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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing to Remember: Responding to Holocaust Readings

This week I received two emails from teachers asking what writing assignments I incorporated when teaching about the Holocaust. Although it largely depends upon the classes taught, I typically ask students to complete four writing assignments which are directly or indirectly connected to our Holocaust unit.

Citizenship Credits

The first piece of writing students tackle, even before discussions of the Holocaust begin, is an argumentative piece called Citizenship Credits. That assignment is described in this post; you can download the prompt from there, or from below.



Whose Rules?

As students read the latter portion of The Devil's Arithmetic, they take notes on the camp rules and Rivka's rules using a two column chart created in their notebooks. Students record both the rules they discover, as well as the page numbers upon which they appear.  They later use these notes for a second piece: a comparison-contrast essay. They use this very simple model or this very simple model to structure their essay, but their writing is, of course, much more complex, as all points need to be text supported and elaborated upon. (For students needing some further direct instruction in comparing and contrasting, you may find portions of this ReadWriteThink interactive to be helpful).

Should Sixth Graders Study the Holocaust?

Once we've completed the novel, I challenge my students with this essay topic: "Should Sixth Graders Study the Holocaust?" The fact is, many parents and educators believe they should not. Students consult many online sources for support, including a speech by Jane Yolen which includes the "Alphabet of Evil," and a collection of quotes I've compiled. Some teachers may disagree with providing resources for their students, but after viewing many online sources which turned out to be inappropriate, biased, or simply hateful, I chose to provide students with some excerpts which I had personally vetted). A huge emphasis here is on recognizing and refuting opposing points of view.

Improving the World

A last writing piece which students produce nearly a month after our Holocaust unit is based upon an Anne Frank quote: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." In their responses, students provide examples of ways that others have improved the world, and ways in which they, in their present role as student, can do the same. This link shows how we organize the essay, and also provides many possible openings as well as ways in which to revisit those openings in the closing paragraph.

Hope these suggestions help. What responses to Holocaust studies have your students written?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Destruction, Disruption, and Defiance: Jewish Resistance in the Holocaust

In discussing the persecution of European Jews in the years before and during World War II, my students would often ask, "How could they let this happen?" Meaning, how could the rest of the world stand by and do nothing? For all the answers I can help students to find, I still can't answer this question myself.

The question asked nearly as often, however, is this: "Why didn't the Jews fight back?" But to that question I can readily answer, "They did. They did fight back. But realize that it wasn't just with guns; even children your age found ways to disrupt and defy the Nazis who tried to exterminate them."

In teaching the topic of Jewish resistance, I've found a great resource in an impressive series of six books from Enslow Publishing titled True Stories of Teens in the Holocaust. This series explores, through hundreds of primary documents and photographs, the diverse experiences of Jewish and non-Jewish youth caught up in the Holocaust.

Another terrific single-volume resource for any middle or high school classroom is Doreen Rapapport's Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust, published by Candlewick Press.

Check out the books below, and then read on for suggested sites for helping students learn history through analyzing primary sources.

Courageous Teen Resisters: Primary Sources from the Holocaust

The popular title Courageous Teen Resisters: Primary Sources from the Holocaust documents both violent and nonviolent defiance of Nazi terrorism, from the increasingly overt persecution of early 1930s Germany to resistance efforts in France to the twenty-seven days of the Warsaw uprising. Readers learn how subtle and secretive efforts by Jews and Gentile sympathizers disrupted and distracted occupying enemy troops in some circumstances, while outright armed resistance and acts of sabotage wreaked chaos and destruction in others.

From Courageous Teen Resisters:

Courageous Teen Resisters is recommended as a stand-alone volume for students seeking to learn more about Jewish Resistance, as well an informational text companion to Heroes of the Holocaust: True Stories of Rescues by Teens (available from Scholastic).

The remaining five titles in the Enslow series are described below with a short publisher's summary or excerpt as well as recommended companion titles. This series is especially useful in text pairings not only to meet demands of the Common Core emphasis on informational texts, but to provide students with the necessary historical and social contexts needed to truly appreciate biography and historical fiction rooted in the Holocaust. (If you're seeking Holocaust texts for lower-level readers, be sure to check out my Annotated List of Holocaust Picture Books).

