Accidental Animation: Using Keynote to Enhance Digital Storytelling


Five years ago, in English and Media classes, we investigated the meaningful integration of technology into lessons and assessments that posed challenging and differentiated outcomes. When a student accidentally exported a keynote slide as an image, we had a thought: we could use this to create digital stories.


Keynote allows us to duplicate slides, and it also allows us to alpha key (eliminate) backgrounds of images which often sparks creativity in the minds of students.  From there, we create the first slide.  What we place on the first slide could be duplicated to the second, and with the subtle movement of the image, we could then create an entire animation sequence (click on the model below).

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When exporting the slides as images into a folder, the images will export in the same order in which they were created and easily transfer to iMovie (or other movie making software program).  Then, iMovie allows for the alteration of time for each image; when the student changes the duration of each image to .1 seconds, they witness the animation (tip:  vary the time; it does not have to be .1 s).

I teach students this technique to develop digital stories for many reasons.  The skill itself allows students to design, provides them with a tool to showcase their strengths in visual perception, and, most importantly, gives them the capability to use technology meaningfully to transform learning.  Recognizing the potential to use Keynote (or other forms of technology) for something other than simply presenting also promotes invention, and in education I believe it is important to provide a setting where inventing visionaries is a primary objective.

The example given below is from an 11th grade English class.  The student took the first six chapters of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and connected his interpretations of the intentions through a stop-motion digital story.

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How can you do this in your class?

Step 1:  Assign the students a reading and allow them to archive, asking them to list the main intentions and ideas.

Step 2:  Ask the students to write a story about the chapters, including both summary, ideas and  intentions.  Tell them to focus on how the plot, characters, and themes develop the ideas and intentions.  I model how to do this, but essentially you want them to tell you a story back; again, summary is fine, but you want to encourage them to transform their notes into an actual story.

Step 3:  Ask the students to highlight key words from the story.  The highlighted words act as markers for them; I tell them that the markers are the slides they want to create, what they want to animate or make come to life.

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Step 4:  Open Keynote (or Powerpoint), and begin creating a stop motion animation sequence by developing the first slide, then duplicating and adding or moving items slightly, then duplicating and repeating.  The focus of this assignment is to develop images that go along with the highlighted words.

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Step 5:  Create a new folder on your desktop.  Export the slides as jpeg images to that folder.

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Step 6:  Open iMovie and import the images (if you are unfamiliar with iMovie, this also works with many other programs. Import images into a new movie).

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Step 7:  Alter the duration of the images (this varies for software programs.  In the new version of iMovie it is the speedometer or third tool from the right located in the upper right of your screen)

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Step 8:  Voiceover. We used Garageband to record our voiceovers, but some students simply use the voiceover feature in iMovie.  In Garageband, just open new project, vocal, and hit the record button (tip:  turn off the metronome).  In iMovie, find where you want to begin telling the story, and just hit the microphone located beneath the preview window.  The student will adjust the duration of the images while reading the story he/she developed in step 2.

Step 9:  Export the movie.

Tip:  Limit how much control you have over the products; this is their time to take risks with the process. Always show models (use the one on this page to assist) of past student work. Encourage storytelling which can vary from summary to more pure storytelling techniques (adding dialogue for example). Use Google Drive to promote collaboration and to collect the products (movies take up a lot of memory so let Google take care of that for you).  Use Google Classroom assign the presentation and to collect videos as they will all be placed nicely into a folder for you. Develop a rubric that rewards creativity and vision while also assessing core concepts (I have plenty of models).  Have fun and good luck.

Submitted by Kelly Wetherhold, English and Media Teacher at SHS, March 24, 2016

Using Technology to Build Community in Music Class

The month of March is recognized as Music In Our Schools Month across the nation. Students in the Middle School rotate through specialists every 12 weeks so only one third of the student body currently has music class. The Middle School is using Google Apps for Education to include all students and staff in a school-wide celebration of music. Mrs. Mosley created a GoogleSite to be used for information postings and participation in activities. Individuals can post comments on the site to win a daily prize. Our celebration highlights different decades of music and what life was like during those time periods. There are links to collaborative Spotify playlists where participants and can listen to and add music from the featured decade. Weekly trivia games relating to information from the site or posted in the building are shared with all students and staff via the website and Gmail. Pictures from our Decades Dress-Up Days will be posted on the site. The website gives all grade levels, staff, the student newspaper, and our building news station one central location to find out and share music related information for the month.

