Monday, May 12, 2014

Tips for Shooting and Editing Videos

Thanks to mobile devices and wealth of video editing tools we can all be video producers today. But creating a good video requires more than just having access to the tools of production. Creating good videos begins with some basic steps like holding your phone or camera the right way and knowing when to zoom with a lens or zoom with your feet.

In the video below WeVideo offers three key tips for shooting better videos.

The Vimeo Video School offers more than five dozen videos about creating better videos. Two of their videos are embedded below.

Quick Focusing Tips from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

Zoom vs. Moving Camera from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

The TED Blog recently published a list of ten tips for editing video. The tips focus on when and where to cut videos for creating the smoothest video you can. Each tip is accompanied by "before" and "after" samples.

Applications for Education
Between commencements, spring sporting events, banquets, and award ceremonies as the end of the school year approaches there will be lots of occasions for capturing videos of school events. Take advantage of these tips to capture better raw footage that will in turn help you and your students edit better videos.

Online and In-person Summer PD Opportunities With Me

As the school year winds-down over the next month some of you may be thinking about summer professional development opportunities. I received a few emails last from folks who wanted to know what kind of PD opportunities I offer outside of school visits (if you would like to have me visit your school or conference, please click here). This summer I am offering one in-person PD event in Maine and four online PD opportunities.

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is the two day workshop that I host at the Sunday River Resort. Early Camper registration has just been extended to the end of May.

If your school is transitioning to Google Apps for Education or you want to improve your current level of GAFE use, then consider registering for Getting Ready for GAFE. Getting Ready for GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to be ready to integrate Google Drive, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice in the new school year. I'm a section of the course in June, July, and August. Register online and use the promo code PETGAFE by June 1st to save $15.

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a three week webinar series that I am offering in June. Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is designed to help teachers and school leaders develop an understanding of the many ways they can use blogs and social media (Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) to enhance communication between school and home. After learning about how each of the tools works we’ll dive into developing strategies for implementation. Click here to register online and save $10 by using the promo code "blog" by June 1st.

About the costs and my decision to advertise these opportunities on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer these opportunities. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

Twelve Good Tools for Building End-of-year Review Activities

The end of the school year will soon be upon us. This is the time of year that we think about activities that we can do to help students review the school year. At this time of the year I start to get a lot of requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. Here are twelve good options.

Video-based review activities:
Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that you can use to create video-based quizzes. Using Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not. To create a quiz on Blubbr start by entering a topic for your quiz. After entering your topic enter a search for a video about that topic. Blubbr will generate a list of videos that you can select from to use in your quiz. When you find a video that works for you, trim the clip to a length that you like then write out your question and answer choices. Repeat the process for as many video clips as you like. Click here to try a short Blubbr quiz about the human heart.

eduCanon offers a free service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. eduCanon allows teachers to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Teachers can track the progress of their students within eduCanon. To create lessons start by identifying a topic and objective then searching YouTube and Vimeo from within the eduCanon site. Once you've found a suitable video you can build multiple choice questions throughout the timeline of your chosen video. You can create as many lessons as you like and assign them to your students at any time.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. Use VideoNotes to share videos like those found on Hip Hughes History with your students and have them submit clarifying questions to you and to each other.

Games-based review activities:
Purpose Games is a free service that allows users to create custom games, share games, and play games. There are two styles of games that you can create and play on Purpose Games. The simpler of the two styles is a fairly basic multiple choice game. The other style uses images and maps on which players have to name the places represented by placemarks on the image or map. For an example, try this game about the skeletal system. Purpose Games gives game creators the option to make their games public or private. If you select the private option, only the people to whom you send invitations will be able to play your game. offers a free service teachers can use to create their own educational games. Games made on can be shared via email or embedded into a blog or website. (Yet another reason for having a class website or blog). provides fifteen easy to use templates with which teachers can make educational games for their students. There are also many pre-made games available on

Stencyl is a free program for creating flash-based games on your Mac or Windows computer. Using Stencyl you can create a fairly complex game even if you don't have any coding skills at all. That is possible because Stencyl uses a drag and drop interface to enable game creation. Stencyl provides a huge selection of characters, settings, and elements to add to each scene of your games. To create and direct the actions within your games Stencyl gives you a block-snapping interface to construct actions and sequences. The block-snapping interface will look familiar to people who have used Scratch or Android App Inventor.

Old, reliable flashcard activities:
Quizlet is a popular flashcard service that students can use in their web browsers or install as apps on their iOS and Android devices. Quizlet offers some helpful features in addition to the standard options of creating and sharing sets of flashcards. Quizlet offers a text-to-speech mode in eighteen languages. Second, they launched a new study mode that they've name "speller." Speller mode plays words for you that you then have to type correctly into the space provided. If you misspell the word that is read to you, Quizlet will show you your errors. Quizlet flashcards can be used without an internet connection if you have the Android or iOS app installed on your mobile device.

Flashcard Stash is a free vocabulary flashcard service for teachers and students. The service makes it easy to quickly create flashcards and sets of flashcards. As a registered user of Flashcard Stash when you type a word into a blank flashcard suggested definitions and sample context sentences are provided to you. You can then choose to add one or all of those definitions and sentences to your flashcard or you can write your own definitions and sentences. When making your own flashcards you can include images. If you don't have time to create your own flashcards you can choose to work with some of the pre-made lists of flashcards. Teachers registered on Flashcard Stash can create flashcard sets to share with their students. Teachers can create and manage multiple class lists within their accounts. Sharing class lists can be done by inviting students to view the flashcards via email or by posting a password-protected link to the lists on a class blog. The second method requires students to remember the password that you have created to access the list. Word lists can also be embedded into blogs or websites.

