March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Wow ‘Em with Powtoon | Tech Tidbits from the Guybrarian

If you are looking for a change of pace multimedia tool that spices up and informs your presentations, you should really spend some time with PowToon. With its animated graphics, music library, and easy, drag and drop productions, you’ll find tons of applications for it. Libraries can use it as a strong promotional or teaching tool or even to create end of year annual reports. Plus, it’s cute!

Mrs. Guybrarian Powtoonwould tell you I’m all about stretching the dollars, and so far I’m impressed with what the non-subscription portion of this application has to offer. Its basic (free!) features allow you to create a video up to five minutes in length using their music and various templates. You have choices of several styles with multiple characters and you can import images of your own.

PowToon allows you to narrate your own productions and upload dozens of times to YouTube. While I don’t think it should be the staple product to use every single time, many genius librarians are effectively using it for precisely the right reasons in their libraries. Mrs. Guybrarian’s creation introduces and promotes her library at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colorado.

In under two minutes, tech director Jayme Johnson introduces Google Docs to her PreK-6th grade students. Jane Lufton is using it to create her MCHS end of year reports. Folks are experimenting with foreign language instruction, like this PowToon on how to learn Italian. JoAnn Hudak introduces her library rules and you have to check out the effective use of music
in this Common Core video stressing the need to use your librarian.

Some of the most creative examples I’ve seen come from elementary librarian guru Heidi Netler in her blog Learning in Progress. In this post about starting the year off using PowToons, she explains how it is a “great way for you to create short, instructional videos about difficult concepts.” She has been designing a running series of Penguin and Librarian dialogue pieces for her elementary students explaining a variety of topics. She effectively introduces Dewey and creatively explains dictionaries, all using the Penguin and sometimes “superhero” librarian. (By the way—I really feel Heidi is a shining example of what I always say we librarians need to do more of: write and share the cool things we do in our library. We all could take lessons from her!)

How am I using all this information? I’ve given these examples to my student aides and they’re part of a contest to “Create The Best Silver Creek Library Promotional PowToons EVER” (in under 3 minutes)! Oh, and the frugal Guybrarian in me says that at $36/year (teacher) or $48/year for classroom, this is truly an affordable way for you to get even more for your library. So if you are looking to promote your library, educate others, or just have fun, you’ll have to explore adding PowToon to your toolbox as you spice up the pace of your instruction!

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Dodie Ownes About Dodie Ownes

Dodie Ownes left the glamorous world of retrospective conversion and disco to jump on the library vendor train. Since then, she has been learning at the feet of the masters about all things library. Dodie lives in Golden, Colorado, where even the sign which arches the main street says "Howdy."

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  1. Thanks for the kind words and great post. I love seeing how other people are engaging their students:)