Category Archives: Videos

How to make a pop-up video

Ahem. Or a pop-up edu-video. Here’s one we made earlier!

And yes, we were inspired by the late great VH-1 Classic series.

*sigh* Let’s take a moment…

And move on:

The pop-up video mechanism is great for videos that are longer than four minutes, such as presentations or student-led conferences, because it gives you the chance to provide additional context that’s not readily discernible from the video alone.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • You make your pop-up resources in Keynote;
  • Add them to your video using the green screen utility;
  • Then add your opener, closer and chapter pop-ups.

Let’s unpack that process, step by step.

To make your life a little easier, we’ve prepared a package of resources files that you can download directly, referenced by filename in this tutorial.

Download the files here (.zip format).

The download should begin automatically. When it’s finished, expand the .zip file package on your machine. It’s a directory containing five files:

  1. in-video pop-up creator.key (Keynote file)
  2. Pop Up chapter creator.key (Keynote file)
  3. Jaunty POP noise.wav (uncompressed audio file)
  4. Pop Up eduvideo Intro.mp4 (compressed video file)
  5. spare water footage.mp4 (compressed video file)

We created and are distributing these files as fair use for creating educational materials. The audio and the water footage are pieces in the public domain. But still: don’t be a weasel.

Let’s make your eduvideo pop up resources:

Chapter pop-ups

Chapter pop-ups are questions that take up the entire screen and are meant for the viewer to view *while the video itself is not playing*. Think of them as pre-test and post-test questions. In our example at the top of the post (video), chapter pop-ups appear at 4:36, 11:34, 14:01, 16:15, and 19:39. That’s a lot, but to be fair, this is a 20-minute video, and we really wanted viewers to stay focused (and not check their twitter).

Pop Up chapter creator.key is the file you’ll use to create all your chapter pop-ups. Open it up in Keynote, and here’s your default screen:

Pop Up Video default screen for Chapter Segment creator

Doubleclick on the black text and you can edit it to customize your question. Boom: done.

Now, once you’ve edited your text, export your Keynote file to a movie. Go up to the top menus: File > Export to > Movie…

Pop Up video: export to Movie

Change the resolution to 1080p and you’re good to go. This generates a .m4a movie file. Save your new  chapter pop-up movie in a central directory for when we get to Add your resources. Make as many chapter segments as you feel makes sense.

In-video pop-ups

Open up your in-video Pop Up Creator.key file in Keynote. Here’s your default screen:

Pop Up video: in-video pop ups

Edit the black text in the box by clicking on it.

Don’t add more than 12 words to any one pop-up. If you’ve got that much to say, it can be two screens. You want to keep your pop-ups informative but sparse. Remember: you’re asking the viewer to take their attention away from the content of the video to pay attention to the pop-up, so make it worth their while and respect their time.

After you’ve edited the text, choose an image to represent the main idea of the text.

Keynote has a great on-board library of art. Say our text is: “Kayleigh was part of the robotics team that won State championships.” Click on the Shape button at the top of your Keynote screen. This opens up the Keynote images library. Start searching on “robot”, for example.

Pop Up video: search for icons

Click once on the icon you’d like to add, and Keynote will automatically add it to your screen. Move the icon to the center of your circle. Resize it as appropriate.

Next, select all the items in your pop-up. Then go up to your file menus at the top of your screen, to Arrange > Group. This will make Keynote treat your pop-up box as one discrete item and make your life simpler by a factor of ten, because now you add animation.

With your pop-up box highlighted, choose Animate from the righthand menu.

You need a Build In and a Build Out animation, and a duration.

  • Under “Build In”, choose Appear.
  • Under “Build Out”, choose Dissolve.

Then you’re going to determine your duration.

Click the Build Order button at the bottom of the righthand Animate mention. In your Build Order, you’re going to line them up, one on top of the other, then add a delay to the Build Out of at least 1.0 seconds.
Your Build In is linked up with your Build Out when they are touching (Appear is in light, Dissolve is in dark).

Click once on the Dissolve bar in your Build Order window. It brings up a dialogue for Start and Delay. Your Dissolve bar should have a Start of “After Build 1” and your Delay is at least 1.0 seconds.

Here’s a quick screencast of that process:


Save your file. Now you export it as a movie. File > Export to > Movie…

Change your resolution to 1080p and click Next…

Save your file. It will have a .m4a file ending. Now let’s put all this together in a video.

Add your resources

We’ll work in iMovie for this example but this works in whatever video editing program you’re using. Let’s add your pop-ups to the video itself.

Here’s the layout of a pop-up eduvideo:

Opener | Chapter Pop-up | Video — with in-video pop-ups | Closer


We included a file in the downloads package for you: Pop Up eduvideo intro.mp4

Add it in the first slot on your timeline.

Chapter Pop-up:

You’re going to add the .m4a file you created to a background of bubbles, add a pop noise, and boom, there’s your chapter segment. So! Take the file spare_water_footage.mp4 from your download package. Add it to your iMovie timeline, after the opener. Now add two things: the .m4a and a jaunty popping noise.

With the spare water footage highlighted in your timeline, add your chapter file *on top of it*.

Highlight this new giant green block, and change “Cutaway” to “Green/Blue Screen” from the menu on top of your viewer.

Then add the Jaunty Popping Noise *underneath* your timeline.

Pop Up eduvideo: make a chapter segment in iMovie

You’ll need to move it around to get the timing right, so that as your question appears, the pop happens, but have fun with it.

Adding in-video pop-ups

Next, choose the points at which you’d like to add a pop-up message during your video. You’ll use the same method you used for adding the chapter pop-up, but add your in-video pop-up directly to the footage.

Say we have some lovely drone footage of the Chicago skyline. And we’d like to add a notation about the make and model of the drone used.

  • Make your drone info pop-up in Keynote, and export the animation as a movie.
  • Import that movie into iMovie
  • Add it to your timeline above the skyline footage
  • Change the Cutaway effect to Green/Blue Screen
  • Add your Jaunty Pop sound to your timeline below the skyline footage
  • Adjust the timing of your pop-up notation and your pop noise.

Pop Up video: adding in-video pop ups


Closer: …is totally up to you. We didn’t include a closer in our downloads package. Our example video ends with a chapter segment post-question that covers the whole video, but what you end your video with is entirely up to you. Have fun with it, reinforce your message — just go hog wild.

And let us know how this worked for you! We would love to see your pop-up eduvideos! Leave us a comment and share!

How to make a mini-documentary

You’ve captured video of ALL THE THINGS. You’ve diligently trained your device on the action as some truly amazing work has gone down in your school. You’re excited to have a video you can share with families, with the school board and add to your PLP portfolio. And now you’re just sitting there, overwhelmed by it all. Wondering how in the world you’re going to get from an iPad full of footage, to finished. You’re wondering how to make a mini-documentary.

So… now what?

Now it’s time to get from footage… to finished.

Getting from raw footage to finished video can feel overwhelming. A lot of times what you’ve shot may make the best sense only within a larger context. But how are you going to tell your story?

Here is one way to make a small, manageable documentary-style film from your footage. There are tons of other ways you can try, including going to film school. But this way should only take you one afternoon.

Behold: “All Fried: Carolina Fish Camps”

All Fried: Carolina Fish Camps from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

Watch this video. It’s six minutes long and it will make you ridiculously hungry for fried food. After you watch it, we’ll talk you through a way to make your own school-related version of it out of three things: a good interview, some listening skills and B-roll.

But first, the fish. Get to the watching.

Now, what did you just watch?

You watched a person — in this case a university professor — telling the story of a practice they like — eating at fish camps — and explaining why they like it.

That’s it. An interview punctuated by interesting visuals that helped explain the interview. And even if fish aren’t your deal, now you have one way to take a very big and overwhelming topic and make a compelling video about it.

