Flip Remedial Grammar Instruction with GRMR.ME

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After 15 years of correcting comma splices, subject-verb agreement, and egregious usage of their, there, and they’re, I decided to stop, which is why I created grmr.me, a resource for writing teachers and students that helps tackle English’s most common writing errors. The concept is simple. Instead of correcting grammar, mechanic, and usage errors, teachers simply give students a short url that leads to a video that helps students identify writing erros and fix them. Instead of writing “comma splice,” a teacher would write “grmr.me/csp” in the margin of a paper. Students can go to the site, watch the video, take a simple quiz on the topic, and earn a badge. See what others are saying about grmr.me.

The BackChannel #15: Conference Hashtags, Endless Alphabet & More

This week on The BackChannel:

Tweet of the Week
Many Many conference hashtags
#metc13, #oetc13, #tcea13 , #petc2013 and more!

Kindergarten & First Grade Rocks

Blog Posts
DCulberhouse — @DCulberhouse
Unexpected Leadership Lessons

Doug Johnson @BlueSkunkBlog
7 things you can always do in my class with your device

Dryden Elementary School staff

Endless Alphabet


Leave us some feedback!

and if you have suggestions for The Back Channel –
please share them here!

Top 5 Tips to Shooting Great Video

Let’s get right down to business. You need to shoot a video, but you either don’t know where to start, how to begin, or the BASICS to pull it off. I get it. The ease and accessibility to create videos is now being required of all of us. So here’s what you need to know.


Top 5 tips to shooting great video

1. Camera

Of course you’ll need a camera. To make a good video, the TYPE of camera is irrelevant. Use a Flip, a consumer grade, iPhone, Android, iPad, whatever.

What your camera DOES need is a way to capture audio either with a solid built-in mic or an external mic jack. I PREFER the camera have an external mic jack, but work with what you have! To record, use an SD card, tape, internal hard drive…. again, doesn’t matter. Record any way you can and we will help you transfer it to your computer easily in a later post.

2. Audio

I will watch a video that is poorly shot, but has great audio. I will not watch a video that I can’t hear, no matter how beautiful the picture is. I highly recommend using a camera that you can plug a microphone into. I even use cheap $7 external mics from Radio Shack. They work.

However, if you don’t have a camera with an external mic, no problem. Just GET CLOSE to your subject if you are using the internal camera mic. No problem as long as you get close.

3. Lighting

Proper lighting is key. Here’s the main rule of thumb: Always make sure the light is behind the CAMERA, not your SUBJECT (person or thing.) Also, never shoot directly into bright light. Lighting is an issue videographers constantly struggle with. No worries. Just follow the rule, Light behind the camera, not the subject.

4. Tripod

Always, always, always use a tripod! Shaky shots are distracting. Yes, the handheld technique can be effective. Let’s talk about that later. Use a tripod! I am guaranteed to watch your video if it is steady.

If you are using a camera that doesn’t connect to a tripod, again, no worries. I tell my kids, “The world is your tripod!”  Find a chair, a stack of books, a desk, a banister, some kind of flat, non-moving surface and set your camera on it and shoot. Steady shots are key.

5. Tell a story

Every good video tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. If you follow the 4 steps above, but skip this step, you will not have a video worth watching. Tell a story. I would even look past ANY of the 4 steps above, if your video tells a story that I’m interested in.

Everyone has a story to tell. Plan out your beginning, middle and end BEFORE you begin shooting, and you can make a great video.

Of course, you will then need to edit your video, so check out Matt Rasgorshek’s tips here. Just wanted to cover shooting in this post.

If you master these 5 steps, feel free to move on to ways to positively impact your video content. Check out those 10 tips here or ways to create a student news package.





aRTs Roundtable 25: Living with Musical Performance and Technology

This week on the aRTs Roundtable we talk about the two worlds of musical performance and technology. Many educators might view that they are at odds with each other. Brenda and Carol talk about a new project Brenda introduced to her 2nd and 3rd graders that starts with performance and uses technology to enhance the experience for the students.
Show Host: Carol Broos

Show contributors:   Brenda Muench

Show wiki: EdReach Wiki


Leave us some feedback!

Contact us with any questions or comments- artsroundtable@edreach.us

10 Very Important Video Content Tips


The great thing about video and my Professional Learning Network (PLN), is that as much as we may want to reinvent the wheel, there is simply no need to do so. Powerful and useful information is at our fingertips. So as I perused my latest Twitter followers this past week, I found a new site, that upon reflection, has some incredibly great video information for teachers wanting to incorporate video in their classroom. Now although these tips originate from a marketing site, the reality is that our global community is leveraging video in new ways every day, and these helpful basics are applicable for ANY form of video production.

Read the full article here at “Video Content Tips” by Second Screen Marketing.

1. Adopt a style

2. Identify the rationale

3. Craft a compelling message

4. Don’t let the audio suck

5. Use music

6. Use B-roll

7. Use creative metaphors

8. Grab their attention

9. Include a call to action

10. Change the shot

I have found that students retain information much more clearly and for a longer sustained period of time, when they are allowed to create their own content to illustrate comprehension. Video is a tremendous tool to use when allowing students to experience this form of learning.

