Thursday Appointment is an Iranian short film by a 20 year old director that won an award at the Luxor Film Festival. Though many of us may not understand the language, we can certainly comprehend the messages of kindness and forgiveness. I am adding this to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board. Once you’ve watched it, you may want to click here to better understand the tradition that makes this film so beautiful. This could also lead to a classroom discussion regarding customs in different cultures. I am including the original and a dubbed version here.
While trying to find some inspiring holiday videos this year, I came across this Macy’s commercial from 2015. Even though it’s ironic for an advertisement to be about selflessness, I like the simple message of kindness. For other videos you might want to consider for this time of year, you can check out this post. Also, I keep a Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Students here.
Monday at ISTE began with me frantically trying to find my first session in the San Antonio Convention Center (not an easy place to navigate – especially for those of us who are spatially challenged), only to discover that I needed a ticket to enter. Fortunately, it was the one Apple morning session that wasn’t full, so I boomeranged between the usher at the entrance and the ticket stand with admirable speed and found myself one of the last people to be welcomed into a hands-on session centered on Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app.
You may recall that I wrote about the iOS Swift playgrounds app when it first entered the scene, and I wasn’t all that impressed. It has had four or five updates since then, and there are definitely some areas of great improvement.
I still stand by my original assertion that students need to be pretty adept readers to take advantage of the app, and I wouldn’t use it with students with lower than a 4th grade reading level. However, the new “Accessories” tab that allows it to be used to control multiple hardware devices may be a game-changer. For example, my students could now control Lego EV3, Dash Robots, and Sphero, among other robots, using Swift Playgrounds. The advantage of this over other apps, such as Tickle, is that students will be switching from introductory block programming to more widely used line/text programming. There are plenty of tutorials within the app to ease this transition.
Another feature that I like about Swift Playgrounds is that it offers a recording function, so students can work on a tutorial and submit recordings of their solutions to the teacher as a reflection. You can also take pictures of your screen within the app, and export the code to PDF. There are hints within the tutorials, but later levels require that you put a little effort into solving the coding puzzles before you can receive any help. The app is definitely worth looking into if you are an educator working with students who already have some programming experience and are looking for the next step. Curriculum resources are available here.
My second session also happened to be sponsored by Apple (no ticket required for this one). In this session, we learned about Apple Clips, which is a video editing app that may eventually replace iMovie. This app is optimized for mobile use, as well as social media, and it is clear there was a lot of thought put into its development. Just like iMovie, Clips allows you to take video, edit it, and add music. But Clips has taken a lot of the manual labor out of video creation. Music is automatically edited with intros and outros to fit your clips. Cropping and “Ken Burns-ing” easily become seamless portions of your video, and you can add layers, effects, and titles with taps of the finger. One of my favorite features is the “live titles.” This basically allows you to create a closed-captions for your video – adding text to the video as you record in real time. The text is aligned to the actual timing of your speech, so if you pause, so does the text. You can also easily edit the text if your words aren’t interpreted the way you intended.
Clips looks great. Designed for this generation of “on-the-fly” videographers, it could be the ideal tool. However, I have heard from a few people and read in some reviews that it can be glitchy. I have not experienced any issues myself, but I was disappointed when my somewhat older classroom iPad was deemed too ancient to be “compatible with this app.” Like many new products, Clips may need to age a bit (but maybe not as much as my unfortunate iPad) before it takes off, but I’m ready to give it a try.
For some examples of ways that Clips has been used in schools, check out #classroomclips on Twitter.
Sometimes a video is just too long. Or, maybe only part of the video is really applicable to a lesson. I recently ran across a couple of options that can help you when you need something short, but powerful, to show your class.
The first option is called, “Class Hook.” Unfortunately, this site may be blocked in your district. (It is blocked in mine.) If it isn’t, then you may want to search the site by topic for short clips from all kinds of videos that might make the statement you need. The library seems to be fairly large. You can search by subject, show, subject, or grade level. When you choose a clip, it will list Common Core connections. As always, preview videos before showing them to your class to be certain they are appropriate for the students you teach.
