LAST UPDATED: December 21, 2020
News for Spring Semester 2021:
What items do you have for free?
Links to FREE Items:
Can I post your videos on my PowerPoint, Google Slide, Google Classroom, LMS platform, teacher website, etc?
If linking to the video on YouTube or using the YouTube embed code, yes! By the way, Google Slides automatically is using the YouTube embed code when you go to "Insert->Video->and paste in a YouTube video link. (Google owns YouTube!) But please do not download our video files and then upload the video file online somewhere or take a screenshot video of our video and post that somewhere. This is not only very harmful to full-time YouTube creators, but it also violates our licensing agreements and YouTube's terms of service. More info here.
You can also consider using our learning playlist link which has our videos organized by "chapters" where students can see an entire sequence of biology videos.
Can I post your handouts, comics, and/or GIFs?
Speaking of handouts, your handouts are PDFs. I want my students to write on them though since I'm teaching remotely?
The reason our resources have been in a PDF format are because (A) they can be viewed and not distorted in any type of device and (B) PDFs are more protective of our images and work.
However, there are options for being able to have students use these remotely!
A) If you prefer for students to write on the PDFs electronically and turn in to you, there are some tools that work in Chrome that can help with this. While we are not affiliated with these tools, some of the Chrome tools we mention on our handout page are DocHub and Kami. These tools allow for annotating and writing on PDFs. Additionally, if you do a web search "DocHub for teachers," there are some articles written by teachers about how that tool can be useful with students! Many LMS systems will actually allow you to write on PDFs. A quick search online for "How to annotate on a PDF in ____" with the LMS system you use may provide additional options besides these extensions.
B) If your school or district permits Google forms to be used, consider creating a google form. If you just create one google form, it can work for all your students and for multiple handouts! An screenshot of an example form is shown BELOW. It can list names of Amoeba Sisters handouts (so the same form can be used multiple times as you can sort by handout name), and a space for students to write in their answers when they look at the handout. They are very easy to make and use, and they can be an easy way to collect responses for evaluation. Here are the instructions from Google about Google forms: https://support.google.com/docs/answer/6281888?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
You have on your website that a school device and/or network filters can be set to allow certain YouTube videos to show and block all other YouTube videos?
Google (who owns YouTube) explains here how entire channels can be approved OR even specific videos on a school device or network https://www.blog.google/outreach-initiatives/education/more-ways-for-schools-organizations-to/ They have an additional help page: https://support.google.com/a/topic/6206681 . In addition to the above, or as an alternative to the above, if a district has student assigned devices (some schools are now 1:1), the district can set up "restricted mode" on the devices they give out. YouTube Restricted mode hides comments and filters out many inappropriate videos from the search. https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/174084?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
How can I: change the video speed, see video subtitles or a transcript, change the language, see a table of contents for your videos, etc?
Note: This post is often updated due to changes that occur in YouTube.
TIPS LAST UPDATED: May 2023
YouTube. As edu creators, we are grateful for the platform where we can share our work, earn from our work, and continue to create! A while back, we wrote a post about tips for viewers using YouTube to watch edu videos. We wanted to update and expand on that based on what we've learned over the years. We try to keep this updated.
1- Captions/subtitles on edu videos are also available in different languages!
You knew that you could click the "CC" button at the bottom to see subtitles! But, did you know that thanks to our amazing subtitle contributors, many of our videos have subtitles in different languages? Check out the screenshot video below for more info about how to see subtitles in different languages!
Important Update: On September 28, 2020, YouTube removed the feature that allows the community to contribute new subtitles. This affects all YouTube channels. However, any previously created subtitles that were published before this date will remain! If you are interested in volunteering to translate our subtitles, please visit here.
2- You can change the font color and background color on YouTube captions!
Are the background of the captions blocking you from being able to see illustrations in the video? Did you know you can change the font color, background color (or make it 100% transparent), and more?! Viewing the screenshot below, click the gear (labeled 1 below) - select subtitles - and then click "options" (labeled 2 below).
3- But also: transcripts!
Maybe you knew that most YouTube edu videos offer captions. But did you know that you can also access the video transcript? Just click the three dots at the bottom right of the video---and then "open transcript." Screenshot below! After opening the transcript, you will see it open at the top right. Click the three buttons next to the word "Transcript" and you can also toggle the timestamps on and off as well PLUS even search for a word within the transcript!
4- Ads on YouTube that you don't want to see?
While you'll find ads on many Google services, including edu YouTube videos, did you know that you (the viewer) can have more control over ads you see? You can update preferences on your Google account: https://adssettings.google.com
5- Time stamped table of contents (now called "chapters")?
Many edu creators create a time stamped hyperlinked table of contents. Sometimes it's in the video details (just click "show more" when reading the video description to see them) or as a pinned comment. The time-stamped table of contents can help you navigate the video easily.
Update: If a video has a table of contents, now it will also immediately show as chapters on the video progress bar!
P.S. Just to add, if you make a YouTube comment that has a time in it (ex. 1:00), it turns it into a hyperlinked time stamp.