In fact, if you would like to hear more, EdReach has a great new podcast resource, iDig Video. I had the pleasure of recording two episodes recently, about the positive learning experiences for students when they are allowed to create videos in the classroom. There are many lessons to be learned from media literacy, to the use of social media when publishing their videos, to perimeters and restrictions placed upon school districts as it relates to publishing names, pictures and student videos. I highly recommend you find the time to listen to these podcasts.

iDig Video #001: Using Video in the Classroom

iDig Video #006: Video Apps and Social Media Policies

Stay tuned for my post next month. I put my video students to the test, by asking them to reflect upon an assignment they received this year from a teacher in one of their core classes. Their task? Create a video to show their content comprehension, rather than the initially assigned assessment. I’m looking forward to their results!



EduNationCast #18: “Classroom-Free Schools”

This week on The EduNationCast: We discuss the merits of remote learning and whether or not physical classrooms are undermining student creativity and collaboration.

Videos of the week:

James shares “The Spangler Effect”

Diane shares the “History Teachers” YouTube channel

Jim shares the Super Bowl ads

Adam shares “Hapi Berth Dey” 

Tune in to the live broadcast on Mondays 6:30 Pacific on Google+!

This Week’s Contributors: James Sanders, Adam Bellow, Diane Main, Jim Sill and Dan Rezac. 

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.

Leave us some feedback! 

Contact us with any questions or comments- edunationcast@edreach.us

EdReach Winter Viewing Party: Telling Stories Visually

We know that it’s Winter Break for many of you. Educators treat this time in many different ways. At EdReach, we know this can be a great time for us to catch up on watching some of those “fav-ed” videos that we clicked on so many months ago. We reached out to the EdReach contributors and asked them:

What would you recommend as some sweet holiday viewing vids for educators?

Here’s Episode 3 from EdReach video contributor Don Goble.

“This video is a “Video Essay” created by one of my Seniors applying to film school. The video essay had to be about the student, who they are, what they are interested in, what they care about. But they could not PERSONALLY be in the video. So how does someone create a video like that? This student, Eric Vent, did an amazing job telling a visual story of who he is. The cinematography is outstanding, and it tells a compelling story. Our students are capable of amazing things when given a challenge and when they work passionately. Enjoy. “

Start a Google Hangout with this video right now!!


EdReach Winter Viewing Party: Epic Win

We know that it’s Winter Break for many of you. Educators treat this time in many different ways. At EdReach, we know this can be a great time for us to catch up on watching some of those “fav-ed” videos that we clicked on so many months ago. We reached out to the EdReach contributors and asked them:

What would you recommend as some sweet holiday viewing vids for educators?

Here’s Episode 2 from LiTTech Show host Emily Thompson:

“I love the concept of making an Epic Win part of everyday life. “

Start a Google Hangout with this video right now!!

Stay tuned for Episode III of the EdReach Winter Viewing Party this Friday.


EdReach Winter Viewing Party: Random Acts of Kindness

We know that it’s Winter Break for many of you. Educators treat this time in many different ways. At EdReach, we know this can be a great time for us to catch up on watching some of those “fav-ed” videos that we clicked on so many months ago. We reached out to the EdReach contributors and asked them:

What would you recommend as some sweet holiday viewing vids for educators?

Here’s Episode 1 from EdAdmin contributor Nathan Wear:

“The Random Acts of Kindness video was created by Iowa High School students to exemplify the bullying and harassment that happens in schools on various social media sites.  The message is strong and one that other schools can replicate to spread the word about the power of social media and how to use it appropriately. “

Start a Google Hangout with this video right now!!

Are you ready for #edvid Friday?

Social media is a powerful tool that, when leveraged correctly, can be an invaluable resource for teachers.  I wanted to create a way for educators around the world to harness the power of twitter and share great video finds/resources with one another. Why spend hours wading into YouTube, Vimeo, or one of the many great educational videos sites when our colleagues are discovering great content on a daily basis?

#edvid Friday is a way to teachers to connect and share their great #edvid finds through the power of the hashtag.

By doing a quick twitter search, teachers will be able to quickly sort the results to find great educational videos that they can use in their classrooms.

Here is how it works:  Find a great educational video or resource that you want to share with teachers around the world. Share the link, a short description of the video, and use the hashtag #edvid in your post.  By adding an additional hashtag like #math, #science, #ss, #eng, etc., teachers will be able to search for #edvid with their subject area and get a great list of videos.

Here are some examples:

“Students in Illinois created a great playlist of videos to begin lessons of #sci inquiry #edvid http://goo.gl/Eo82C

“National Geographic has an amazing video slowing down the flight of hummingbirds http://youtu.be/hjnc1kHMDDo #sci #edvid”

“@ddmeyer has some great videos for #math teachers to use in the classroom #edvid http://vimeo.com/ddmeyer

I’m wanting to use Fridays as the day teachers share great videos so that we have the weekend to find the best ones to use in our classrooms the following week–obviously being a teacher is a 7-day-a-week profession. Though teachers wanting to take break can search for the hashtag on Monday.

