Using Animations to Create Teaching and Learning Scenarios for Mathematics Teacher Education

For many years, teacher educators, and mathematics teacher educators in particular, have advocated for the use of artifacts of practice in the professional education and development of teachers. In order to enhance prospective mathematics teachers’ education, many programs and teacher educators use student work or classroom videos with the aim of helping prospective teachers to reflect on classroom dynamics and students’ thinking and learning individually or collectively. Using animation tools, we can bring student thinking and classroom artifacts together to create scenarios for effective professional development of mathematics teachers.

There are different potential uses of animation authoring tools. Mathematics teacher educators can use examples from research or practice to construct a scenario of a classroom or represent students’ work on a task. Preservice or inservice teachers can enact lesson planning and instructional skills to construct a scenario of: sample student-teacher dialogue on anticipated work on a task, an introduction of a task, or an explanation of a concept or skill to students.

One of the affordances of using animations is being able to create a classroom video (based on research) without the many obstacles that we face when we try to videotape a regular classroom (such as obtaining permission from IRB, school districts, and parents). Once the user overcomes the learning curve of the authoring tools, it could be time saving. Instead of searching for videos on the Internet or videotaping a real classroom, we can create a scenario with specific aims for our particular professional development needs at hand. Some constraints of animations are that they are realistic but not “real.” The digital voice or the cartoons themselves could be distracting and the dialogue enactment could be limited. Below, we share some of the animation authoring tools, resources and links to some animations created for mathematics teacher education.

Animation Authoring Tools and Resources

  • LessonSketch (Free access to animations): This resource offers access to animation creation tools, collections, tools, and an online community to reflect on different stories of instructional practice.
  • GoAnimate ($59/yr for one educational user): Users can export their videos to YouTube or other sites and produce unlimited videos using online GoAnimate tool. There is also unlimited hosting, playback, downloads, and exports.
  • Powtoon (Free or paid version): This free online tool doesn’t allow download but allows users create an animation video up to 5 minutes.  Users can only upload to YouTube at Standard Definition (SD) quality and PowToon Watermark is visible all time on the video and videos end with the phrase “Created Using PowToon.”
  • Muvizu (Free, PC only): Muvizu is software to be downloaded. The free version comes with 16 customizable characters and many different objects and animations, automatic lip-synching for any language, the ability to import photos, audio, video and 3D models, watermark, and SD output.
  • Dynalogues DynaLogue allows users to quickly and easily author animated dialogs between two characters with expressions or ideas demonstrated on a whiteboard.
  • XtraNormal Xtranormal used to be free online authoring tool, but recently acquired and being redone. You can check out the website and see what happens in the future.


Sample Animated Videos

○      Launching a Statistical Investigation and Student ( )

  • Samples from Dynalogue from Janet Bowers



Hollylynne Lee’s Webinar

Hollylynne Lee led AMTE’s webinar on this subject on November 10, 2014. The powerpoint slides and video of the webinar are posted on the A member benefit, you must be logged into the website to access the webinar videos and resources.

Hollylynne Lee and S. Asli Ozgun-Koca (on behalf of the Technology Committee)