You can follow along with our celebration as it progresses:

Submitted by Rachel Reinecke, Music Teacher and Dept. Chair, March 18, 2016

German students learn about Karneval

German students in Frau Spradlin’s classes spent a week researching and recreating the Rheinland’s famous Karneval parades.  Karneval is the celebration that takes place immediately before Lent begins. For practicing Christians, Lent signifies sacrifice. Karneval parades rival the complexity and forethought of Philadelphia’s Mummers’ Parade, but instead of dancing and fancy costumes, paraders invoke the spirit of court jesters, and any political figures or people in the public eye become the targets of grand and elaborate satirical floats! This tradition began when the Rheinland was occupied by the French, so this particular custom is specific to that region. The students submitted their Karneval floats, and the entire school community will now vote on the best submissions.  

Please feel free to email Frau Spradlin at with your selection as well!

Was ist karneval???  

German Students will show you what these parades would look like here!  

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Submitted by Frau Spradlin, German Teacher, SHS, March 16, 2016

American Cultures Students Learn About Immigration

9th grade American Culture I classes have begun a unit on immigration. This exploration includes researching push and pull reasons for immigration, the immigration process, and the melting pot of cultures that complete the American mosaic.  This study will also include research into family histories and traditions, along with a culture/food day at the end of the unit.  Students will be using the high school library databases which will provide exceptional opportunities to research the topic of immigration. The abundant primary sources will be enriching to our ninth grade students in American Cultures I.  The culmination in the unit will be a food day where students will enjoy foods from many different regions and cultures. Students will also complete a presentation on the traditions founding  regions from where their  descendants have come from. Please join in on the fun with your ninth grade student. Please share with your child what you may know about your family’s immigration and family heritage and even a secret family food recipe for our cultures day activity.

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Submitted by Barry Frick, Social Studies Teacher at SHS, March 16, 2016

Using Google Draw in Algebra/Geomety III class

Students in my Algebra/Geometry III class recently created their own graphic organizers as we began our study of special segments in a triangle.  They created a Google Doc to define and explain each term in their own words.  They then used the Google Draw feature to draw and label how each segment (median, altitude, angle bisector, and perpendicular bisector) appears within the triangle.  These images were inserted in the doc.  Students explored special properties of each segment using Geometer’s Sketchpad, a dynamic geometry program.  Screenshots of each activity were inserted into the graphic organizer once completed.

Students worked collaboratively on the organizer and the sharing feature of the document allowed them to work on it outside of class as well.  I created a form on Google Classroom for them to submit their finished product for me to review.  I was able to provide comments on the doc so that students could correct or modify as necessary.  Students will use these completed notes as we further explore the geometry and algebra of special segments in a triangle.  

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Submitted by Angela Xander, Math Teacher and Dept. Chair, SHS on March 16, 2016

SHS Students Discuss Technology Use in Social Studies at Pete& C Conference

On February 22, 2016, eight students from the Gifted Seminar class presented at the annual Pete & C conference. The students, Rylee Donaldson, Sarah Bobeck, Madison Jewel, Michael Killiri, Logan Vitalos, Zachary Stringer, and I showcased the initiatives taken by Salisbury School District to implement technology into our schools. In addition, we presented Breakout EDU. Breakout EDU is a classroom break out game used to engage student in critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork by giving them challenges while they try to “breakout” of the room. These might include educational, movie, TV show, game, or book related themes where students use knowledge to find and solve clues in order to achieve the ultimate goal of “breaking out”. In seminar, we created our own Breakout scenarios which we had the chance to present at Pete & C to educators!