And you’re going to do this by:

  1. Shooting an interview;
  2. Grabbing its soundbites;
  3. Adding B-roll, and
  4. Getting fancy.
Let’s jump in.

1. First, get a good interview

Decide who is be the best person to tell the story of your school project. That person is going to be the narrator of your documentary. 

Grab your gear and a partner

We use this setup to record most of our interviews:

We use it because it’s durable, relatively low-cost and super easy to use. There are tons of other setups out there, and whichever one you use is awesome. You’re doing absolutely amazing and none of us are going to Cannes tomorrow. Let’s ease into this.

Now, using the plain old Camera app, you’re going to find a quiet space, make sure your microphone is on, and record a simple but informative interview.

After you’ve made sure your microphone is on, you’re going to answer these five questions:

  • What is it you’re doing?
  • What’s the most challenging part about it?
  • What’s the most satisfying part about it?
  • What one piece of advice would you give to other teachers who’d like to try what you’re doing?
  • If you had to do this over, would you change anything?

For your interview, get comfy. This works super well in pairs, but sometimes you just have to go it solo. As long as you have your questions and make sure you’re in a quiet space (and your microphone is on) you can make it work.

Some notes about the interview environment:
  • Natural light from a window will make you look your stunning best. Or just go outside into the natural light. Go on. Shoo.
  • If you’re outside you likely will want to have a wind muff over your microphone.
  • Take a moment to make sure you’re not sitting under an AC vent or a fan, or next to an aquarium.
  • If you can, find a small room to record in for good audio, or, because we’re being realistic about school settings, have the interviewee face a bookshelf or a breeze block wall. Look for a space with a low ceiling. Those are the types of features that will help you get great audio.

Finally, make sure you see black bars at the top and bottom of your iPad screen:

And hit the record button.

Interviewee, please start by introducing yourself with your full name, what grade you’re in (or what subject you teach, possibly both — you know yourself best) and what school you’re connected with.

Now let’s step through our five questions.

If you’re the interviewer, give those questions some breathing room,  and don’t interrupt. If you feel yourself starting to “Mm-hm” or “Oh yeah!” realize that those will have to be edited out and, in the words of Her Own Sainted Self Tyra Banks, smize it out instead:

Smizing is the art of giving your interviewee encouragement to keep talking without actually making a sound. Less editing to do at the end.

2. Next, find your soundbites.

Now that you each have a good interview clip, you’re going to watch it back and figure out what your soundbites are. Those are the moments that make you nod your head, like, yes, that’s exactly what I want people to know about this project.

If you transfer your video to a laptop or desktop for editing, and open your interview clip in Quicktime, you’ll have that great timescale at the bottom of your clip:

how to make a mini-documentary


Grab something to write with. Now, as you watch your interview, when you hear a soundbite, jot down the approximate time it starts and finishes, and some words or a phrase that will remind you why you liked it so much. Get through the entire video, and find those soundbites.

Then, rank your soundbites.

Start by starring the ones you really love, as opposed to the ones that were just pretty good. Then assign them numbers, number 1 being the best, number 2 the second best etc etc.

Now it’s time to crack open iMovie

Create a new Project in iMovie, and import your interview file. Drop it onto the timeline so the beginning lines up with 0:00.

You have your list of soundbites with approximate timestamps. Say you want to create a soundbite from 0:10 through to 0:23. Move your playhead to 0:10. Wiggle it around a bit until you’re a little before where the soundbite begins. Once you have your playhead in place, click on the clip so it turns yellow, then press command-B, or go up to the Modify menu and choose “Split Clip”. You have just made your first edit.

Click on the bits of the video you don’t want, the bits outside your edit, and hit Delete. They get deleted from your timeline.

Finally, go to the File menu, choose Share… and then File…

You get:

how to make a mini-documentary


Repeat this process until you have a directory of soundbite files to work with.

Now, create a fresh iMovie Project and import them all.

You’re now going to arrange them on your timeline in a way that makes sense to you narratively. Don’t worry about your visuals yet, just figure out the story they’re trying to tell.

We try to put our favorite soundbite first in line, to draw people in. And we put our second-favorite soundbite last, as a coda to the whole story.

