Vote for a Video with ClipChoose

With so much video content online, it is important that our students know how to watch a video to learn from it, not just for entertainment. This media literacy is part of the PA Core ELA Standards across the grade levels (look for standard 1.2.your grade level.G, but can be applied across the content areas.

A few weeks ago while browsing my Twitter feed, I came across a new resource called ClipChoose (via @rmbyrne on his blog). ClipChoose is very easy to use. To create a poll, first create a free account. Next, simply paste in the links of up to 12 YouTube videos and post a question. Then share the link to your poll. Participants click the link, watch each of the videos, and then click a button below the video they think best answers the question. The picture below is a screenshot of a poll we used at the TIC meeting last week.


You can also browse ClipChoose for polls created by others. Click here to view a poll someone created to see if students could identify a story told in first person.

ClipChoose is very new and there are a few things that are listed as “coming features”, including the ability to make polls private and to edit polls you’ve created. It’s not a fancy site, but it could be an engaging way for students to practice making meaning from video. As one of the TIC members put it last week, it’s kind of a sneaky way to get kids to engage with content multiple times or from different perspectives.

A few things to think about if you decide to try ClipChoose…

  • At the moment ClipChoose only supports YouTube videos, so it will be most relevant for our high school students.
  • There’s nothing stopping students from voting for multiple videos or from voting for the same video multiple times. I would still allow students to vote, but I’d follow that up with some sort of written activity in which students tell which video they chose and why.

Next time you have several videos you want students to view, consider using ClipChoose. And don’t forget about your colleagues! Try it out on your fellow teachers at CPPD, department/team/grade level meetings, etc., and as always, add a comment below to let us know how it goes.


Learning From One Another

MMS Librarian Jess Bock sharing Twitter with her colleagues.
Ben_flipped classroom
MASH Math teacher Ben Motter shares how he flips his classroom to provide more time to interact with students face-to-face.

Last Friday afternoon, while our elementary teachers were digging into data to get a broader picture of their students’ strengths and needs, our middle school and high school teachers were digging into their own digital learning. Each building organized sessions, facilitated by teachers who volunteered to share ways they use digital tools and resources to enhance learning. Session titles ranged from “Twitter for Professional Development”, to “Digital Collaborative Writing with Google Docs and Google Classroom”, to “Flipping the Classroom (with WeVideo)”. Teachers had the opportunity to learn from colleagues about how they use tools such as Kahoot!, Edmodo, Turnitin, Symbaloo, Chrome extensions, Diigo, Google Classroom (and many other Google Apps), Moodle, Twitter, Kidblog, Portableapps, PollEverywhere, Socrative, and more to support learning and help students develop important literacy skills. I was fortunate to be able to visit many of these sessions to see the collaboration and sharing that took place. In every session I visited, the focus was on how these tools can help students to think critically, to communicate and collaborate, and to create products to demonstrate understanding. Kudos to all who facilitated and helped to organize these events, and to everyone who took part in the conversations throughout the afternoon!

If you participated in any of these sessions, either as a facilitator or a learner, please leave a comment below to share something you learned or to provide your thoughts about the experience. Learning from one another is such a powerful form of professional growth. Your input will help to inform future learning opportunities across the district. Together we all know more!

Have You Ever Wondered…?

Special thanks to Mary Lehman and Monica Shirey for bringing this one to my attention! wonder quote pic The Habits of Mind shared by Costa and Kallick have played a major role in our curriculum work over the past two years. For most of the sixteen habits, it’s been easy to see their place in our work with students. Persisting? Creating, Imagining and Innovating? Thinking About Thinking? No problem. But one habit has stopped us in our tracks more than once – Responding with Wonderment and Awe. Where does that fit into our curriculum? And how in the world do we teach it?

These questions have led to some rich conversations about learning and the role of wondering. If we want students to learn how to learn, we have to encourage them to ask questions and to be curious about the world around them. Walk into a Kindergarten class and you’ll see this happening everywhere. We can’t let it stop there.

