YouTube Capture

Capturing film on the iPad is one of it’s strengths, especially as a mobile device.  Getting that video onto YouTube – specifically a teacher or student created YouTube channel within my district, we’re single sign on – has been a struggle.

No more.

Google has recently released YouTube Capture.  YouTube Capture is built for an iPhone/iPod Touch, but will work on the iPad (I suspect full support for the iPad is forthcoming).  With YouTube Capture, filming and uploading your video straight to your YouTube channel is a breeze.  Once you have the app installed, you can access other videos you have saved on your iPad, upload them, and do some of the same light editing you can do on an the web, such as trimming clips, colore correction, stabilization, and adding soundtracks.  If students are using iMovie, they can save their feature rich videos to their camera roll, and then upload them via YouTube Capture.

The point of YouTube Capture is to get users to upload and create faster than ever before.  This is a huge boon for students who want to create videos for class, and for teachers who are sick of the workarounds on an iPad.

Win-win.

Click here to get the app.

Google Mapping Native American History

Every year I try to fit in a Native American unit into my eighth grade U.S. History curriculum. If I were to follow the prepared curriculum out of our mammoth sized textbooks, this would probably never happen. But, I think it’s important to recognize the uniqueness of Native American history and culture alongside the expansion if the United States history, so I make time for it.

Previous years I’ve tried to allow students to work to their strengths and create a final assessment for me that not only demonstrates their understanding and comprehension of the material, but affords them the opportunity to stretch themselves creatively. Students have turned in dioramas, movies, created songs, written reports, and other types of projects, all on a specific tribe they research. While it was very interesting to see what the students came up with, I felt they were placing more emphasis on the finished product, and not as much on the learning objectives. A sort of teaching to the diorama, if you will.

Out with the old

This year I was intent to reverse that trend, by limiting the projects students would do in favor of having them spend more time on research, analysis, and application. Rather than allow students to choose anything they wished, I narrowed the focus and required each group (3 or 4) of students to:

  1. Research a Native American tribe.
  2. Summarize their information in the form of a Google Doc they create and edit together.
  3. Apply that information to a Google Map they create.
Step 1
Students started out by first researching a specific Native American tribe they were assigned at random. There was a pool of about 20 different tribes I gathered ahead of time to ensure enough quality information could be found by each group. Their research packet was split into three categories: Geography, Society/Culture, and Economy/Resources.
Step 2
After they had done their research and filled out their packet, they had to choose one of the aforementioned categories and summarize their research in paragraph form on a shared Google Doc.  Since all of the groups information was on one Google Doc, it became incredibly easy for me to give them feedback in the form of comments, and, it allowed them to peer edit each others work.

Step 3
With their research analyzed and summarized in paragraph form, they could now easily create their Google Map.  I created a rubric for students to follow, and also provided some simple instructions on how to get started.  What was surprising was how quickly most students picked it up.  After reading through the directions, the majority of students would shoo me away and finish the map on their own.  Each group had to insert Placemarks of the three categories, insert relevant pictures that would help explain their paragraph, draw the area the tribe lived in and, for extra credit, they could insert a YouTube video about their tribe.

In with the new

So..did it work?

Compared to years past, this project was much more successful at having students meet learning objectives.  Not only did they have fun and use their creative energy to create a Google Map, but after giving them a reflective final assessment, it was clear to me that they had a better grasp not only on their tribe, but on the histories and cultures of Native American tribes across the U.S. during the 19th century.  If you’ve ever thought about using Google Maps with your students, I highly recommend you dive right in and try it out.  Especially, if your district uses Google Apps for Education, as mine does.

P.S.

Here’s how you can insert YouTube video clips into a Placemark.

Using Google Docs for Peer Editing

I’ve recently posted on how I share a Google Doc with students.  One of my goals using Google Docs with students is for them to become better editors of each others work.  With that in mind, I’ve taught my students a few simple ways to edit each others works in Google Docs.

Over time, I’d like my students to become purveyors of their own work more and more.  The idea (and I’m sure it’s not mine) is for the students to be able to critically analyze what each other written work to improve their own writing.

So far, I think it’s an effective tool.  The catch is, that the feedback needs to be authentic and not just fluff.  Of course, this is where teaching instruction comes into play.

