Creating Book Trailers using Flip Minos

flip-minoBack in May 2009, I wrote about using Flip video cameras in the classroom.  At the time, I was using a Flip Ultra, but my challenge recently has been to use Flip Mino cameras with Year 8 students to create book trailers, as we have 20 of these cameras at school.

The Mino is smaller than the Ultra, and very easy to slip into your pocket when travelling. It also can be recharged by plugging the USB port or cable into your computer, compared to replacing batteries in the Ultra. The screen is smaller, and the controls are touch rather than buttons, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem.

If you’d like more of a comparison of the two, take a look at these videos:   Flip Mino HD vs Flip Ultra HD and  Flip Ultra HD vs Flip Mino HD.

You can make quick book reviews using the FlipShare software which comes as part of  the Flip camera, but if you want to make a more sophisticated book trailer, you will probably want to take your Flip video and drop it into a program like Movie Maker or iMovie.  Videos taken by Flip cameras are in MP4 format which is supported by iMovie and QuickTime, and playable on iPods, iPhones and  iTunes, but unfortunately not by Windows Movie Maker XP which only recognises AVI and WMV files. For this reason, if you wish to import your video into Movie Maker you will first need to convert it using a free program like Any Video Converter or Zamzar.  If you have Windows 7.0, however, you probably already have  Windows Live Movie Maker (or you can download it here), and this very streamlined, updated version will accept MP4 files.  Just follow the instructions in this tutorial.

Below is a SlideShare presentation by Naomi Bates of  Northwest  High School in Texas, showing how to use Movie Maker and Animoto for creating book trailers.  (See some of her examples here)

Creating Book Trailers

Tutorials for Book Trailer Software

Using Movie Maker

Using a Flip Video Camera


Where to get free sounds and images

Image of Flip Mino from

Wikipedia – Yes or No?

See this and more information about Wikipedia at our BGS Online Reference Centre LibGuide.

There is a difference of opinion amongst educators these days as to whether or not Wikipedia is a valid source of information for student research. Some argue that lots of people contributing to the sum of what is known and understood about a topic makes it more valid.  It is also a useful source of information for breaking news stories (as the image here indicates).  However, the constantly changing nature of Wikipedia – one of its strengths – is also a weakness when it comes to research, as students may not realise at which point in time the information presented is accurate and reliable.

As teacher librarians, we advise students to refer to Wikipedia, if they wish to, for a general overview of a topic, but to actually source their information from other more reliable sources – such as our academic databases and online encyclopedia.

Many students still seem to think that Wikipedia is a reliable and credible source of information – despite the fact that they have probably added information to it themselves!  Below are some thought-provoking reasons from Mark Moran of findingDulcinea as to why they should not use Wikipedia for their assignments.

10 good reasons why you should never trust Wikipedia as an accurate source of information:

10. You must never fully rely on any one source for important information

9. You especially can’t rely on something when you don’t even know who wrote it

8.  The contributor with an agenda often prevails

7. Individuals with agendas sometimes have significant editing authority

6. Sometimes “vandals” create malicious entries that go uncorrected for month

5. There is little diversity among editors

4. The number of active Wikipedia editors has flat-lined

3. It has become harder for casual participants to contribute

2. Accurate contributors can be silenced

And the number one reason:

1. It says so on Wikipedia

“Wikipedia says, “We do not expect you to trust us.” It adds that it is “not a primary source” and that “because some articles may contain errors,” you should “not use Wikipedia to make critical decisions.”

Furthermore, Wikipedia notes in its “About” section, “Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality from the start: they may contain false or debatable information.”

Read more details about each of these reasons, including good examples, at:


Tagxedo Word Pictures

Wordle was the first of the word cloud generators, and it captured the interest and imagination of teachers and students around the world.  Then came Tagul, with the ability to form a limited number of images, rather than abstract shapes.

Now, an exciting new website is set to revolutionise word cloud pictures: Tagxedo, developed by Hardy Leung, is a sophisticated generator with an amazing ability to create recognizable images from words. You can choose from one of the options available, or even upload your own image shape. Take a look at some of these images from the Tagxedo Gallery

Tagxedo Word Cloud PicturesImage from

In order to create Tagxedo word pictures, you first need to install a Microsoft program called Silverlight, but the website prompts you to do this before you begin. Once you are ready, upload your content – which can be text from a book, a website, a blog, a speech, a letter – whatever you choose. Tagxedo will adjust the size of the words, depending on how may times they are used. It also leaves out small ‘stop words’, so you only get the main content of the text.  There is an extensive range of options to choose from: over 30 themes (colour combinations), over 30 fonts and 30 free shapes. Currently Tagxedo is in beta form and is free, but later you will be able to opt for more functionality and a wider choice of shapes by choosing to pay.

Tagxedo Shapes

Similarly to Tagul, when you hover your mouse over  a word in your Tagxedo image, it will spin and enlarge so you can read it, but it doesn’t seem to link you to a website as Tagul does (which possibly could be a good thing!)

The images created by Tagxedo, and their derivatives, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike License 3.0, and must be attributed to