A Great Series of Resources

Tom B. has created a couple of amazing slideshows about using Google Docs, Google Earth, Interactive Whiteboards and Flip Video cameras in the classroom. The ideas are rich and if you are wondering about these programs, Tom’s slideshows should point you in the right direction.

I found this one about the flip/portable video cameras to be very helpful:

Peace (in sharing),


The Lost/Found Generation Video

Stay with this one, as the narrative first moves forward with one message, and then backwards with the real message. It is simple in production, and yet the simplicity of it makes it powerful. Just voice and words.

But think of the writing that went into this — knowing that it would have multiple meanings when read forward and then backward. Very cool.

Peace (in the found generation)


The Staff Talent Show: Stray Cat Strut

I should have know someone would have videotaped our staff act at the Talent Show and put it up on YouTube. I don’t mind. In fact, it allows me to share it with you (I shared it with all of my students today since some of them did not attend the event).

That’s me on the saxophone — in white shirt and black hat. And we are playing live — no lip syncing for us. Everyone on stage is a member of our staff, except the drummer, who is a friend of the staff (he drums for us whenever we have a need).

Peace (as a real cool cat),

21st Century Learning

Another interesting video, with intro from Library of Congress.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/2L2XwWq4_BY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

This is the blurb that goes with the video:

21st Century Learning Matters” – The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources – Colorado project at Metro State College of Denver, in partnership with the Colorado Council on 21st Century Learning, produced the video. “21st Century Learning Matters” provides an introduction and conversation starter for considering the transformations needed in education. For more information please visit http://tpscolorado.mscd.edu or http://www.C21L.org/ .

Peace (in learning the future),

TILT — Using PowerPoint for Multimedia

I just came across this very neat site in my RSS Feeder and it seems interesting. It’s called Tilt (or Teachers Improving Learning with Technology) and it features video tutorials on a wide range of tools. I went there and this one popped up first. It has to do with using Powerpoint for multimedia story creations, something I have been working on the last few years.

I am also about to have my students work on hyperlinked poem cycles and I had the morning epiphany that we could use Powerpoint as the platform — for ease of use, ease of sharing and familiarity for my students. (more on this kind of project is coming later in the week, including the huge hyperlinked poem project that I have composed)

Here is the Tilt video:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=4008024170648596903" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

There are plenty of other good video tutorials, too, such as:

  • Interactive Math Sites
  • Using Excel to create a Timeline
  • How to Videocast
  • Web-based applications
  • and more

Peace (in sharing),

Sketching out my head

Stacey, over at Two Writing Teachers, had this link in post this week (sent forth by her mom) and I just love it. It’s called Sketchcast and it allows you to draw and embed into your blog (and with the new freedom of Edublogs, you can embed it right into a post now with going through hoops and hurdles).

Here is a sample I made about a look inside my cluttered head:

I am wondering how to bring this into the classroom, as my kids don’t have their own email addresses. I might be able to use the Google Email Hack, though. Or maybe I can set up a classroom account and just let multiple kids create multiple sketches at the same time.
Peace (in sketch form),

The Story of Stuff

A few weeks ago, I came across this project called The Story of Stuff. I was intrigued. It was this minimalistic video that talks about how the consumer-driven world is impacting our planet, and moves from one aspect of creating “stuff” all the way to disposing “stuff” in landfills and incinerators. There are some political parts, of course, including a few swipes at President Bush (for urging us all to go shopping in the aftermath of 9/11) and Wal-Mart (for artificially keeping prices low by paying low wages and buying goods from developing countries)

I wanted to show it to my students and bought the DVD (10 bucks).

Yesterday, after an introduction and conversation about this disposable world that we live in, my students watched the movie and they were fascinated and a bit shocked by the message in the movie. It really sparked some interesting discussions and I made sure to end it all on a positive note: they are going to be leaders in our world and they have the opportunity to make a difference and this issue of sustainability is going to loom large in their lives as young adults.

Here is the last part of The Story of Stuffmovie as a Youtube version:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Zam9DZ43Cl0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]From a moviemaking perspective, I found the minimalistic approach fascinating and the kids were riveted by the combination of illustration and this woman just talking to us about these very deep concepts. It reminded a few of the students of the more recent UPS commercials (see? everything is commercial-driven) with the interactive whiteboard and I was reminded of the CommonCraft videos on blogging, wikis, etc.