6- Too fast? Slow it down!
Sometimes those edu videos may go a little too fast! Did you know you can slow it down? (Or speed it up?) The video speed is an option when you click the gear at the bottom right of a video.
7- Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to stop and skip!
As an educator, Pinky found those keyboard shortcuts so helpful when needing to pause the video to ask questions or skip back or forward. If you're a teacher, you can even consider having a wireless keyboard so that you can control the video in the back of the room and start discussions from anywhere. Edu videos with engaging graphics (in our case, cartoons!) can make great discussion starters.
8- So many ways to share...
It's important to know how to share YouTube videos by using the YouTube link (or using the YouTube embed code, which is enabled on many edu channels)! Most are familiar with YouTube links, but if you want a nice, streamlined look with a YouTube video on your class website or LMS, you may want to look at the YouTube embed feature, which will be available on videos if the channel enabled it. Just click "share" underneath the video, and click on "embed." You can also embed entire playlists so you could embed our entire learning playlist! YouTube embeds still feed from the YouTube channel itself. Need more detailed instructions on how to embed? Check this out from YouTube.
9- Expand those video details---and the pinned comment (if there is one)!
Many viewers may not realize the huge amount of information in a lot of edu video details (video descriptions). By clicking that "show more" underneath the video description, you can expand to see everything the edu creator has placed there. In our videos, we include references, further reading suggestions, our music credit, and additional links about our content.
A pinned comment is a comment that the edu creator has placed at the top of their comments. In many cases, it may be a comment from the edu creator themselves. The comment may have a clarification or important video note.
10-Explore "YouTube Learning Playlists!"
We're so excited to be a part of the beta launch of YouTube Learning Playlists that started in the summer of 2019! There are a lot of YouTube learning playlists that you can explore here, and this is our biology learning playlist. Learning playlists include objectives and a dedicated space without suggested videos.
Thanks for reading our tips! For more info about our videos specifically, check out our videos page.
Also, if you're an educator, we made a video specifically on suggestions for using our videos in biology.
High school or college student? We made a video with study tips when using our videos.
What if my district/campus/institution blocks YouTube?
YouTube is one of the largest global video sharing platforms available, and it offers many educational videos exclusively on its platform. At this time, our licensing is still limited to hosting on YouTube. The main purpose for this is that it helps protect our videos from being uploaded and distributed publicly by other platforms. It also ensures that if we make an edit to the video, it will be reflected since it is ultimately feeding from the channel.
However, district filters can work with YouTube, and this can be a conversation to explore with your district or institution's IT department and leadership about the filtering options that Google (who owns YouTube) provides. Many districts have opened YouTube after learning the many options for filtering. For example, YouTube has a link to share how specific videos or entire channels can be approved on a school network. They also provide a support page on this topic that educators can send to their IT staff. We do want to mention that our channel does have the YouTube embed feature enabled. Not all creators choose to enable this feature, and the ability to embed with the YouTube API embed feature can work with district filtering. Meaning, our YouTube videos can be viewed when embedded on a platform that uses an approved YouTube API embedding (such as Google Slides, Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, Edpuzzle [if their embed feature and not upload feature], Nearpod, etc) while a filter is used (after being set up correctly) to block the ability to navigate to YouTube. When using the YouTube embed code, the viewer does not actually have to navigate to YouTube to view the video.
Last Updated: 2/1/2023
So you know that we have a biology learning playlist on YouTube! BUT, did you know we also have some creations designed to help review the major biology concepts we cover? Check these out below!
Looking for a self-checking online resource that goes through the major vocabulary mentioned in our "Stroll Through the Playlist (a Biology Review)" video that can be assigned via Google Classroom and other LMS platforms? Check out our TpT vocabulary easels set 1-5! Click on any of the below Easels to see the preview video for each one as well as product information.
Our FREE "Describe the Biology with GIFs" slide set asks students to use vocabulary as they describe an assortment of our biology GIFs.
Need some serious study time? Silence your device and phone notifications, and join Petunia, Pinky, and Gus in their studio in this study flow video. It features 45 minutes of lo-fi music and a cozy, rainy day atmosphere.
A few additional things to know:
Study tips? Along with the graphic below, check out our short study tips video for students!
[Additional text added March 2019]
We have a lot of gratitude for YouTube. As edu creators, it allows us to publish our video content and reach others. It allows us to build a community. And it allows others to contribute subtitles in different languages.
There are some challenges we face as edu YouTubers though. EDITING. Sometimes, after we publish a video, we receive helpful feedback that a clarification- or even an error- needs to be addressed. We are really grateful for this kind of feedback, because it helps us grow as educators. We make mistakes, but we have worked hard to cultivate our growth mindset so that we can learn from those mistakes and get even better!
And we want to model that for high school kids too, because we think that is an important life skill. Which, is why, fixing our mistakes is very important.
The only problem is that YouTube has limited ability to edit videos, and in 2016, they removed the ability to make new annotations (much to the dismay of many edu YouTubers). Also, on 1/15/2019, all existing annotations will be permanently deleted. The "cards" feature which was designed to replace the "annotations" feature unfortunately doesn't have the ability to make clarifications or address issues. So how do we handle this?
