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"Xtranormal makes your stories come to life."

"Movie-making, short and long, online and on-screen, private and public, will be the most important communications process of the 21st century"

(according to the creators of Xtranormal)

What is Xtranormal?
Xtranormal is an online moviemaker that uses selected characters, backgrounds and props to create short online films. The ability to choose from hundreds of characters and create your own dialogue makes film making easy for people of all ages.

The program uses a text-to-speech technology that allows students to type in the script. It is transformed into a movie with the characters, chosen from a library, enacting the script. The library also includes a set of directions including camera angles, add gestures, sound effects.

The free version of Xtranormal gives you maximum of 2 characters in the movie, which still allows students to create a movie to bring their stories to life.
Once you have created your movie you can embed it to export directly to YouTube.


Xtranormal as an Educational Tool
Xtranormal education allows teachers to pay a small fee for class access to the program with unlimited characters and features for a monthly fee of $10 plus 50 cents per student. Xtranormal education allows teachers to set up class assignments with the ability to grade and give feedback, all within the safety of the classroom. The privacy of Xtranormal education allows the students and teachers to feel safe about uploading ideas and feedback.

The current version even allows you to remix the videos created by others...so students can edit and critique the work of others.

Advantages:
  • Supports content learning through multimodalities
  • Easy to use movie editor with simple to follow interface
  • movies in 3D
  • accessible with a computer and the Internet ie: no special program required
  • pick up the basics of how to operate this tool, and within minutes create animated videos.

  • the choice of camera angles is inspiring and the selection of actions etc. give you many choices to experiment with. You feel like you are directing something and not just choosing a limited array of standard effects.
  • accessible to students from different lanuage backgrounds as voices are multilingual: great opportunity for international students
  • provides a safe environment for a teacher and class to operate.

Disadvantages:

  • the preview seems to be slow to show the effects that you've added when you are working on it, so it feels like you do a lot of waiting around.
  • the free version has limited content.
  • mispronunciation of dialogue can be funny at best or annoying at worst if terminology is not clear



In the Classroom

Xtranormal is a great way for students to express their knowledge on any subject they are studying in literacy, humanities, science and numeracy or any other subject area. Students can work individually or collaboratively on a topic and can access the website from home or school, as the videos they are creating are saved in 'The cloud' in cyberspace.
Literacy
  • Students could interview one another as characters from a book or create book review videos.
  • Student might write a script for a ‘movie’ created on Xtranormal
Numeracy
  • Explain a concept (eg: symmetry) in Xtranormal which would deepen the students own understandings as well as those who watched it
Humanities
  • A visual representation of a period in history would bring it to life for the students
  • create documentaries
Science
  • Explaining a scientific concept about our world through Xtranormal would engage the students and help them in their understandings.
Integrated Studies
  • At the start of the year a student might represent who they are to the class in the form of an Xtranormal video
Art
  • A student or group of students might explain a period style of visual art or the process in using an art medium.
Music
  • Students could be asked to create a video clip to music they have composed or a documentary describing a musical genre.
P.E
  • Students could develop a new sports game and showcase/explain it through Xtranormal.
  • create a ‘how to’ video of a chosen sport sport and the rules involved.

An example of how Xtranormal can be used in the classroom.


A list of relevant resources if you'd like to learn more about Xtranormal in the classroom.

This website is written by a teacher about his experience using Xtranormal in the classroom.
Techonology and Education website

A blog illustrating how using Xtranormal in the classroom developed social skills in students.
Xtranormal for social skills

About Xtranormal and its uses and limitations in the classroom.
Xtranormal in the classroom

The two main windows that you will be working with in Xtranormal.

The window below shows where you choose your set, actors and various sound effects. The story section is where you write your script, selecting between your two actors. Movement and camera cues are dragged and dropped into the dialogue boxes as needed.
xtra_1.jpg

The window below shows us where you can listen and preview your creation and ultimately save and publish it on the web. The preview is shown at a lesser quality to speed up times but the saved product is of a much higher resolution. Once created the movie can be uploaded to youtube, facebook etc.
xtra_2.jpg

Lesson Plan

Lesson Title: A circle of viewpoints

Intended Age Group: Grade 6

Learning Objectives:
This lesson will provide an example of authentic learning for the program Xtranormal. By the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to:
- create a short movie using the interface of xtranormal and selecting a variety of cues from the tools menu
- show that there can be alternate voices and points of view in a story
- work collaboratively on a project

ICT Focus
- Students, in pairs, will use the program to create a short movie with dialogue, movie actions and camera angles

Literacy Focus
- Taking a well-known fairy tale students are asked to take the story and tell it from a different perspective or viewpoint using other characters featured in the story.
- Students will work collaboratively to create a script for their movie

Learning and Teaching Strategies:
- Self-directed learning
- Following the line of Seymour Papert's 'hard fun' strategies by assigning a project that introduces the students to a steep learning curve that will enable them to develop their problem solving skills and ability to negotiate.This undertaking will enable students to reach a deeper understanding of the program and greater satisfaction with their achievements.

Assessment Strategies:
- Summative assessment by the teachers who will roam the room making observations of the students throughout the lesson as they work. Teachers will discuss with each group their intentions and scaffold their learning when necessary.
- Students will be peer assessed in the form of a showcase of their finished work.
- Literacy will be assessed on the creative approach undertaken, and the originality of the storyline as seen from an alternative character's point of view

Resources:
- Computer for each pair of students
- Classroom set of headphones
- Story books on Cinderella
- Peer assessment cards for showcase

Lesson Steps

1. Introduction (10 mins)
- Show the pre-made video
- Brief run through of xtranormal to refresh students on the previous lesson
- show pictures of the main interface with its commands and content

2. Main Activity (20 mins)
- Ask students to take the fairy tale of Cinderella and create a dialogue between two characters from the story that gives us another view point of the story
- In creating a short movie, student will be asked to use at least 4 camera angles, 4 motions and 2 facial expressions in a logical and sequential way that helps tell the story
- Ask students to publish their movie with 5 minutes to go
- Whilst waiting for the publishing to finish, show students one or two examples of movies that have been created on xtranormal
- Explain how we will assess their work

3. Showcase (15 mins)
- Students will be asked to show their movies and talk a little about the steps they took in order to create it
- The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide verbal feedback
- In addition, students will give each movie a score based on how successful and entertaining the movie is



Feedback

We have created a feedback survey for you to complete, that will allow us to determine your ideas about the potential strengths and limitations of this technology as a classroom learning tool.

Please click on this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VPNJT5R

Thank you.