A Safer Way To Show Video Content In the Classroom

If you’re like me, there are times when  YouTube proved vital in showing necessary video content in the classroom.  Frankly, though, there have been times when the video in question ended and something inappropriate appeared in the little thumbnail previews they offer pertaining to other content.  I would close it down typically before any students noticed, but it still agitated me that this could be an ongoing problem.

We all use video in nearly every aspect of our lives.  Want to see the hot new trailer for a cool movie coming out?  Go to YouTube.  Want to know how to bake chicken ?  Go to YouTube.  Want a refresher on how to raise your kid’s handlebars?  Go to YouTube.  I love that when studying literature, we can now watch video content that relates to topics introduced by the novel.  I love that my students can go and watch interviews of contemporary authors.

But with my school’s students going One-To-One and each having their own laptop, that ever-present inappropriate preview may prove too tempting for some.  Yet, I want them moving at their own pace through modules and links.  The Internet is fertile with information and provides limitless learning opportunities, but I need a way to make sure students ONLY see the content I intend when I post video links.

That’s where SafeShare.TV comes into play.  I happened across this site when researching resources for the blended classroom.  The idea is that you take a link to any video anywhere on YouTube, run it through their site, and they eliminate advertising and get rid of those distracting buttons everywhere that you tend to see on YouTube.  Is it 100% effective?  No, but any extra level of protection makes me feel better when linking to online video.

You can visit SafeShare.TV by clicking HERE.  Be sure to then click on the FAQ link to learn how it works and how it can bolster your teaching.

I’ve also provided a quick video I made with YouTube then filtered through SafeShare.TV.  You can view the origional YouTube version by clicking the below link …

You can now view the same video through the SafeShare.TV filter …


Unfortunately, SafeShare.TV does not yet provide the opportunity to embed video within a post.

I hope you found this information useful and feel free to offer feedback in the comments.




Blended by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker – A Book Review

Blended (subtitled Using Disruptive Innovation To Improve Schools) entered my world when a representative from Edmentum recommended to my staff that we read it before going one-to-one.

It’s important I provide some background before reviewing this book.  My workplace, where I teach English, is rolling out a new initiative this August in which every single student will be given a laptop to use both at school and at home.  I’ve been teaching since the year 2000, and I’ve been teaching predominately using traditional textbook methods and using mostly whole group instruction.  One-to-one is an incredibly exciting adventure, and I’m very glad to finally reflect the society in which we live, but I’d be lying if I pretended to have any idea where to start with a classroom fully utilizing laptops.

That’s where Blended has been so incredibly helpful.  This book takes a big picture approach to how to utilize blended learning not only in the classroom, but as a school, as a district, even as a culture.  It offers several different models of technology in the school, and it explains which model is probably best suited to your current situation.  It goes into great detail as to why blended learning is vital to the student, and it especially stressed the importance of most student populations having face-to-face time with teachers.  Any teacher fearful of technology replacing them will feel greatly heartened after reading Blended.  It truly values the importance of professional educators working with children and young adults.

I also appreciated that it explained basic terminology, offered some useful websites to help you get started, and provided several anecdotes in each chapter offering real-world examples to illustrate points being made.

This book proved extremely effective at helping me wrap my head around one-to-one, it taught me several different methods I could employ in my own classroom, and it encouraged a positive attitude about technology in the classroom which will help contribute to a productive culture in my workplace.  Best of all?  It straight out tells you that it will not be an easy process and it will take time to find a comfortable method specific to your school and population, but it also explains how to go into blended learning purposefully and strategically.

Though it gets slightly repetitive near the end, I urge you to read this book if you have any questions about one-to-one or blended learning.  Personally, I would consider Blended required reading for any teacher about to embark upon technology in the classroom.

I’m Excited About Blended Learning

There’s a trend in public schools right now.  It goes by many names, but the idea is essentially that students have individual computers in the classroom.  I’m a high school English teacher, and my school is implementing this adventurous endeavor in August.  I couldn’t be more excited about what we’ll call blended learning for the duration of this writing.

Before I go any further, my workplace is actually calling this movement “One To One,” but I’m reading a book at the moment recommended by the folks at Edmentum called Blended.  The authors, Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker,  use the term blended learning because the concept is that educators will blend online learning with brick and mortar education facilities.

I’m so excited about our school implementing this new style because, let’s face it, everything we do as a society anymore occurs online.  When I need information, I go find it on the Internet — I’m talking literally any kind of information.  It seems so odd to me that we don’t use the single greatest information tool available in those buildings dedicated to educating the leaders of tomorrow.

I also believe this will be a great opportunity for students to become active learners.  So often, students receive information from us as we deliver it.  We then see if they can regurgitate it back to us exactly as we gave it to them.  But when this occurs, I always question how much critical thinking is actually taking place.  I wonder if I am teaching more than content, am I also teaching the kinds of skills today’s world demands?  Sure, we infuse concepts like critical thinking, collaboration, deductive reasoning, and so on into the lessons, but I can’t wait to see a student independently synthesizing these skills in order to solve a problem of some sort and therefore reach a conclusion.  My hope is that with easy access to the Internet (and careful planning on the teacher’s part), each and every student can demonstrate these skills on a regular basis and improve with each attempt.

Make no mistake, however, I am a card-carrying book lover.  As an English teacher, I will NEVER abandon books in my classroom.  But just imagine — now, as we talk about Shakespeare, we can actually go find information about the man, the historical basis of his works, what Elizabethan England actually looked like, clips of the plays and poems in question … the possibilities are endless!  And every student can take a different path and investigate those things they personally find most interesting!  They can become active learners determining subsets of the content on their own.

Tomorrow’s world needs students able to gather information, assess and critique that information, and then produce a solution based upon that information.  I personally believe blended learning will help us hone those skills.  Furthermore, I’m excited because the interpersonal aspect of the brick and mortar facility remains.  Our students must still learn to collaborate, to communicate, and to coexist.  These are skills also necessary to the future.

Last but not least, I am ecstatic that they will still have me.  I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I am an invaluable resource to my students.  I am their guide, their mentor, their facilitator, and their advocate.  Most importantly, though, I’m their role model.  I take this part of my job very seriously.  Young adults, even seniors in high school, need adults conducting themselves respectably, intelligently, and compassionately.  They can learn all the information there is online, but they still need to learn by watching their elders.  It is vital their elders are worthy of this incredible responsibility.  This fact has remained true throughout history.

Will this transition be easy?  Certainly not.  It will be incredibly difficult both due to the planning aspects as well as the actual technical troubleshooting.  It will be stressful for everyone involved.  However, we will never learn to teach in a blended school without actually doing it.  I mean, that’s the great truth of teaching, isn’t it?  Experience is the most effective way to learn.  I have no doubt we will figure this out, and I am personally glad to be teaching in a manner consistent with the 21st Century!