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:

Digital Storytelling Toolkit from WeVideo

WeVideo Digital Storytelling ToolkitRecently I did a tutorial series on using WeVideo in the classroom and specifically with student Chromebooks. While some of the topics discuss tools that are only available under an education license, many of the tutorials apply equally to the free version of WeVideo. Now WeVideo has released a toolkit to help teachers and students turn this web-based tool into a powerful digital storytelling vehicle, and it’s completely FREE!


  1. First up in the Digital Storytelling Toolkit are several graphic organizer templates to help students organize their thoughts and ideas for digital storytelling, how-to video tutorials, and basic video storyboarding.
  2. Next in the toolkit are Examples for how to integrate digital storytelling into your classroom that includes public service announcements, big ideas inside of little moments, and news casting.
  3. Finally, check out their Reflection prompts to help students deepen their understanding and evaluation Rubrics to give students meaningful feedback.

For more information, check out the video below from WeVideo/Chief Education Officer Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad and their website.

Recent Updates to Google Classroom

Google recently announced some updates to their Google Classroom app with a focus on improving communication with students as well as with parents/guardians. If you’d like to watch this review online then click here.

Comment Settings move to STREAM

Classroom commenting tool drop-down menuThe configuration box for controlling the commenting ability of students has been moved from the STUDENTS tab to the STREAM tab. The actual functions haven’t changed; you can still set the public or “class” commenting privileges for students, just that the tool is now located on the tab where the commenting actually takes place:

  • Students can post and comment
  • Students can only comment
  • Only teachers can  post and comment

Manually send Guardian Summaries

Email student or guardians envelope iconGuardian Summaries are a way for parents to get regular updates on how their child is doing in their classes through Google Classroom. Go to the STUDENT tab and click on the name of a student in the list to take you to their “Your work” tool. By clicking on the envelope icon in the top-right corner, now teachers can manually send a Guardian Summary to a student, the guardian(s) of the student, or both the student and the guardian(s). After selecting your receiver, there is a space below to enter a quick message. Don’t forget to check off the box to Include student work summary if you want that information included in the transmission. NOTE: A guardian must have accepted the invite prior to this point in order to include them in this communique.

Guardian summary email tool


Teachers & Co-Teachers

About section-teacher managementNothing much to say here except that the footprint of this module has been made smaller. You still use this tool to add co-teachers to your class, remove them, email them, or transfer ownership of the class to another. Students still see the list of co-teachers for the class and an envelope icon to send an email to them.

As always, if you like these changes or have suggestions for some new ones then please do not hesitate to send Google feedback via the question mark “?” icon located in the bottom-left corner of the window.


EDU in 90 Video Series

youtube-512From Google for Education, EDU in 90 is a YouTube video series designed to help keep you informed and up-to-date with news and information relevant to educators, administrators, and others in the teaching and learning community. And, they crunch these updates into 90-second bite-size pieces. For more information you can subscribe to the Google for Education YouTube channel, and to make sure you don’t miss you regular dose of “Google for Education goodness” you can save EDU in 90 to your YouTube playlist library.

#FirstDayofClassroom

As the summer break comes to an end and educators begin preparations for the return of students (and with some already in session), now seems like a good time to chat about the benefits that Google Classroom can have on your class. Google has been hard at work during the summer hiatus listening to the feedback they’ve received from educators like you and have introduced significant improvements to the app. We will spend the next weeks going over these changes, some of which are very, very cool!

To begin, Google has announced a new resource for educators called #FirstDayofClassroom, which has a little something for everyone.

  • If you’re new to Classroom, then check out “The Basics” with YouTube videos that cover setting up your class, adding students, assigning work, and grading assignments inside of Classroom.
  • If you’ve tried Classroom before and are looking for the next steps, then check out the “Teacher’s Lounge” with videos on tips, tricks, and best practices from fellow educators.

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  • Do you prefer documents over videos that you can print out and have in-hand at a moment’s notice? Then scroll down to the “Handy Guides” section.

screenshot of 3 PDF guides available for download

If you or someone you know is new to Google Classroom then this site is definitely bookmark-worthy. If you are familiar with Classroom or perhaps even a veteran, then check back often for news and updates as additional resources and support materials are in the works.

 

Spotting Fake News Using Your Citation Skills

fake-1903823_640.jpgBack in December I shared a post on How to Spot Fake News, citing an article from Common Sense Media as a good read for this topic. The timing of this was a handy coincidence as I was in the process of teaching my 5th graders about plagiarism and finding trustworthy sources. Fast-forward to February, a new semester, and a new group of 6th graders to teach. As I get ready to teach my lesson on Copyright, Creative Commons and Citations, yet another article has surfaced connecting the process of citing the source with being able to spot fake news.

In an article from EasyBib on 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article, author Michele Kirschenbaum entertains the idea that the credibility of a news article can be determined in part by the ease with which we can build a proper citation for it. The success or failure to answer the questions that Kirschenbaum lists can give us an idea of how trustworthy the source may be. For example, if the article includes citations and references to where it got its facts from then that’s a good sign. However, if you have to hunt to identify who the author of the article is then this could be a red flag.

Constructing a proper citation from online sources is not always easy, even when you employ citation tools such as EasyBib, Citation Machine, or the Explore Tool inside of Google Docs. However, if a source is proving to be particularly difficult to cite then that might be a sign that its credibility should be questioned and that more scrutiny of the source be undertaken before you incorporate any of its information into your own research.

How to Spot Fake News

newspaper-151438_640In today’s world where many people rely on social media just as much, if not more, for their daily dose of news it is becoming essential that we know how to tell the difference between ‘real’ news stories and ‘fake’ ones. With the hand-held technologies we have today news stories of every kind can easily be posted and shared, spreading like digital wildfire. As a result, it is our responsibility to educate our students as they grow up in this environment on how to find the truth among all of the opinions, biases, and all out fake information that’s out there. But, where do we begin?

Check out this article from Common Sense Media on How to Spot Fake News (and Teach Kids to Be Media-Savvy). In this article, author Sierra Filucci discusses how to look at news stories critically and ask questions to help determine their validity. These questions can also be applied to research skills when using online sources. Too often, when my 5th grade students research something online for me and I ask them, “What’s your source?” they often answer with: “Google.” I feel like they’re not taking the time to verify who is giving them the answer. So that is why we are taking the time to really focus on taking those old “W” questions (Who?, When?, Where?, etc.) and applying them to our online research, as well as developing a list of trusted primary sources who we can go to first with our questions.