Youth Destroyed - The Nazi Camps
"Alice Lok was deported to Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp, in 1944. Upon her arrival, she faced a "selection." Alice had to stand in line as a Nazi doctor examined the new camp inmates. If the doctor pointed one direction, it meant hard labor—but labor meant life. If the doctor pointed the other way, that meant immediate death. Alice was lucky. She survived Auschwitz and two other camps. However, millions of Jews were not so lucky."  ~ from the publisher
Youth Destroyed - The Nazi Camps is recommended as an informational text companion to The Devil's Arithmetic (gr. 6-8), Prisoner B-3087 (gr. 6-9; see my review here), Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story (gr. 4-6), Hana's Suitcase (gr. 4-5), Elly: My True Story of the Holocaust (gr. 5-7), I am a Star: Child of the Holocaust (gr. 5-7), Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps (gr. 5-8), I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust (gr. 8-12), and Night (grades 9-up).

Trapped - Youth in the Nazi Ghettos
"(M)any Jewish youth living in the ghettos in Europe... faced death, fear, hunger, hard labor, and disease everyday. Millions of Jews were forced into ghettos, where the Nazis kept them until they could be deported to the death camps."  ~ from the publisher

For this title I'd recommend Children in the Ghetto, an interactive site which describes itself as
"...A website about children, written for children. It portrays life during the Holocaust from the viewpoint of children who lived in the ghetto, while attempting to make the complex experience of life in the ghetto as accessible as possible to today’s children.

Along with the description of the hardships of ghetto life, it also presents the courage, steadfastness and creativity involved in the children’s lives. One of the most important messages to be learned is that despite the hardships, there were those who struggled to maintain humanitarian and philanthropic values, care for one another, and continue a cultural and spiritual life."
By examining writings, artifacts, and first hand interviews, students gain an understanding of the "anything-to-survive" mentality which the ghetto created, and demanded, of its inhabitants. Students can explore freely, taking advantage of the interactive elements, or respond to prompts in writing using the printable handouts (I downloaded the handouts, available in Word format, and adapted them according to my lesson objectives).

Once students have interacted with this site, they will have a mental bank of sites, sounds, stories, and symbols from which to draw upon, greatly increasing their understanding and appreciation of this nonfiction text as well as any novel with which they're working.

Trapped - Youth in the Nazi Ghettos is recommended as an informational text companion to The Island on Bird Street (gr. 4-6), Milkweed (gr. 6-8), Yellow Star (gr. 5-8), and Daniel's Story (gr. 4-8).

Escape - Teens on the Run
"Thousands of Jews lived on the run during the Holocaust. Some were able to escape Germany before the war started. Others had to move throughout Europe to flee the Nazis. And many more could not escape at all."  ~ from the publisher

From Escape - Teens on the Run

Escape: Teens on the Run is recommended as an informational text companion to Number the Stars (gr. 4-5), The Night Spies (gr. 3-5), When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (gr. 4-6), Escape: Children of the Holocaust (gr. 5-7), Run, Boy, Run (gr. 5-8), Once (gr. 6-10), and Survivors: True Stories of Children of the Holocaust (grades 5-8).

Hidden Teens, Hidden Lives
"(T)housands of Jews went into hiding during the Holocaust. Barns, trapdoors, bunkers, secret attics, forged identity papers, and fake names became tools for survival."  ~ from the publisher
The fate of Jews who were hidden is of special interest to students. Even in a classroom that chooses not to embark upon a full Holocaust unit, time can certainly be devoted to learning about Jews who went into hiding rather than face extermination by the Nazis.

The uncertainty of such a choice is reflected in this diary entry from Anne Frank which appears in the book:

Hidden Teens, Hidden Lives is recommended as an informational text companion to Number the Stars (gr. 4-5), Jacob's Rescue (gr. 3-5), The Upstairs Room (gr. 4-5), Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival (gr. 4-6), Anne Frank (10 Days) (gr. 5-7), The Hidden Girl: A True Story of the Holocaust (gr. 4-6), Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (gr. 7-up), and The Book Thief (gr, 8-up).

Shattered Youth in Nazi Germany
"Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party's rise to power in the 1930s changed life dramatically for all people living in Germany. Hitler used propaganda, fear, and brutality as his main weapons. Jewish children faced strong antiSemitism in their schools and on the street, and saw their families ripped apart. Non-Jewish children deemed "undesirable" suffered a similar fate. "Aryan" children were forced to enter Hitler Youth groups or endure humiliation."  ~ from the publisher

This book is a real stand-out as it not only chronicles the experience of Jews in Nazi Germany, but also Gentiles who were reluctant to submit to Nazi ideologies.

