#edcampOAISD Create Animated Text Cut-outs with Keynote

ezgif.com-crop (2)At EdCamp Ottawa Area ISD yesterday I shared how to do some app smashing with Keynote to create graphics featuring cut-out text and animation like this one for the word “sharks”. Here is a step-by-step guide to the workflow involving Keynote, Preview, Giphy.com, and EzGif.com.

This and many other cool techniques will be featured in my upcoming MACUL two-hour hands-on session Friday March 20 in Detroit. Cost is $50. Space is still available and can be paid with registration or at the conference.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 7.26.57 AM

The Untapped Power of Apple’s Preview

Preview_iconHands down my favorite feature of Keynote is the Instant Alpha tool. It takes out background color and really makes a huge difference when creating presentations with icons and logos. I also do a ton of creative layout and design work in Keynote. With Instant Alpha it functions just like Photoshop.

My only complaint was that although I could export slides as images, I couldn’t export images with transparent backgrounds.

I shared this with my buddy Jon Corippo the other night and he mentioned using Preview to do it. I had really only ever used Preview to view .pdf files on my Mac. Jon explained that he builds in Keynote, saves as an image, and then opens it in Preview. The same Instant Alpha in Keynote exists on the “Edit Toolbar” in Preview (VIEW – Show Edit Toolbar). Once you alpha out your background you can export (under FILE) as a .png.

I had no idea.

The Edit Toolbar also allows you to add text and shapes, as well as crop and adjust your image…all for free.

Screenshot 2014-05-19 10.29.23

The Connected Educator Un/Conference: April 26th Preview

I am looking forward to April for so many reasons and one of them is the  Connected Educator Un/Conference in Jackson on April 26th.

I will be delivering the opening address (Wow, what an honor!) and then doing a session entitled “If you can’t build it in Keynote, you don’t need it.”

I sat down Wednesday with un/conference coordinator Dan Spencer to talk about the conference and what attendees can expect from the “learn by doing” session.


Keynote beyond Presentations

Apple’s Keynote is great for presentations but the tool can be used for so much more. In this screencast I explain diagramming, employing advanced photo editing techniques, and creating high-end looking video production. Created with Camtasia 2 for Mac.


Spend a little time on design…and gain a lot

logos designed by 4th and 5th graders
logos designed by 4th and 5th graders

For too long we have pushed creativity and artistic design in school off to the Friday afternoon back burner or for when the important “core” work was complete. There is a lot though in fostering creative projects that feeds directly into enhancing mathematical and literary pursuits.

This year our fourth and fifth graders are working in groups of four or five on a very lofty goal. Each team will cover a number of different school events from classroom activities to field trips to the Fun Night carnival. The groups will produce multimedia news segments that ultimately will be compiled into one long video yearbook.

In order to insure that we meet our “Real artists ship” mantra the students and I have flipped our mindset from treating our time together like school and instead treating it as if we are all working at video production companies. The first task was to form a production company name, complete with a logo.

The students’ learning target was “I can create a company name and logo that convey intended feelings.” We began by looking at a number of existing artistic companies’ names and logos like those from Pixar, Dreamworks, Orion, Warner Brothers, and Bad Robot. Next as a class we discussed what feelings these names and trademarks elicit. The outcomes of inference as well as an understanding of “visual grammar” were immediate. As teams got to brainstorming, these concepts were front and center as each group paid close attention to what type of feelings would be associated with their potential names and designs.

From a teaching standpoint, I made several rounds to check on each group’s progress and constantly challenged each team with questions like “If I had $3,000,000 to invest in a serious film about slavery ending in the 1860’s would I choose a company called the ‘Flaming Fireballs’?” There were some groups that started waaaaaay out past the left field bleachers but I eventually reeled them into at least short left field. As more and more teams honed in on a name we switched gears to designing logos. Each team had to create an old-fashion crayon and pencil concept that was our digital starting point as I conferenced intensely with each group.  I consistently helped teams simplify and asked, “What if?” seemingly over and over again. This was my chance to teach in small groups advanced Keynote techniques. I didn’t want to override their creativity with my own but offered a suggestion here and there that most students really didn’t know was possible. On many occasions I would add something as a demo and then delete it after showing it. Next,  I would leave the group to check on others. This allowed the group I had just left time to decide whether that was something to recreate themselves or stick with an original idea. The completion of each design was an electric moment for the kids and me.

In purely random order, here are some of the concepts and skills students developed and benefits experienced during this process.

  • Collaboration
  • Accountable Talk
  • Showing rather than telling
  • The way different fonts and colors affect a message
  • Math concepts like proportions and scale
  • An appreciation for the work
  • An escape from the way school is always “done”
  • Creative expression
  • Compromise
  • Motivation to tackle a big task
  • Fun

The concepts of design and creativity may not show up explicitly written in any curriculum manual but spending a little bit of time on it will prepare students to tackle any part of the Common Core with the mindset of someone working on projects at Apple, Google, or Herman Miller. They will bring a keen eye and will expect to create with excellence.

A Crash Course in Keynote for Elementary Kids

I am super excited that our school district has replaced Microsoft Office with iWork ’09 on our student laptops. As a teacher, the more simplified interface in Pages and Keynote makes teaching so much easier compared to trying to navigate the many toolbars in Office.

Here are some of my favorite techniques that make Keynote such a valuable tool. It is fabulous as a presentation maker, but the true magic comes out when we explore the layout and design capabilities as well as Keynote’s potential as a video editing application.

Here are 21 minutes of how-to instructions. Have fun with Keynote. Your only limitation is your own creativity.