YouTube Editor in the Middle School Classroom....simple and free!!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013 No comments

I know that my posts tend to be a bit too detailed and long winded (sorry.... It's the liberal arts major in me... Write what you know... Give plenty of detail... Make them think they were there! Ha!). I'm going to try to do some BRIEF posts on some of my new favorite edutech over the next couple of weeks.

First up, YouTube video editor! That's right... You can now edit keep on Youtube as well! What does does this free and amazing service have to offer?

1. Access to clips you have uploaded to YouTube


2. Copyright free music and ability to upload your own

3. Transitions

4. Add text to the beginning, in between videos and pictures and over videos and pictures.

5. Cut clips, slow them down or make them longer.

6. And my favorite.... In the basic editor, after you upload, you can blur faces!

My world language teacher has used this with the kids and she said it went very smoothly. It has actually become her student editor of choice. We have access to YouTube in our school but our kids do not have access to upload so our school Google God started a class login for me and all kids can login using the one password.

I'll be using this in a couple of weeks when I make se In Plain English videos, so I'll let you know how it works it. Here is a demo I made..... And it was sooooo easy! Enjoy!




Mashup: PBL, Google Drive, Edcanvas and KIdblog

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6 comments
Sweet, sweet vacation! I forgot how rejuvenating April vacation can be. It's been tough here in Massachusetts since last week's bombings and crazy manhunt, but you can really tell that Bostonians are a strong people. Things have really gotten back to normal at lightening speed.
Since I live in MA but teach in NH, the hub and son were on vacation last week. The little midget and I get to hang this week and it really is stress free because a singular trip to Target is like a day trip for a two year old. The worst thing about April vacation, though is when we get back the kiddos go to DC for a week, and then..... Well of you have spent anytime with middle schoolers you know that that just means its the beginning of the end. They check out and yet we have six weeks left.... the tragedy of it all.
On to more educational ramblings..... In the past two weeks I really tried my hand at my first exercise in Project Based learning!!! It wasn't a true PBL because we went immersed in it for a month but to was a great way for me to get my toes wet. In the end the kiddos loooooved it! The whole project was centered around presenting information to a grand jury to push for the indictment of Andrew Jackson on multiple counts of crimes against humanity concerning his relations with Native Americans.

1. I brought the kids to the library so our wonderful media specialist could show them how to use our online databases. Ebsco and Student Resource Center by Gale. I love The Student Resource Center because it offers encyclopedia articles, magazines, primary sources, ages and tons more. All the sources are vetted and authentic and they can be organized by lexile score. I actually use this resource to find high quality articles to meet the CCSS.

2. The kids chose a name for their law firms (their absolutely favorite part) and chose at least two crimes from the list they felt they could start to research (they had already done a brief reading about Andre Jackson and the Native Americans in their Arndrew Jackson: Leveling Up! Activity so they had basic knowledge to kick start them on their research).
3. After two days in the library we moved our research and creation back to the classroom with our mobile laptops and databases. I created an Edcanvas that included the databases, some websites I approved, some great videos on YouTube and a BrainPop. The students could use other resources, but if they used mine, I gave them the proper citation. If they used outside resources (and some wonderful books the media specialist wrangled up for us), they would have to use EasyBib to create a proper citation.

4. Once students gathered some evidence most of them started to create their Google Presentation. They did an amazing job at divvying up the work. Some students would be working on online research while others were working on the presentation. Because of the collaborative nature of Google Apps, kids were able to share the presentation and work on different parts at the same time.

5. When they were done, I was going to have them write an individual paragraph with claim and counterclaim but the project lasted a couple of days longer than I originally planned and we ended up finishing on the day before April Vacation. I really wanted them to spend some time reflecting on the information on an individual basis. I changed the writing prompt into a more casual blog post with some prompt questions and had them do it on their KidBlog.

