Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Under the hood" 

I’m always amazed by the relatively realistic effects you can achieve using a software program such as PowerPoint (Microsoft). The fact that the program is cross-platform and widely used makes it an appealing option for authoring educational materials.

With PowerPoint subtle changes in the animation sequence and timing can result in substantial changes in how realistic an animation sequence appears. For example, when the egg is cracked into the bowl,  it doesn't just appear ..... it plops in, then slides a short distance and ends with a slight jiggle! At this point you might be saying, “ She obviously has too much time on her hands if she is worrying about the slide and jiggle of a cracked egg” but there is something very rewarding about making it all look as real as possible within the limitations of a program such as PowerPoint. It is hard to resist the urge to go back and ‘retrofit’ files completed before ‘the discovery’.  So far, I’ve been on my best behavior. I guess there is something to be said for having ongoing tangible proof that your creative talents are evolving over time.

You may not be aware of the fact that ‘under the hood’ a whole host of linked animations are required to make the animation sequence for a particular step appear realistic. In Pink Cupcakes, for example, Step 10, ‘Crack the eggs (there's 4 of them) and add them to the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Ready set crack the eggs!’  requires a grand total of 38 sequenced and timed animations for this one page/step!

So how long does it take to complete an Animated Step-by-Step file? 
Because there is so much going on 'under the hood' ...  it typically takes 20-30 hours to complete. Whew! 

... 'til the next post ...

© 2015  Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Hi all. Welcome to the Animated Step-by-Steps blog!

This blog is dedicated to sharing information on the interactive use of Animated Step-by-Steps.

Animated Step-by-Steps can be purchased at the Bloom ... Where You're Planted digital store on the Teachers Pay Teachers web site.

Animated Step-by-Steps are a series of PowerPoint files rendering recipes, crafts, poems/songs and science experiments into a highly interactive format. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of animations possible using a basic program such as PowerPoint!

The purpose of this initial post is to give you some basic information about Animated Step-by-Steps. What are they and how do they work?

Animated Step-by-Step files are PowerPoint files created using PowerPoint 14.4.7 (Mac). They have been saved in a PowerPoint show format, extending their use to earlier versions of PowerPoint (1997-2004). As I don't actually have access to earlier versions of PowerPoint I would appreciate getting a 'heads up' if something doesn't seem to be functioning correctly when using an earlier version of PowerPoint. I am committed to making this product as good as possible. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Some of you may be wondering whether the files can be imported into Keynote. They seem to import fairly well but the sound effects are lost in the process. The Powerpoint versions were created using .wav files; mac uses .aiff files. I did experiment with using mp3 files but it is my understanding that they must be linked rather than embedded thereby making them more problematic for sharing.

You may have wondered, Why the different colors? Files are color-coded according to activity type so you will know at a glance whether you are looking at a recipe/craft/poem/song. All recipes are coded yellow; Crafts are blue; Poems/Songs are pink; Science projects (yet to be realized) will be green.

It is important to note Animated Step-by-Steps were originally designed to infuse a greater literacy component into classroom activities involving cooking, making crafts and singing songs during circle time/morning meeting. They are designed not so much to teach reading per se, but rather to give children additional practice reading and to give teachers an opportunity to emphasize various literacy concepts targeted in their more formalized reading programs.

Content is considered to be appropriate for both regular and special education students making it a great option for blended classrooms. Although most files are designed to address preschool through grade 2, I have tried to design some covers with slightly older students to make them more age respectful for older students undergoing life skills training.

As indicated in the graphic below, stars appearing in the text indicate when an animation/sound effect is available to serve as a reward for reading/deciphering the text up to that point.

a) a page typically starts out with no graphics

b) read 'Measure the milk *... (click/tap the star) and the measured milk and bottle of milk appear

c) read 'and add it to the eggs and butter in the big bowl' *... (click/tap the star) and the bowl appears

d) read '1-2-3 pour!'*... (click/tap) and pouring occurs

e) as a final step ... the measuring cups exit from the page; a chime sound signals the page is complete

A click of the arrow in the lower right corner of the page moves the program to the next step/page.

The addition of ingredients across steps is cumulative .... so there is always some visual reminder of previous ingredients to aid in recall.

Well this is probably more than enough for a brief intro!  

... 'til the next post ...

© Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.