Xtranormal.com
By Twila McMullan
April 5, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action…
Students are drawn to movie making, but this method of instruction is rarely used in the classroom because of the time and equipment that is needed. Once students learn how to use this Xtranormal, projects are easy to design and produce. Students with learning disabilities are especially drawn to movie making.

Introduction: We all watch movies, and now everybody can make movies without actors and camera equipment. Xtranormal is a do-it-yourself computer-generated animation program that allows people to develop a film by picking the set, animated actors, sounds, and camera angles, as well as character emotions with facial expressions and gestures. Xtranormal has been around since 2006, and its mission is to bring movie making to everybody. Their slogan is “if you can type, you can make movies.”

Sample (weather report): www.xtranormal.com/watch/7069893

Cost: partially free (depending on what avatars and backgrounds are selected)

Impact for students with learning disabilities: Due to the engaging and creative nature of Xtranormal, students (even reluctant writers) are quickly motivated into organizing their thoughts and writing a script for their characters. Watching Xtranormal projects help students with reading disabilities because this is a text to speech program. This program is especially useful for students with speech difficulties (or even the shy student), so they feel less stress when making presentations to the class.

Learning styles:
· Linguistic/auditory—spoken and written language
· Musical/auditory—depending if the student selects background sounds and music
· Spatial/visual—placement of the 3D characters in the settings
· Interpersonal—if students work as a collaborative group

Possible uses in the classroom:
· animate and publish student short stories and essays
· present research
· present book reports/reviews
· discuss news events or have interviews (with characters)
· create debates
· explain classroom/school rules the first week of school
· reenact historical events

Warnings/suggestions to teachers:
· Make students aware that there are inappropriate noises (ex: farts), and gestures, as well as costumes that do not meet school dress code.
· Be sure to preview any premade Xtranormal video before showing it the class because some are inappropriate.
· Have kids start rendering at least 10 minutes for class ends.
· Students should write the script ahead of time on MS Word, then they can copy/paste to Xtranormal. This saves times and reduces grammar errors.



Sources:
· http://www.xtranormal.com/about_us/

· http://www.youtube.com/user/xtranormal

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· http://www.npr.org/2011/01/05/132653525/behind-rise-of-xtranormal-a-hilarious-diy-deadpan
· http://blog.xtranormal.com
· http://www.boxoftricks.net/?p=1381
· http://jacquisharp.blogspot.com/2009/05/xtranormal-text-to-movie-publishing.html
· http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-Ro1BhRCpQ
· http://www.web20erc.eu/node/191
· http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5530518/using_xtranormal_in_the_classroom.html
· http://toptechtools.wikispaces.com/XtraNormal
· http://toptechtools.wikispaces.com/Animation+%26+Avatars#possibleuses
· http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm