Benefits of Educational Blogging Video

The benefits of educational blogging is something I have discussed many times on this blog.

Kelly Jordan and I regularly speak to teachers at our school and around the world about blogging. Rather than us always selling the benefits we decided to make this video with our students to highlight some of the advantages of having a class blog.

The video goes for 15 minutes. We hope you enjoy it.

Student Blogs in 2011

Last year, I wrote a detailed post about the process I follow for setting up student blogs. Click here to find it.

It is getting to the time of year where Kelly Jordan and I are thinking about which students will be the first to earn their own blog.

We are thinking of starting with four students out of our class for 43 grade twos. When they get their blogs going, they can help the next lot of student bloggers with some peer tutoring.

Last year we had 10 students earn their own blog (we started the process later in the year). Of those ten students, many of them are still blogging every now and then. Each week, we get a few of those grade three students to come back and help out our grade twos with blogging.

The star of that group of 2010 bloggers is Bianca whose blog can be found at

BBs Blog

A week rarely goes by where Bianca doesn’t publish a new post. She gets comments from teachers, students, friends and family members around the world and she literally writes back to every single comment. Bianca loves to have conversations with people and get to know her readers.

A large part of Bianca’s success is her family’s support and involvement. Her support now comes primarily from her family rather than the classroom.

As a teacher, it is so rewarding to be able to introduce a student to a medium that they embrace wholeheartedly and get so much out of. I just love being able to plant a seed, teach and support a student and then see them carry on on their own learning journey.

I hope some of my new student bloggers in 2011 continue with the same enthusiasm and dedication as Bianca!

Student Reflections

Below is a video Kelly Jordan and I used to show the perspective of student bloggers at our recent conference presentations. This is an unscripted quick reflection we recorded one lunchtime.

Remember, if you want more information about the process I go through for setting up student blogs, check out this post.

Leave a comment with your thoughts of questions about student blogs.

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

Last year, Sir Ken Robinson was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal by the Royal Society of Arts in London. Accepting the award, he gave a talk on Changing Paradigms in Education.  The RSA has produced a animated version of highlights of the talk.

This is a video I had heard about on Twitter and on the Ed Tech Crew podcast. When I finally put aside 12 minutes to watch it I thought it was definitely worth sharing for two reasons.

1. The ideas that Sir Ken express in the talk about change in education are very much food for thought.

2. The actual animation in itself is very interesting. Perhaps this is a style of animation that students could work on. It would be a terrific way to express creativity and could be used to animate any sort of speech, explanation, debate etc.

Leave a comment.

What did you get out of Ken Robinson’s talk?

What did you think of the animation?

Learn It In 5: Instructional Videos

Last week’s Tech Tools for Teachers was about the site Learn It In 5.

Click here to read the newsletter.

Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today’s 21st century’s digital classroom. These step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slidesharing and much more.”

This is an example of a Learn it in 5 video about Wordle. As you’ll see, they give a step-by-step explanation of using Wordle in the classroom in less than five minutes.

These videos could be great for your own self-paced PD or could be shown to a staff as a quick ICT PD.

There are videos on all sorts of topics such as Google Docs, Animoto, Diigo Groups, Google Reader, Wallwisher and more. Click here to check out the full list of videos.

Could these videos be useful to you or your staff?

Do  you know of any other sites like this?

Quietube: Video Without the Distractions

Quietube is a handy tool that allows you to watch videos such a those on YouTube without all the distracting or inappropriate ads and comments etc. Providing YouTube isn’t blocked at your school, this is a great tool for the classroom!

Quietube also works with videos from Vimeo, BBC iPlayer (available in UK only) and Viddler.

Using Quietube is so easy. You simply drag the button from the site to your toolbar, then when you are watching a video on a site like YouTube, you press the Quietube button on your toolbar and the video opens in a distraction free window.

You can also get a short link to your distraction free Quietube video to send to a friend.


Do you know any other tools that make watching videos in the classroom easier?

Tech Tools for Teachers #14 BTN

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on an email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. Click here to find an archive of past newsletters and to subscribe.

This week we review the website Behind the News (BTN)


Behind the News (BTN) is a fantastic Australian site by the ABC that helps students learn about current issues and events around the world. Each Tuesday a new episode of BTN is released online comprising of about 5 different stories that are each under 5 minutes long. The stories can be watched individually on the BTN website and also screen on ABC1 television (currently Tuesdays at 10am and Wednesdays at 10.30am).

Apart from the videos, the BTN website also contains activity sheets, links, quizzes, polls etc for follow up work. After you watch an episode you can visit the Guestbook on the BTN site to leave a comment.

While BTN is promoted for students in upper primary and secondary school, I have had great success using it with my Grade Two students. I incorporate a weekly BTN session into my curriculum. There are always a range of stories, many of which are less complex and can be understood by younger students. My class has had many rich discussions and experiences based on BTN stories and it is a fantastic way for students to learn about the world in which they live!

On the Teachers Page of the BTN website you will find a list of topics which you can go to to find archived BTN stories around a particular subject. Each topic collection contains a teacher resource pack with focus questions, activities and additional links. There are currently 15 topics with archived stories ranging from Water, to Natural Disasters to Space and Astronomy. Hopefully this section will continue to expand.

