What is GIF?
Graphic Interchange Format, also known as GIF is a file format for images invented by Steve Wilhite in 1987. Simply put, GIFs are a series of images or soundless video that will loop continuously without having to press play.
Why use GIF in your classroom?
The question is why not? GIFs can be a powerful tool in lessons for engaging students and capturing their attention, and there are a number of benefits of using them.
Firstly, showing them a short moving image, for example, the water cycle that shows the continuous movement of water within the earth and atmosphere can improve their understanding by showing them a concept that’s easier to understand when seen. GIF also saves time in a lesson by avoiding sitting through a video and waiting for the part that shows the concept you wish to explain, skipping all the unnecessary or even unrelated part of the video.
Another advantage of using GIF is that they repeat over and over again when it’s finished, so if you wish to show the same thing again, it can be left on the slide while you explain it or left for students to refer to when they are doing work independently. Lastly, it is very simple to use. All you need to do is copy and paste it into your Google Slide, PowerPoint or a Google doc and helps to move seamlessly through the slides and lesson, and avoids the disruption of switching onto YouTube or clicking on the play button.
Again, the main reason I like using GIF is to capture my students’ interest and promote class engagement.
How to use GIF in your classroom?
There are different ways of using GIFs in your classroom, depending on the subject, learning goals and the students you’re teaching. Take for example this GIF of the Mummification Process. I used it in a Year 4 lesson on the Ancient Egyptian Mummification Process to get them to identify the steps of mummification, from cleaning the dead body to putting the mummy into the sarcophagus (coffin).
Another example is these GIFs of Word Class (slides 3 to 6) actions used in an English Grammar lesson on identifying word-class correctly in a sentence. These GIFs show them different movements or actions which represent each of the word classes such as noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs etc. To answer the exercises in the following slides, students will then show the correct action corresponding to the word class it belongs to in a sentence. In subjects like Physical Education, for example, teachers can create GIFs that show how to serve a volleyball or create series of warm-up exercises. In the Music lesson, teachers can use a GIF showing how to play the flute to the tune of “Mary had a Little Lamb.” The possibilities are endless!
As a Google Certified trainer, I create and use a lot of how-tos GIFs for a quick, easy-to-follow and more effective training or demo. They come in handy when demonstrating new features in Google Workspace, for example, the use of Poll or Q&A in Google Meet. It also helps emphasise the important steps that we’re explaining. Other than that, GIFs can be used just for fun or to capture attention and interest. Instead of just using text and image, why not use a Good Morning animated GIF, a confetti GIF to congratulate a winner or some hilarious ones to tickle everyone’s funny bones.
How to create your own gif?
There are loads of interesting, ready-made GIFs available online at your disposal. All you have to do is search for the desired gif, for example, a “cute Good Morning” gif, copy or download it and then paste it to your slide or doc. You can also add Chrome extensions like GIF extension or Giphy for Chrome for quicker and easier access to popular GIFs online. Once added to chrome, just click the Gif extension icon (on the top-right corner of your screen), search for the GIF you want and simply drag it to your slide. Yes, as easy as that! If you’re looking for subject-specific GIFs online, here’s a link to some cool science GIFs complete with explanations. Of course, if you can’t find anything that tickles your fancy, there’s always the option of creating and customising your own GIFs.
This is an interesting online tool that allows you to upload your video and remove the background automatically for free! Yes, you heard that right! You don’t need to have a green screen to achieve this effect, although I suggest having a “clean” background, one with less clutter for better results. You can turn yourself into a GIF easily with unscreen. You just need to record a video of yourself doing an action or some sort of movement, upload the video to unscreen (you don’t even need to sign up) then click download as GIF.
If you’re already using Screencastify, then you should know that this is one of the great tools for screen video capturing. What’s great about Screencastify is that the recordings will automatically saved in your drive, can be downloaded or shared. There’s also an option to export as an animated GIF which is great as everything can be done in one platform; from screen recording all the way to GIF creation.
WeVideo is an online, cloud-based video editing platform that works in web browsers and on mobile devices. It’s one of the easiest video or audio editing tools I’ve ever encountered, even a beginner like me can ace it. It was only a year ago that WeVideo first introduced GIF creator, making it easier for teachers to create a quick, fun piece of content for their lessons.
d) Tall Tweets
Tall Tweets can be used to convert your Google Slides presentation into a high-quality animated GIF image that you can download to your computer or share directly to Twitter. There’s an option now to install the Creator Studio Slides Add-on other than the Tall Tweets classic which works from the website itself.