LOST: A New Series (on powerpoint)

In my travels around the world, I’ve noticed the peculiar habits and idiosyncrasies of various teachers, schools sites, and districts and have come to a startling realization about one of our uses of the technology known as PowerPoint: there are, as by some magical force like the Bermuda Triangle, a series of LOST PowerPoint slides that escape our PowerPoint presentations.

In Indiana Jones-style, I have searched the world, found, and collected these mysterious PowerPoint slides, which I now bring to you in, Lost: A New Series (on PowerPoint).

Here is Missing PPT Slide #1: LOST-the-missing-powerpoint-slides

Switching Between Programs: Alt-Tab Keyboard Shortcut

Alt-Tab: Have you discovered Alt-Tab? If so, you probably have realized how useful this simple little combination of keys can be. The purpose of Alt-Tab is to simplify toggling back and forth between two separate programs. Give it a try. If you are running two programs at once simply hold the Alt button (located right next to your spacebar) down and tap the tab button (right over the Caps Lock button). When you let go of the Tab button you will see a listing of every program that you are using on your computer. If you continue to tap the Tab button you can choose which program you would like to open.

Let go of the Alt button and that program will open. Only have two programs open or just left the program you would like to open? If that is so, just tap tab and then let go immediately of Alt and you can toggle quickly back and forth between the two programs. This may not seem like much but you could find yourself hitting these two keys more as a reflex instead of using the mouse to do the same thing.

(Tip of the hat to Jim Zone from Ocean View School District for sharing this beautiful tip).

Get Cute! (How to Make a PDF file)

Have you ever needed to create a PDF (portable document format) file? I don’t mean read one; I mean actually create a PDF file from another program (Word, for example). This can be a little tricky if you don’t own Adobe Acrobat, which can run well over $100! Well, there is a free solution: CutePDF!  Point your browser to http://www.cutepdf.com/ to get the freeware version of this program.

After you install the program, it’s simple to create a PDF file.

1) With your Word document open, go to File, then to Print.  Under Print, you will be able to select CutePDF as a printer.

2) Click Print – it won’t print on your printer.  It “prints” magically to a pdf file.

3) A window will pop up to save your new PDF file.   Make sure you save to a convenient location (use the dropdown at the top of the window to navigate to Desktop or Documents, or whereever you choose.

Why would you want a PDF file?

1) It’s more professional in appearance to have a document open in Adobe Reader than Word – since that’s a viewing program not an editing program.  Think of a syllabus that you might post online for students and parents.

2) It helps protect your content in case you don’t want people to change your content easily.  A PDF file can’t be altered whereas a Word document opens in Word, can be edited and saved immediately.  A PDF file must be copied and pasted to another program in order to make changes, so there’s additional steps required to make changes.

The first paragraph and the inspiration for this article came from Ed Tech Teacher Jim Zone (Ocean View School District).  I’ve added more detail to the steps to use Cute PDF and the rationale for why you might want a PDF file.

How to Use Animoto for Instruction

Here’s our most ambitious video tutorial to date: how to use a Creative Commons image search, Animoto, and Freeplaymusic.com to create an unforgettable instructional moment that you can use in your classroom. You can easily share these free resources with and teach this technique to students too!

How did we create this?

Watch the tutorial video:  How to Use Animoto, Creative Commons Images and Freeplay music for instruction

Use You Tube to Open Class

Steps for Using You Tube for an opener:

1) Cue up the clip

2) Show the clip

3) Process the clip with four levels of questions that lead students from knowledge/recall to interpretation, evaluation, and synthesis!

– What did you see? (fact)

– How did you feel? (emotion)

– What did you learn? (interpretation)

– How can we apply this to class today? (application/evaluation/synthesis depending on how it’s phrased)

All of this within the first five minutes of class!

Two clips that Tom Spain recommends:

– You Tube search for “dancing  eyebrows” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVblWq3tDwY)

– You Tube search for “Fordham baseball” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtUlc0-6z8A)

The Psychology of the Video Clip

I don’t know about you, but as an English teacher I was always faced with resistance from students when I showed video clips.  Everything started off just fine when I pushed “play” but when I went to push “stop” or “pause” to engage in some learning activity, whether it be a reflective question, a think-pair-share, or a writing assignment based on the video clip, you’d think the world was coming to an end  from the moaning and groaning.  I wish I could say this was only in middle school (which it certainly was), but it happened in high school, too.

Now, be encouraged!  There’s hope!  If you get in the habit of showing a one-minute You Tube clip at the opening of class, not only will you gain your students attention, change their emotional feeling in the classroom, and possibly spark some interesting learning-focused discussion (depending on the quality of your questions), you will also be training your students to understand video clips as a distinct unit of educational experience.