Tip: go to the Teachers Page and sign up to be on the mailing list. You will receive an email each Friday telling you what stories are coming out on the following Tuesday. If you are a Twitter user you can also follow BTN on Twitter for story updates.

We like BTN because it:
• is free
• is Australian
• is not geo restricted which means the videos can be streamed outside of Australia
• is presented in “plain language”
• doesn’t require a sign-up or login
• is suitable for all year levels from Grade Two to secondary school
• covers a huge range of current affairs and news topics
• can be used as a whole class on the IWB, or individually on student notebooks or classroom computers
• can be integrated into many subject areas
• can be used as a quick ten minute activity (5 minute video and 5 minute discussion) or as part of a more lengthy session with follow up activities.

How have you used BTN in your classroom?

Smories: Stories for Children

Smories is a website with short videos of children reading original stories for kids. There are 50 new Smories added every month. Writers are encouraged to submit their original children’s stories to be featured on the website.

The stories are advertised as being suitable for children aged three to eight although there are many stories that would also appeal to children older than eight.

There is a special version of Smories available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and there will soon be an iPad version.

I have been using this site with my Grade Two class as a means of modelling reading with expression and also as a comprehension activity. I have been encouraging the students to picture the story in their mind as they listen. Listening to Smories is also a good way to revise the features of a narrative.

My students have really enjoyed the stories and find it quite appealing to listen to children their own age.

Next time we do a story writing activity I am going to get my students to publish their work “Smory style” which we can then put on our class blog.


Do you have any other ideas of how you could integrate this site into your classroom?

A Vision of 21st Century Teachers

I heard about this You Tube clip via a few different people on Twitter. The 4 minute video involves 18 classroom teachers “speaking out” on the topic of tech integration and 21st Century skills for students.

It’s a really interesting insight into what the technology in the classroom can look like in all curriculum areas and allludes to why technology integration is so important. Check it out…

Tech Tools For Teachers #4 – Zuitube

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter to inform teachers of great online tools. Find out more here.


This week we review the site, Zuitube (


Zuitube is basically YouTube for kids. The site promotes itself as the “largest collection of videos for kids on the web“.

YouTube videos can be very useful in the classroom however, finding appropriate, kid-friendly videos on YouTube can be like finding a needle in a haystack! Zuitube allows you to search for specific topics or browse categories and channels.

All the videos on Zuitube have been reviewed by parents or teachers and there are currently over 60,000 videos on the site.

ZuiTube is part of KidZui, a web browser and search engine for kids that filters internet content.

We like Zuitube because it:

  • is free
  • is suitable for all year levels (NB: there seems to be more content for primary rather than secondary kids)
  • doesn’t require any login
  • there are videos that could compliment every curriculum area
  • the search function is very kid-friendly (when you type in a search word, suggestions pop up and search results also include a picture – great for non-readers)
  • is safe for kids.

The only downside of Zuitube that we can see is the fact that you have to actually go to YouTube to get the link to embed videos on blogs or websites.


To use Zuitube

  1. Go to
  2. Search for the video or category you want by clicking on
  • channels,
  • tags (categories), or
  • search. zuitube

  1. You can also browse the featured pages such as “Funniest Videos”, “New TV & Cartoons”, “Movies”, “Silly Songs” or “New Music”.
  2. When you watch a video, other related videos will appear down the bottom of the screen.


Zuitube could be used…

  • as a lesson introduction in any subject area (on an IWB or projector)
  • in a music lesson or sing-a-long session (there are lots of great songs for kids)
  • to find kid-friendly videos to enhance blogs, wikis or websites
  • as a stimulus for a listening or comprehension activity (students could answer oral or written questions about a video)
  • to analyse characters, plots etc in clips from tv shows and movies
  • to add some humour to your classroom! At the end of each day you could watch a funny video with your class.

Have a go at using Zuitube with your class!  Let us know how you went using this tool in your classroom by leaving a comment.

Xtranormal New Features

We’re currently on school holidays until the end of January, however it is hard to switch off completely! I received an email about Xtranormal’s new software and have been having a play around today.

I have previous blogged about the great online movie maker “Xtranormal“. Click here to read my post about it this effective and simple tool to make animated movies.

My Grade Two students loved making movies on this site, however being an online application we had a few problems with the Internet being slow etc!

Xtranormal now has a program that you can download to your computer rather than making your movies on the net. It it is a beta software called “State“.

According to the site…

STATE lets you make better movies, faster.

  • Multiple actors per scene
  • Multiple scenes per movie
  • Audio import
  • Custom camera placement
  • Walking actors
  • Actors and locations marketplace
  • Voice recording NEW!

A cool feature of this program is that students can customise their actors’ voices with their own.

State is only available for Windows, however talk on the Xtranormal forum indicates that the Mac version may be coming soon.

The downside is, while State is free it only comes with a choice of two actors and one scene! You can pay to download “Showpaks” which are collections of actors and scenes that don’t come with the free version. The Showpaks tend to be around $40 US and give you quite a good selection of actors and scenes. I still think the program could be a useful digital storytelling tool to use in the classroom and the simplicity of it makes it ideal for younger students.

There are State tutorials on the Xtranormal website that you could go through as a class to introduce your students to the program.

Completed movies can be exported as standard movie files or shared on the web.

Here is a short video I made today with the State software.  

Trialling Xtranormal State from Kathleen McGeady on Vimeo.