Getting Started with Youtube in 5 Minutes

Looking back on my blog posts from the past half year, at least half of them deal with youtube in some form or another. Whether publishing your students’ digital stories, or creating homework tutorials, or having sports teams break down their performances, youtube is a powerful tool for educators.

While there are some extensive guides to using youtube in schools, as well as resources from google, some teachers might be intimidated to get started with uploading and sharing videos. I met another teacher at a conference who mentioned that he would like to use youtube, but he would wait until the following school year to do research and learn about it. Really though, it only takes 5 minutes to get started. To show how simple it is, I’ve created this brief video to explain how to upload and change the sharing settings:

After making the tutorial, I realized 5 minutes may be too much. Once you learn the steps, it takes less than a minute to upload, so give it a try next school year.

Course 2 Final Project

As schools like mine move forward with technology, we need to have clear and well communicated policies in place to ensure that students, families, and teachers understand what acceptable use of technology is. I think many schools add policy bit by bit, whenever something new is introduced (ipads, laptops, social networks, google apps, etc.). This makes sense, but after a certain amount of time, having too many policies becomes confusing, and consolidation is needed.

At this point, my school is ready for this process of consolidation. A recent count found we had an acceptable use policy, a library laptop policy, a cyber policy, a google apps code of conduct, a whole school ICT policy, and an elementary ICT reference policy.

Another issue is that some policies were not written with an elementary school audience in mind, and our students may have trouble understanding what guidelines they are agreeing to follow.

Together with a COETAIL colleague, we decided to address these two issues and create a draft of a comprehensive acceptable use policy, written for elementary students. This is only the beginning of a long process that will involve teachers, administrators, students, and parents, but we at least wanted a document that summarized all of the other policies, in simple language.

I hope this will be a good launching pad for new conversations in the fall:


As part of my learning at Seisen, I will use technology to communicate, collaborate, and create. I will have access to many internet resources, including e-mail, websites, social networks, chatting, messaging, and Google applications. When using the internet and other technology, I agree to the following statements:

  • I understand that laptops and ipads are a shared resource at Seisen.  I will not change any settings (desktop, applications, etc.) without permission from a teacher.

  • I will treat devices with respect, carrying them with two hands at all times. When moving devices from room to room, I will carry no more than three at a time. I will keep devices away from food and drinks.  I will tell an adult  right away if something is damaged or not working.

  • I understand that I am a representative of Seisen on the internet and will use polite and appropriate language. I will respect others at all times, not engaging in cyber bullying, which includes sending hurtful comments or messages.

  • If I receive a hurtful comment or message or see something that upsets me, I will immediately tell my parents or teachers.

  • I will not reveal the password, full name, home address, email address, or phone number of myself or other students.

  • I understand that the school administration has a right to monitor my postings on edmodo and my usage of all google applications.

  • I understand that the use of the internet and other online services is a privilege, not a right.

* Some statements adapted from the Google Apps Code of Conduct.

Test Driving My PLN

One of our first lessons of COETAIL was the importance of connecting into a community of educators and building our PLN, or Personal Learning Network. For most teachers, a PLN comes mostly from teachers in your school or perhaps workshops you attend. For the technologically tuned in teacher, however, your PLN can be more far-reaching and global. This happens through blogging, commenting, and tweeting.

I have enjoyed the process of writing blog posts, getting feedback from readers, and commenting on other blogs. I have only started to get into twitter, however. I first signed up at an EARCOS conference in 2009, used it briefly, and then ignored it for the next 3+ years. At the start of my first EARCOS class, I dusted off the old account, started following leading educators and coaches, and occasionally tweeted links or articles.

One of the reasons teachers list for joining twitter is the ability to get quick answers and ideas from your network whenever you need help. After landing some ipads for summer school, I posted the following question:


Although I haven’t been too active, I’ve managed to amass 130+ followers. I didn’t think that was enough, so I crammed in every hashtag I could fit to get more eyes on my question.

Luckily, Jeff Utecht then retweeted my post to his 14,000+ followers, and I got some quality answers to my question.

This won’t happen every time I tweet, of course, so it’s my job to further build up my network, add to conversations, and provide value to others. With twitter, like most things in life, you get back what you put in.


