Thursday, May 15, 2008

Making Historical Movies in Class

I’m pleased to share with you my discovery and use of a tool that was introduced to me through the TAH grant. For years, my computer has been running Windows XP, little did I know that hidden under the accessories menu was a wonderful movie-making program called Windows Movie Maker.

After an extremely informative workshop on Windows Movie Maker, I was able to take this program, which is on almost every computer in my high school’s computer room, and teach my students how to make creative and informative historical movies of about 3 minutes long.

In this article, I hope to coax you to look into your computer’s “Applications” (or under “Accessories” as it’s found on my personal computer) and open Window’s Movie Maker and experiment with its capabilities. I think that you’ll will find that Windows Movie Maker will “kick” your PowerPoint lessons “up a notch” into a higher multi-media experience for your students.

If you click the icon below this blog you will be able to view a movie that I made for my students using pictures that I retrieved from the internet and music that was provide to me from the TAH grant. For those of you who are familiar with PowerPoint, you will notice that this movie is really just a fancy slide show. However, I hope that you will agree that as a motion picture, the slides and music become extremely attention getting and engaging.

If you plan to give Windows Movie Maker in your classes there are several important points that you must be aware of.

The first is the most important. Everything that you save as you are working with your movie must be saved to one place on a computer or USB drive and cannot be moved until you are finished creating the movie. If you move files from this designated place at anytime during the process, the program will not be able to access your files.

Secondly, when you open up the program, you will be creating a “project” or a .mswmm file. In this form, your on-going project can be saved, closed, reopened and continued (but don’t move it). When you are satisfied with your project and you are ready to turn it into a Windows movie, you will have to navigate to the “Finish Movie” button and go through the guided steps to make this project into a Window Movie or .wmv file.

Once your movie has been transformed from a “project” or .mswmm file and into a finished “windows movie” or .wmv file, you can move it anywhere you like. Also, it can be opened by Windows Media Player and other movie players.

Below are some links that I hope will help you.

From Steven Mintz - strong focus on digital history as a means of transforming history education: His Website:
-and- Click on “Windows Movie” Maker at the bottom of the page and you will view a step-by-step manual on how to create a movie using this program.

Digital History Website:

A Sample Course Syllabus:

Digital Stories of American History (made by teachers):

Center for Teaching with Technology
Why Teach with Technology:

Digital Storytelling

Teacher Interview about Student Movie Making