Hook your class with a video


Teachers from all disciplines will probably find an engaging movie or TV show clip to spark interest in new lessons from ClassHook. I just learned more about symmetry than I did in high school geometry by watching their clip from “Isle of Dogs.” (Apologies to Mr. Callahan. It was me, not you.) Browse by grade level, content type, or playlist. Maybe it’s not 100% educational, but all the clips are current, short, and videos of any sort are definitely up your students’ alley.

Engage your students on snow days

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After observing my junior daughter’s activities all day, I can say with great certainty that our students have a lot of time on their hands during these magical snow days. Here are some ways that you can keep them learning and interacting and not rolling around on the living room floor in a prolonged state of ennui. (Just mine? Oh.)

After an assignment, ask students to share reactions, questions, or what they’ve learned on Flipgrid. It’s easy to set up, and the students I’ve used it with have always liked it. Create a “Grid” or class name, and then add “Topics” or questions. I like to video myself asking the question, since I will expect them to video their response! You can adjust the length of time they can talk, and by adjusting privacy settings, they can view and respond to other students’ answers. This Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid is packed with info, but all you really need to check out is “Section 1: Getting Started.” If you’d like to see two Flipgrids from my classes, click here or here!

EdPuzzle lets you paste in a video URL (or choose one from their library) and then embed questions that students must answer before proceeding. They can be open-ended questions or quiz-type questions. The teacher can also narrate the package as a whole, crop parts of the video out, and…here’s the glowing Common Sense Education review that will give you all sorts of teacher tips. This page takes you through set up step by step.

VideoNot.es is a website where students can paste the URL of the video you assign them to watch on one side of the screen, and take notes on the other. Every time they write down notes, it automatically records the timestamp of the video, so you can keep track of what part of the video they’re commenting on. The cool thing is that it’s integrated with Google Drive, so they can share and collaborate on notes – students can work on projects together, quiz one another, etc. And it’s for free! Here’s a video tutorial.

I am loyal to Screencast-O-Matic for creating screencasts (their tutorials are great!), but there are other tools out there as well. If you are interested in creating tutorials for your students, though, this is a great option, as is WeVideo. Email me if you’d like the premium version of these tools.

Google Hangouts Meet – host a video chat for up to 25 people at a time. Share screens, documents, and use the chat function on the side. I have used this for my Crossroads staff on days where we had meetings scheduled but not everyone could make them – it works great!

Google Hangouts on Air (using YouTube Live) – similar to a Google Hangouts Meet, you’d host a group of students through Google Hangouts, but you’d be streaming the meeting on YouTube so you can save it for later. Don’t worry – you can set up privacy controls so that only your students have the YouTube link! Here’s an article that takes you through the whole thing step by step.






Open email links in Gmail

When you click on a link to send an email…something like this:

Click here to send me an email!

…the page that opens may not be your Gmail. If you’d like to set Gmail as your default email client, follow these simple directions!

And if you’re wondering how to create a link that prompts an email…highlight a word or phrase, and instead of linking to a website, type “mailto:youremailaddress.” See image below!


Hapara updates you should know about

Teachers who use Highlights in Hapara to lock students into specific websites during class time (called “Focused Browsing”) may be interested in a new feature that’s just being rolled out – it’s called “Filtered Browsing.” While Focused Browsing allows you to provide up to ten websites for your students to use during class time, while blocking everything else, Filtered Browsing allows you to allow students to access any websites except for those that you block – up to five sites. Continue reading “Hapara updates you should know about”

2019 Google Classroom Changes


You may have noticed that your Google Classroom page has a new look. I think the most important thing you’ll want to know is that if you’re working with a Classroom page that you created during the 2017-18 school year, your “About” page is not where it’s been – in the right-hand corner of the page’s header. Instead, students can find the “About” page content by clicking the small ^ symbol that’s in the middle of the header.

Learn about all the changes in Google Classroom in the video below, or scroll through this instructional post!