Shattered Youth in Nazi Germany is recommended as an informational text companion to The Big Lie (gr. 3-5), The Boy Who Dared (gr. 6-8), The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List (gr. 5-9), Someone Named Eva (gr. 6-9), Parallel Journeys (gr. 6-8), The Book Thief (gr. 9-up), Hitler's Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow (gr. 6-12), and The Berlin Boxing Club (gr. 9-12).

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust

If you're looking for a single-volume resource for any middle or high school classroom, I recommend Doreen Rappaport's multiple award winning Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust, published by Candlewick Press.

Like all of Candlewick's titles, this text is supported by a number of resources available from the publisher's site, including a full page spread, a teacher's guide, an interview with a survivor, and an audio excerpt. The book itself includes primary source excerpts, maps, a pronunciation guide, timeline, index, and sources.

In speaking of her accomplishment (which took five years to research and write), author Doreen Rappaport says,
"How Jews organized themselves in order to survive and defy their enemy is an important but still neglected piece of history. I present a sampling of actions, efforts, and heroism with the hope that I can play a role in helping to correct the damaging and persistent belief that Jews ‘went like sheep to the slaughter.’"
Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation

A key resource for teaching Jewish resistance, and for discovering a multitude of primary sources, is the web site of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, whose key mission is "to develop and distribute effective educational materials about the Jewish partisans and their life lessons, bringing the celebration of heroic resistance against tyranny into educational and cultural organizations."

Over 30,000 Jewish partisans, or “members of an organized body of fighters who attack or harass an enemy, especially within occupied territory,” joined the hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish resistance fighters who fought the Nazis. Interestingly, however, their assistance was not always welcome, as antisemitism was often common in non-Jewish resistance groups.

This comprehensive and well constructed site offers teachers and students myriad free resources including:
  • Professional Development modules which can be completed for continuing education credits (CEUs)  (I highly recommend that prior to using this site you complete at least the first module to better understand how to best access the site's videos, articles, lesson plans, student hand-outs, and more);
  • An extensive film collection, containing 3 to 20 minute films through which students can "witness the Jewish partisans' stories of endurance, victory, and struggle;"
  • Interactive maps of Jewish partisan activity;
  • A Virtual Underground Bunker;
  • An Image Gallery (captioned and sourced); 
  • Downloads for the classroom and a Resource Search option; and
  • A very unique tool called Someone Like Me, where a students enter a combination of personal characteristics; the site, in turn, presents a partisan who matches those characteristics. Students can then explore the life and work of that partisan through any of the resource links above.
Primary Sources

Because the impact of Holocaust education relies heavily upon students learning the true events of this tragedy, primary sources should play a role in every Holocaust unit. The JPEF site described above provides a wonderful collection of sources from which to choose, but below I have compiled a number of additional resources which educators may find useful in planning their instruction. As always, please reach out and let me know what other sites, books, and documents you've found useful.

Why Should I Use Primary Sources?

Reading Primary Sources: An Introduction for Students
From Learn NC, a step-by-step guide for students examining primary sources, with specific questions divided into five layers of questioning.

Primary Document Webinar
This hour long recorded webinar present teachers with not only reasons for using primary sources, but also ten really easy-to-implement ideas for starting with primary sources in the classroom.

Making Sense of Evidence
This is a highly recommended collection of articles written by experts in the field on how to make sense of films, oral histories, numbers, maps, advertisements, and more. While written by the experts, students will find the language they use to be accessible. From the site:
“Making Sense of Documents” provide strategies for analyzing online primary materials, with interactive exercises and a guide to traditional and online sources. “Scholars in Action” segments show how scholars puzzle out the meaning of different kinds of primary sources, allowing you to try to make sense of a document yourself then providing audio clips in which leading scholars interpret the document and discuss strategies for overall analysis.
Because of the career connections, this site is a valuable tool for achieving College and Workplace Readiness goals.

Engaging Students with Primary Sources from Smithsonian’s History Explorer site
A 64 page pdf that serves as an excellent introduction to using primary sources.

Primary Sources Fitting into CCSS
Brief article showing how instruction with primary docs helps fulfill CCSS.

Teaching the Holocaust with Primary Sources
From Eastern Illionis University, a Holocaust Unit utilizing resources provided by the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress: Why Use Primary Sources?
Very brief pdf discusses reasons in bullets; good for making your point when discussing unit plans with others.

