My USB Logitech microphone turned up today from Amazon so I though I'd put it to good use and make a Slidestory presentation based on an idea I picked up from a video tutorial Multimedia Animation Using PowerPoint by Danny Maas on his blog Teachers Improving Learning with Technology. Danny explains how to make simple key frame animations in PowerPoint by using the Duplicate Slide feature in the Insert Menu (at 7.25 mins into the video). By changing one element at a time on each slide, he creates the illusion of movement similar to flicking through the pages of a flipbook.
In my presentation Les salutations which you can download here and play around with yourself, you can see that I've decided to move the speech bubbles and not the stickmen so the eye concentrates on the language rather than the people. The important thing is to set up the first slide as you want it and then make little movements in subsequent slides.
Making the characters was easier. I used the Oval and Line tool from the Drawing Menu (View/Toolbars/Drawing) and then inserted speech bubbles or 'Callouts' by going to Autoshapes on the same toolbar, hovering over Callouts and selecting one from the menu. This makes the cursor turn into a cross which you drag across the slide to form the Callout. To add text, right click on the edge of the Callout and select Edit Text. Use the Fill Color tool on the Drawing toolbar to change the background colour of your Callout. The same technique can be used to change the colour of your stickman's head too. If you think your stickmen are looking a bit thin, you need to select each element of the drawing and change the line thickness by using the Line Styles tool.
Once I was happy with the presentation, I saved the eleven slides as individual pictures (File/Save As/Save as type/JPEG File Interchange Format). I then imported them into the Slidestory publisher which you can download for free here. With my 'plug and play' mike, I recorded some audio and then uploaded the finished show to the Slidestory site. From there, I cut and pasted the html code needed to play the presentation on my blog (see above).
Creating animations with stickmen and speech bubbles in this way is fairly straightforward and could be useful in the classroom. The process could help to engage pupils in all four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing while they are practising their dialogue work. Admittedly, narration can be recorded straight into PowerPoint, but by using Slidestory the presentations can be published to a blog or website and then be watched at school as well as at home. Why not have a go and see how you get on yourself. You may be drawn in.