3. Add your B-roll to keep things moving

B-roll can consist of video clips or it can consist of still images you feel contribute to the points you made in your interview. In the Fish Camp story, you see a lot of B-roll of inside the restaurants, and the food being made, but when Dr. Criswell starts talking about how much he loves looking at the old menus, the visual cuts away to still images of menus. Totally awesome use of B-roll.

One of the most interesting things about the Fish Camp video is how much of the B-roll is tied to the nouns in Dr. Criswell’s story. When he says:

The fish camps were a place you could go, and feed your whole family, and not blow your paycheck (0:37-0:42)

(emphasis ours)

The B-roll that’s being shown on-screen at that time is of a group of similar-looking people, like a family, giving their order, which the waitress writes on the check.

When Dr. Criswell says:

And the portions were always generous. (0:46-0:47)

(emphasis is us again, we’re shameless)

The B-roll on screen is of a plate or portion of food. The amount of food on the plate is large, or generous.

When Dr. Criswell says:

The food at the fish camp had a direct relationship to the mill workers (1:20-1:23)

you see B-roll of mill workers.

So this is a great point at which to stop and ask: What are the nouns in your story, and do you have B-roll to illustrate them?

You can also shoot extra B-roll, if you’d like.

If you’re talking about how amazing it was to learn to tie your shoes, for example, take the media kit and film a partner tying their shoes. Maybe film over their shoulder or get down on their level with the tripod.

Two tips:

  1. Watch B-roll on fast-forward using the slider to control how fast it goes. You can get through a ton of footage just looking for interesting pieces of movement that catch the eye. Note the filenames and approximate timestamps. It’s easier to pull B-roll in as large chunks and fasten it in place, then adjust.
  2. Look back at your soundbites for interesting movement. If you got really heated about the chihuahua story and did a lot of gesturing with your hands or imitated its facial expressions, that’s really interesting to look at. Think about whether you really need to cut to B-roll there, or whether you telling the story is enough on its own.
Over in iMovie, start importing your B-roll into your project.

Command-I is your friend, people.

Once you have it in your project, add a piece to your timeline by selecting the clip and placing it above your existing timeline:

how to make a mini-documentary
(click to enlarge)


3.5 Stop and take stock of your work

Try this as a starting exercise: add in your top three soundbites, and some B-roll, then watch your story. Do you like what you’ve made? What’s missing? Did you get all your nouns? Do you need to shoot more B-roll?

Aaaaaaaaand breathe.

4. Get fancy with it: titles and background music

You didn’t think we were done, did you? P’shaw, we’re just getting started.

But as you go back and watch the Fish Fry (yes again; just one last time), ask yourself:

  • When does the title appear?
  • What does the title appear over?
  • Is there background music?
  • When does it come in? How long does it hang around for? And what word would you use to describe it as a mood?
And now for the obligatory piece about copyright

There are many fine pieces of music you can use for background to your documentary that are generously made available for Creative Commons use. Some good places to look are at the Creative Commons site itself, and over on Soundcloud, where you might find some lists that surprise you…

A huge shout out to the fine folks at the Southern Foodways Alliance, especially “All Fried” director Ava Lowrey for making this and other fine documentary pieces.

Here’s one we made earlier:


What’s your secret recipe for getting from footage to finished?

How to bake an inspiring kickoff video

Launching a new project cycle with inspiration from the last one

"Video in the Classroom"Organizing your realia — testimonials, storytelling and artifacts — from a round of projects can feel overwhelming. So much footage! So many interviews! ALL THE IDEAS!

Resist the freakout: here’s a recipe for pulling your footage together to inspire a new cycle of learning with lessons from the previous rounds.

Continue reading How to bake an inspiring kickoff video

Screencasting as PLP reflection

Students create screencasts for student-led conferences

screencasting as PLP reflectionSixth graders at The Dorset School in southern Vermont are in their second year of working with Personal Learning Plans (PLPs). These exuberant adolescents have fond memories of one experience. Last year, these students were paired with teacher Amanda Thomas. Mid-way through the year of working with her students on PLPs, Mrs. Thomas realized that their PLP work was falling flat; she had to do more to involve them.

