Educational Value of Kinetic Typography


I previously wrote a post about creating kinetic typography videos.  I love finding Spanish kinetic typography lyric videos because they A) are attractive and visually pleasing to watch and B) include Spanish lyrics and words so that you can match the Spanish audio with a word.  I have used these videos as supplemental content for a few years.

But this year I wanted to “up the ante”.  I wanted my students to have to make a kinetic typography video of their own–using Spanish songs and Spanish lyrics.  It was a hefty creative task that required some time from the students.  I just finished grading the final products and now I can reflect on the educational value of this project.

Focus on Spanish Lyrics

This type of video is a lyric video, which means the students had to spend a great deal of time with the lyrics of the song.  I did not give them a copy of the Spanish lyrics.  I gave them other lyric video examples that they could copy from or I think some of them just Googled for the Spanish lyrics to the songs.  Regardless, this creation required students to spend a great deal of time working with the Spanish words.  Even if they didn’t know what the words meant necessarily, it was valuable to have them spend so much time immersed in the target language.  I heard a few comments throughout the last few weeks that “I have that word in my song” or referencing that they learned different Spanish words that we didn’t learn in class just because they are used a lot in their song.  This was the main benefit of the project for me: a way to force my students to spend more time absorbed in the Spanish language.

Hearing Spanish Words

In addition to just working with the lyrical text, students had to work with the Spanish audio of the song. They repeatedly had to listen to their song, making them more familiar with the way Spanish sounds.  A few students commented that they can’t hear the original English version of the song anymore without hearing the Spanish lyrics in their head.  And some commented that they listened to it so often the Spanish song got stuck in their head and they kept repeating it.  Even if they didn’t know the direct translation of the audio stuck in their head, having Spanish of any kind floating around the brain is a great learning experience.

Matching Audio to Words

The lyrical text should be matched to the audio.  When students made their videos, they had to make sure the Spanish words appeared in sync with the Spanish audio.  This requires students to do a few different mental tasks at once (always of great educational value).  Students had to listen to the Spanish audio, look at the Spanish lyrical text in their presentation and physically get them to appear together.  This process of audio and visual matching is a great learning activity for them.  It isn’t enough just to have the Spanish lyrics or just to listen to the Spanish audio.  Having to take both pieces and work them together in sync really established a unique learning experience.

Content Creation

Aside from Spanish, a project like this is rewarding just because it allows the students to be content creators: authors of their own learning.  I gave them project parameters, specific benchmarks they were to be graded on but they were allowed to choose their own path of completion.  Some students chose to work together in small groups while others worked alone.  Some created their presentation using Powerpoint and others used Prezi or just IMovie. The finished projects I saw reflected the individual students: I did not receive two identical projects. Each project reflects the individual or individuals responsible for it.  My students that were a little more tech saavy used that to their advantage to create something really innovative.  Students that were less techy produced simpler projects that still met all project guidelines.  Allowing students to be content creators gives them the freedom to publish their own path to learning.

As a teacher, I’m satisfied with that the projected learning outcomes associated with this project were met. I’m proud of the creations my students ended up with and hope they are too.

Creating Kinetic Typography Videos


I wanted my students to create something new and interesting this year using lyrics to popular songs in Spanish.  I found a selection of songs in Spanish that include the Spanish lyrics.  But unlike most lyric videos on YouTube, these videos presented the lyrics in a stimulating and very visual way.  These types of videos are known as kinetic typography videos because the text moves and is interesting.

Here are some examples of Kinetic Typography:

I would create activities using the lyrics to these songs and noticed that the more I listened to the songs, the more engrained in my brain the Spanish lyrics became. I thought “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have my students do something that required them to pay attention to these lyrics?”.  So I decided to have them create kinetic typography videos.

I looked into the process and it can be quite advanced when you want the final product to be like the videos posted above. Most of the software used to create great kinetic typography 1) costs money and 2) requires training time that I couldn’t afford to do in the classroom.  But could a decent kinetic typography be created on a public school budget (aka: free)?

I figured out a way to do this by creating a lyrics presentation using a presentation tool as simple as PowerPoint.  You can animate or make the lyrics “appear” and move.  If you go through the presentation and play it while playing your song, you can sync up the movements so they match the lyrics.  By using a screenrecording program on your computer (like Quicktime), you can record your presentation.  You have just filmed a kinetic typography video!

I’ve listed the directions and process of building a kinetic typography video below.  Check back next week to see my reflections on this project as my students turn in their final products.


Below are the steps and directions that I gave to my students:

There are stages and steps necessary in creating a Kinetic Typography Video.

  1. Download the audio (Find a song to use)
  2. Take the lyrics to the song and create a visual presentation
  3. Film of your presentation (Screencast)
  4. Create a video using your presentation film and the song audio

Continue reading “Creating Kinetic Typography Videos”

Sentence PhotoBooth and Dictations


 In order to prepare for an upcoming test, I thought it would be a good exercise for my Spanish 1 students to use our important verbs and vocabulary words to build simple sentences.  I’ve done this before by giving students a large word bank and the task of writing down as many sentences as they could create on paper.  I liked that, but I felt that for a review activity, I needed to add a collaborative element in order to promote discussion.

So I thought, “How about using cut out words and having students take pictures of the sentences as they create them?”  Since I didn’t have enough digital cameras to aid my new idea, I decided to work with the built-in camera on laptops using the PhotoBooth program.  And since the PhotoBooth takes inverted images, I couldn’t just give my students printed words from a word processor.  I had to write a list of words, take a picture of those words and then flip the image using PhotoShop.  (It sounds way more complicated that it really was). So on Monday I split my students in groups of 3 – 5 students.  I gave each group an envelope with the inverted words and 20 minutes to take photos of as many different sentences they could create.  I loved watching the collaboration of holding, reordering and taking the pictures as well as the educational goal of good sentence construction. My favorite part:  when students sheepishly admitted that they “cheated” in making the sentences by only changing a verb or subject.  They would make a sentence that said, “I go to the library” and then simply change the verb to make the sentence say that “We go to the library”.  To me, it’s a great way to practice sentence construction and grammar, similar to when children learn how to put letters in front of the word “at” to make “cat” and “hat”.

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The sentence pictures turned out very well. Students made a folder of their photos and saved their folders to my folder on the school server.  They were pretty easy to grade too, although this was more of a formative assessment than a straight assessment.

For an added step, I had the students create VoiceThreads using Voicethread.com (one of our favorite internet applications).  Students choose from over 100 of their sentence pictures and created a thread of pictures.  For each picture, they recorded themselves reading the English translation of the Spanish sentence.  This helped me assess their comprehension but was also just a nice extension activity in using their own photos.

(I can’t embed the VoiceThreads here, but please check out these examples to see the complete project: https://voicethread.com/share/2765151/  and http://voicethread.com/share/2765172/)

The photo taking lesson was for one day and the recording also took just one class period.  I will certainly be doing this lesson again in the future.

TestMoz: Online Test Generator


Here are some things I like about student review activities (prior to a big test):

  1. a grade-able quiz where I author the questions
  2. question and answer variability so that students can take the quiz more than once for review
  3. quizzes that give immediate feedback so that students can assess their readiness or competency
  4. easy online access without student username/password sign-in features
  5. easy to access quiz results that make for easy grade recording
  6. free (probably should have put this at #1)

About two years ago, I found a great downloadable quiz generator program called Quiz Creator from Wondershare.  I downloaded the quiz editing software, created unique and special quizzes and was able to publish them as embeddable flash files that I could upload to my class website.  The kids just had to put in their first name and last name and when they finished, the results were emailed to me.  Pretty awesome.  But early on in this quiz creation romance I knew we would have problems.  The software was only available for PC.  And even if I found some compatible Mac software, I would have had some problems getting the privileges to install a program on my school Mac computer.  Doing the quiz writing from home was not ideal, but I lived with it.  Then we changed school website servers and I found that I couldn’t take the PC created flash files and transfer them over to my IWeb website.  With no way to get these quizzes online so my students could take them, I needed a new quiz creator.

Into my life walked www.testmoz.com.  It’s a very simple online generator created by an undergraduate student at Washington State University.  TestMoz allows you to create quizzes online by simply giving a test a name and an administrator password so that you can access the quiz and edit it later.  You can make fill in the blank, multiple choice, multiple response or true/false questions.

You can choose for the question order to be random and you can also choose for the multiple choice answers to be randomized too.  Students have to type in their name before taking each quiz: no sign-up or anything.  All results are stored on TestMoz where I can access them later with my admin password.  It’s so clean and simple and it seems a little too clean and simple, but I really love it.  The flash based quizzes I used in the past were a little more jazzy and then just showed one question at a time, where these quizzes show all the questions at once.

Like I said earlier, I like to use these kinds of tests as review before a big test, where students can repeatedly go over the questions so that they are comfortable with the material and concepts that will be on the actual test.  Students can retake the quiz and, although they are getting the same questions, there is enough variability that they still have to think a little bit.  (Also, if I don’t want to allow the students to take it more than once and they do, I’ll just take the first score submitted by looking at the timestamp that accompanies the results.)

TestMoz seems to fulfill my wish list above for things that I’m looking for in an online quiz that my students can use for review.  Do I wish it was a little more flashy or pretty?  Of course, I’m a girl.  But as an educator strictly focused on outcomes, it’s a match made in online test generator heaven.