Prior to coming in to your classroom, students experience watching videos and movies as a leisure activity.  When you show a video in the classroom, the students merely borrow expectations from their past experience and  assume that this current interaction with video will be the same – dim lights, popcorn, and relaxation.  And of course, it can be argued that after years of watching videos in classes, students would be used to seeing short video clips for instructional purposes.  If they don’t react that way, then we have two possibilities: 1) they are not used to seeing short video clips for instructional purposes or 2) they are and yet they whine and complain when the video shuts off in order to derail your lesson.  Either way, our students need to be re-programmed!

Showing a You Tube clip at the beginning of class is a great way to set expectations for students for a productive interaction with video: 1) I show the video and we all get focused on some entertaining or stimulating visual content, and then 2) moments later, I ask you to process that information or produce something that demonstrates your thinking. (*this brilliant thought is courtesy of Tom Spain)

Another way of looking at this: use the cultural currency of You Tube (students understand seeing a brief clip from countless hours of entertaining themselves and friends at home surfing You Tube) to retrain your students to expect brief video experiences followed by rich discussion or engaging writing prompts.

Video, video and more video!

Arguably, one of the easiest – in terms of teacher skill required – and most compelling uses of technology in a classroom – in terms a grabbing students’ attention – is to use video. Given the proper equipment, clicking play is a low level skill. However, finding suitable and engaging videos takes time.

What if I could simplify the process of searching for videos for you? Here’s a page that lists the top 100 video sites that educators should know about (thanks to www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com for compiling these resources).

Educational Video Collections

These sites are full of videos on a wealth of topics that can help grab your students’ attention.

  1. Teacher Tube: On this site, teachers can post their own educational videos and find videos made by others on virtually every topic out there.
  2. Edublogs.tv: Visit this site to search through a great collection of educational content.
  3. Edutopia: Sponsored by George Lucas, this site contains some great lesson plans as well as an assortment of lectures and inspiring videos.
  4. You Tube Edu: Check out this site to get access to the great content offered by YouTube, but narrowed down to all but educational videos.
  5. EduTube: Here you’ll find educational videos on just about every topic you could imagine.
  6. Classroom Clips: If you’re looking for teacher submitted and approved video and audio content for your courses, give this site a try.
  7. neoK12: This site believes that kids learn better by seeing and doing, and offers a wide range of educational videos and games to help them do it.
  8. Scholar Spot: Designed with both students and teachers in mind, this site has lots of educational content including lectures, animated videos and inspiring news stories.
  9. OV Guide: If you still haven’t found the video you’re looking for, consider paying a visit to this site. It will help you search through hundreds of sites for the best educational content on the web.
  10. Cosmo Learning: This educational site offers videos that can work well for students from grade school as well as those geared towards high school or college students.
  11. Google Educational Videos: Here you’ll find instructions on how to search through Google Videos and bring up only those that relate to education.
  12. Lectr: On this site teachers and students alike can find free lectures from learning institutions around the world.

General Video Collections

These sites do offer some great educational content, but contain other types of videos as well.

  1. Hulu: Hulu carries a lot of everyday, pure entertainment TV shows, but it also streams programs from PBS and National Geographic that can be great for classroom use.
  2. Internet Archive: This site compiles videos from all over the web, giving you access to archives, public domain movies and a whole lot more.
  3. TED: Get your students or even yourself inspired with the amazing lectures posted on this site.
  4. MIT World: Hear from some of the world’s foremost scholars in lectures provided by MIT.
  5. TVO Big Ideas: On this site you’ll be able to hear from some big names in business, politics and activism and get a look at how they feel about some of the bigger issues facing our world.
  6. Big Think: Check out this site from video programming that asks you to truly think about a topic. Not all videos may be appropriate for the classroom, but there are definitely a few that could spark some interesting conversation.
  7. The Open Video Project: If you want access to loads of public domain digital video, go through the archives collected on this high-tech library site.
  8. @Google Talks: Hear from experts in fields like history, technology and business in this impressive collection of lectures from Google.
  9. Forum Network: This PBS site is absolutely full of video lectures from authors, academics and thinkers, but you’ll also find some great free PBS programs on topics that are especially relevant to history, science and technological education.
  10. UChannel: On this site you’ll find video lectures from some of the most prestigious institutions around the world.

Teacher Education

Check out these sites to find some videos that will help you learn more about the subjects you teach and the technology you use.

