Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

So far in the series, Putting the YOU in YouTube, we’ve discussed personalizing your channel, uploading your videos, and trimming out the parts of your videos that you don’t want.  In this post, we’re going to look at using the tools within the YouTube Editor that will help you put your mark on your movies.

I’m not sure why YouTube has made it so hard to find the Editor, but they have.  You can find a link to the Editor under the Enhancements option in Video Manager, OR you can simply type in in your address bar after you’re logged in.  Once at the editor, this is what you’ll see:

Video Editor - YouTube 2013-10-02 13-48-11


In the Editor, you can bring videos together to make one longer video, you can apply filters to your video clips, add music, titles, and transitions, as well as insert still photos into your video.  The image below shows what each of the icons in your “Options Menu” represent.

editor tools


The Video Editor is very easy to use because it is a simple “Drag & Drop”.  You’ll start by dragging all of your video clips you want to include in your movie onto the row of the workspace for the videos.  To add additional video clips, drag the clips down to the workspace and “drop” it beside the clip you’ve already placed.  You can click the Creative Commons icon to access video clips that have been licensed under the Creative Commons that you’re free to use in your own videos.  If you have still images you’d like to incorporate into your video, you can click the camera icon.  You’ll then be prompted to either upload images from your computer, or you can import pictures from your Google+ account.  Once they’re displayed beside the preview pane, again, just drag and drop them where you want them to go in your video.

When you drag a video clip (or any of the other options) onto the workspace, you’ll be able to edit those clips or elements further.  Below is a screenshot of what your screen will look like when you drag a video clip onto the workspace.  Notice that you’ll have the ability to make some quick fixes which include zooming in and out, change the brightness, stabilize, rotate, etc. You can also add text to your video clips.  Be careful with this, however, because if you add text here, it will display the entire time your video clip is playing.  If you’d rather just add a title text or a “slide” of text between videos, you use the text icon from the original Editor menu.  Keep reading to learn more.  To get back to the original Editor menu, simply click in the gray area of the workspace, or click the x in the upper right-hand corner of the clip editor.

video clip options in editor

The music icon will allow you add Creative Commons music clips to your videos.  Although there is a volume bar where you can tell YouTube to favor either the sound from the original video clip or the music, the music always seems to be louder than the sound from the video.  add music in editorSo just be careful and consider which is more important, music or sound from your video.  At this point, there isn’t a way to assign music to only certain portions of your video either.  You’ll drag the music clip onto the workspace under the videos and images.  Also, there is currently no way to upload your own music files…more than likely copyright issues.

To add titles and/or transitions to your movie, you click and drag the type of title or transition you’d like onto the workspace where you want them to go.  When you drag the element down to the workspace, you’ll see a blue line appear to show you where the element will be added.  You’ll need to be careful with the titles because if the blue line highlights the entire video clip, that means that title will play the entire length of the clip.  If you only want it to show before or after the video clip or image, you’ll want the skinny blue line.  To get back to the original Editor menu, you’l usually click the x in the upper right corner.  However, for some reason, that “x” isn’t present on the transitions menu.  To get back to the Editor menu, you can click in the gray area of the workspace.

If you decide that you don’t want an element in your video after all, or any element for that matter, you can hover your mouse over that element.  A small x will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the gray bar.  Simply click the x and that element will be removed from your workspace.  You can also reorder an of the elements in your video by clicking and dragging it to where you want it to go.

Once you’re video is like you want it:  all of your video clips are in the correct order, you’ve added any desired still images, you have transitions between the elements to make it flow smoothly, and you have inserted all the necessary title slides, it’s time to publish.  Directly above the preview pane, you can rename your video, then on the right-hand side of the screen is a blue “Publish” button.  Depending on how long your video is, how many transitions you’ve included, and if you decided to include music clips, it may take your video a little while to publish.  The beauty of the Editor is that until you publish, all of your work is automatically saved.  So if you don’t have time to finish your video in one sitting, you can log out of YouTube, come back to it later, go to the editor, and all of your work is still there.  When you publish, you’ll then have a blank workspace again.

Next Steps:

Making your videos interactive (Coming soon!)

Publishing your videos on YouTube (Coming soon!)

Did you miss the first three post in the series Putting the YOU in YouTube?  Check them out!

Putting the YOU in YouTube

Uploading videos to YouTube

Trimming your videos


Since last January (2013), I’ve been working on an add-on for my teaching license that will qualify me for my current position as an Instructional Technology Specialist/Facilitator.  This spring I had one assignment in my current class that gave me quite a bit of trouble.  In fact, I made the lowest grade I’ve ever made on that assignment…I mean EVER! It’s all good though, I still have an A. 🙂  Anywho, the assignment was on the use of spreadsheets in the classroom.

In the past, I’ve used spreadsheets to create basic gradebooks, budgets, and lesson plan templates, but I’ve never really thought about using them with the students.  I’m the kind of person that I’m not not going to know something for long, so when I recovered from the shock of my grade, I became determined to learn more about spreadsheets in the classroom.  Holy cow, have I been missing out!