Most of the time, we are addressing a clarification or smaller scale mistake. It might be a typo. It may relate to the way we used a vocabulary word. It could be a single incorrect statement in the audio or the way we pronounced a vocabulary word. It may be related to an exception---science has a lot of exceptions! We consider something a clarification or smaller scale mistake if it does not affect the full video, but may affect a statement or component of the video that should be addressed.
So how do we handle those clarifications or mistakes? You will find it as a pinned comment! That means, it will show as the very first comment underneath the YouTube video. That allows it be front and center, and it is a popular method that many edu creators use to address those clarifications or mistakes. We remake videos every once in a while as our art and scripts improve. When we remake a video, we check the pinned comment of the old video to make sure to address those clarifications or mistakes from the past. And, don't worry, unless there is a major issue with an old video---we do not delete old videos. We want people to know how we have improved with lots and lot of practice!
[Added March 2019: YouTube now allows small clip-outs of video portions even on videos with high view counts. We have used this feature on a few older videos, and it's explained on the pinned comment for the video]
If you are an educator, we highly recommend checking out the "pinned" comment on our videos! Please also share this with students, because we want students to see that we do make mistakes. We want students to see how we handle mistakes, and we want students to feel empowered to keep going when they make mistakes too.
Unfortunately, if it's a major error that affects the main concept of the video, we remove the video and re-publish the video. It has been extremely rare, and it's definitely frustrating to do as a creator, because the link to the video is destroyed when you remove a video. We take a lot of effort to try to avoid this by double checking our facts before releasing a video. You can see our factual references in our expanded video details.
If there is no issue with a video (that we have been made aware of), we often pin supplemental information or links in our pinned comment.
As always, we thank our viewers for helping us grow as edu creators! :)
Education is changing, and the way that we reach our students may need some transformation. When we were kids, the way we did our research consisted of going to the school library to read through the alphabetized encyclopedias. Now everything is often just a "Google" away. You can learn how to change a tire or master a video game on YouTube. There are a lot of ways to consume information now; it makes sense that we're all looking for ways to transform learning for our kids to use the information to create, solve problems, and ask their own questions.
But the absolute statements in education---those generalized statements that tend to classify everything in one category ---make us wary. They are not the answer. Absolute statements tend to be used to attack all lectures, all textbooks, all worksheets, etc. These statements tend to get a lot of attention; some come with their own Twitter hashtag and maybe even a book. The trouble with these statements is that they tend to classify everything in the category it attacks as the same. "You should never use lectures." "You should never use textbooks." "You should always avoid all worksheets." Edu videos are not in these statements (yet), but they could be soon. Because just like all tools---it matters how edu videos are being used too. We find these absolute statements are just attacking a tool without asking, "How is it being used?"
Simply adding technology does not make something innovative; we all know this. But we also shouldn't innovate for the sake of innovation. We should innovate when the way something is being used no longer serves our kids as effectively. There should be a reason for transforming something besides the fact that the "something" may be an older tool or strategy.
We aren't big fans of lengthy, traditional lecture and notes. We find them time consuming, and I've found my students tune out of them after about fifteen minutes. Plus, I have a lot less time for the other things I want to do such as labs and discussions! We made our Unlectured Series with the intention of transforming traditional lecture. But you will never hear us make an absolute statement about lectures, because we know they cannot all be generalized like mine. What about storytelling? This can be such a memorable way to connect with students! Or the TED Talks we love so much? These are all ways that lecture can be used in a way that can reach students.
A paper-based or online textbook can be used in a monotonous task of having students copy vocabulary words with definitions straight from the book. Not very effective. But you know what else textbooks can be? A paper-based or online textbook could also be used as a reference tool----a peer-reviewed reference tool---that students can find useful to cite when developing their own creations such as a blog entry, story, or comic. Peer-reviewed information in science is important.
A worksheet can be used as a sheet of paper where students restate facts that involves very little learning. Such things are easily copied online or from a peer. Worksheets can be meaningless busywork. It doesn't matter if it's on paper or behind glass on a computer screen---if it's being used that same way, its potential is the same. But you know what else worksheets can be? They can be full of open ended questions. They can serve as quick exit tickets, where they can let the teacher see where his/her students may be confused. They can provide an opportunity for feedback as a formative assessment with no grade required! They can be used collaboratively: have students pair up to come up with their answers and justify with the class. P.S. On the topic of worksheets, check out these other great points on this blog post by The Nerdy Teacher!
Overall, lumping all things into a tool and calling the tool "bad" without considering how it's being used doesn't seem to make much sense to us. Any tool that is being used to help kids with the best part of science---the whole "doing" part of science including hands-on labs, discussions, creating, etc---is a win in our minds.
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Disclosure? If we share a tool or website on this page, it's because we like it and find it useful. We don't have affiliate links on this blog. If we use affiliate links at any point on this blog, we will announce on the individual post.