3rd grade plant documentaries with imovie

A couple months ago our third graders created documentary films about plants to show their learning at the end of a unit of inquiry. For my class, it was the second go with imovie after making digital stories of Christmas narratives. After posting the plant movies, we quickly moved on to the next thing and did not have too much time to reflect on the process or product of making the movies. Now that the school year is finished, I’d like to look back to see what went well and what could be improved with this project.

A note to blog readers and members of my PLN, I will embed the movies throughout this post. Feel free to “like” my students videos or even leave a comment if you have time. Thanks!

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Collaboration – Students worked in pairs to make their imovies, and I think that was perfect for this project. We did mini-lessons on cooperation and working together, and the two people could help each other with the research, writing, and technology. For third graders, I think 3 or more people would have been too big.

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Technical Skills – Each of my students created an imovie 3 months before this project, and the second time was much smoother. For our first try, we enlisted 6th graders to help the younger girls with the technology. This time around, my class could do everything on their own, and I rarely had to answer questions about the software. The other classes were working with imovie for the first time, however, so they went through the typical frustrations of trying something new. As our students move into fourth grade, they now have imovie as a communication tool, and I think it was worth the struggle.

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Non-technical Skills – The movies were merely a tool of expression, and most of the hard work involved non-technical skills. The students had to read various non-fiction sources, take notes, and then write and edit scripts based on their three lines of inquiry. This process was much more difficult (and important) than learning which button to click to record their voices.

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Citation – I wrote a separate post about how our students learned to find “free-use” images. That went well. What didn’t go so well was the citation of these images. We had the urls of each image we used, and at first the students tried to paste them as subtitles within movies. The urls were way to long though. Next we tried to give credit in the youtube description. Again, all of the urls were way too long (there is a limit to the length of your description).

In the end, we just…gave up. I know, not perfect, but I think the students understand the idea of copyright and citation and free-use images, so that’s a start. I guess I could go into youtube editor and somehow try to paste the credits into an annotation, but at this point I’m not sure if it matters.

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Global Audience – Like everyone else in the world, our students love youtube, and they were excited to have their work available for anyone to see. It really motivated them to create a great product they could be proud of. In fact, one of the challenges as a teacher was to limit the perfectionist-instincts of some students. You can only record your voice so many times before you need to move on to the next section. I’m sure some groups would still be polishing their movies now if I hadn’t forced them to move forward.

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Commenting – One nice way to follow up a project like this is to have students comment on each others’ videos. This first requires some lessons in what makes a good comment. We used edmodo to do this, and the students appreciated the feedback.


Overall, our 3rd grade team was happy with the project, and we feel more prepared to try it again next year. I’m also excited to see what our students will be able to do with their new skills as they move into fourth grade.


How coaches can get their teams to break down their own games

For both team and individual sports, most coaches would agree that videos are a powerful tool for helping athletes improve their performances. When I was in high school, this meant gathering the entire team into a room (usually on a Saturday morning), cramming around the biggest TV our coaches could find, and watching the film together (usually there was yelling involved too).

While sessions with the entire team have their benefits, now there are easier ways to use video and sports. For my latest season of coaching, I experimented with youtube commenting to have my players break down their own games.

This was middle school girls basketball, so I didn’t want to make it too intense. My goals were to have the players:

1) Reinforce positive basketball habits.
2) Build up each others’ confidence.

The prerequisites here are to be able to upload videos to youtube and have some knowledge about the sharing settings. If you are new to this, Craig has a detailed post that will fill you in. If you wondering if your teenage athletes have gmail/youtube accounts, I can answer that: they do.

The instructions were simple: watch a youtube clip of a game, and whenever you see somebody do something positive, add the time and what they did well in a comment. When they put in the time (3:23, for example), youtube will automatically skip to that part of the video when you click on the number.

Check the comments here for an example of what this looks like (to see the comments, you need to open in youtube rather than watching the embedded video):

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As you can see, there is nothing revolutionary here, but if you are already uploading game film to youtube (which I recommend), this is a simple way to have players watch the games more actively, reinforce what you are trying to teach, and have your athletes build each other up.