Tuesday, August 6, 2019

JUST the Video, please

WEBSITES  There are several out there. Here are a few I recommend. Your school's filter may block some of them, so try more than one.
AUDIENCE ↬ teachers
CONTENT any/all


Videos are such great teaching resources. They can provide the "hook" needed or an alternative to reading or good visual to support your content or layer in audio to further enhance the understanding. Video can help bring content to life ... and in today's world, our access is far greater than ever before.

The problem is ... all the "other stuff" on a YouTube page. The ads, the suggested videos, the comments ... these can really detract from the video itself. Some teachers might even shy away from using YouTube videos for this reason. Please don't! Try out the links above and find one that works for you and your students. You won't regret it!

*** A little side story if you aren't sure videos really help instruction. As a a 5th grade Social Studies teacher, the American Revolution was one of the topics I covered. I found a fabulous PBS show called "Liberty's Kids", a cartooned recreation providing the point of view of a rough-and-tumble colonist boy, a proper-English girl, an orphaned French boy, along with Ben Franklin and a freed slave named Moses, who experience the American Revolution. I had students who hated reading learn more in that unit by watching this show than ever. They LOVED it! When I moved up to 7th & 8th grade, it held true again. I gathered the videos into collections matching the chapters and had so many students CHOOSE to watch them I was amazed! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Read aloud books

WEBSITES  ***Updated*** This site contains only a few stories - hopefully it will grow with time - read by the author! 

We Are Teachers: Storytime 

Fan of the Llama Llama series? Here's a channel for you! Again, read by the author Anna Dewdney. LINK

And a GOLDMINE!!! StorylineOnline an entire website devoted, not only to sharing read aloud books, but providing accompanying activity guides! 

AUDIENCE ↬ teachers, students
CONTENT ↬ ELA, reading

GRADE LEVELS  geared toward elementary

I have always enjoyed being read to. Listening to my daughters learn to read was exciting! Now I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Technology is truly a blessing when it comes to read alouds!  

Now you have more than a library at your fingertips! Using one of the sites above, select the books you'd like to share with your students and create a playlist (or just copy the links). (Please be responsible and make sure you are being responsible with your sharing.)

*** Being honest, children's books are more likely to be found this way ... as the books get longer, the less likely they will be to find online. Audiobooks are a GREAT resource at this point! Check with your local library for help. ***

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Podcasts for Students

WEBSITE  SLJ: A Universe of Podcasts
AUDIENCE ↬ students
CONTENT ↬ everything!

GRADE LEVELS  elementary, middle, & high school

I've been a podcast listener for a couple of years now and thanks to my friend, Kathy, I've got an excellent resource for you today! Kathy shared this Tweet:

I was SUPER excited! This is exactly what I was looking for without even looking! I clicked on it immediately and was thrilled with the collection of podcasts. I immediately thought of this blog and knew I'd share this out soon. 

And to my excitement, my 9 year daughter came to me a few days before vacation and flopping down on our porch, says to me, "Mom! I need some podcasts. Can you help me?" (Girl after my heart!!!) She knows I love podcasts, and I recently was a guest on Michael Matera's podcast, Well Played (episode 116, "Change through growth", if interested) and I think she was hooked. 

This list was PERFECT!!! I showed her the list and she scrolled through and found several that interested her and prompted listened to "But why?" She loves it! We even downloaded several so she could listen while we were traveling.

Now, imagine in a classroom. Your library is no longer contained to the books on your shelf, the books in your library, and in fact, you are no longer limited to books! Students can plug in and listen and learn. Thank you Kathy!!! This is a treasure for sure!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

BBC Earth: Your Life on Earth

WEBSITE  BBC Earth: Your Life on Earth
AUDIENCE ↬ teachers, students
CONTENT ↬ science, history, writing

GRADE LEVELS  all grades

My sister, Monica, gets the credit for this one. She shared this website awhile back figuring I'd enjoy it. She was right!

