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Edutopia’s VideoAmy curates themed playlists of YouTube videos for educators and students.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for reflecting on the things you're grateful for, and it's a known fact that practicing gratitude is a valuable tool for building character. Some say the other key to the pursuit of happiness is gratitude's counterpart, generosity. So I thought I'd kick off the season of giving by shining a little spotlight on simple acts of kindness that can have a huge impact: I've gathered ten videos about people giving back, paying it forward, and helping others -- to inspire us all to do the same this holiday season and all year long.

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I'll admit, as the mom of a toddler I may be excessively preoccupied with the alphabet. But truly, letters are the building blocks of the English language and early literacy. Since November is National Novel Writing Month, I indulged in sharing a few of my favorite ABC videos. I started this playlist just for fun, and quickly found that the constraints of the 26-letter sequence provide a great framework for engaging lists of all kinds. As an exercise for your students, little and big, ask them to use the letters of the alphabet as a structure to get creative around a topic -- just see what they come up with!

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I absolutely love it when teachers and students create, remix, and mash up media; it's a fantastic way to encourage deeper learning and media literacy. But one issue that complicates digital freedom of expression is copyright law. While many would argue that copyright law is outdated and badly in need of an overhaul, it's still critical that adults and kids alike have a basic understanding of what's legal and ethical while playing with other people's intellectual property. Here's a list of videos I collected to help you navigate the murky waters of copyright law in educational settings.

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If the thought of school lunch brings to mind soggy tater tots and hamburgers in cellophane bags, you're not alone. Many schools only offer highly processed foods, high in salt and fat -- whether for budgetary reasons, convenience, or simply habit. But the National School Lunch Program has been taking small steps towards insuring better food for the kids who need it most, and the upcoming School Lunch Week celebrates and raises awareness about having good food in our schools. So I've joined in and gathered a variety of videos about nutrition -- and you won't find any dry films about the food pyramid here, just great resources to help inspire you and your students to eat healthier during School Lunch Week and every week.

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Oh dear: our long-bemoaned short attention spans are dwindling into nothingness. That's exactly what I thought when I first heard about Vine, Twitter's app that allows users to make and share six-second videos. What can possibly be said in six seconds of video that's worth watching? You'll have to answer that for yourselves, but after a bit of digging, I've been pleasantly surprised by the creativity that such limitations can enable.

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Curriculum-sharing websites can be a fantastic way to collect materials and best practices beyond the four walls of your classroom. When Vanessa Vega wrote her popular post "A Primer on Curriculum-Sharing Sites" a few years ago, the landscape was a little less crowded -- and a little less complex. The Common Core has added a new layer to the planning process for many teachers, and with countless sites that house giant collections of dubious quality, looking for teaching materials online is a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack proposition. So how do you cut through the noise to find the best?

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It's been nearly two years since I first wrote up "Resources for Understanding the Common Core State Standards," Edutopia's roundup page for all things Common Core, and the demand for tools and resources only grows as we get deeper into implementation. Like any major (and mandated!) educational initiative, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have their fans and their detractors, but if you're in one of the 45+ states that have signed on, they are here to stay. I highly recommend reading an excellent recent opinion piece from The New York Times, by Charles M. Blow, "The Common Core and the Common Good," which provides a compelling and succinct summary of the potential problems and the opportunities around the Common Core.

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The start of school is a time for fresh beginnings and innovative ideas. For some, this could include a new perspective on the devices that are becoming so ubiquitous in our lives -- mobile gadgets like smartphones, tablets, mp3 players, and eReaders. Schools around the country are struggling with how to deal with these gadgets -- embrace them and incorporate them into the learning process? Ban them and try to keep them out of schools? Or something in between?

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Wow, it's been a busy summer. August completely snuck up on me -- and for many parents and educators, it's nearly back-to-school time. After all the June chatter about summer slide and learning loss, even the most well-intentioned parents have probably let their kids zone out in front of the television. But in a matter of weeks, we need to have those little learners ready to re-engage in their education and start a whole new year.

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I'd like to offer up a video playlist to remind all of us about the power of empathy, kindness, and human connections. It's always a good time to practice gratitude for the relationships that sustain us all -- for the people who have taught us in a school setting and beyond, and for the young ones we are able to nurture and inspire.

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