The project was am amazing success! It was hard for me to adjust to letting the kids learn on their own, instead of just giving them the information, but once I saw how much they were learning, it was very easy to step back. I listened to a podcast recently that said teachers new to stop being "the sage on the stage and be the guide on the side". This project hammered that home for me. My favorite part was listening in on the conversations around the room because they were all about he project.... No socialization!!!! One group had a great conversation that if they tried and failed to charge Jackson with extermination, the evidence they gathered would at least be enough for murder. Brilliant!
After they get back from DC, they are going to get all fancified dressed up and present their findings to the grand jury (our media specialist and an assistant principal) and they get to do their presentations in the library. I'll let you know how this work out.
Have you tried PBL with middle schoolers ? Did it work for you? I would love to hear from others!

If you would like a copy of the project, click here!

More Classroom Gameification!

Saturday, April 20, 2013 12 comments
So I tried my hand again at my hybrid Gameification/small group instruction activity I call "Leveling Up" it it was successful! I wanted to move through the basal knowledge on Andrew Jackson and try to work in some nice CCSS close reading skills. I was able to find the information I wanted them to read, online (I'll leave out the name of the textbook for copyright reasons) and modified the work activities to meet my needs. I decided to focus on vocabulary, nonnegotiables (words you must use in order to truly understand the passage) and summary. I created my levels and instead of a focusing on content, like I did last time, I focused on those skills.
Students worked on the activities at their own pace and when they wanted to test out or ask a question, they spent time with me at the Leveling Up Station.
When they proved competency they received a badge for completing their level.
Here are my adorable badges that I printed out on colored card stock.
Again, the kids really enjoyed it and let me know (one of the kids walked in, saw the class set up and exclaimed, "Sweet! We're leveling up!"). This time, the students really enjoyed being able to take a vocabulary quiz when they felt they were ready. Two of my colleagues sat in one of my classes and really enjoyed the activity. They are going to be trying it in their own classes and I can't wait to see how it works.
To be brutally honest, it wasn't 100% successful this time. Two of my classes succeeded but my class that struggles with academic and attentional weaknesses didn't fare as well. Don't get me wrong....they loved this activity and kept telling me but after they had focused on the vocabulary portion of the skill set they stalled. For homework, every night, I told them what should be completed for them to be successful and they totally ignored the timeline. Unfortunately, since it was my first time doing this unit this way, I had booked the library to launch our Grand Jury Project (wait till I tell you about was AMAZING!!!!) and due to other teachers needing the library, I couldn't move my dates. Instead of giving all the kids the one more day they needed in class for this, they got a due date of two days outside of class and of course it was due on the day grades closed. Well..... They didn't do it. Two classes did amazing and one class just blew it. So what can I do to change the outcome next year? For classes that struggle, this was too much work even though it was broken up. I think I would give the vocabulary assignment for homework before I launched the activity. Also, this class needed even more check in than others. My husband suggested a completion chart should be posted that they filled in after they completed each small section. I am usually against public humiliation but I do think they would have benefitted from a little casual competition.
Even though I hit a snag this time, I still absolutely love this activity. I think I need to make sure it isn't too long so the kiddos don't get bored. I polled the kids after and they told me they wished they could do this all the time, so I think that is still a vote for success! As with all education, even this type of activity needs to be differentiated for my varied groups of students.
So, what are you doing to try to work individually with the kids? What do you do to let kids work at their own pace? I really would love to know!!
If you would like to try this in your classroom, here is a link to all the resources.
I linked up with The Fourth Grade Flipper and shared this in Tried it Tuesdays!

EdCamp Granite worth it!

Saturday, April 13, 2013 4 comments

Today I attended my first EdCamp and it was soooooo worth it. I sat in a great work session on iPad apps, had a really fun experience in a "Things that Suck" session and met some amazing colleagues who will definitely be my new BFFs on Twitter.

Probably the coolest thing for me was taking the plunge and presenting during the first session. Since I got such great feedback here, I decided to talk to everyone about creating their own opportunities for professional development. The middle school kid in me had an inner dialogue going on about nobody showing up but I decided it was worth risk.