Tammy Worcester Tang is using Google Spreadsheets in some really incredible ways.  You definitely have to check out the Google Stuff page on her website.  A couple of her awesomely creative ideas include:

    • coloring lines and resizing rows and columns to create index cards, notebook pages, and journals.  Since a spreadsheet can have multiple tabs, those are great ways of creating study aids and digital notebooks for your students. Here’s an image of an index card I created. spreadsheet_indexcard
    • use “if/then” statements to create “Guess and Check” activities for your students.  Hide the actual answer in cell A1 and set the background color to the text color.  The correct formula for an “if/then” statement is: =IF(what you’re testing, “true value”, “false value”).  In the example below, I asked the question “How old is Mrs. Boucher?”  I had three formulas that I used: =IF(C6>A1, “Too High”, ” “), =If(C6=A1, “Correct!”, ” “), and =IF(C6<A1, “Too Low”, ” “).

Some other ideas that I’ve found through my research are:

  • Creating math review for basic facts or finding the average of a set of data using a spreadsheet.  Print them out and have your students complete them.  Show students how to use the basic formulas for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and average.  Have a computer station set up where students can input the formulas and check their answers.  By putting in the formulas, they’re cementing their procedural knowledge.
  • Have students collect data on the latest tablets or other desirable electronic devices.  Record the prices for each and have them use the MIN and MAX formulas to identify which one costs the most/least.
  • Have students research different summer jobs that are available in your area.  Input the data and use the MIN and MAX formulas to determine which are the best jobs.  You could go a step further and use charts to compare pay per hour for the jobs to see which jobs offer the most money for the least amount of hours.
  • Have students create databases using spreadsheets, then teach them to sort and filter to find the information that they need.

I always stayed away from spreadsheets in the classroom because I really didn’t understand how they worked.  As I continue to research and find more classroom activities that even the youngest students can do, I’m getting more excited about them.  Have you creatively used Spreadsheets with your students?  If so, how?  Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

Over the past month, I’ve been writing about the issues and resources surrounding copyright in the digital classroom.  I’ve covered Fair Use, Public Domain, Creative Commons, and now we’re going to look at specific solutions to ensure copyright compliance in the digital classroom.  Below are my recommendations for creating a copyright friendly environment in your digital classroom.

Protect Yourself!google_sites_icon

Class websites can be an amazing tool for delivering content, fostering collaboration, and sharing information with parents and students.  However, many teachers (and students) will sometimes use images and content that they don’t have the right to use.  Remember that Fair Use only covers face to face instruction, so if you’re using your website to deliver instruction, you cannot claim Fair Use.  Here are my suggestions for protecting yourself with your awesome class website:

  • Password protect your website.  By password protecting your website, only your students will have access to your instruction.  I recommend using Google Sites to build your class website because you can use page level permissions to only password protect certain pages.  This will allow you to have a parent information page that is public.  Even password protected content can still be used illegally though.  An extra precaution you can take is to convert copyrighted documents to pdf files and then disable saving and printing.
  • Use Google’s Search Tools option to find images that are licensed for reuse.  When you do a Google Image search, right below the search bar, at the end of the advanced search options, it says “Search Tools”.  The fifth option is “Usage Rights”.  Choose the licensing option that fits your needs.
  • Ask permission.  In the world of email, Twitter, Facebook, and personal websites, finding people is easier than ever.  Do your due diligence to find the authors/creators of the content you wish to use on your site.
  • Link rather than embed.  I have to admit that I’m an embedder.  I’d rather have everything right on the page in one place.  However, if you haven’t obtained permission, you could be infringing on someone’s copyright.  If you link to the original source of the content, you’re safe.  Additionally, if you’re using audio or video content, make sure that it is streaming rather than downloadable.
  • Site all works that aren’t yours!  We all learned how to cite our sources in high school, and definitely in college.  Break out those rusty skills and make sure that you’re at least making an effort to give credit where credit is due.
  • Utilize Creative Commons resources.  There are a ton of great works available that people have licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons.  Flickr and are two great places to start.

Assigning students multimedia projects, or better yet, giving them the a menu of project choices is a great way to increase engagement and motivation in your classroom.  However, sometimes students don’t take copyright into consideration when they’re choosing images and content to use in those projects.  Using the suggestions above will make them more aware of the content that they’re using.  My final suggestion for you will not only increase the relevance of what your students are doing, but the rigor as well.

SoundCloud, YouTube, and Flickr

Either set up an account with a generic username and password for your class, or have students set up their own accounts for the sites above.  SoundCloud is for sound clip storage, YouTube for video storage, and Flickr is for photographs.  Have your students create their own images, sound clips, and videos to use in their presentations and projects.  I think it would be neat to have them set up their own accounts and license their work with the CreativeCommons licensing tool.  Have them get permission from each other before using a classmate’s content in their presentations.  Doing this will allow you and your students to build a database of content to pull from when needed for websites, presentations, and multimedia projects, and will get students in the habit of seeking resources that are copyright-friendly.

