Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators

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Step 1: Finding Open Educational Resources

(Some of the information in this post came from a session at the iCon 2013 conference.)

Thanks to the Internet, there are endless resources out there for you to integrate into your curriculum. The first step is to search for these open educational materials (OER). Materials can include videos, songs, podcasts, handouts, lesson plans, digital textbooks, simulations/interactives, websites, handouts, primary source documents, etc. Keep in mind that not all resources can be accessed using an iPad! Many of the simulations and interactives in particular run on Flash. These must be accessed on a computer.
The list below is just a short list of what’s out there. If you know of other sources, please leave a comment and share them!
OER Commons

This site offers educators a place where they can connect and share resources with other educators. OER Commons offers a vast database of teacher-created curriculum. The content is vetted for credibility and provides citations for reference. Users can sign up for a free account, share their own work, and access and curate their own content via their account.

YouTube EDU
Despite a lot of junk being on there, YouTube has a LOT of excellent educational videos. YouTube Education further weeds out a lot of the garbage and still manages to provide thousands of educational videos that can be narrowed down by grade level and topic. 

*Two popular collections of YouTube videos are Khan Academy and Ted Talks. Click on the links below to visit them directly.


“Create lessons worth sharing around YouTube videos.”

Khan Academy
MIT + K12
MIT + K12 is an MIT project that has MIT students create videos to explain math and science concepts for K-12 students. The videos are engaging. They demonstrate the science taking place through experiments while explaining the concepts that are taking place.
Gooru is a “free search engine for learning”. We shared this great search engine previously, but it’s worth mentioning again. Search results contain millions of 5th-12th grade resources in math, science, and social studies. These educational resources range from videos and interactives to lessons and assessments.

CK-12 Foundation
The CK-12 Foundation offers FlexBooks, full digital texts that students and teachers can access on multiple devices. FlexBooks are available in PDF, MOBI and ePub formats. This gives many different devices access to rich content. You can create your own from scratch, use others “as is”, or compile different FlexBooks together to make your own.

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg has a collection of 42,000 free ebooks. These books were all previously published, but their copyrights expired and can now be shared for free. Project Gutenberg offers a variety of file formats for users, so they can be read on iPads as well as other devices.

It’s important to note that any works by Shakespeare do not have line numbers. However, you can add your own! It’s a bit time consuming but teachers will then have their own copy to use every year.

Library of Congress
The Library of Congress gives access to many digital “primary source” resources including photographs, historic newspapers, sound recordings, maps, and manuscripts.

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Crash Course: History and Science Videos

John and Hank Green are two brothers from Montana who started an educational YouTube channel one year ago called “Crash Course”. Most of their videos are around 9-12 minutes in length and focus on specific topics related to one of their six main courses: World History, US History, English Literature, Biology, Ecology, and Chemistry. The videos are entertaining and informative.

John Green produces the history and literature segments while his brother Hank focuses on science. Hank recently announced that would be starting a new course on Chemistry. The first Chemistry video was released one week ago. It focuses on the atom’s nucleus and already has over 120,000 views!

World History Highlights: 

  • Rise and fall of the Roman Empire
  • Five pillars of Islam
  • Dark Ages
  • Renaissance
  • Capitalism, Socialism, and Imperialism

English Literature Highlights

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Great Gatsby
  • Catcher in the Rye

US History Highlights

  • Colonizing America
  • Natives and the English
  • Natives and the Spaniards
  • More to come…

Biology Highlights

  • Animal and Plant cells
  • Photosynthesis
  • Heredity
  • Mitosis and Meiosis
  • Evolution/Natural selection
  • Human systems (muscular, digestive, etc.)

Ecology Highlights

  • History of life on Earth
  • Community Ecology
  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Ecological Succession

Chemistry Highlights

  • The Nucleus
  • More to come…

How can these videos help you? 

We all know that any educational video is going to be aimed at a certain audience. After having watched numerous Crash Course videos, I would say their target audience is high school students and older. Younger students can definitely understand the material presented and find it entertaining, but I would give some of their content a PG-13 rating.

These videos are great for you all to watch. The two brothers do a great job of making the information entertaining and interesting. I would recommend them if you would like to review some material or maybe learn more about a new topic. However, you should screen the video first before showing it to students. Most are okay, but some can be a little inappropriate for younger students.

Personally, I am very excited about their upcoming Chemistry course. The first video (embedded above) on the atomic nucleus is excellent. It is relevant, appropriate, and gives a great overview of important concepts my students need to know.

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Using YouTube in Your Classroom

Most educators today will agree that YouTube contains a wealth of educational information. Unfortunately, many teachers are hesitant to show YouTube videos in class because they run the real risk of exposing students to inappropriate material. Even if you know the video itself is appropriate, you have had no control over the comments for the video or the “related videos” shown to the side… until now.

ViewPure is a great website that basically strips all of the unnecessary junk (comments, related videos, suggestions, etc.) away and just shows the video you want to watch.

To use ViewPure, copy the link of the video into the site’s “purifier” and click “Create”. This will create a unique link for this video free of any distractions. This link can be shared with students if you would like them to view a video from home.

To make it even easier, ViewPure’s website has a “purify” button that you can drag to become a permanent part of your web browser’s address bar. This button does the same function as described above without having to visit the ViewPure website. Just open a video on YouTube, then click on the “purify” button in your address bar to remove all of the extras.

 Before ViewPure: Notice all of the clutter…related videos, comments, and extra information.

After ViewPure: All of the clutter is gone! There are a few links at the top which allow you to share the video with others.

Additional Resources

Learn about the “YouTube for Schools” community! There is plenty of helpful information on why and how to use YouTube in your class. You can submit or search for content-specific “playlists” of videos. For example, check out my Chemistry Playlist. These are all of the videos I have saved that I find useful to show during my chemistry classes.

12 Useful YouTube Accessories for Teachers and Students

This “Free Tech 4 Teachers” blog post gives additional suggestions for removing clutter, as well as tools for cutting and remixing YouTube videos, and editing videos within YouTube itself.

I have my own YouTube channel, manage a few science playlists, and “subscribe” to authors of videos I find helpful (such as Bill Nye, Steve Spangler, and Discovery Channel). If you are interested in using YouTube more in your class and have questions about any of its features, I would be happy to help you out.