NECC Cool idea #3: Short Videos to Introduce Complex Subjects

OK–admit it. Everyone understands something in a class and the professor asks, “OK–any questions?” Everyone rolls their eyes, and you think, “I have NO clue!” and are too embarrassed to say anything?

Do you really know how Twitter works? What’s the history of the World Wide Web? Do you need a difficult subject explained in layman’s terms?

Common Craft to your rescue! To quote their website: Our videos may surprise you. They’re short and simple. They use paper cut-outs. They cover subjects “in Plain English.” But lurking under the simple surface are lessons that have been crafted with great care. Despite our fun and lighthearted style, we take explanation seriously. The site is worth a visit!

Oh, and what IS Twitter about?

Jamestown Foundation Updates Website with Teacher Resources

I had the opportunity to copresent with Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown/Yorktown Foundations at a conference recently and was interested in seeing the recent updates on the Jamestown website. Teachers were interviewed to see what they needed for assistance in the classroom and Jamestown has stepped to the plate to deliver a home run! Recent upgrades include:

Podcasts: Virginia Company of London, Tobacco and Labor, and the Voyage to Virginia are examples of delights that you and your students can listen to


The Jamestown Chronicles Learn about the people of Jamestown

Passionality Profiles: From the website: “The Passionality Profiles are a series of first-person video interviews with historical interpretive staff at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center. These employees describe how their “passion” for Virginia history inspires them at work.”

Curriculum Materials (in .pdf):

Favorite Workshop at VSTE: Movie Making/Draw On the Cave

Kudos to the ITRTs of Chesapeake, Jimmy S., Scott G., and and Jon M., for their informative and worthwhile session on incorporating Movie Maker in the classroom. My first impression, whenever I see a Movie Maker workshop listed, is “What a tired and worn out topic!” From looking in the door, I knew that these guys were different, and intrigued, I stepped in. What a great decision! Not only was their delivery entertaining and informative, but the resources shared are good for the time harried teacher who must keep up with the Pacing Guide. Ideas that the guys shared are simple and easy to use without the classroom teacher feeling like they have to turn their classrooms into Universal Studios. I’ll be happy to share ideas with you for future projects that we can use (or, on the other hand, I might invite myself to some of your grade group meetings to share if I don’t get an invitation!!!).

Resources that you might want to look over (especially if you’ve taken one of our workshops):



and, for examples and other resources (note the odd name–you know it has to be interesting):

What Else Can You Do with Your Video Camera?

OK, I’ll admit it. I associate having a video camera in the classroom with having Hollywood in a classroom: video camera=major movie project=teacher has no time=video camera collects dust. Why not branch out and NOT use it for making videos?

In the most recent magazine of Technology and Learning, Bob Sprankle writes in “Caught on Video” things that a teacher can do with a video camera. Here are some highlights:
==>Film students on the first day of school asking them wht their goals are for the school year.
==>Film the progression of fluency on a weekly and monthly basis.
==>Ask a student how to solve a math problem and capture his exact process (rather than just the answer).
==>Have students film what they’ve done that day and e-mail it to parents.
and here is my favorite: Never write another long note for a substitute teacher!

There are many more examples and explanations from Bob. Interested? Click on the link above!

Free Videos to the Rescue

logoIf you are a user of United Streaming, you’ll understand the great benefit of video-on-demand for your classroom instruction. Although this is a FABULOUS resources for classroom teachers, it does cost a lot of money. What if you can’t afford it? There are other options out there.

WGBH (Boston) has a free service for teachers named Teachers’ Domain: Multimedia Resources for the Classroom and Professional Development. This website offers videos for Early Reading and Science teachers in Grades K-12. For more information, click here: go.

Another offering from WGBH is Sandbox: “The Sandbox is the Lab’s way of sharing high-quality video clips with you – for free. Use our clips to make a mash-up, documentary, music video, or whatever!” So, if you produce videos, or need clips to put in a PowerPoint, or an addition to a student project, why not see what they have to offer? There are a lot of history clips, as well as Science, nature, and the like. See examples here: Go