Sharing Google Docs with Students

This year I got my classes off to the right foot as I showed them how to use the Google Apps we have available in our district.  My plan was to show them the power of collaborating with other students in real time using Google Docs.  The kids loved it and were excited to use it as a collaboration piece.  In order for Google Docs to actually work well as a collaborative tool, however, it’s important to learn how to actually share the document.

Which is what I showed my students.

Share and share alike indeed.

What is Gov?

This school year I’m teaching one block at 9th grade Civics.  To introduce our unit on “What is Government?”, I quickly made this video the other night on a whim.  My intentions for this video were simple:

  1. Ask students what they thought government is, what it does, and what types of images in conjures up before they watch the video.
  2. Give them a quick glance at what are different elements of government.
  3. Make the video as cheesy and ridiculous as possible.

I think I achieved my three goals.  At least the third one.

VVY: Internet Video Showdown

The explosion of internet video is probably the best thing to happen on the Internet since the last explosion of something equally radical (Chocolate Rain anyone?). There are so many good video sites out there, and any serious company/website worth its weight in binary has video to show. Heck, even The Home Depot gets this.

So, with so much video content out there, what’s a teacher to do?  How does one navigate through the sea of available videos or use a video service that is right for school?  Here are my three favorite (and semi-obvious) sites and why.

Feel free to listen to YYZ while reading VVY, it makes this post that much more Rush-tastic.

Vimeo

If you’ve never used or properly explored Vimeo and you love video/film, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out.  Vimeo is the most beautiful video site out there.  The quality of the videos found on Vimeo is so high, its almost intimidating.  I think of Vimeo as the hottest girl at school:  you really, really want to go out with her, but you’re too intimidated to ask her out, so you play minesweeper on Windows 95 by yourself at home.  (Author’s note: I believe I married the most beautiful woman on the planet, and yet I still don’t use Vimeo.  Hmmm.  Enigma.)  At it’s worst, Vimeo offers gorgeous HD videos you won’t be able to use in class.  At it’s best, it’s an indie film making channel.  While there may be some great videos out there to use in a day to day class, the types of video Vimeo offers are a little more niche.  I could easily see this used as a platform for a AV or film class or after school group, or if there was an in-depth project that didn’t need a lot of sharing.

Viddler

Viddler is the middle child placed squarely between Vimeo and YouTube.  It doesn’t have the quality film making of Vimeo nor does it have the widespread appeal and ease of use as YouTube.  That being said, it’s still useful and definitely handles uploading video content extremely well.  One thing I really like about Viddler viewers can make video comments at specific points during a video, and it’s really easy to do.  I experimented with this idea last year when I made a video about the Constitution as an intro to that unit.  For a few extra credit points, I had students comment on the video to see what happened.  Comments came slowly at first, but after they saw how much fun their peers were having, they wanted their face on the video.

(To see the video with student comments and interaction, click here)

Although there are some videos on Viddler that could be used in the classroom, I would use Viddler more for controlling the end result and for student interaction.  Unlike YouTube, it’s nice that you don’t have to deal with annoying links or adds from videos totally unrelated to the video you’re showing or videos that may be inappropriate.

YouTube

There’s not a lot that can be said about the behemoth that hasn’t been said or explored already.  There are a million obvious pros:

  1. Students (usually) know how to use it.
  2. It’s pretty easy to upload to.
  3. There is tons of content.
  4. Videos can easily be shared.

Personally, the biggest advantage of using YouTube over one of these other services is how easy it works with existing student Google accounts.  Student’s can make their own YouTube account and have it share a log in with their Google account, which makes it really convenient to post YouTube videos to other sources like a Google Doc, Site, Presentation, etc.  Requiring a student to use YouTube is a lot easier than teaching them to navigate through Vimeo or Viddler.

All video services have their pros and cons.  You really can’t go wrong with any of these three services, though in a pinch, I’d probably take YouTube just for it’s easy of service and content with Viddler a close second for it’s on video interaction ability.

What do you use?  Is there a great service out there I’m missing?  Let me know, drop a line.

What Can Google Do For You?

Recently I became a Google Certified Teacher. Huzzah. Huzzah indeed.  I’m eager to share what I’ve learned with other educators who think they might be able to leverage Google’s tools to benefit student learning.  So, if you have any questions, ask away!