As a teacher, I have spent lots of time being frustrated about last-minute software incompatibilities that have turned a lesson I spent nights preparing at home into a huge waste of time. When the computers at work don't have the same programs or versions I use at home, all my hard work becomes worthless. For this reason, I am a huge fan of all the cool new free web-based tools that can replace (and often improve on) tried-and-true for-purchase software.
Today, my favorite tool is Xtranormal. This program lets you make a cartoon with customizable characters, scenery, sound effects, camera angles and more. Just type in the text your want the characters to recite, add in gestures and expressions, and click Publish.
Check out my very first movie! It's a book fair promotion.
This would be a fun tool to freshen up an otherwise less-than-thrilling lecture. Students could use this tool to create book reports or presentations. Once you publish, you can just copy the link to your movie and paste it anywhere you want to share.
The only downer with this program is that users have access to other people's movies. Students could easily meander onto the Watch Movies page and view whatever content other users have posted. Students' use of this site may need to be monitored closely.