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Science Storybooks

What it is: Science Storybooks is a great collection of online animated picture books that help teach science in a way that is fun and engaging.  There are a lot of animated books to choose from with topics such as applied sciences (electrons, light, etc.), the Universe Cycle (planets, constellations, etc.), Plate Tectonic Cycle (lavas, earthquakes, etc.), Rock Cycle (gems, dinosaurs, etc.), Water Cycle (clouds, weather, etc.), and the Life Cycle (organisms, human biology, plants, the natural environment).  The books don’t just tell about science, they take students on a science journey using story.  This makes the reading more accessible and student friendly than your typical science book.  There are also some very entertaining science songs.  I particularly enjoyed the Electricity song…but then I get a kick out of things like this (I think the kids will, too!). How to integrate Science Storybooks into the classroom: These animated Science Storybooks are the perfect way to introduce your students to new science concepts.  They will give just enough information to leave your students wanting to explore some more.  The books can be read as a whole class using a projector or interactive whiteboard, or set up as a center on your classroom computers. I have a group of fifth graders this year who are convinced that they are the cast of High School Musical, they are constantly breaking out in song (it is really something, they all join in and know the words to any song).  I have a feeling that my fifth graders would really get into the songs on Storybooks, singing along karaoke style.  If it helps them to learn new science concepts, I can’t think of anything better! Science Storybooks may inspire your students to come up with their own science storybooks.  Students could create science storybooks as a slide show, in Animoto, Kerpoof, Shidonni, Storybird, and a host of other sites.  As part of the science fair projects, students could create a story to accompany the project that would explain the science involved.  And for my fifth grade musical cast, they just may want to come up with their own science song using Myna, Audacity, or Garageband. Tips: There are some additional science lessons and worksheets for each topic of science, you can use these in conjunction with the stories as needed. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Storybooks 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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