Primary Sources Cautionary Tales (pdf article)
Considerations and concerns surrounding primary sources.

Where Can I Find Lesson Plans with Primary Sources?

I Witness
From the USC Shoah Foundation, this site contains over 1300 video testimonies and other digital resources, as well as assistance for educators seeking to use these tools in Holocaust education.

Response to the Holocaust: Resistance and Rescue(Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center)
A pdf format document filled with original writings and suggested student activities; you can also download the entire curriculum from the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center.

Jewish Resistance: A Curriculum from The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida
Lesson plans include original documents, along with suggested student questions to help analyze them.

The Power to Choose: Bystander or Rescuer?
Popular set of plans that has been online for some time; used by many educators as a good starting place for planning units.

Where Can I Find Additional Sites for Primary Sources?

PBS Learning Media - Interviews with Survivors and Rescuers
A good online source for interviews.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Offers an ever-changing variety of resources, as well as searchable pages for research. Educators can often request free teaching materials as well.

PBS Resources on the Holocaust 
The search page of PBS provides a vast number of resources, including excerpts from shows which have appeared on public television.

Oral History from Virginia Holocaust Museum
Oral History Project provides witness of survivors and rescuers.

Dr. Seuss Went to War
Before becoming Dr. Seuss, Theodore Geisel was a political cartoonist who urged America to join "Europe's war," in large part due to the oppressive policies of Hitler's Nazi party. But are Geisel's cartoons themselves a type of propaganda? See an earlier post here on Propaganda and Persuasion.

What Strategies or Tools are Available to Assist Students in Analyzing Sources?

SOAPS Primary Document Strategy
This pdf provides information about the SOAPS acrostic, which students can easily recall for use in analyzing primary sources of information.

Primary Source Analysis Tools from the Library of Congress
Several different tools in pdf form for analyzing oral histories, manuscripts, maps, movies, and more.

Document Analysis Worksheets from National Archive
These pdfs allow for blank printing or for students to type directly on them and then print out or save; very handy for conducting analysis online.

Analyzing a Primary Source Rubric
A rubric for scoring student efforts in using primary sources.

Responding to Holocaust Readings

If you're interested in ways that students can respond to Holocaust readings, be sure to check out this post which provides four writing prompts to use before, during, and after a Holocaust unit.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Close Reading Through Online Annotation

In a previous post I discussed close reading, so here I won't speak as much about that process as I will about a promising site for annotating called NowComment.

Many of us use Google Docs (Drive) in the classroom for student annotation of texts. It works, but could be better. What could be better? I think many of the ways annotating could improve online have been incorporated into NowComment:



My main question in previewing this site has been, "Why don't more teachers know about this?"

Some of the main advantages of NowComment over other annotating sites:
  • Two panes scroll independently, allowing better focus on flow of text, video, images, and  comments. This feature is especially important when viewing videos or images while attempting to access all comments.
  • Annotations always appear to the right of text, never hovering above (and therefore blocking) the text, unlike many other annotation tools.
  • Teacher options control precise access dates when the text can be read, and when comments can be added. Teachers can both open and close these access dates for annotating, thus preventing students from later additions if desired. Additionally, these same time controls can be used to hide classmates' comments from individual students until a specified time; thus, students in the first round of annotations won't be able to simply copy or parrot the comments of peers, nor will they be swayed by what anyone else has said. At a later time, when all comments are revealed, students can return to interact with the comments of classmates rather than the text alone, thus creating a dialogue long before an actual classroom discussion. After all, discussions in class are only successful if everyone has read the text and reflected upon it.
  • Comments can be sorted by user which allows for easy assessment, or for students to locate the responses of select peers.
  • Notification options are customizable, allowing you schedule the "feed" from the site, and Update lets you to stay informed of every single comment that is added, which would be a huge help depending upon the importance or timeliness of a project.
  • In addition to the two-pane view, a combined view aggregates both panes into a narrative timeline, easily allowing you to note which lines and paragraphs received the most annotations. 
  • The number of simultaneous viewers/annotators doesn't seem to be issue; according to the site, over one hundred users have accessed the same document concurrently without a problem.
The following video shows the ease with which the site can be set up, as well as basic functions:





Some uses for NowComment:
  • Many teachers argue that close reading requires students to interact with only that part of the text that teachers deem important. However, NowComment offers users the option of uploading their own documents; therefore, if students have digital access to the entire work under consideration, they can upload the excerpt they choose, and then invite peers to annotate with them.
  • Likewise, students can upload their own writing to engage peers in discussion (Microsoft Word docs work extremely well in the interface). Since the source text (the left pane) isn't in edit mode, peers can't make changes to the text, but only suggest them.
  • Many classic works of literature are now available in the public domain online at sites such as Project Gutenberg, providing teachers a seemingly endless source for texts (Mashable lists some great online sites, but do check the legality of using the texts for educational purposes). Likewise, many poems are freely available at sites such as Poetry 180. To get you started, also check out the public documents already uploaded to NowComment.
  • While I'm not a lawyer, and I'm in no way dispensing legal advice, I do believe that if I own 60 copies of any given book, and that book is in the students' hands, then I'm likely permitted to provide short excerpts from those texts for commenting and criticism. If you think I'm entirely wrong in this regard, please leave a comment below; otherwise, I'll still sleep soundly tonight.
  • NowComment is especially useful for leaving responses regarding images and videos. If you're seeking a site that will let students respond to select portions of a video, I recommend you check out my previous post on EDpuzzle. That site not only allows students to leave open-ended responses to select video portions, but also allows teachers to embed quiz and survey questions as well. A site which allows a running record of notes on videos is VideoNot.es which integrates with Google Drive.
  • If you are seeking a multi-author site, rather than an annotating site, and Google Drive isn't an option, then I highly recommend Titan Pad. Titan Pad (see a how-to video) allows multiple authors (color coded by contributor), and features a pretty cool time slider which allows the teacher (or any user) to see what contributions were made when. Titan Pad also has some great options for exporting documents. Documents can be public, or you can create a private account for free.
Finally, if you're seeking a source book for Close Reading strategies that is extremely practical, I recommend Kylene Beers' Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, a popular book among upper elementary and middle school teachers, although it can certainly be adapted to the high school level as well.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Models for Writing from an Unlikely Source

For the longest time, science fiction and fantasy writing were considered somehow less "respectable" than nearly all other genres. The way some of my teachers wrinkled their noses at my choice of paperbacks in  middle school (Asimov, Bradbury, Burroughs, Howard) made me feel as though these books would have been better hidden under my mattress like obscene girlie magazines.

Yet at some point in time, sci fi and fantasy and all of their sub-genres became respectable, even celebrated, perhaps through their mainstream popularization in film.

What's in it for us as teachers, though, is a way to hook reluctant readers. That's a given. What's less immediately apparent is that much of the writing from these genres is actually pretty good, and could serve as models for our students' own writing.

For some fantastic character descriptions from sci fi books old and new, check out Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books at io9.com, a daily online publication that "covers science, science fiction, and the world of tomorrow."

From that article, a description of Elrond from J.R.R. Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring:

"The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars."

Authors Charlie Jane Anders and Mandy Curtis reflect on each excerpt they share, and it's interesting to compare their take on the character description to your own.


Also, if you're looking for some visual inspiration for your budding Asimovs, check out one of the site's Concept Art Writing Prompts, such as Attack on Kitty Titan by Park Insu. Seriously. Because if we as teachers think that we can continue to give out lame writing prompts and story starters and truly engage and excite our students, then we're mistaken.

But offer up some of the Concept Art Writing Prompts of the past few months, and you'll have some truly inspired writers. In the case of Superhero Grandma (below) by Sacha Goldberger, the true identity of the super hero is more amazing than the costumed and caped hero.


And at the very least, if you're planning out a year that include genre book reports by months, consider adding in science fiction, fantasy, or dystopian literature as a choice. Some of our greatest scientific minds (and Grade 6 ELA teachers) were once sci fi nerds.

Disclaimer: Some stories posted on the site by readers are not appropriate for school audiences. Be aware of this before allowing students free access to the site.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Video Viewing with a Purpose

So what's the point?

While this question irks many teachers, I don't mind hearing it. Not at all. I often ask it aloud to remind students that it's an acceptable response (if asked in a genuine way). The question shows me that a student is attempting to find meaning in the source material, whether it's a poem, novel, writing assignment, or video.

One fabulous tool I recently discovered for bringing purpose and focus to videos is EDpuzzle. EDpuzzle allows you to add response options within videos to make them more interactive. The site does this by allowing you to embed surveys, quiz questions, and discussion opportunities within the video itself.

Video Choice Options
Students access your video projects publicly through a URL, or via a student sign-in to your class account. Once students log on and enter a one-time class code, they are assigned to your class roster for all subsequent log-ins. Why go with this option? Because the site will keep track of all registered students' scores and responses; upon completion of a multiple choice format video, then, you will have fully scored quizzes for all students.