Wonderopolis is an amazing resource from The National Center for Families Learning for helping students to get their wonder back. Each day it features a new “Wonder of the Day”, complete with a short video intro and an informational article about the topic. Words that might be unfamiliar are underlined and the definition pops up when you hover your cursor over them. There’s also a “Listen” button at the start of each article that plays an audio recording of the article, with each word highlighted as it’s read. At the end of each article there’s a short quiz, in case you want to see how much you learned. You can even leave a comment for the Wonderopolis folks, who make it a point to reply to every single one. They also encourage visitors to suggest new wonders and vote on wonders suggested by others. It’s truly a community of wonder-ers!

Students can explore Wonderopolis to learn about things of interest to them. The informational texts would make great shared reading opportunities about curricular topics. I can also see this site acting as a springboard for students to act on their own wonderings. After exploring a few wonders in Wonderopolis, students could come up with their own wonders and then do the research to find some answers. They could then create their own “Wonderopolis”-style presentations to share what they’ve learned. These wonders could be completely student-driven or could be related to curricular topics. This would be a great way to connect learning and literacy across the content areas.

I encourage you to visit Wonderopolis and watch the video on their “About” page. Then start exploring the wonders. Here are a few to get you started:

Enjoy exploring the wonders of Wonderopolis! Just be careful…you might get lost in your wondering. I know I did.

A Fun Way to Write from Different Perspectives – Google Story Builder

Being able to look at things from a different point of view requires higher order thinking. This week our high school librarian, Kirsten Zelenky, shared a resource that gives students a fun way to write a conversation from different perspectives and publish it as a video. Based on the idea of collaborating on a Google Doc, Google Story Builder simulates a shared writing experience between up to 10 authors. Click here to see a quick example I made.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 3.56.05 PM

No account is required, so anyone can create a story. Just click the red “Get Started” button, name your characters, and write your story. You can even add music if you wish. When you’re finished, you get a link to share your story online.

There are countless ways Google Story Builder could be used in the classroom. Students can choose characters from a book and write a conversation to continue the story. They could give voices to inanimate objects – maybe a chat between a sphere and a pyramid? They could imagine a debate between historical figures. Just show them the site and let them use their creativity to see what they can do!

Google Story Builder is very easy to use, but if you want more information or would like to see more examples, click here and here to read other blogs posts about this great resource. Thanks again Kirsten, for sending it my way!


Storyboard That – It’s Not Just for Planning a Video

According to the dictionary app on my computer, a storyboard is “a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a movie or television production.” As teachers, however, we are masters of looking at what something is supposed to do and coming up with a million other ideas of what it could do to help our students learn. So, even if you have no plans for your kids to create a video, Storyboard That is for you.


Storyboard That is a web-based application (works on iPads, too!) that allows you to easily click and drag settings, characters, and text boxes into panels to create a sequence of ideas. Students can use this to summarize a story, describe the steps in a process, or retell an important event from history. The characters are posable and there are many built-in “props” to add detail to your work. Finished projects can be printed, downloaded as images or PowerPoint files, or shared as a slideshow from the site. Storyboard That also has Teachers Guides that include lesson plans and samples of student work across the curriculum and grade levels. Did I mention it’s easy? I introduced Storyboard That to several second grade classes this week and they were creating stories within minutes!

Storyboard That is not free, but they do have a free 14-day trial. After that, their payment plans are flexible, allowing you to purchase an account for a single month if that’s all you need. With an education account, teachers can create student accounts or provide students with a code to join their teacher’s class. By default, student work is then visible just to members of that class, but there is an option to make it public when and if you wish to do so.

If you are looking for an option to allow students to organize their thoughts, plan a project, or share what they’ve learned, I highly recommend taking a look at Storyboard That…and then write a comment below and let us know what you think!