For my first Tech Tool Thursday, I’m sharing with you three tools that I share the most often with teachers in my district.  They are Educreations (tablet app), URL Shortener, and Lucid Chart.  Continue reading for screenshots, how-to’s, and implementation ideas!  By the way, these are all FREE!  If you need a reminder of how to add Chrome apps and extensions, be sure to revisit my initial Tech Tool Thursday post.

educreationsEducreations (iOS only)

Educreations is a simple whiteboard app that allows you to insert images, write or type text, and record your voice.  I love Educreations because you’re no limited to only one page, and as you record your voice and move to the next page, the app automatically pauses the recording.  You have the option to bring in pictures from your Camera Roll, to snap a picture within the app, import from your Dropbox account, or you can search the web from directly within the app.  Since each video generates a link and embed code, you can include them on your class website.  I have had teachers use this app to deliver spelling tests and flip lessons.   A fourth grade teacher gave her students a vocabulary list for an upcoming social studies unit.  The students used Educreations to find images online that showed the vocabulary words and bring them into the presentation.  The students then recorded themselves justifying why they chose the images they did.  This activity served as the first lesson of the unit, and it gave all the students the little bit of background knowledge they needed to be successful in the unit.  Another great feature of Educreations is the “Featured” tab.  This gives the user access to tons of free lessons/videos that have been created.  Here is a link to a video I created on triangulation:

2013-12-02 11.13.30  2013-12-03 10.48.29

google_url_shortener URL Shortener (Extension)

This is probably the Chrome Extension that I use the most.  I am constantly sharing websites with my teachers, and some of them can be very lengthy.  From any website, I can click on the shortener icon beside my Omni bar, and it generates a shortened link that looks like the link above for my triangulation video.  I can also choose to have the extension copy the link directly to my clipboard for easy sharing, or even better, it will generate a QR code!  But that’s not the best part.  If you’re signed into your Google account, each link you shorten gets saved for later reference, and you can see how many times your link has been clicked on.  Too cool!  Here’s a screenshot of what the site looks like for my account.


lucidchartLucid Chart (Chrome App, iOS)

Our district stresses the usage of Thinking Maps and other mind maps as a way to organize student thought, and as a way of making connections to thinking skills.  I have tried a lot of mind mapping apps and websites, and a lot of them area great.  The problem comes when you’re only allowed to create five maps before you have to begin paying for the site/app.  LucidChart is different because, not only is it FREE, but it also connects to your Google Drive!  If you are a K-12 teacher or professor, you can request the free upgrade and get all of the advanced features too. You can create a new mind map directly from your Drive…YAY!!  Although the software can get very complicated if you want it to, the basic functions are drag and drop and very intuitive.  Also, just like other Google Docs, you can add collaborators, and there is a chat feature so that multiple people can work on a document at the same time.  I have had teachers using LucidChart for planning collaborative projects, whole class KWL activities, and small group Thinking Map activities.  Teachers and students are only limited by their creativity!



Please let me know what you think about these tech tools by leaving a comment below.  Already use one of them?  Let us know how!

I have a confession to make: For a very long time, I refused to use Google Chrome because I was a Firefox chick, and I’m a loyal kinda gal.  This is the same reason I waffled about trading in my PC for a MacBook when I accepted my new position.  However, I’ve learned that change isn’t always a bad thing, and admittedly, I’ll probably never go back to Firefox or PCs.  Macs just have so much more…”style” is the word Kevin Honeycutt used when I couldn’t find the word, and, let’s face it, as far as browsers go, Google Chrome just has so many useful features for teachers, I’d be crazy to use anything else.  So let’s take a look at a couple of these features:  apps and extensions.

The easiest way to explain the difference between an app and an extension within Chrome is to say that an app is basically a website and extensions are “tools” that are added to the browser and allow users to “do stuff” to a website or while working online.  Apps and extensions are added to your Chrome browser through the Chrome Web Store.  As a teacher, I appreciate how you can search straight from the store’s home page for elementary, middle, and high school apps and extensions.  Apps (websites) are added to the apps links in your browsers bookmark bar, and extensions are added to the top of your browser beside the Omnibox.  (BTW, did you the box that you type in a url is now also a Google search tool.  You no longer have to go to to do a search.  This is why it’s now called the Omnibox and not just the address bar.)

Google Toolbar

Beginning this month, I will feature one Chrome app, one Chrome extension, and one tablet app each Thursday.  I enjoy reading blog posts that have “71 Apps for Reading” or “202 Ways to Use ________ in the Classroom”.  However, those posts are extremely overwhelming to me and I find myself picking out one of the suggestions towards the beginning of the post and give it a try.  By limiting my posts to one of each, I’m hoping to give you time to install and play with each one for a week before I introduce another one.  Please check back each Thursday evening to learn about new tools to use in your classroom.  Not only will I introduce the tool, but I’ll also give recommendations about how to use it with your students.  If you have suggestions about Chrome apps and extensions, or tablet apps, please feel free to let me know via the comments below, through email, or connect with me on Twitter.

Would you like more information on finding and adding Chrome apps and extensions to your browser?  Watch this short tutorial video.

Clustr Map