What the site does not allow (as of yet) is a way in which to embed the videos. So take just a few minutes to view a sample video quiz so you can get a feel for what the site can do.

More recently, in preparation for a visit from the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey to our school, I had students view a Spark Notes video of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar with embedded EDpuzzle questions and comments in order to familiarize themselves with the basic story line and characters. You can check that video out and try the quiz for yourself.

If you accessed one of my video quizzes (you can still go back and try one out) you may be wondering how the site will score open ended responses. It won't. Open ended responses are recorded, and the teacher then scores those at a later time, marking them simply right or wrong with the click of a button.

It's a simple site, but with lots of potential. Especially when you consider that you can trim a video, add voice overs, and embed comments without demanding a student response. Also beneficial is the fact that when the video has finished running, it returns to the starting point rather than showing a selection of related (and often inappropriate) videos.

If you're wondering how you might use the site in the classroom, read on.

Expand Upon Vocabulary

A recent vocabulary word in our Greek and Latin rooted list was fractal. That word is a fairly new one with an interesting history, so I shared the video below to provide a glimpse into the work of Benoit Mandelbrot, the Father of Fractals.

Build Background

Before our annual visit from a live Shakespeare company, I wanted students to understand the basic plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The following video gave them the basic events and characters, just enough to follow the action the next day.
For fun, contrast the use of lines from MSND in the original play to how they're used in this Levi's 501 Commercial.

Start a Discussion

Because many students' preconceptions of the Holocaust are from by Hollywood films, I wanted to begin a discussion from this perspective and branch out from there. The trailer from Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust provides students with some seeds for thought which can lead to a deeper conversation (the EDpuzzle version appears in a link below the video):
You can see how I added the opportunity for students to engage with the video by viewing that same video on EDpuzzle. Note that you can hit Continue to advance the video if you don't care to leave comments.

Tell a Story

The Internet contains many wonderful wordless videos that beg the viewer to discover the story through music and images alone. Students can narrate or paraphrase a short film such as Going Green:

Tackle a Tough Topic

I wouldn't interrupt a video like Losers (below), but might provide an open opportunity at the video's end to leave thoughts. It's a tough video to watch, with coarse language, but trust me, these are the names students call each other.

Talent Show is more PG-13 when it comes to cyberbullying if Losers is too intense for your kids.

React and Reflect

In Why Students Don't Read What is Assigned in Class, high school students share how they rarely read what is assigned in class, but steal time to read what interests them instead:

Read Closely

This graphic interpretation of the Gettysburg Address fits in well with suggested CCSS curriculum (sorry; it wouldn't embed here). Similarly, the video reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" below is aided by subtitles, sound effects, music, images, and the creepy voice of Christopher Walken which allow students to better understand the mood of the classic poem:

Where to Find Great Videos 
  • Check out the teacher favorites submitted to Video of the Week and Share Your Favorite YouTube Videos for Teaching at English Companion Ning (you will need to create a free account with the English Companion Ning to view these links). A terrific source since teachers will often explain how the use the video they recommend. 
  • Future Shorts is a YouTube channel containing over 400 extremely well-produced short videos. Great for discussion starters, examples of story elements, etc. You already saw one above called Losers. 
  • Videos with a message at Values.com. 
  • DenĂ©e Tyler's video blog is a wonderful collection that's well organized, with videos vetted by a teacher.
  • Most lesson suggestions on Film-English are EFL, but you might find videos there which you can use in unique ways.
  • Awesome Stories is a site that is, well, awesome, in and of itself, but the lesson plans there are often accompanied by videos which reside on YouTube. Some great inspiration if you're looking to try EDpuzzle but don't have a topic in mind just yet. Recently designed, and looks great!
  • Scoop.it Online Video in Education is a juggernaut collection of videos and articles which will really opoen your eyes to what is freely available in media online.
  • 90+ Videos for Tech and Media Literacy features some wonderful, annotated recommendations for those topics.
  • And, of course, the usual suspects such as YouTube and TED Talks. TEDEd has its own site and opportunities for creating interactive video which you should also explore. The Art of the Metaphor is a pretty good example of the high quality stuff you can find there.

What other sites for videos can you recommend? Leave a comment below to share a favorite site for video suggestions, or to share the URL of an EDpuzzle video you've created.