Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Halloween: Dance Their Energy Away (With Tips For Using YouTube)

Lots Of Halloween Energy? Try Some Halloween Energizers!

I remember the excitement I felt around Halloween as a kid. As a teacher, I tend to live more vicariously through my students now. As fun as it is to see students excited, it also can be challenging to keep them focussed and motivated. I find movement breaks can help.

In this blog post I will share Halloween movement break videos (see the playlists embedded below), I will walk through how to create and edit YouTube playlists and how to save playlists made by others. At the end I will share how I try to minimize distractions when using YouTube.

Thanks to M.F., S.M., and A.K. for their suggestions!

Halloween Dance Videos

FSL Halloween VIdeos

Halloween Movement Breaks (Younger Students)

YouTube Playlists

Movement breaks are a regular part of my classroom routine. During exciting times of the year, I use them even more. To help me access them quickly, I create YouTube playlists. This is helpful because it helps me organize the videos and then I have them ready to go year after year. I also like making playlists because often the videos are too short for what I want. For example, my Halloween physical education lesson is often done in class as the gym is often closed. If I want to have the dance portion of my lesson to be 20 minutes, I create a playlist that links a number of dances together. I still have the option of pausing or skipping a video.

To create a YouTube playlist you will need a YouTube channel. If you have a Google For Apps for Education (GAFE) account, you will probably already have a YouTube account. You may just need to activate it. When you go to, look in the top right hand corner. You will either see a blue sign in button or your avatar/icon for GAFE (this indicates you are already signed in).

Tip: If you do not have time to create a playlist, you can find the videos you watched most recently by going to "History" on the left side panel.

If  you want to create a playlist, there are different ways you can go about it. One way is to select My Channel or Library on the left. I suggest selecting "Library". Then you will have the option to make a new playlist. The new playlist button will have a plus sign.

You will be prompted to make a title. Also consider if you want your playlist available to others. You will see a globe with the word Public and an arrow. Public means anyone can search for and find your playlist. Unlisted means it is not searchable but anyone with the link to your playlist can use/view it. Private means only you can access/view the playlist. Note the default is Public and you have to select drop down menu to see the options. 

Once you have created your playlist YouTube will take you to the playlist settings page. Here you can edit your playlist. There are many options. Three that are important to know (to start with) are:
  1. You can delete you playlist from this page. Select the three dots on the right.
  2. You can change your playlist from Public to Unlisted to Private here at anytime.
  3. You do not need to know the videos you want to add yet. 

If you do know the video(s) you want to add, select add video button and follow the instructions. If you do not know all the videos you want to add yet, you can leave your playlist settings page (no need to save) and start searching videos. 

When you find a YouTube video you like, you can add it to one or more playlist you already have. If you are like me, and have many playlists, you may want to use the search tool (box with magnifying class under Add to) to find the playlist quickly. You can create a new playlist within this option, as well. The create new playlist option is at the very bottom of the drop down menu.

Does Order Matter?

Depending on what/how you are using your playlist, you may nor may not care the order the videos appear. YouTube will play the videos in the order you have added them to your playlist. If you wish to change the order, you will need to go into your playlist settings. To access the playlist settings, select library (left hand menu). You may see the playlist you have been working on underneath the word library (click on the playlist). If not, click on library. You should see your created playlists on the right-hand side. Select the playlist you want to edit. You can click and drag the videos by selecting and holding the small bar on the left-hand side of each video.

When you click on a video in your playlist, a drop down menu will appear on the right. It will say "more" and an X will be to the right of the menu. The X is how you delete a video from a playlist. The drop down menu gives you the option to move the video to the top or bottom of the playlist, to edit/add notes about the video or set the video as the thumbnail for the entire playlist. 

Tip For Next Year

It is useful to look at your playlist before you used it each year. Over time videos get deleted for a number of reasons. Your five video playlist from 2016 could end up being only two videos in 2017. Remember you can delete videos from your playlist. You can access the edit features when playing your playlist by going to the gear in the top right corner. 

Use Someone Else's Playlist

If you want to use someone else's playlist, you can! You will have no control over the playlist but you also do not have to spend time creating it! To find a playlist, include the word playlist in your search terms. Select view full playlist to check out what videos are included. 
When you select save playlist, it is added to your library.  To accessed any saved playlists, simply select the library option on YouTube's menu. You will see all your saved playlists under the ones you have created.

Free Is Great... But All Those Distractions

Using the extension ImprovedTube helps with some of the distractions that come with using YouTube. As it is an extension, once you install it, it will be available from your Chrome browser (to the right of the omnibox). You will have to select the setting you want to use. Click on the ImproveTube extension icon and you will get a dropdown box. I suggestion looking through all the settings. I use the options under Appearance Settings. I hide the related sidebar and I hide comments. Under Player Appearance I select Start In Large Player for player size.

Sharing Is Caring

This post is by no means exhaustive for how to use YouTube playlists. Please share your YouTube tricks or treats in the comments. Or share your favourite Halloween videos or playlists!

Further Reading/Viewing

Monday, October 10, 2016

An Interview With Alicia Kuzio Part Two

A Little Bit About Alicia

Teaching is Alicia’s second career. Alicia is currently teaching grade three. This is her third year teaching. In her short teaching career she has taught everything from grades one to six, including FSL. Check out her class website

You can find her on Google+. To quote Alicia, “in the early years of teaching, it is so vital to be connected to other educators with varying backgrounds and levels of experience to share ideas, resources, advice. We are better together.” So please add her to your PLN!