On the main page, it states "Our planet has been around for 4.5 billion years. But how has it changed in your lifetime?" Now, how on earth!?!? Right there, I was intrigued. I entered the minimum required information (my birthdate), clicked enter, and voila! A whole page devoted to changes in the earth since I was born. How cool is that? Customized just for me :)

Here is an overview of some of the cool tidbits I found:

  • "How the world has changed" there have been 218 major eruptions, 88 solar eclipses, the Golden-crowned sifaka was discovered 4 years before I was born ... & more!
  • "How we have changed the world"  the sea level has risen by 10 cm, on average, and extra 11 cups of coffee is available, CO2 emissions have doubled, the Mountain gorilla is no longer extinct ... and more!
  • "How you have changed"  my heart has beaten 2 billion times (but a blue whale's heart the same age would only have beaten 128 million times), if I lived on Mercury I'd be 166 years old, but on Neptune I'd still be waiting another 45,367 days to turn ONE!!!!, a mouse my age would have 270 generations by now ... and more!!!!

My brain is going in a bunch of different directions with all this info! These are really awesome tidbits but I can 100% see using this page to do some writing or further investigating. The more I clicked around, I noticed I could change some of the comparisons. Example, rather than comparing my heart beats to a blue whale, I could swap it out with a hummingbird. I am WAY older on Mercury than I am on Neptune. As a student, I could investigate the differences and write about it. So much here! And it's personal to me ... it could be personal to each of your students. Super cool!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Newseum

WEBSITE  NewseumEd
AUDIENCE ↬ teachers
CONTENT ELA & history

GRADE LEVELS  grades 3 & up
*** Caution - some of the material is DEFINITELY for a mature audience; preview before using with students ***

I travel to Washington, DC each fall with our 8th graders and truly one of my favorite stops is the Newseum. The goal of this museum is "increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. Visitors experience the story of news, the role of a free press in major events in history, and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — apply to their lives."

Until the last few months, I wasn't aware they had a website - it was a duh! moment - that had a section devoted to educators. Be sure to check it out and make a free account so you can access the copyright-protected material they have. 

Other things to be sure to check out on their site:

  • Lesson plans 
  • EDCollections 
    • example: Free Speech, Media Literacy, Women's Suffrage, and more
  • Artifacts
    • example: photos, newspapers, and more
  • Videos
    • 100+ videos are available!

And be sure to scroll down on the NewseumEd site to search their available classes & trainings (if you are going to visit, this would be a GREAT idea!).

And don't forget to go up to the very top and go out on the outside balcony. You can get a great view of the Capitol! Here's a shot from my November, 2017 visit.

view from the outside of the Newseum (Nov 2017)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Literary Elements and Techniques (PBS Learning Media)

WEBSITE  Literary Elements and Techniques (PBS Learning Media)
AUDIENCE ↬ teachers

GRADE LEVELS  mostly grades 4 & up

PBS Learning Media has a wonderful collection of 10 short videos & discussion questions on various literary elements. This site also has a built in ability to assign to your Google Classroom making it super easy to share it to your students.

Interested? The 10 videos cover:
Symbolism, Imagery, Conflict, Setting, Tone & Mood, Figurative Language, Theme,  Analyzing Theme, Characterization, and Elements of Poetry. 

The discussion question provide an easy way to discussion these video and any time a reputable source like PBS is sharing out videos and questions, you know it's good! And if you find one is really awesome, you can easily share it with colleagues using the built in share button.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Cue Prompter

WEBSITE  CuePrompter
AUDIENCE ↬ teachers & students
CONTENT any/all; video creation; presentations


I saw a pretty awesome Tweet from Tony Vincent (@TonyVincent) awhile back and it caught my eye. I had just helped the 2nd graders record their wax museum presentations. I was talking with one of the teachers who mentioned next year trying out a green screen. I was honest and said I really didn't know much about it, but given that he was looking 12 months out, we could certainly look into it. The conversation spiraled to how cool it would be to have a green screen and a teleprompter.


Tony's tweet was well timed because that is exactly what CuePrompter is! "CuePrompter is a free teleprompter/autocue service. Your browser works like a teleprompter -no extra software needed. Free for any use (both commercial and non-commercial)." Perfect timing! I checked it out with myself and with the ability to adjust speed and font size, I'd suggest this for any grade! 

Thanks, Tony!

*** Bonus: another option for a teleprompter is "Teleprompt.me".