through the projector using the Apple TV box.
You can create a class account on ‘Toontube‘ which is like Youtube for Toontastic. This has two advantages – the videos are saved in the cloud for future access. The second is that you can then get the class to feedback – either through ‘likes’ or by embedding the video in to a class blog or on Edmodo and getting students to peer assess the videos with comments.