Continue reading Screencasting as PLP reflection

How-to: Use Google Docs to reinforce formal vs informal writing



PAML 6th grade educator and all-around good egg Joe Speers returns to the blog to with another #1minutehowto, this time on how he’s using Google Docs to reinforce the difference between formal and informal writing with his students.

Joe previously showed us how his students use Corkulous to create vocab flashcards, and how he uses Google Drive to organize student work.



Edmunds Middle School is on the airwaves with ARIS


Edmunds Middle School teachers, students and district technologists were on Commissioner’s Corner last night , talking about their experiences designing mobile iOS games with ARIS and the Echo Museum. We’re proud to say we knew them way back when.

If you’re interested in hearing from Laura Botte and Katie Wyndorf about this project, they’ll be at the 7th annual Middle Grades Conference, January 11th at UVM.

iPad how-to: saving auras to your Evernote portfolio

saving augmented reality "auras" to your Evernote portfolioA 1-minute iPad how-to from Harwood Union Middle School science educator Brian Wagner, showing you how to save augmented reality “auras” from the popular mobile app Aurasma, to Evernote.


Wagner used Aurasma with his students this past spring in creating an augmented reality periodic table, mounted in the community gallery space at their school.


3 Educators Having Way Too Much Fun on YouTube

First up: Mr. Betts, who in addition to sporting a terrible British accent and pretending to fling tea all over Boston and recording a history of Halloween traditions (You Don’t Know Jack (o’Lanterns)) made this terrifying earworm of a video about 17th century economists. Yes, set to the tune of “What Does the Fox Say?” it’s “What Does John Locke Say?”



Don’t click the link. Don’t do it. You will never get that song out of your head.



Second, we have these students, see, who thought they were being interviewed for a graduation video. Well, they were. But what they didn’t realize is that in every interview, their teachers at Ogden High, in Ogden, Utah, were dancing up a storm behind them.



Well played, teachers.


And lastly, this chemistry teacher raps over a Rick Ross beat to get his students into stoichiometry (which I just had to go look up, so there’s another brain moved by this video).




So. What other things are educators getting up to on YouTube?

The Parable of the Puppet Pals: integrating technology in religion class

Julia Melloni, the Middle School Religion teacher at Mater Christi School in Burlington, worked with her students on “blending ancient Scripture with modern technology”. She used the iOS app PuppetPals2 to promote student learning, collaboration, and creativity.
From Ms. Melloni:
The lesson addressed reading comprehension of Jesus’ teachings in the Bible as well as the depth of these moral teachings. Students worked in small groups to identify a parable that they wanted to explore. A script was written by students that included citing chapter and verse and dialogue of actors. PuppetPals2 was used for the students to act out Jesus’ lessons.

All the PuppetPals2 videos were uploaded to an unlisted class YouTube account and we watched them together as a class. A parables quiz was assigned with the videos as a study guide. Students were encouraged to watch the videos which were accessed through our religion home page. Students enjoyed the comical antics of their classmates acting out scenarios from the Good Samaritan, the Two Foundations, Weed among the Wheat, and more.

The final question on the students’ quiz was to offer feedback on using the app. The resounding response was joyful!


One of the students in the class commented, “I liked it because it let us use technology…it helped me remember what we needed to learn in a short amount of time.” Another said, “I thought it was a good way to express religion through technology. It was very fun to work with my friends.”


Thank you to Ms. Melloni and her students for sharing some of their videos!

How students are using Touchcast: welcome videos!

Westville High School senior Bailey Bruner asks viewers for help choosing a major next year.

As a follow-up to our post on how teachers are using Touchcast, here’s an example of how students are using Touchcast from Westville High School in Oklahoma: to create interactive welcome videos! Touchcast is a free iOS app where users can create interactive videos including linked websites, live polls, images and other videos. You can view and share your videos on a channel on your iOS tablet, or online with a conventional web browser.

Three of our favorites: Bailey Bruner (above) conducting a poll on what she should major in next year, Nick Hamilton (below) sharing his favorite music right in the browser, and Torrii Crittenden discussing an inspirational quote that motivates her love of softball.

What do your students want to share about themselves?




Teachers teaching Touchcast

We’re sharing the screencasting love over here at the Institute, thanks in no small part to #btv librarian-rockstar Shannon Walters (@shannonwa), who introduced us to Touchcast. This free iOS app enables users to create videos for tablet and web that let you embed linked webpage images, polls, other videos (oh the meta!) and use a whiteboard, teleprompter, commenting and titles. It’s an interesting new entry into the iPad-based video-editing market.

And how are teachers using it? Here’s a Touchcast made by the principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, in California, welcoming students for the year:


A woman's head and shoulders are visible in front of a photo of a garden corridor. She appears to be paused mid-sentence. Next to her head is a box with the text, "Do you think Roosevelt should invest in more iPads?" Underneath are the words Yes and No.
Your viewers can vote in polls on-screen without interrupting the video.

And here’s Winooski art teacher and Tarrant partner educator Jessica Bruce, with What I Plan To Do With the Rest of My Summer (bonus points for recording while being distracted by cat):

A video closeup of a woman's face. She's wearing glasses, and next to her on-screen is a preview of the Vermont State Parks website.
Touchcast lets you embed short previews of webpages in your video, and viewers can click or tap through to visit them.

If you’re reading this entry on an iOS device, you can access both Touchcasts through the app and save them to your Bookmarks, or Recast them (like retweeting) to your channel. Any other teachers want to share how they’re using Touchcast?

Maybe by making a Touchcast of their plans?

Say it with me again: Oh, the meta.

“The students showed me how it was done”: Students and colleagues as educator resources

A guest post by one of our partner educators, Jacki McCarty.

McCarty is an educator at Harwood Union Middle School, in Moretown VT.

“The resource I wish to share is THE STUDENTS and MY COLLEAGUES. Through encouragement by my colleagues I have taken risks with technology and found that the students can run with technology and use each other as resources. I, the teacher, can use them as resources. Here is what happened.

Jodie Curran and Jon Potts had told me about QR codes last year, but I never fully understood what they were until I did a treasure hunt with QR codes at a class last summer. I thought they were interesting, but never found a natural fit for integration into my curriculum.

While we were brainstorming about the Poetry Recitation project and iTraining, Sarah Ibson and I came up with the idea of having students record themselves reading poems (with images to compliment the poems also embedded in the iMovie) and make QR codes to put on their Recitation Poem Posters.

The poem posters consist of a handwritten version of the poem, and typed analysis of the poem, as well as an image that represents the poem. These posters will line the hallways at the final poetry recitation performance — the HUMS Celebration of Learning on May 2.

Here is a link to a student performance (they gave permission to share it and I used it as an example in my classes) which was made in Sarah Ibson’s iTraining class prior to my class project. The iTraining students acted as mentors during the recording and uploading experience — which was essential since I myself did not yet know exactly how to perform these actions.

The students showed me how it was done.”

Book trailers from the Edge

Students at Essex Middle School recently hosted a morning at the movies, and as part of the April 9th Celebration of Learning, shared their iMovie book trailers for The Hobbit, The Giver, Hostage to War, The Hobbit, The Amulet of Samarkand, Holes, Schooled, The Hobbit (v. popular book), and Cracker.

As facilitator Lindsey Slan Halman explained, the students had been forbidden to use any images off the internet, and thus got extra creative with their staging, imagery, props and acting. We think the students did an amazing job, and would like to thank them for being so willing to share their work.


The Tarrant Institute has recently begun piloting a trial of Badgestack, an online badging platform, featuring level dynamics, friending and hidden rewards. As part of a course they’re taking via Badgestack, Susan and Audrey recorded this Google+ hangout to talk about how Badgestack might work in a middle school classroom, and their love-hate relationship with The Leaderboard.