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The Great Plant Escape

  What it is: The Great Plant Escape is a wonderful interactive website created by the University of Illinois Extension for fourth and fifth grade students.  Every school that I know of teaches a plants unit at some point in the curriculum.  This is a great way for your students to interact with their learning in science class.  Each lesson in The Great Plant Escape introduces students to plant science.  Activities engage students in math, science, language arts, social studies, music and even art.  The Great Plant Escapeincludes six mystery cases that students must help solve.  They do this in a variety of ways depending on the activity.  This site can be played in English or Spanish making it great for your ESL or ELL students as well as those kiddos learning Spanish as a second language!   How to integrate The Great Plant Escape into the classroom:  The Great Plant Escape offers a lot of flexibility depending on your classroom setup and student abilities.  Students can work individually in a lab setting or in groups as a center in the one or two computer classroom.  This site would also be appropriate for whole class instruction with a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Each activity has an accompanying teacher section that will familiarize you with the material covered in that “case”.  Be sure to check out the Links page for some excellent resources for additional lessons and websites dedicated to teaching kids about Plants and life cycles.  This site is sure to add a lot of interest to your plant unit in science.  My students have really enjoyed it!   Tips:  Visit the Teacher’s Guide for a free poster for The Great Plant Escape for your classroom.     Leave a comment and share how you are using The Great Plant Escape 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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