Here is part two of my interview with Alicia. Don’t forget to read part one!

The Interview Continued

How has technology changed the way you teach (if at all), as a beginning teacher?
The online and professional communities that I am a part of have enabled me to connect with other like-minded educators. In the early years of teaching, it is so vital to be connected to other educators with varying backgrounds and levels of experience to share ideas, resources, advice. We are better together.

I often reflect on how supportive the technology in my classroom is for assisting the literacy and skill challenges in my classroom. It allows opportunities to differentiate the ways that students can express what they know. I can present information and content in different ways to deepen and motivate learning.

How do you decide what is worthwhile for students to learn through technology, given literacy and skill challenges in division one?
I think of technology as a tool to support and extend learning. Given the diverse range in literacy and skill challenges in my classroom, my goal is to provide opportunities for students to have meaningful engagement in their learning and deepen their understanding.

What apps or technology tools do you use? Are there any that you use for specific projects?

  • Google Apps for Education! We most often use Docs, Slides and Forms.
  • National Film Board for short, relevant and engaging videos.
  • Canadian Wildlife Federation for their interactive classrooms (Wild Spaces) that allow classes across Canada to interact by sharing pictures and stories about the wild space that they have created or post environmental school events.
  • Storybird for creating original stories from a stock of interesting and captivating illustrations and images.
  • Kidblog was very engaging for my students to publish original texts and to read responses.

What are your hopes for educational technology in the future in your classroom?

My hope is that educational technology continues to grow social, cultural, global and environmental responsibility and understanding through interconnectedness. Through innovation and creativity, I hope that it can be equitable and accessible to all learners.

Check back for the November interview with Amanda Fahey.

Related blog posts:

Monday, October 3, 2016

An Interview With Alicia Kuzio Part One

Perspective From A Beginning Teacher

I have had the privilege of knowing Alicia Kuzio from almost the start of her teaching career. She was a nine-week student teacher in a grade one class I taught health to for thirty minutes once a week. We have kept in touch via Google+ and email since. What struck me about Alicia from the start was her positive attitude, her interest in developing a PLN and her desire to be a life-long learner. I was thrilled to have a chance for a face-to-face chat this summer.

About Alicia

Teaching is Alicia’s second career. Her first career was publishing and marketing but it did not fill her heart the way teaching does. She wants to make an impact on the world. I think after reading this interview, you will realize that she does.

Alicia is currently teaching grade three in the English program in a German Bilingual School. This is her third year teaching. In her short teaching career she has taught everything from grades one to six, including French as a second language (FSL). She has started an environmental club that created a school garden at her school which was supported by grants through Evergreen Canada and Canadian Wildlife Federation. They actually provided Alicia with plants that attract pollinators! Check out the Canadian Wildlife Federation documentary at the Muttart Conservatory which her class was a part of last year.

You can find her on Google+. To quote Alicia, “in the early years of teaching, it is so vital to be connected to other educators with varying backgrounds and levels of experience to share ideas, resources, advice. We are better together.” So please add her to your PLN!

The Interview

What technology skills should students have before coming into grade three?
I would like students to begin to develop their problem solving/troubleshooting skills. For example, turning a device on/off when they encounter problems and interacting with their peers prior to asking for my assistance. I have found exchanging information and sharing ideas helps create an encouraging and collaborative learning community.

Other key skills:
  • independence with logging into a device
  • an awareness of password confidentiality
  • a growing understanding of digital citizenship

Where do you get your educational technology ideas?
I am grateful for the diversity in the learning communities online that allow me to connect with other educators and share ideas and resources. I like the immediacy and reach of Google+ and the ability to be a part of specific learning communities and connected educators and other inspiring individuals.

Teaching can be isolating so I think having a combination of an online and a physical community of people makes all the difference.

My colleagues at Rideau Park have been incredibly supportive and collaborative. Our leadership culture fostered this community of sharing ideas and resources. We are very fortunate to have an  Edmonton Public Library (EPL) right across the street from our school. They have fostered a collaborative and supportive relationship with our school.  Everyone in my class received their own library card. EPL facilitated a makerspace in our classroom last year with Makey Makey and LittleBits Technology. By having the EPL programs come into your school, you are having them promote literacy (and digital literacy) as well as their educational programs that at the heart create a place for people to connect and have access to tools they may otherwise not have access to.

What type of technology do you use in your school?
Chromebooks, iPads, Smartboards and desktop computers.

Imagine you only could keep one technology at your school. From the ones you listed about what would be the one you would keep?

Based on your response to the question above. Why would you keep that technology?
I am interested in the usability of Chromebooks and how they support the diverse needs of my students to create, innovate, communicate and explore. They are great for working with Google - Gmail, Docs, Drive, and everything is easily stored in the cloud.

What is one piece of technology would you like to try in your classroom that you haven't had an opportunity to yet?
It would be fascinating to try a 3D printer to connect with our grade three Testing Materials and Designs Science unit.

What is something new or different you are planning to try this year?  
I really enjoyed learning about the Global Read Aloud last year on your blog. I am interested in the opportunity to connect and collaborate with a global community of educators. I love that the simple goal is: “one book to connect the world”. It is a beautiful way to weave global citizenship, literacy and technology together.

Check back next week for part two of my interview with Alicia.