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What it is: This is a one stop shop for the beginning of your school year but will keep you coming back all year long. Thinkfinity is “the cornerstone of Verizon Foundation’s literacy, education, and technology initiatives.” The site is completely free to use and has outstanding content for educators, students, and parents. Find amazing lesson plans, interactive activities, and other quality online resources. Thinkfinity has over 55,000 standards-based k-12 lesson plans, student materials, interactive tools, and reference materials that are reviewed by the nation’s leading education organizations to ensure the highest quality content. You will find great primary source material, interactive student resources, and even grade specific research lists to tailor materials and searches to meet your needs. Thinkfinity also provides free training and professional development. Some professional development options are online, you can search for Thinkfinity professional development opportunities near you. How to integrate Thinkfinity into the classroom: Thinkfinity is a one stop shop for standards based lesson plans, interactive games and resources for students, maps, activities, book lists, and much more. Use Thinkfinity to support any of your lessons, themes, or current curriculum. Search for materials by subject (arts, social studies, literacy, mathematics, reading and language arts, science, and geography), by theme, by grade, or resource type. There is also a wonderful keyword search. Start out your year with lessons based on the Olympics in Beijing. Students can learn about the history of the games, sports, athletes, and even the history of Asia. This is a great site for students to complete research on. The sources are accurate and reliable and it is organized well for searching. Tips: Content partners for Thinkfinity inlcude other top educational sites including Arts Edge, Econ Edlink, Edsitement, Illuminations, Literacy Network, Read Write Think, Science Net Links, Simithsonian National Museum of American History, and National Geographic Xpeditions. Leave a comment and share how you are using Thinkfinity in your classroom.

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10 ways to eliminate the distractions around YouTube videos

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 13-06-2012

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What it is: YouTube is a truly wonderful learning resource.  What isn’t so great: all of the garbage that can come along with it (i.e. advertising, comments, related videos…in short-distractions). Luckily, schools have some great options for using YouTube differently.  Some of these tools I have written about before and some are new additions…hence the new post! :)

  • YouTube for Schools- This is a YouTube that has been created just for schools.  Network administrators must be involved so that they can add this option for YouTube into your filtering system.  This is a completely customizable option that lets teachers and administrators add videos to a playlist that you have predetermined you want students to watch.  Teachers can find videos by Common Core Standard, subject or grade.  Students can watch videos that teachers and administrators have approved or any YouTube Edu video (think Kahn Academy, PBS, TED, Stanford, etc.).
  • SafeShare TV- This site lets students watch YouTube videos without ads, links, comments and related videos.  You also have the option to crop videos and share videos with a unique URL.
  • YouTubeXL- This is a service that YouTube provides that lets you watch videos on large screens without the ads and comments. Neat tip: if you time “quiet” before the YouTube url, it takes you to a safe page where you can watch a YouTube video.  WAY cool and easy to do on the fly!
  • Clean VideoSearch- This site lets students search through YouTube videos without the comments, ads and busy sidebar.  It has additional features like the ability to choose how many videos you want to see on each page in your search.
  • Clea.nr- This service (a browser plugin) deletes all of the obnoxious extras that hang around videos (ads, comments, related videos). You can also search YouTube without all of the extras showing up.
  • ViewPure- This site cleans out all the clutter and gives you just a video.  Bonus: There is a quick button that you can add to your browser so that you can go to a video, click on “Pure” in your bookmark bar and instantly have a clean video.
  • Dragontape- This service lets you drag videos into a timeline and share them easily with students.  This is great for mashing up several videos, or cropping multiple videos into one.
  • Movavi- This is a video conversion service. Wonderful for teachers who can’t or don’t want to access a video directly from YouTube.  Copy/paste the url you want to convert, choose a file type, done!
  • Zamzar- This is another great video conversion service.  Works quickly and easily!
  • SaveYouTube- This site used to be called KickYouTube.  Here you can enter the url and download it to your computer to play offline.

How to integrate less distracting YouTube videos into the classroom:  This one is really a no brainer: want to use YouTube? Clean it up!  I find great content I find on YouTube (as do my students). All of the “extras” around the videos can be SO distracting as a searcher and viewer.  These options are outstanding for making videos less distracting so that your students can focus on the learning happening.

I find that students head to YouTube (even before Google) when they want to learn something new.  They are generally pretty successful at finding a video that will teach them how to do what they want to do.  Very handy for self guided learning!

Tips: Always try these tools out at school BEFORE using with students.  Some of them won’t work depending on your school’s filters and policies.

Leave a comment and share how less distracting YouTube videos are rocking your classroom.

Comments (2)

I would also suggest using EmbedPlus for several features for interacting with YouTube. For example, it supports slow motion, looping, chopping/cropping, and much more. Take a look: http://www.embedplus.com/

Great Idea, embed plus is another nice option.

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