We began the day by showcasing technology like Ollies, Spheros, Cricut cutting machines, 3-D pens, Little Bits, and Arduino. Each piece of technology can be utilized in classrooms to help students engage in lessons, learn differently than following normal curriculum, and create. We paired up with one another and chose a piece of technology to share with the educators who came through the room. Being able to speak with these adults about the advantages of the technology was one of a kind. We were challenged with questions concerning educational value, how the technology can be used, ideas we had about using the technology, and if it was compatible with younger students. “It was an amazing learning experience and I really enjoyed talking with educators about their classes and students. They shared how they have incorporated technology and want to incorporate it into their classroom. We showed them new technology and they shared some with us as well,” says Simon Katz who showcased the Little Bits and Arduino. “It gave us the ability to show evolution and creativity. We showed the opportunities our generation has with technology. It was amazing to be able to display new ideas to update classrooms with adults at the showcase,” said Rylee Donaldson who demonstrated using the 3-D pens.

We ended our day by showing Breakout EDU in a large room full of educators. Each of us created our own Breakout Box games in seminar. Two groups presented self made Breakout scenarios and two presented pre-made games available on the Breakout EDU website. Michael Killiri and I presented our Watergate themed Breakout game. Sarah Bobeck and Madison Jewel created a Breakout Box game made after the board game Clue which they presented. Zakk Stringer and Simon Katz ran the Time Warp Breakout Box game available on Breakout EDU. The last group, Logan Vitalos and Rylee Donaldson showed the Dr. Johnson’s Laboratory game, also available on the Breakout website. When asked about the experience, Michael said, “Presenting the Breakout Boxes was fun. It was nice to collaborate with peers and teachers. It put us in the teachers shoes and let us present a new learning method in front of many educators.” The Pete & C conference gave us new experiences in collaborating with educators, was a great opportunity to show off and learn about technology that can be used in classrooms, and truly made us appreciate the technological resources available to us in Salisbury.

Submitted by Olivia Dragovits, student at SHS, March 16, 2016

Physics Students Use Logger Pro Sensors

Physics Students Use Logger Pro Sensors

Vernier’s Logger Pro is award-winning, data-collection and analysis software for Windows and Mac computers. This equipment allows students to use a variety of data-collection modes, as needed, for various experiment: time-based data, selected events, events with typed-in entries, Photogate, radiation counting, and more.

Utilizing Photogate sensors, Vernier Logger Pro computer software determined the acceleration of Vernier low friction dynamics carts on an inclined dynamics track. From this acceleration and the known angle of the incline, students were able to determine the acceleration of an object due to gravity.  

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Submitted by Meghan Basile, Science Dept. Chair, SHS, March 16, 2016

Interpreting Shakespeare with i-Book

Students in Mrs. Pacitti’s 10th grade English class have recently completed their study of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Students completed a profile on either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth, and identified psychological issues the character seemed to exhibit throughout the course of the play. Students were asked to closely analyze the text and make inferences about character’s motivations, behaviors, and responses. As the class read the text of the play, students used character exercises, staging simulations, and scene explications to further investigate character motivations, and kept case files on each character to track developments.

The project culminated in an iBook, which students compiled to showcase their findings. Students shared their creations with the class, and added a creative video component to their interpretation of the play.

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Submitted by: Carla M. Pacitti, English Teacher, SHS, and ELA Dept. Chair.

March 16, 2016

Students Share Their Learning Through Seesaw App

seesaw-appScreen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.12.23 PMHST Kindergartners, first grader, and second grader are using a tech tool called See Saw to share their work with classmates and teachers! Seesaw empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school. Students capture learning with photos and videos of their work, or by adding digital creations.  For example, Kindergarteners have been working on are illustrating math stories and recording reading practice. Everything gets organized in one place and is accessible to teachers from any computer or iPad. Student work can be shared with classmates, teachers or parents. Seesaw gives students a real audience for their work.  Students are learning how to respond with thoughtful comments to their classmates.

Kindergarteners have been working on are illustrating math stories and recording reading practice


First Graders Publish Their Kid Writing 

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Second Graders Publish Their Landmark Projects