Using YouTube as a Teacher’s Aid

YouTube app icon

I remember the day that I walked into an elementary art classroom and saw that the students were hard a work learning how to sculpt and manipulate clay. But the teacher was not at the front of the classroom leading the students in the lesson, rather it was a video from YouTube. While the “virtual” teacher continued with the lesson, the “real” was free to make the rounds in her classroom and provide students with 1-on-1 individualized support and direction.

YouTube continues to grow at an amazing pace with videos on a wide variety of topics. Common Sense Education has put together a list of their Top YouTube Channels to Boost Classroom Lessons that teachers could use both in and outside of the classroom.


In addition to their list, here are a couple of channels that I’ve used to support my Digital Citizenship lessons:

  • Brooke Gibbs – Author/speaker and authority on bullying in the schoolyard and workplace.
  • Bystander Revolution – Simple acts of kindness, courage, and inclusion anyone can use to take the power out of bullying.

And a couple more that cover a variety of topics:

Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego – Episode #2

A while back I posted about the return of The Elusive Carmen Sandiego via Google Earth with the hope that this would be the first in a series of new capers for a new generation of gumshoes to solve. Thankfully Google has not disappointed us and last week they announced Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego: The Tutankhamun’s Mask Caper.

Splash screen for The Tutankhamun's Mask Cap;er

For more information, please check out this post from Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google Drive Offline: New Features

In a previous post I talked about how to setup offline access to your files inside of Google Drive. Now Google has added several features to make offline access clearer and give users more control over what files they will have access to offline.

Offline Preview

Once enabled, Google Drive offline will make certain files available for access even when you are offline. But, it will not make ALL of your files available offline. To see which files/folders are currently available offline:

  1. Move your cursor to the top-right corner of the Google Drive window and find a checkmark icon labeled, Ready for offline.
  2. Click the checkmark icon to reveal a drop-down menu with the option to toggle Offline preview on/off.
  3. When ON, icons that are grayed out are NOT currently available offline. Remember that only recently accessed Docs, Sheets, and Slides files will be made available offline by default.
Google Drive Offline preview menu


Manually mark files available offline

Google

If you would like to permanently make a file available offline, you can do so by right+clicking on any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slides file. From the context menu select the toggle switch next to Available offline. Once enabled, a checkmark icon will appear to the right of the filename denoting that this file will always be available offline.


For more information, please refer to this post on the G Suite Updates blog.

Podcasting Comes to WeVideo

Export Audio only option from the FINISH tab.

Last week WeVideo announced that they will now provide users with the ability to export audio-only projects, essentially allowing students to create their own digital radio shows or “podcasts.”

(NOTE: This option is not available under the “free version” of WeVideo, but is included with any WeVideo plan.)

Why is it important?

Giving student the choice to create movies to demonstrate their understanding provides for so much potential, creativity, and fun, but at the same time can eat up a lot of class time to allow them to produce a quality product. Creating a podcast can be done in less time because there are no visuals to worry about, and at the same time because there are no visuals students need to pay more attention to the quality of their content to ensure it communicates their knowledge and comprehension of the material.

How it works

  1. When a project is ready to be rendered, click the FINISH menu option at the top of the WeVideo editor.
  2. On the FINISH page, next to “Export” you will now see two options: Video with audio and Audio only. Audio only will export the project as a .mp3 file.
  3. You can export prior projects that contain visual components as audio only files. This could be an interesting test to see how well the audio components alone work to support the project’s message, or show how powerful using appropriate visuals can be to the telling of a story.

For more information, please refer to this post from the WeVideo Blog.

Google Classroom: 3 Updates for “Classwork” Tab

Last week Google announced three changes they’ve made to the Classwork tab inside of Google Classroom designed to make finding and organizing information easier.


New attachments display with preview

All attachments to a post will now be given more space for the file name. For those that still are not displayed in full, hovering over the file will display the entire title. In addition, attachments will once again display a thumbnail preview of the file/link, making it easier for users to quickly identify the content they want to access. These features also apply to how posts are displayed on the Stream tab.

Attachment preview thumbnails and full file name via hover button

Filter by Topic is BACK!

You can again filter the Classwork page by topic using the topics list displayed in the top-left corner of the page. When filtering by topic you will see:

Topics filter list in Classroom
  • Each post expanded to show the entirety of text entered in the directions area of the post.
  • All attachments added to the post.
  • Turned-in, Assigned, and Graded counts for teachers.
  • Post status for students (Assigned, Turned In, Missing, Returned, and Graded).

Clicking on the “All topics” heading will return the Classwork page to its original layout.

New items post to the TOP

Starting with all newly created classes, when using the ‘Create’ option to make a new Assignment, Question, Material, or Reusing an old post, Classroom will add that post to the TOP of the Classwork page instead of at the bottom. NOTE: This feature is not available in current classes to: “…prevent this change from impacting classes you’ve already organized.”


For more information on these updates, please refer to this Google Classroom Help Center article.

A Parent’s Guide to AirDrop

What’s AirDrop and Why Are Kids Using It? – by Caroline Knorr

AirDrop icon from Apple iOS

AirDrop is a feature built-in to most Apple devices that allows users to easily transfer files from one device to another. I use these service all the time to quickly and easily transfer photos I’ve taken on my iPhone to my Apple laptop or even larger video files from the schools’ tripod-mounted iPad. However, with any file sharing service there is the potential for misuse and abuse. Being aware of the positive and negative uses is part of what it means to be a good digital citizen.

Common Sense Media has put together a parent’s guide to using AirDrop and the things to look out for when it comes to its use by kids. As a Digital Citizenship teacher, I am a firm advocate of educating students on the positive ways to use technology instead of denying them access. However there are situations where this action may be warranted and the article includes directions on how to “turn off” AirDrop on a kid’s device. For me personally, I have set up AirDrop so that I can use it but that only users who are listed in my Contacts can see my device.

AirDrop options from iPhone

You can also find information about how AirDrop works from this Apple Support article.