acapela.tv as a Tool to Explain, Introduce, and Comment
There are several ways to introduce units and ideas, explain content, or comment on anything, and one simple tool to use for any or all of these is acapela.tv (www.acapela.tv). Users select a character (with 12 to choose from), type in the text for that character to say, and then view the completed scene. A URL is created so that the animation can be emailed or copied to embed on a website.
This has been an engaging way for me to introduce topics (this example is embedded on the introduction page for my Literary Terms Visualized site) and explain ideas (this example is also part of the Literary Terms Visualized site and explains the irony in the clip from Caddyshack when Chevy Chase's character tells Bill Murray's character that he has a pool and a pond and that the pond would be good for him). Students have also used the tool and embedded the videos on to my class wiki.
Most of the choices are for one character but one of the options ("Cute Cartoon Creator") allows you to have a brief discussion (3 text bubbles) between two characters. The explanations can get a little more involved using this option as this example does explaining the irony in another scene from Caddyshack. In the referenced scene, one of the characters (played by Rodney Dangerfield) has just said some unflattering things about a hat he sees on the rack, unaware that someone is behind him the entire time wearing the same hat.
While acapela.tv is simple to use, there are a couple of downfalls. There is no way to edit what you have typed so once you create the video you can not go back and make any changes. It is a good idea to create the script in an editor first and cut and paste the text each time. The links for each animation remain active for one month. If you want to save them, I suggest using a screen capture tool to create a permanent video of the ones you want to keep.
Most recently, I had the kids in my Fun with Filmmaking camp create a short animated explanation of the film process they had learned (Stopmotion, flipbooks, etc.) or a review of one of their films. Those were added before and after each segment on the DVD they took home with them at the end of the week long camp.
If you have other ways you have used acaelpa.tv in the classroom I would love to hear about them.