  1. Academic Earth: Visit this site to see a wide range of lectures and courses from schools like Yale, Princeton and MIT, giving you the opportunity to learn more about your subject matter without spending a dime.
  2. Teacher Training Videos: If you need a little extra instruction on working with technology or students with ESL needs, check out the free content on this site.
  3. iMovie in Teacher Education: This site will show you how you can use iMovie, and by extension videos and interactive experiences, more effectively in your classroom.
  4. Classroom 2.0 Video: Those who struggle with implementing technology in the classroom should check out the videos on this site. You’ll learn how to do a wide range of technological tasks and there are lesson-worthy videos on the site as well.
  5. Atomic Learning: Use the videos on this site to find out how to harness the power for 21st century technological tools for more effective teaching. Most of the content comes at a cost, so you may want to try to talk your school district into sponsoring it.
  6. iTunesU: Take some of the free courses and lectures on this site to brush up on your knowledge of your specialty subject matter or just about anything else.
  7. Videos for Personal Development: Check out this site for a listing of some truly great personal development videos that will help your general teaching skills as well as your technological knowledge.
  8. Learner.org: While you will find a great deal of video content that can be of use in the classroom, the real wealth of this site lies in the great personal development materials for teachers.

Lesson Planning

These video sites offer some great content to add to your lesson plans, and many are geared towards students so they can use them at home as well.

  1. Teachers Domain: Create a free profile on this site and you will get access to hundreds of lessons with accompanying videos, photos and other media.
  2. Meet Me at the Corner: This site offers students educational programming, book clubs, podcasting lessons and even virtual field trips–all great additions to lessons.
  3. WatchKnow: Designed for younger students, this site is home to some great educational videos on everything from inspirational biographies to ESL help.
  4. BrainPOP: While not all the content on this site is free, teachers can still find some great animated videos on a wide range of topics on this site for use in the classroom.
  5. Kids Know It Network: This site contains videos on topics like dinosaurs, biology, geography, history and math that are free to use and share.
  6. Khan Academy: This not-for-profit organization wants people everywhere to have access to educational content, and on their site, you can find instructional videos on numerous topics.
  7. Awesome Stories Video: Use the videos on this site in all kinds of lessons. You’ll find content that ranges from discussing the lives of penguins in Antarctica to the role of African Americans in WWII.
  8. Nobel Prize Lectures: Why not augment a lecture about a famous face in history with a real clip of them giving a Nobel Prize lecture or a documentary about their life? You’ll find both here.
  9. John Locker: Choose a subject like history, science or even sports on this site and you’ll get access to some amazing educational content.
  10. Teachers’ TV: This site is a goldmine for teachers, with videos posted by subject, grade level, popularity and with the added bonus of a special section for professional development as well.

Science, Math and Technology

On these sites, the videos focus on the fields of science, math and technology.

  1. Green Energy TV: Teach your students about the latest innovations in green technologies with free videos from this site.
  2. Research Channel: The programming on this Internet TV site highlights some of the latest research being done in science, technology, medicine and even the humanities so you can educate yourself and your students on the next big things.
  3. BioInteractive: Explore biology with a little help from this site, offering videos and animations that can be a big help in teaching complex topics.
  4. ARKive: For lessons about the natural world, this site is perfect. It contains a wide range of videos on the animal and plant life of Earth.
  5. Math TV: If your students are struggling to understand a mathematical concept, augment their lessons with some of the material found on this site.
  6. The Vega Science Trust Videos: Let your students see potential science careers, discuss important issues and see inspirational figures in the field with videos found on this site.
  7. The Science Network: See interviews with big names in science that touch on important topics like stem cell research, evolution, neuroscience, genetics, learning and more on this site.
  8. Pop Tech: Inspire your students with the videos found on this site, showing individuals who are using science, technology and plain old hard work to change the world.
  9. Channel N: This site is full of lectures and videos on the human brain and psychology.
  10. How Stuff Works Videos: Show your students amazing and instructional videos through the content on this site.
  11. ScienceStage: You’ll find everything from videos of the Hubble Telescope to problems with human nutrition on this research-focused site.
  12. Exploratorium: Check out the webcasts on this site to let your students hear from biologists, cosmologists, physicists and more.
  13. SciVee: Give your students a view into the real working world of science, with this site that allows scientists to post videos of their real-life research for students and other scientists to use.
  14. The Futures Channel: This online channel is full of lessons and video clips on all types of math and science topics, from how to predict the weather to how to build stronger snowboards.

History, Arts and Social Sciences

Here you’ll find a great collection of videos to illustrate the past and help your students see the beauty of the arts.

