Engage your Audience with Video

video graphic

As educators, we’ve got important information that we want to convey to students, parents, staff, and often our community members. While verbally sharing our stories or writing them down for others to reference still have their place (ahem… like writing a blog, for example…), more and more, people prefer to receive their information by watching quick little videos.

Just skimming down any social media feed, our eyes stop a second longer when we see a video. So here are some of my favorite apps for creating short videos that are so FAST and EASY to use!

The resources I’m about to share are my personal favorites in part because they are FREE and do not place a watermark with their branding on your video. These apps will give you a professional look without trying to sell their product to your viewer and they do it all for FREE. That’s my favorite price!

Webcamera.io

First up is a website I use at least once a week – webcamera.io. As they state on their website, webcamera.io is, “A free online tool that allows you to record videos and take pictures with your webcam. All you need is a web camera and a good internet connection.” You can record an unlimited number of videos with no limit on length either! A great free tool for recording selfie videos. The video above is “Mrs. Akers’ Top Three” which I share with my school community each week as part of our newsletter. I used webcamera.io to record the video (I added the intro, outro, and music using the cloud editing site WeVideo – I pay for an account because I use it so often – but you can try it out for free with a watermark).

Apple Clips

Apple Clips was MADE for creating high-quality selfie videos! Sorry Android users, this one is only for iOS, but it is incredible! Built in music, quality intro and outro animations (they call posters) that you can edit with the text you want, and tons of filters make this app a real gem for creating an eye-catching and memorable video. Best feature: you can turn on live captioning and the app will show the text of everything you’re saying right on screen without you having to type it in!

SnapChat

Alright… I know what you might be thinking… SnapChat? Really? I don’t need to get myself sucked into another social media! BUT hear me out – you don’t have to use the social aspect of SnapChat AT ALL – just download it for the super fun filters. I know a lesson on mammals may just be a little more engaging if my teacher is an adorable deer while teaching me about them! Once you’re in the app, tap on your face to open up all of the filters. Move through the filters (some change daily – you never know what filters will be available) and look to see if there might be a fun filter that will support the message you are going to record. A reminder about an upcoming assignment that is due or not to forget to study for an upcoming test will always be more fun with a silly filter – however, SnapChat is probably not the right choice for a more serious message. If you are looking for lighthearted and fun – SnapChat is available for iOS and Android users.

Splice

To use Splice, you’ll use your phone’s camera to record your message before opening the app. Once you’ve got your video or multiple videos ready, launch the app and click the plus sign to add your videos. The app will then ask you to select from their free music to be the background for your movie. You can click the plus sign next to your video timeline to add simple title slides. Splice is the simplest way I’ve seen to quickly and easily splice together multiple clips into one video. Splice is only available for Apple users.

Quik

Quik was created by Go Pro to take quick little clips from your longer videos in order to create an overview of an event. In the example above, I important video of our dance teams performance at a high time show and Quik selected clips with the most movement and created the cuts for me. If you choose to use Quik for sharing an informational message in which you DON’T want short clips pulled out, you’ll just need to click on your video, the edit pencil, trim, and then manual. This will stop Quik from only showing clips of your video and force it to show your entire message. Quik has amazing free music, transitions, and filters built right to make your message look very professional with the tap of a finger.

Tips for Making Great Informational Videos

When creating your own informational videos, it is important to remember to speak clearly, be concise, choose themes carefully, and include music that supports your message.

Speak clearly. After you finish recording a clip of yourself speaking, always watch it back. Did you speak clearly? Did you speak accurately? Did you make sense? Don’t worry if you stumbled over one word – no one is perfect – if you keep recording over and over until you get it perfect, you may never stop re-recording! Just make sure your message is clearly communicated.

Be concise. I admit it. When I am searching youtube for a how-to video or I’m looking up an explanation for something I don’t yet understand, I always look at the length of the video before selecting it! I want the video to get to the point – show me, explain it, or teach me – so I can quickly apply it and move on with my day.

Choose themes carefully. You can’t choose a colorful theme with bouncy transitions to talk about World War II. You must carefully think about what the intro and transitions portray and if they support or take away from your message.

