Friday, June 22, 2012

Ad Free YouTube...Who Knew?

I stumbled up on a gem of knowledge this week in one of the tech workshops that I taught this week.  Sometimes, it is the simplest things that blow me away.

For years, I've used YouTube in my classroom to introduce concepts, engage students, embrace pop culture, etc.  I have loved it and so have my kiddos.  However, I always spent vast amounts of time utilizing Zamzar as a way to convert a YouTube video to a downloadable file that had no ads.  YouTube wasn't open until recently in my district, and even when it was opened, I was worried about the ads and other videos that show up on the side of the screen.

This week I learned how to avoid all of the extras.  It's so simple that you will not believe it.  All you do is type the word quiet in front of the web address for the video.  For example:

Original address:

Quiet address without ads:

I cannot wait to utilize this in my instruction this fall!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

iPad Assistive Touch

I discovered a new trick with the iPad yesterday. I noticed that a lot of my participants in my workshops had a button on their screen that showed up in every app. I was quickly intrigued. Apparently this button will take back "home" without having to click the home button every time. Ris will prevent wear and tear on your device, but it is also pretty snazzy. So, I decided to use the Educreations Interactive Whiteboard app to show you how to do this on your own device. Here is the link to access it if you do not have Educreations installed:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tech on Tuesday: Show Me Tutorials

Last week I talked about my most used app for flipping the classroom, but I didn't do the how-tos. So, this week, I'm working on tutorials.  ShowMe is a FREE app!  If you are like me, FREE is the best option for my classroom.

Show Me is a very easy tool to use on the iPad.  My 2nd graders mastered it in no time with just a little guidance.  I used this app on a daily basis in my classroom.  I used it to flip my classroom by recording videos for my students to watch at home for homework.  Over the course of the year, I also used it to record tutorials for math and reading strategies so my parents could see how I was teaching a particular skill.  Then, I turned it over to my students to use. Students recorded proof of mastery and I used the ShowMes that were created as a part of assessment.  My students LOVED using ShowMe.

When you first begin with ShowMe, you have several different options.
On the left of the screen, you can see your options: Explore, Activity, Featured, and Search.  At the very bottom, you have the option to create.  One of the reasons I love ShowMe is the fact that there is a huge community of users that you can tap into.  In the explore feature you have the ability to search ShowMes that are already created.  If you need a video for math, explore the math area.  You can also Search from this screen if you are looking for something specific. 

To Create, just tap on the Create button at the bottom and you will see this:
Then when you are ready, you hit the record button and begin.  This app captures what you write as well as what you say.  So, as soon as you hit record, begin talking.  You can also import an image.  I would suggest doing this before you begin.  Otherwise, you will record that step in the process.  Don't forget that when you use an image, copyright laws still apply. When you are finished, tap "Done" to save.  Then you will see this screen:

If you like it, you can save it.  If not, delete it at this screen.  The only negative that I have found is that if I am unhappy with my ShowMe, I really have to start over. If this happens at the beginning, it's really not a big deal.  But, if it happens at the end, you can't just erase the voice over.  You have to start over. 

Once it is saved, you will have the opportunity to choose who you want to see the ShowMe.  If you choose Private, you will be provided a link that you can send to those you want to see it.  It will also be saved in the ShowMe app.  If you choose Friends, this will post to the friends in your ShowMe account (you will need to sign up for this option), and if you post to the World, the entire ShowMe community can see it.

In my classroom, I used the private option more than anything.  I posted my videos to the world, but when it came to my students, I kept theirs private or within the friends that I had (mostly my parents). 

I received LOTS of positive feedback about using ShowMe in the classroom.  My students LOVED it because it was not a paper pencil assignment.  My parents LOVED it because it brought them into my instruction and helped them to see how I was teaching.  I LOVED it because my students were able to have me in their ears if they needed me through headphones while working.  This allowed me to work with small groups of students who needed a little more face to face time with me. 

I hope you can use it.  I would love to hear about your experience with ShowMe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tech on Tuesday

For anyone who knows me personally, it is no surprise that technology is my passion.  I love tech gadgets in my personal life, so it only makes sense that I would incorporate technology into my daily classroom activities.  Over the past 6 years especially, I have been given many opportunities to learn, experiment, and implement the latest in education technology.  My most recent experience has been with the iPad.  Saying I love this tool would be a HUGE understatement.  I have quickly determined that it is one of the most necessary items in my classroom.  Even though I have only one at this time, I have taken complete advantage of it in my classroom.

This fall I also began toying with the flipped classroom model.  The flipped classroom model incorporates the use of short videos as instruction.  The key is that these videos are watched outside of class.  Instead of me lecturing in my room on a new concept, my students watched a video of me teaching a concept through video in the comfort of their home.  The next day, students were ready to dive deep into applying the skill that was learned the night before.  Ideally, this model is whole class, but I taught 2nd grade this year and only tried it with a small group of students.  Guess what? It still worked.  To find out more about the flipped classroom, watch this:

This led me to Sal Kahn of Kahn Academy.  He is essentially doing the same thing, just on a grander scale. 

 I think the simplicity of the technology is what makes it work.  Today I went to the Upstate Technology Conference and the keynote speaker, Dr. Lodge McCammon, professor at University of North Carolina, shared a simple way to create videos using a video camera and posters or paper slides. 

I did things a little differently in my classroom because I had an iPad.  I used the ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard application.

This app has become my best friend.  It is a screen capture application that records sound and your writing at the same time.  I used this app to create short videos that my students watched in order to learn a concept.  Here is an example:

After my students watched the video, they were then responsible for completing practice problems in the classroom, meeting with me to correct misconceptions and misunderstandings, and then as a final assessment, students created their own ShowMe to prove what was learned.

David's example:

After testing this out for a few weeks, I noticed the following:
1.  Fewer interruptions because students were engaged in applying the skill.  I was no longer dealing with behavior that interrupted the introduction of a concept.

2.  Students were engaged at their level and their pace.  Students had access to the videos in class and were able to rewind and listen again if needed. 

3.  Students were motivated.  Everyone wanted a chance to record proof that they learned what was taught. 

4.  When given the final assessment, students scored an average of 87% on the test.  No one scored below an 80%.

In the coming year, I have already mapped out the math skills that need video tutorials created.  I cannot wait to implement this within a full classroom of 4th graders.  I challenge you to try it out in your own classroom this year. Start small.  Choose one area and a small group setting. I'd be interested in hearing your story.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Steps

Today I'm setting out to accomplish something that I've wanted to do for some time now.  I'm starting a teaching blog!  I'm excited about this new venture and the path that it will take.  I've had a teaching blog that I've used sporadically over the years, but wanted to start fresh - new name, new ideas, new year.  I'm not exactly sure what it will look like or evolve to be yet.  My first ideas are to have it as a resource for other teachers or parents, a journal that chronicles my journey as a teacher, and a place where my students can visit to see their work being shared with a greater audience.  Hopefully, it will be a place for video tutorials and resources that others can use as well.  I've been inspired by other teachers who have kept a blog that I have visited for inspiration over the years, so now it's my turn.