Go Noodle! I Like To Move It, Move It!

Twitter introduced me to a website called GoNoodle. Recently, I’ve seen tweets from a LOT of educators that are singing the praises of this GoNoodle thing. A lot.  This thing is quite popular in the edu Twittersphere.

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So I checked it out. I honestly didn’t get it.  It seemed silly, and parts of it are downright goofy.  It is just a collection of very short videos.  I want to say ‘music videos’, but I’m not even sure if I can call most of it music.  There was some of that Kids Bop stuff I’ve seen, but then there was an animated turkey with maracas…and a singing cartoon brain…and two guys doing talky-singsongy thing about how they love to make weird noises.  I saw a ridiculous claymation character doing some sort of sound production (song?) called Flex.  There’s even a flying pig song.  Like I said, I didn’t get it – at all.

Fast forward two weeks. Teachers on twitter are still talking about how great GoNoodle is.  Teachers tweet that their students absolutely love it, and GoNoodle has been a saving grace for the dreaded indoor recess.

I needed to take another look.

Okay, so I already had signed up for the free account and chosen a requisite class critter mascot, which GoNoodle calls a champ.  I didn’t originally understand the significance of a ‘champ, so this time, I looked at the FAQ’s on the website and it explained that….

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Okay, so the critters make sense now…and you can read more about how to use them by clicking here: Champs

Once I got to the main screen of offered categories.  It looks like this.

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I decided to go for broke and click on the “View All” button.  Here is some of the utterly absurd goofiness you’ll see when you click View All:

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Ooooh, I thought.  This has to do with that neuro-science stuff about how movement can enhance learning.  Short bursts of activity are supposed to get those brain juices flowing, wake up endorphins, pump adreneline, and help people focus better.  In my district, we even get evaluated on this (allow opportunities for movement) in our teacher observations.  GoNoodle calls these ‘brain breaks’.

Each of the options above, and there are plenty on the free version, shows the name and length of a video. I found a few that were even academic, like skip counting and number practice.  I found others that were actually RELAXATION videos – wondrous, calming clips that even had me feeling all zen.  For a few of those, I clicked the little heart icon and sent them to ‘my favorites’ file ~ a feature I really like because it makes it easy to quickly find those clips that really work for me (I mean, my class!)

So, still unsure about this whole thing, I decided to bring up GoNoodle at a recent teacher workshop that I did.  My friend who teachers transitional 1st graders kept saying, “Oooh, my kids would LOVE that!”  (She even liked the turkey with maracas and the singing brain!)  Well, then I showed it to a 3rd grade teacher.  I was pretty sure she’d say that it was way too silly for her 8-9 year old students and that it would only rile them up.  Quite the contrary – she thought that it would be great to use with her class, too!  (It did help that we found “Let it Go” from Frozen, “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego Movie, and some cool Zumba stuff.)  Even my principal, who stopped in for this workshop, seemed to get a kick out of the silliness and kid-friendliness of these short, sassy, movement-inducing, wiggly brain break videos.

Aha!  (There you have it…one of those aha moments.)  I get it now!  I had to turn off my middle-aged brain and think like a kid.  This stuff is FUN!  Wiggling is good!  Kids need this!  And it really IS great as an indoor recess idea, too!  I’m looking back at the 2nd paragraph of this blog, and all those things I thought were ridiculous are SUPPOSED to be ridiculous…that’s the point!  That’s what makes GoNoodle awesome!

Gotta run….it’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!  (oh yeah…uh hunh…)

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EdPuzzle…My Favorite Web 2.0 Tool for Making Videos Meaningful!

EDpuzzle is one of the greatest teacher tools I have discovered in a long time. Really.  I wish I could’ve had this for my whole teaching career.  Oh, the wondrous things I could have curated by now!  EDpuzzle, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

1)  You are free!

2)  Teachers choose videos and you give simple tools for cropping – so that only the necessary content becomes part of the lesson!

3)  You let us set up classes and assign our EDpuzzles to whomever we want in those classes – and track responses!

4)  You have a super-simple, user-friendly, easy-to-learn site!   I learned to use this site without any YouTube video, screencast, tutorial, or workshop.  It was just pretty easy to learn, mostly because of the helpful tips you incorporate into your site and embed along the way!  You are SOOOO sweet!  Everybody is going to just love you!

