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The Tale of Despereaux Adventure

What it is:  I learned about this awesome interactive site from Larry Ferlazzo’s blog.  It is just too good to pass up blogging about it!  This interactive story book lets students create their own tale in the Kingdom of Dor.  The students become a part of the story as they create a character version of themselves that takes part in the story adventure.  Students can choose to have interactive games and puzzles included in their story.  The story is a virtual pop-up book, it is read to students and they can read along with subtitles.  Along the way, students have to help solve problems in the story by playing an interactive game.    How to integrate The Tale of Despereaux Adventure into the classroom:  The Tale of Despereaux Adventure is a really impressive site.  This would be a great introduction to the book by Kate DiCamillo.  The site would act as a teaser for the book that would have students eager to read.  Even if you aren’t reading The Tale of Despereaux, this is a fun way to get students interested in reading (most of them won’t even realize that they are reading!)  Set up a Tale of Despereaux center on your classroom computer during reading time for a month.  Each day two new students can visit the center and take part in their own adventure.  This site could also be used with an interactive whiteboard or projector for the students to create a whole class story.  If students choose to read the story with the interactive games, they  will be stopped along the way to complete puzzle and logic games throughout the story.  These type of games are great to get kids thinking creatively and outside of the box.  The story can be viewed in different languages, this would be a fun site for foreign language classes to visit in the language they are studying!   Tips:  One thing I don’t love about this site is that it asks students to enter their first and last name to be part of the story.  I teach my students never to put their last name online.  I ask my students to make up a last name when creating their story.    Leave a comment and tell us how you are using The Tale of Despereaux Adventure 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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