Flippity is a free tool for creating flashcards from data in a Google Spreadsheet. Flippity provides clear directions for the simple steps to take to create your flashcards. To create your flashcards use the Flippity template, enter your data, publish the spreadsheet to the web, then grab your Flippity link. Your Flippity link will take you to a Flippity page on which you and your students can flip through your flashcards. Flippity includes a shuffle function and an option to remove cards from your deck of flashcards as you flip through them.

Quiz-based activities:
ImageQuiz is a free service that allows you to create quizzes based on any images that you own or find online. When people take your quizzes on ImageQuiz they answer your questions by clicking on the part of the picture that answers each question. For example, if you uploaded a picture of a map you could write questions that ask users to click on states, cities, or countries. Creating a quiz on ImageQuiz  is an easy process. First, give your quiz a title and then upload a picture or copy and paste the URL of an online image into ImageQuiz. Then draw outlines around the parts of the picture that will be the answers to your questions. Finally, write your questions and try your quiz. To share your quiz just give people the URL of your quiz. You can try my sample quiz here.

eQuizShow is a free tool developed by a junior year high school student in New York City, Henry Wilson. Henry designed eQuizShow to be a tool that teachers can use to create Jeopardy-style games online. Unlike similar tools you do not have to download or upload any PowerPoint files to use eQuizShow. On eQuizShow you can build and display your quiz completely online. To build your quiz just enter a title, an administrative password, and your question categories. eQuizShow will then generate a grid on which you can enter questions and answers. If you don't have time to build a quiz or you just need some inspiration, browse the eQuizShow gallery.

Socrative is still my go-to student response tool. One of my favorite aspects of Socrative is the "space race" option. A space race is a competitive format for quizzes. Space race can be played as a team or individual activity. Each correct answer moves a rocket ship across the screen. The first person or team to get their rocket across the screen wins. I've included below, a video of space race being used in a classroom.

Kahoot Adds Another Helpful Option - Dismissing Names

Last week Kahoot added a slick rich text editor to its already excellent student response system. Over the weekend another helpful feature was added to the teacher's control panel. Teachers can now kick out inappropriate nicknames. If a student enters an inappropriate nickname the teacher can simply click on that name in the Kahoot Lobby (the Lobby is the screen that is displayed while waiting to start an activity) and the name will be removed. The student who entered the inappropriate name will see his or her screen turn red and will have to enter a different nickname in order to participate in the activity.
Applications for Education
Kahoot is one of my favorite tools for quickly assessing your students' understanding of a lesson. The game-like environment provides a good way to engage students in the informal assessment activities that you run through Kahoot.

On Kahoot you create a quiz or survey that your students respond to through any device that has a web browser (iPad, Android device, Chromebook). Your Kahoot questions can include pictures and videos. As the teacher you can control the pace of the Kahoot quiz or survey by imposing a time limit for each question. As students answer questions they are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their answers. A scoreboard is displayed on the teacher's screen.

Click here to learn more about Kahoot and see how it compares to other feedback tools.

Use Your Voice to Give Students Feedback on Google Drive - Cool Kaizena Updates

This is a guest post from Greg Kulowiec of, an advertiser on this blog. This post first appeared on

Kaizena is an outstanding web based tool that allows teachers to provide audio feedback on student work that has been created and shared through as Google Docs. Kaizena is not a native tool in a Google Drive account, but can be added through the Google Drive apps store.

Alternatively, teachers and students can go to the Kaizena website and connect the app to an existing Google Drive account.

Providing students with audio as well as text-based feedback, and getting that feedback back to students, can now be a streamlined process. Teachers can begin in Google Drive by selecting a student writing assignment and choosing Kaizena as the tool to open the document. This will automatically open a new tab in the browser and import the document into the Kaizena feedback platform.

Alternatively, teachers can go directly to the Kaizena website and pull any existing Google document into the feedback platform.

The process of creating feedback consists of highlighting a section of student work and tapping on the microphone to record audio feedback. Entire sections of a paper can be highlighted or just individual words.

NEW Features to Kaizena

The most helpful feature that appeared in the recent update to Kaizena is the ability to send a feedback link back to the student directly through the comment section of the original Google document.

Now the student simply clicks on the comments button in their Google Document to find the link to the audio feedback.

Organization in Kaizena used to be challenging, yet a recent update includes the ability to create Boxes to organize document that have received feedback. These Boxes can be used to collect assignments, or teachers could make boxes for individual students.

The last and most interesting update to Kaizena is the ability for teachers to have a unique Kaizena URL that students can visit to request audio feedback on a Google Document. The unique teacher URL will appear on the top of your homepage in Kaizena.

Once students visit the URL, they are prompted with an option to ask for feedback.

The teacher and student workflow for this process is quite seamless. Once the student picks a Google Document from their Drive, they have to select the Box for the work to appear for the teacher. As previously mentioned, a teacher may create assignment-specific boxes, student-specific boxes, or potentially an “Ask for Feedback” box where students can submit their document. The teacher will receive an email indicating a student request has been made, and the document will appear as “unread” in the Kaizena homepage.

To learn more about Kaizena and working with Google Apps, join Greg Kulowiec for Google Chromebook & The Google-Infused Classroom in Cambridge, MA, July 10-11. EdTechTeacher has Summer Workshops in six cities this summer: Atlanta, Austin, Berkeley, Cambridge, Chicago, and Los Angeles.