Check out my pink sticky!

I decided to use this blog post as a guide so I could also show off my cool blogging and design skills (dork alert!). What ensued was a great conversation! People were really interested in Twitter so we started with that and probably could have done a full hour or more on just that. I showed them the other resources in the post and then others joined in the conversation and showed some more amazing ideas for PD.


Classroom 2.0

And EdWeb

I have used Edmodo and Classroom 2.0 but EdWeb is new to me so I am psyched to play with a new resource!

I loved how organically the conversation moved from there and I just adored how jazzed people were getting to both share and take. I was able to have some great conversations and meet some amazing people. I can't wait for the next EdCamp! So .... Have you been able to attend an EdCamp yet? Was yours as successful as mine? Let me know!!!!


Currently April

Monday, April 8, 2013 6 comments
Ugh..... I totally remembered to do this on April 1st and then stupid life got in the way.  Here is my currently:
Go check out Farley to see where this originated.  Now I need to run to joint the last 15 minutes of #sschat and finish my Andrew Jackson PBL.  Have a great week!

WeSeed to Teach the Stock Market and Kidblog to Process

Friday, April 5, 2013 5 comments
I might sound a little bright eyed but I had another fabulous week at school with the kiddos. I do think that blogging about my experiences puts me in a different mindset and I look at every unit as an opportunity to spread my wings.
We received new NH State Social Studies Standards about 6 years ago and we finally completed them about three years ago. I threw myself into aligning and reworking and at the end of every year I skipped the same unit: the stock market. We have a singleton set of standards on personal finance and my grade received the standard that has students creating and implementing an investment strategy. Interesting? Yes! Fascinating? Sure! Do I understand the stock market.....heck to the no!
Don't get me wrong.,,, I understand the basics of the stock market but I really like to be an expert when I teach. I made the decision that this would be the year I did the stock market and I even signed up for the national stock market challenge.... and chickened out. Before he became an amazing math teacher, my husband actually worked in finance so I finally went to him with a list of about thirty questions and he remediated me through the process. Now I just had to find the right vehicle for our challenge but I was having no luck.
About three years ago I found this amazing stock market simulation website but my hard drive blew and all my bookmarks were lost. I was strolling in the Edmodo chat rooms, about a wee ago, when I saw someone mention the fabulous website I lost three years ago. Its called WeSeed. This website is amazing!
It is made for anyone who is interested in learning to play the market. It is perfect for teachers because you can have the students join your group and you are able to track them. It also offers lesson plans and printables. Students are able to make a portfolio.
They can also do research on companies, read the most recent news on them and chat with other faux buyers of the stock.
I took the lessons and tweaked them to fit what I needed (Click here for the activities). Students were exposed to activities that immersed them in both the stock market and this particular website. We spent about four days in the computer lab and completed the first third of the packet. We will be going to the computer lab in two weeks to check in and the winner, at the end of June, is going to get a pizza party.
The kids adored this unit. They seriously couldn't get enough of it. Because the website did all the work for me, I could focus on talking to the kids about things like stocks splitting and penny stocks. One of my paraprofessionals (who started her own account:) ) said her favorite part was listening to the conversations. She said she loved hearing them talk about stuff they were learning!

In order for them to process and act as guinea pigs for next year's class, my students created Kidblog accounts and wrote their first blog entry on their initial investment experience.
I love Kidblog! It is easy to use and seamless since you can upload from Google Drive. The kids needed limited directions to sign up and were writing their first blog entry within 10 minutes (if they werent spending 20 minutes on finding the right avatar). The kids loved that they could personalize it with backgrounds and avatars, I love that they could personalize it with MINIMAL backgrounds and avatars. What I really love is that at the end of the year, I will have a a writing portfolio that I could easily share with the high school when they are considering placement.
I'm on to Andrew Jackson, but I'm really happy I left my comfort zone and did this unit. It was one of the best ones I did this year.