I Choose To Go Deeper: Choose Your Own Adventure Videos

I used to love choose your own adventure books as a kid.  I would read them over and over to get the most favorable ending, often skipping ahead to see which way I really wanted to go.  Some might have called it cheating, but really I was curious and couldn’t resist finding out what ‘might have been’ (plus there is some research that suggests spoilers increase enjoyment!).  I imagine many of our students are the same way, and a bit of mystery might be a good thing to get them to delve deeper into an issue.  Choose your own adventure books are actually pretty tough to create and it’s easy to get lost, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to harness videos and the web to make interactive choose your own adventure videos instead?  Well, YouTube makes this possible with a little linking and annotating.

I’ve found a great tutorial from Greg Kulowiec (via Richard Byrne’s FreeTechnology4Teachers.com) on how to make a Choose Your Own Adventure Video using YouTube.  There also is a nice flowchart on Greg’s blog that you should check out.

For me the beauty is that you can create a single shell video to embed into your class page, which will then serve as a portal to a series of other videos, either student, teacher, or 3rd party created.  Student inquiry and presentation can thus become an avenue for other students’ inquiry.  Challenge your students to help others choose to go deeper.

Suggested Uses:

  • have your students create and share choose your own adventure reports
  • link student videos together into one single embeddable video
  • create a video with links to various other YouTube videos for students to explore
  • create a single video entry point for your Flipped Classroom videos.  This way ‘distractions’ will be meaningful tangents to learn from.

Empowering Students to Leave a Legacy

Originally posted on InquireWithin.
How can we create the desire to inquire? That is a hard issue to grapple with (and worthy of much inquiry by educators), but I’m sure that: 1) it’s not grades, and 2) there’s no silver bullet to get students motivated to dig deeper and extend their own learning.  However, I think one great way to create deep motivation for some learners is encouraging them to leave a legacy.
Mathtrain.tv a site “for kids, by kids” is one example of students leaving a legacy.  Teacher Eric Marcos has his students create and upload math tutorial videos to teach other students.
The true beauty of Mathtrain.tv though, is not so much the videos to replace your own teaching, as it is the idea of empowering students to teach their peers.  Alan November’s TEDxNYED Talk (well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it) highlights the importance of students leaving a legacy, and he uses Mathtrain.tv as a great example of this.
If we live in a collaborative world, why do we often wait until the work environment before we learn from others?  Why do teachers fight the system, or more likely just ignore it? Who knows, but I sure think Alan November and Eric Marcos have something worth listening to.  Never underestimate the power of a motivated student.  Personally, I’m committed to tapping into that motivation, even if it means sacrificing my own ideas about how something should be taught.

Welcome to the updated blog…


So after fighting the urge for some time now, I’ve made the transition to WordPress.  I don’t have anything against WordPress, but seeing as how my blog originally grew out a tutorial website for Google Sites, it felt kind of wrong to use a different platform.  Unfortunately, Google Sites has not kept pace with many of the changes in HTML coding, and it lost the ability to embed a few of my favorite elements (Twitter was the clincher).  So at the beginning of the school year I switched over to using iWeb on my mac along with Dropbox for hosting the site.  I have really enjoyed the results (you can check out my G7 Science page if you’re interested), however, I didn’t want to use it to run my blog.

For my blog I was looking for a platform that would allow 1) easy posting of ideas, 2) able to be tagged with multiple topics to allow for easy searching without multiple postings, and 3) was something that wouldn’t require me to sign up for something new.

WordPress was really the only tool that fit the bill.  I have recently joined the collaborative blog InquireWithin, so that took care of #3.  It took some time to deal with the complex WordPress Dashboard, but I eventually figured out how to multi-tag and create the navigation toolbar I wanted, so that took care of #2.  Finally, it’s a blogging tool, so what could be easier for posting?  Well, it’s actually quite tough to embed items into WordPress, so that actually took care of my unwritten #4: Challenge Yourself!

Hope you enjoy the new site, and hopefully I will continue to fill it as I broaden my perspectives to include all Ed Tech ideas I have, not just Embeddable objects (although that’s still my passion!)


Twitter is by far one of the most useful PD tools I have come across.  I was at first skeptical, and like many thought it was for finding out when celebrities did silly things.  One of my colleagues convinced me to try it out for educational resource sharing, and I haven’t looked back since!

Twitter allows you to follow who you want to follow.  It also allows you to look where you want to find information.  Use hashtags to find relevant information (#edtech, #edchat, #math, #science, #flippedclassroom, #etc).

Personally I use a twitter feed embedded into my class page to send quick updates without having to access the page code.  That allows me to share information with students quickly, without them having to have a Twitter account.  Those that do have accounts can also share with others on the class page.  This in combination with Google Calendars means I don’t really need to edit my main class page all year!

It’s a bit tough if you’re using WordPress to embed a Twitter Widget, but if you use another platform such as Moodle, Google Sites, Blogger, or any program that let’s you embed objects, then you can easily include custom searches or profiles.  You can check out my G7 Science homepage if you’re interested to see how I use it on a regular basis.

Toon Doo

Toon Doo

Suggestions for Teacher Use:
– Create a toon to illustrate a concept or idea
– Create a comic book to illustrate step-by-step instructions
– Post fun reminders to your webpage
– Find toons that have already been created and embed them into your page
Suggestions for Student Use:
– Create a toon to illustrate understanding of a concept or idea
– Create illustrations to accompany story writing
– Create a comic book for a debate issue that shows a discussion of both sides of an argument

Go! Animate

GoAnimate.com will  let students create animated versions of their work!

Suggestions for Teacher Use:
– create a video to illustrate the concept you’re teaching
– create a video to introduce a problem or concept for students to respond to
– create an opening scene to a story, then have students create the endings (or vice versa!)
Suggestions for Student Use:
– make an animated short story instead of writing one
– animated debate instead of a live class debate

Voice Thread

Embed Voice Threads for students to share and collaborate.

Students and teachers can collaboratively create and comment on almost anything.  When finished you can play back the process.  Basically it’s a way to have a non-linear discussion.  Comments can be left in text, by voice, or by drawing on the presentation itself.

I’ve seen this tool used very effectively by our Mandarin teacher (@alisonkis on Twitter), for having students submit oral assignments as at home practice.  Truly though, this is great for any subject you want students to discuss outside of the class, or in class in a non-linear way.