Non-Friday video sharing is also encouraged!

Happy Sharing!

EduNationCast 013: YouTube Goes to School

This week on The EduNationCast: We go wild about video in the classroom! We share some of our great video finds, including a rare Steve Jobs talk on classroom technology and Google Education Fellow Phil Wagner joins us to talk about the brand-new YouTube for Schools!

This Week’s Contributors: James Sanders, Adam Bellow, Diane Main and Dan Rezac. 

 Special Guests This Week: Phil Wagner 

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.

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If you’d like to leave some feedback you can call us on our very own EdReach Comment line: That’s: (443) 93REACH.

EduNationCast 003: Bursting the EdTech Bubble

This week on The EduNationCast: Red-shirting kids might not be a good idea, YouTube.com/teachers is live, and the big question of the week: Are we in an EdTech bubble? Also, don’t miss a great demo of www.scribblemaps.com/ from Jim Sill.

This Week’s Contributors:  Adam Bellow, Jim Sill, Diane Main, James Sanders, and Dan Rezac. 

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki.


Call us on our comment line!

If you’d like to leave some feedback you can call us on our very own EdReach Comment line: That’s: (443) 93REACH.

What if making videos made your students smarter?

EdReach note: This is a guest post by Ann-Caryn Cleveland, founder of Currix.com, a marketplace for educational content.  You can follow her on Twitter @anncaryn .

Having students create videos is a great way to enhance student learning.  Creating a video allows a student to think strategically about a topic and deepens analytical skills.  Yet, there is a problem.  Just creating a video mashup, utilizing fancy tools like Animoto, isn’t enough.  It’s not about the video, it’s about the process of creation.  The process is where the learning occurs.

Image Courtesy of ABC Studios / Bad Robot

Let me explain.  Over the last 100 years, IQ scores have steadily increased.  Wired columnist, Jonah Lehrer just wrote about the reasoning for “the Flynn effect” in his column.  He explains that one of the increasingly cited factors for this increase is actually the complexity of entertainment, which actually might enhance abstract problem solving skills.  “This suggests that, because people are now forced to make sense of Lost or the Harry Potter series or World of Warcraft, they’re also better able to handle hard logic puzzles.”

The process of thinking strategically about story forces students to pare down information to its most important facts and build the sequencing of information into a cohesive whole.  The process of creating a video is strategic problem solving. It should force students to think about the information at a 50,000 foot level, then begin to pull out strategic pieces of information, and act upon that information.  Isn’t that exactly how you build a business, solve a societal problem, or develop new inventions?

Yet for many students, looking at a mishmash of information is always overwhelming.  Even for me, as a documentary filmmaker and web startup founder, I can still feel that way when approaching a complex topic.  Here’s how I teach my students to process:

1) Create a logline. A logline is one sentence about your story.  (This is like the theme of a paper and the answer to “Why does this matter?”).

2) Use post-its or index cards to extract important information.  Don’t write out sentences,  only keywords.

3) Think through the framework. The framework to a story works the same way as a framework to a business plan or legal argument.

  1. Set the stage.  Create the environment.  Give the establishing shot. Where are we?
  2. Introduce the characters.  Who are they?
  3. Give your audience the hook.  Why should they care?  How does this matter to them?
  4. Build to the climax.  What is at stake?
  5. The “Denouement” – also called the wrap up.  This word actually means untying the knot.  Don’t just throw out the ending…untie it.

4) Build the framework. Use the post-its to sequence the information from the framework, then and only then allow students to begin editing.

There are some great free online tools for editing like YouTube Video Editor, Pixorial, Creaza,  and you can even download free trials of fun software like Smoovie (awesome and easy for stop-motion) and Adobe Premiere.

One of the things that can be difficult in creating videos is having the video content to utilize in the classroom.  Currix is an educational marketplace that features downloadable video content and amazing graphics that you can utilize in creating your videos for the classroom.  Find videos and music from around the world you can utilize for your class in creating your video lessons.

Also, check out a fantastic book about building a story by Hollywood screenwriter, Blake Snyder called “Save the Cat.” If you are interested in having your students create longer videos in the classroom, it will give you a fantastic perspective on story and help you show your students how to create problems and solve them in their own stories.

What are you doing in your classroom with video?  Is it making your students smarter?


Google Educast Show #18 – Ladies and Gentlemen, Update Your Browsers!

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Show Host: Jay Blackman

Show contributors: John Sowash and Kim Zimmer

Subscribe to The EdReach Podcasts on iTunes

Subscribe to the EdReach Podcast Feed.

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki.

Call us on our comment line!

If you’d like to leave some feedback you can call us on our very own EdReach Comment line: That’s: (443) 93REACH.