Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Xtranormal – Cool Free Web-based Software


Would you like to have students debate a problem, brainstorm a solution, or teach in a creative an interactive way? Xtranormal is a great option for letting students explore their creative side and verbalizing their understanding in a middle of high school project. There is a free version of the program on the web, but like many other services they have more elaborate pay options. I have found that the free version works fine in my class. Students email me the link to their presentations for me to watch them and I’ll pick a few of the best to watch in class.
Pixar, here we come! Okay, not really.
Students are able to select from a cadre of pre-made character, animate the movements with a simple interface and write the dialogue for the characters to speak. Their lips sync right to the words.
How would I use this in a math class? Very carefully. Obviously this isn’t necessarily the most rigorous project option, but it certain can be engaging. I’d be more likely to perhaps spend one day in a computer lab and assign it as homework for over a weekend. Students will not be crunching numbers, but if you create a strong rubric it can help a student with their verbal expression of the content and help build their vocabulary.

Pose them if you dare!
Obviously without mathematical relevancy, this could end up being one fun complete waste of time. Extending beyond the math classroom, you could perhaps find it as a more relevant tool in another subject area. I have used this in my technology elective. Also at times, I like students to conclude a math project with some sort of analysis presentation whether it be a PSA or a jury trial. This can just as easily be used for those conclusions. How I use class time with this is the careful issue. It is certainly something I’m more likely to ask students to do at home.

Nonetheless, check it out. Who knows? It might help you for your next grad school class presentation or department meeting! Or you can just pass it along to other teachers in your building!

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