  1. EASE History: Watch videos about historical events, campaign ads, and cultural values on this historical site.
  2. Kennedy Center Archives: Through this site you can show students performances from some of the most amazing musicians in the world.
  3. The Archaeology Channel: Help your students to explore the history of mankind through the great free content offered here.
  4. Peoples Archive: This site collects the biographies of well-known people around the world told by the people who know it best–themselves.
  5. Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: On this site you’ll find an amazing collection of WWII-era footage of the horrors of the Holocaust.
  6. Culture Catch: This site will let you see some of the work being done by up-and-coming artists.
  7. Folk Streams: Use this site to show students documentaries about traditional and folk culture in America.
  8. Digital History: With lesson plans and interactive online experiences for students, the videos found here are just the icing on the cake.
  9. History Matters: This site explores the primary historical documents central to understanding American history.
  10. Social Studies Video Dictionary: Your students can look up vocabulary words in style with this video dictionary.

Video Tools

If you want to share, upload or store your own videos, consider using one of these great online tools.

  1. Drop.io: You can work with colleagues, parents or on your own in real time using this free online video and collaboration tool.
  2. DropShots: Keep your educational video collection private using this hosting site.
  3. Shwup: Store and share all your educational media using this site.
  4. Tonido: If you’ve got your videos stored on your computer, this site will let you upload them to the web and play them in the classroom free of charge.
  5. StashSpace: Create an account on this site and you’ll be able to store all kinds of video content.
  6. Troovi: With this site you can create an account to store all of your educational photos, videos and documents so you’re always prepared to teach.
  7. VidQue Edu: Search through this site for other educational videos even if you’re not quite ready to post your own.
  8. SchoolTube.com: This site is a great social networking forum for students and teachers to share videos.

Network and Program Videos

These video sites are maintained by TV networks, offering videos of their programming for teachers to use for free.

  1. PBS Video: With this site you’ll be able to bring the great content from PBS right into your classroom for free.
  2. National Geographic Video: From nature to ancient cultures, you’ll find videos aplenty on this site.
  3. Nova Teachers Watch Video Online: Using this site you can show clips or whole programs from the television series Nova.
  4. Discovery Education: The Discovery Channel has compiled the videos on this site just for teachers and students.
  5. C-SPAN Video Library: Students learning about government can see it in action through the videos here.
  6. iCue: NBC News sponsors this site that offers great clips of important world events.
  7. History Channel Video Guide: Bring history to life through biographies and historical documentaries found here.
  8. Biography.com: Let your students learn more about famous figures in history using the short clips from the Biography Channel found here.
  9. Educational Internet TV: Check out this site to find out about free educational channels from around the world that you can watch online for free.
  10. BBC Learning: BBC Learning offers thousands of clips that have been pre-edited and selected to work well in the classroom.

Free Movies and Clips

Visit these sites to get access to free documentaries, public domain films and short clips.

  1. Film Clips Online: Here you’ll find short, and legal to use film clips that are perfect for the classroom.
  2. Free Documentaries.org: Use this site to find some free documentary films for the classroom.
  3. SnagFilms: This site is home to a wide range of both free and pay film content.
  4. Top Documentary Films: Search through the documentaries on this site to find something perfect for the lessons you’re creating.
  5. Movies Found Online: Check out the search tool on this site to find whole public domain films online.
  6. ABC Documentaries: This site offers free documentaries from an Australian television station, including many shorter TV programs that can work well in school.


If you’ve got no clue how to use a technology or want to see how things work in video form, these tutorial-filled sites should be your first stop.

  1. 5 Min: Got five minutes? Then you have enough time to watch one of these great instructional videos.
  2. Wonder How To: No matter what you’re trying to accomplish around the classroom, this site likely has a video to help you do it.
  3. Instructables: Learn how to make some great crafts that can accompany your lessons, play new games, or just figure out how to do something you’ve always wanted to do through this site.
  4. Howcast: If you want to know how to do something, this site is a great place to start looking for instruction.
  5. MindBites: You can not only find great videos on this site, but you may even be able to earn a little extra when others use videos you post.
  6. W3 Schools: Want to create a class website but don’t even know where to begin? This site offers some excellent tutorials on all the programming languages and tech expertise you’ll need.

Government and Organizations

Go through these sites to get great videos and footage from the past and present of American history.

  1. The National Archives: Through this site you’ll get access to multimedia records that are held in the U.S. National Archives — a perfect addition to any history lesson.
  2. National Science Foundation Multimedia: Here, the NSF provides educators and interested learners with videos of nature, interviews, animations and a whole lot more.
  3. NASA e-Clips: Use these short clips as a way of showing students about our world and the universe that lies beyond.
  4. NASA TV: From live footage of space shuttles and space stations to programming geared towards use in the classroom, this NASA site is an invaluable resource for teachers looking to add to lessons about space travel.
  5. Library of Congress Teacher Resources: This site helps bring together some of the best material offered by the Library of Congress for use in a range of lesson plans on American History.
  6. American Memory Motion Pictures: If you prefer to look through the material on your own, this site will let you search through the multimedia material held by the Library of Congress.