At the Story of Stuff weblog, there is also a post about how educators can use the video and some other related links for kids.

Peace (in a world with less stuff but more compassion),

My Long Journey into Video Streaming

Just over a year ago, I decided to try to move deeper into the convergence of video and the web (see the Collaborative ABC Project for one aspect of that investigation). When doing class projects with students, I have often burned the videos onto DVD (time-consuming when you have 80 students) and worked to share them via our class websites and weblogs (yes, we have a school website and two different blogs — one for daily homework assignments and one for showcasing work from my writing class). In doing so, I have relied on either YouTube (although almost never) and GoogleVideo (more commonly) or TeacherTube (sporadically). My concern is always the links that bring my students eyeballs to inappropriate places. (With TeacherTube, it is has been a frustration with the buffering time).

So, after filming 24 different puppet shows last week and wanting to share the videos with both students (they never get to see their own shows as they are behind the puppet theater) and their families, I decided that I wanted to find a way to host the videos and stream them myself. This way, I have complete control.

It hasn’t been easy, partly due to my own lack of knowledge about web hosting and video conversion, etc. But I think my perseverance has paid off.

Here is my journey:

First, I took videos of the 24 puppets shows on my digital camcorder, and then used MovieMaker to create small versions with titles. But the files are still huge and really not in any state to embed in websites. One thing you learn quickly about video is how huge the files are going to be if you want any sort of quality.

So, I posted a query to the Classroom 2.0 Ning Community, asking about advice, and some folks were very helpful. It was here that I began to realize that I needed to convert my movie files into a flash or Shockwave format. This makes for better streaming. I experimented with YouConvertIt and it worked but it was slow. So I bought a video conversion program called SoThink video encoder, which is very flexible and allows for converting videos to different kinds of formats. Thus began much experimenting about size of files to be created and formats. I went through a whole process of creating flash movies before I realized that shockwave is better for streaming (I am trying to cut back on the buffering as much as possible).

After converting all of the files to a SWF format (shockwave), I then thought about how to host the files. At Classroom 2.0, some folks suggested using my school server (not an option for me for both space reasons and for access reasons). I tinkered with using my Box.Net account, where I host my podcasts and store important files as a backup, and that worked but it ate up a lot of my alloted space. So I turned to a video hosting site called 4Shared Video and paid for a Silver account that allows you to embed video that you have in your account.

puppet1 (7)

So, after many hours of uploading the videos, I now had to figure out how to embed the files. I used Google Search and came upon a site called (ahem) Free Video Codes that will generate html code for embedding video files being hosted elsewhere. It was very handy and easy to use.

So now I had my videos stored somewhere, and I had the code to embed, and now what? I needed a way to showcase the movies. I tried out a variety of different things. I embedded some of the videos into my school homepage but found the buffering of multiple videos just too much. Someone at Classroom 2.0 suggested using my Wikispaces site, and I did try that but found it wasn’t what I wanted.

Once again, I turned to Google again. If you have a gmail account, you have access to something to Google Page Creator, which allows you to create websites under the Google umbrella. I realized that the site now allows you to set up multiple domains, which is nice since I could not establish a website just for the puppet shows. I then created a title page, with links to an individual page for each movie. So the entire site is now 25 pages.

puppet1 (3)

I know some students and families are going to want a copy of the puppet show videos, and I am in no mood to burn DVDs. So, what I did now was uploaded the video files into my Box.Net account, made a download link, and placed that link below each of the movies on the websites. Now kids and families can watch the movies on the web and download their own versions.

Tomorrow, I will share the actual Puppet Play Website.

I suppose that is enough informationfor now, but I hope it will help others who may be thinking along the same lines as me and want to know a path to showcasing student videos without the use of a hosting source. (Of course, you could just use YouTube or GoogleVid or TeacherTube and make things easier for yourself).

Peace (in puppets),

Testing Video

I am going to write more about this later this week but I have been on a self-exploratory mission to learn more about embedding video without the use of Google or YouTube or TeacherTube, etc.

It has to do with showcasing puppet shows for families and not wanting to have any external links, and fast buffering (we have wireless in our school and if I have 20 students viewing puppet shows, I need a quick buffer).

So here is a test:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.box.net/shared/static/fs58j88g88.swf" width="350" height="300" wmode="transparent" /]