Friday, April 15, 2016

How to Create Simple RSA Animate Videos

RSA Animate videos are creative whiteboard videos that illustrate an idea. They can be simple to very elaborate. Here are the steps I used with a 3rd grade class to help the students illustrate their writing. Check out the blog post "Influential People Unit with RSA Animate and Green Screen" to see their projects. You can also check out professional RSA animate .

What you need:

  • Whiteboard
  • Dry erase marker and eraser
  • Storyboard graphic organizer
  • iPad or device that records video
  • iMovie

Step 1: Write your idea
First, complete the message you would like to illustrate. Edit and revise it, so you have a final draft to illustrate.

Step 2: Create a storyboard
Using a storyboard graphic organizer or app, plan out a picture for each sentence. We encouraged the students to number each sentence and match it to a picture or write each sentence below the blank box. Draw one picture per sentence. Depending on the length of sentences, you may need to adjust the pictures. For example, you may need two pictures for a long sentence or quickly draw a simple picture for a short sentence.

Step 3: Draw and record
Record each picture being drawn. We recorded using the time-lapse camera on the iPad. It was helpful to use a stand for the iPad, but you can hold it still as well. If you do not have an iPad, you can record with a computer and speed up the videos in iMovie. After erasing a picture, stop and read the sentence with the video. This ensures the timing of the video and audio match. Make adjustments as needed by adding more pictures or simplifying some drawings. After the drawings are finished, send the videos to the computer.

Student recording RSA Animate with iPad time-lapse camera

Step 4: Put the video together and add voice
Next, put the clips together in iMovie in the correct order. Select the "Record Voiceover" feature. Voiceover the images. We used a microphone to eliminate background noise, but that is optional.

Recording voiceover in iMovie

Step 5: Publish and share
Publish the video and share your message with the audience of your choice.

The great thing about RSA animate is that you don't have to be an artist. Since you are telling the story along with the pictures, the audience will understand the visuals with the audio.

Have fun enhancing your message with RSA animate!

Influential People Unit with RSA Animate and Green Screen

In Miss Carillo's 3rd grade bilingual class the students were working on opinion writing in their writing workshop. The goal was for students to choose an influential person, conduct research, write their paragraph with examples and evidence, and create a product that can be shared with an audience of their choice.  This lesson included several engaging qualities.

Engaging Qualities

  • Choice- Students were able to choose their influential person. They also had a choice in how they wanted to present their information out to their audience.
  • Sense of Audience- Students were challenged to think about the best audience for their presentation. All students shared with parents and teachers at the viewing party, but they were able to choose an authentic audience to share it with online. 
  • Novelty & Authenticity- As part of their choice, they could have chosen using a green screen or creating an RSA animate. These were new to the students and many were excited to try these options. 


The students conducted research on a project board similar to the picture below. Miss Carrillo taught a mini lesson on finding reliable sources and encouraged them to use the research tool in google docs to find reliable sources. Once they choose their influential person, they began using the project board.
Once they had completed some research, Miss Carrillo modeled putting this together  into their paragraph. As students began writing, she followed the workshop model to support them. As the students finished revising and editing, they began to think about their final product.

Determining the Final Product
The students could create a final project of their choice to publish their information. Miss Carrillo created a "Choice Board" that allowed students to choose from several options to create their product.
The most popular choices were iMovie with greenscreen, RSA animate, and presenting their speech dressed as their person.

Final Product

For the students that chose greenscreen, we recorded the students reading their paragraph in front of a green screen. The students then found pictures that aligned with their story and merged the videos and pictures in iMovie. As we filmed and students read aloud, they realized areas that needed to be edited or revised. For example, a student asked, "I want to change this part. Can I fix my paper and record it again?" Of course! By creating this final product, she was naturally motivated to complete the writing process through revision and editing. This can be one of the hardest aspects of the writing process to motivate students to complete. Knowing that she had an audience gave her the motivation to write to the best of her ability.

RSA Animate
Several students chose RSA animation. After writing and editing their paragraph, they had to make their paragraph visual by planning out pictures for each sentence using a storyboard. This created critical thinking of the points they had made in their paragraph. As I help students, they translated their Spanish writing to English to share their idea with me. Then we were able to have great conversations about how to make the concepts in their writing visual. Once the storyboard was done, the students then had to draw their images on a whiteboard as it was recorded in time-lapse on the iPad. Once they had their visual story, all the time-lapsed videos were put into iMovie and they were able to voice-over the images with their writing. Check out this post to learn how we created the RSA videos.

Check out this playlist of all the projects! 

AH-HA Moments

The goal of this activity was to develop the students writing and give them an audience to share. However, it turned into so much more. I was working with one particular student on her RSA. She wrote her paragraph in Spanish and translated each sentence orally to me so I could help her. She had to come up with pictures for each sentence that told the story of her paragraph. She was able to purposefully practice, writing and speaking skills and show the depth of her understanding through pictures. If Miss Carrillo would have asked the students to write a paragraph, then orally translate it, draw a picture to represent each sentence and then read it aloud three times, most of the students wouldn't have been motivated to do it. However, they enhanced their writing skills, speaking skills, and knowledge of the content by doing all those things with a purpose. This activity gave those skills a purpose and added more depth to their learning.