Use music. Take that additional step to add music to the background of your video. It really does make SUCH a big difference in the mood, tone, and professional quality. Be sure that the music you select does not have words. The audience cannot listen to you speak and the words of the music at the same time. It is my opinion that one detracts from the other. My advice is to choose instrumental music only. Also, be sure the music you select supports the mood of your message.

Try using video to share a message this coming week! I am certain that you will get a positive response whether you share your video with students, parents, staff, or your community!

3 Apps to Visually Market Your School or Classroom

3 Apps

Educators are hearing all the time how we need to market our schools and classrooms – telling our story – the great things happening in our classrooms – so that others don’t fill in the void with negative stories. So many educators have jumped on board with this idea of sharing our stories and pointing the spotlight to all the positive things happening in our schools, but how can we do that most effectively? What do the marketing experts say? They say we should be using visuals to SHOW our story as we tell it. Continue reading

#MakeDecemberMagic Twitter Challenge

#MakeDecemberMagic (2)

Want to keep kids engaged in your learning and not dreaming of Santa and presents? Need some motivation for the weeks leading up to the Winter Break?

Take the #MakeDecemberMagic Challenge! Not only will it fuel you with ideas of what to tweet (if you’re new to twitter), but it will challenge you to keep things fresh, positive, and fun for your students so that you’re not just trudging through until the break, but you are *hopefully* motivated to #MakeDecemberMagic for students! Continue reading

From Thanksgiving to Christmas: Positive Incentives and Templates that WORK!

From Christmas - graphic

I can’t believe it’s here already, but here we are: that span of time that can sometimes feel like one of the longest stretches of the school year – the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ve had a taste of break. Those days off felt great! We’re refreshed and rejuvenated (well, I am anyway 😉)! The first week back feels great! But then, the closer we get to Christmas break, the more excited about Christmas the students get and the more stressed we tend to get. Why? I say the culprit is… presents! Kids are excited about them and we’re stressed because we’ve got to get them all (and clean our houses for guests, and prepare meals… so much to do before the big day)! Continue reading

Fail Fast, Fail Forward

Fail Fast, Fail Forward

A pottery teacher split her class into two halves. To the first half she said, “You will spend the semester studying pottery, planning, designing, and creating your perfect pot. At the end of the semester, there will be a competition to see whose pot is the best”.

To the students in the other half of the class she said, “You will spend your semester making lots of pots. Your grade will be based on the number of completed pots you finish. At the end of the semester, you’ll also have the opportunity to enter your best pot into a competition.” Continue reading

Fun with Feedback

Fun with Feedback (1)

I just finished reading The New Pillars of Modern Teaching by Gayle Allen as a part of an awesome online book study facilitated by Region 10 in Texas. In the book, Allen compares the amount of feedback teachers typically get in a year to the amount of feedback Uber drivers get with this table: Continue reading

Book Study in a Box

Book Study in a Box

I am currently participating in a book study on The New Pillars of Modern Teaching by Gayle Allen facilitated by Kathryn Laster @kklaster of Region 10. The book challenges educators to provide learners with choice in the time, place, medium, and socialness of their learning. Kathryn and her team have done an outstanding job of giving book study participants like me power over their learning in each of these areas throughout the book study. Continue reading

Cooperative Critical Writing

Cooperative Critical Writing Graphic

As we plan for improvement, writing is at the forefront of everyone’s mind on my campus, in my district, and across our state. We have been brainstorming practical and meaningful ways to incorporate more writing across academic areas in order to bolster and strengthen students’ skills. As I began brainstorming today, I realized that just writing more won’t entirely solve the problem because students who are struggling with how to write a complete sentence, for example, aren’t going to get any better at this skill by just being required to write more. And we’ve already got quality first instruction in place as well as small group interventions. Continue reading

Google Sheets Poster Printing HACK!

Google Sheets Poster Printing Hack

Years and years ago (like first year teaching years ago) I used to use Microsoft Excel to create multi-page posters that I could piece together to have great professional-looking typed posters without having to pay for poster printing. You should know, I am also a font snob and I am not in love with the font choices provided in the Microsoft suite (we can’t add fonts onto district computers). Ahhhh but the font choices in Google Apps… FANTASTIC!!! I haven’t had a use for this old poster-making hack again until recently, but thought it was worth a share in case you ever need to print a poster or large multi-page title in a pinch and/or on a budget! Continue reading