The second option will take a bit more time, but works well for videos you have already found on YouTube if you are using them in Google Slides. You can copy the YouTube link for the original video, then go to Insert-Video in Google Slides. Once the video is on a slide, you can then click on “Video Options” to choose the part that you would like to show in your presentation. (If you don’t see “Video Options in your toolbar, click on “More” to display it.)
If you are not using Google Slides, or it doesn’t seem to be cooperating with you, there is a third option. One of my students wanted to show part of a TED video for his Genius Hour presentation, and Google Slides would not embed the short clip we kept inserting from YouTube. (When you click on “Share” in YouTube, you can choose an option for where the video should start, but the link generated did not work in Google Slides for us.) There are, of course, many options for downloading YouTube videos to edit – but quite a few are unreliable, costly, or unsafe for your computer. I was frustrated with how to help my student – and then I remembered EdPuzzle.
EdPuzzle is a free tool for creating “interactive” videos. You can assign video clips with questions, record over the video, and keep track of student progress. You can learn more about EdPuzzle’s features in this nice presentation from Travis K. Wood. The option that saved a couple of Genius Hour presentations for us this year, though, is that videos can be “cropped.” You can choose a specific ending and beginning of the video that you have imported, and then share the link of that newly cropped video. Although Google Slides does not allow for us to actually embed the cropped video into a slide, we can include the link and go directly to the video that imparts the relevant information.
Let me know if you are aware of any other easy way to find and/or create video clips for class!
About three years ago, we tried out a tool called, “Flipgrid” for a project that my students were doing for Genius Hour. We were using a trial version and I decided against a paid subscription and I didn’t think I was ready to invest in that at the time. However, I am seeing a lot of features that make Flipgrid a potentially exciting classroom tool. Basically, Flipgrid allows you to create a topic, and other people can add videos to respond to the topic. All of the video responses are collected on one page, which makes it easy to access them. This means that people can reply asynchronously, (as opposed to a Skype interview, for example) which allows for participants from all over the world to add videos when it is convenient in their time zones. For global learning, this can be an invaluable tool.
Recently, Flipgrid started offering a free account. Although it obviously offers less features (you are limited to one grid instead of unlimited, for example), it is still something worth trying. One grid still allows unlimited topics. Another way that you can experience Flipgrid for free is to participate in its “Explorer Series.” In the first edition of this series last October, Flipgrid offered weekly videos from an Antarctic marine biologist along with questions to which students could respond. Flipgrid just launched the second edition, which will be two weeks of posts from Mike Billington of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. The first topic is, “What is a common bird in your community? What can you do to support their environment?” Mike’s first video shows him with a live bald eagle, a site many students don’t get the chance to see. It would be interesting to connect this experience with Beauty and the Beak, and certainly a great way to make the last few weeks of school engaging and educational.
Many of our teachers like to e-mail welcome videos to their incoming students at the beginning of the school year, and some even add the videos to their blogs or school websites. Although there are an endless number of ways to share videos, here are the steps for embedding one that you’ve uploaded to Google Drive. (Tip: If you are using an iPhone or an iPad to shoot your video, make sure the device is horizontal (landscape) with the Home button on the right. This can save you from orientation problems later on.)
I’m going to use a short video of our bulldog trying out the pool to demonstrate the steps. If anyone reading this knows a shortcut, please feel free to share!
Once you have located the video you’ve uploaded to Google Drive, double-click on it.
At the top right of your screen, you will see the download icon and 3 vertical dots. Click on the dots.
First, you need to make sure you give the video the appropriate sharing rights. If I’m putting it on my blog, I just choose “Advanced” and select that anyone with the link can view it. After changing the sharing rights, move down in the list to “Open in a new window.”
Things may not look dramatically different in the new window, but when you click on the 3 vertical dots this time, you will get an embed option. Click on that.
Then you can copy the embed code inside the box. On your blog or website, you can add the embed code to the HTML editor (on WordPress blogs, it’s the tab for “Text”), and your video should then work once you publish.
Let’s see if my bulldog one is working:
By the way, bulldogs can swim. Ours just runs out of energy and sinks like a rock as soon as he stops paddling – hence the life jacket 😉