5)  You allow teachers to insert voice comments while the video pauses – so that they can mention key points, focus students’ attention to something that is coming up, or reflect on something that just happened.

6)  You let us teachers insert text comments – allowing, once again, the video to stop for a moment while an important comment is textually highlighted on the screen.

7)  You auto-save!  You truly and honestly auto-save – and often!  (swoon!)

8)  This is where I truly, TRULY fell in love:  You, darling EDpuzzle, let us create embedded quiz questions throughout the video and track our students’ answers!  Multiple choice, open-ended…you let US decide, and for this, I adore you!  We teachers just LOVE formative data and setting a purpose for viewing!

9)  You let us set due dates – making “the flipped classroom” possible by assigning our videos!

10)  Your dashboard is extremely well organized!  You make us feel so special when we know where to find things and know how to put everything in its place!

11)  You store everything I do.  Forever.  You just save it in case I ever want it again...sigh….

Here’s a screenshot from my silly little trial EDpuzzle (but I had fun making it!)  See the cool on-screen tools?

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Okay, here is the real test run for all my blog readers.  Please know that I was just being silly and testing EDpuzzle on one of my favorite videos, but you’ll get to see and learn all of the features of this (about 5 minute) EDpuzzle!

PLEASE, PLEASE click on this link to see it in action!  https://edpuzzle.com/media/5455234c7ffb209009f9c9cc

If you fall in love with EDpuzzle, too, it’s okay.  I’m not the jealous type.  

If any of you have anything I should add to this post, please just contact me @kerszi on Twitter, at My Primary Techspiration on Facebook, or at kerszi.wordpress.com.

Flying Over America – A Video to Inspire

My dear teacher friends,

You are seriously going to want to show this video, Flying Over America.  Do it for you, do it for the children, do it for the tremendous discussions and learning that can happen around a wonderfully creative video like this.  Do it for America, really!

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An animated biplane takes viewers all across America – flying over some of our most stunning and notable landmarks – in under six minutes.  It’s set to music.  It’s breathtaking.  It’s so cleverly done, and it’s under six minutes!

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But teachers, I encourage you to turn this into a much bigger lesson than just six minutes.  Flying Over America is pretty powerful.

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There are so many opportunities for truly phenomenal lesson planning that can happen around a clever video like Flying Over America, and here are just a few ideas:

  • Why not show it now, near the beginning of the year, and see how many of the landmarks and places your students can name?  Pause the video often for discussion and sharing.  It will be fun to see how much your students know individually and collectively. Record responses.  Definitely show it again at the end of the year, and see how much more your students have learned about our amazing America!
  • Assign any or all of the landmarks as research projects.  Encourage brainstorming of more places!
  • Have students practice letter writing skills to write away to these places to receive literature from state parks, landmarks, etc.  I have had students as young as 2nd grade do these kinds of writing projects.
  • Do Skype or any kind of pen-pal project with students from any of these locations.
  • This is my favorite:  Get students to suggest places that weren’t shown and write about/blog about/create videos about why they should have been included!  (This is great Common Core stuff – evaluating bias!)
  • Post a big ol’ map on your classroom wall and start putting location tacks in it.  So much fun and a lot of opportunity as the year goes on.  Let students celebrate their own travel experiences!
  • Post this Fly Over America video on your website, teacher page, or blog and ask students to independently try to find all the places they weren’t able to name – as a challenge
  • Create your own version of Flying Over America – maybe just a photo slideshow, but what a powerful way to celebrate travel, places your students have been, the stories of your families, and America!
  • Start a wiki with a page for each location and let students add to pages as they learn things throughout the year.

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In elementary school, especially in ‘Social Studies’, we are tasked with teaching students about their own neighborhoods, communities, states, country, and continent.  This six minute video can become SUCH a huge part of our year-long, or years-long lesson plan for learning and knowing more about this phenomenal country and inspiring pride in our United States of America!

Please, you know I always ask for collaboration and contributions.  If you have any ideas for using this video that you’d like to share, please do so on this blog, at My Primary Techspiration on Facebook or @kerszi on Twitter.  Thanks!