Blogs on Five-Minute Film Festival

Five-Minute Film Festival

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

April is National Poetry Month, and since I wrote a Five-Minute Film Fest on poetry in general a few years ago, I thought I'd focus on my favorite style of performance poetry: spoken word. When done well, spoken word has the power to move and enthrall audiences, and it can be an incredible tool for amplifying voices less heard in the mainstream. I've collected a few videos of spoken word poems for you to enjoy -- by teachers, by students, or about issues in schools. Be forewarned: spoken word is known for often including raw language or sensitive themes (in the service of preserving authentic voice). As with any video you plan to use in your classroom, preview first!

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There are some wonderful discussions in the Edutopia community right now about girls and STEM education -- have a peek at Women (and Girls) in STEM or Are We Getting Too Aggressive Promoting STEM to Girls? The fact is, women still make up less than a quarter of the STEM workforce in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The good news is that there are some amazing people, organizations, and companies working to remedy this. I've collected some videos to ignite your imagination about what girls can do in science, technology, engineering, and math -- when given opportunities and encouragement.

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Everyone is abuzz about a new short film called The Science of Character, which explores the research behind character development and encourages us to focus on our character strengths for greater personal and community well-being. I've featured a trailer for the film below, and then chosen one video for each of the seven highly predictive character strengths distilled by KIPP schools, in partnership with grit researcher Angela Duckworth, and psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson (authors of the groundbreaking book Character Strengths and Virtues). I hope these videos will inspire you to celebrate #CharacterDay on March 20th, and to think about the importance of character every day!

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Is there anything as mysterious and intriguing as the human brain? It's at the center of everything we do and everything we've created, and yet we're just beginning to understand how it works. Brain Awareness Week is coming on March 10th - 16th -- a campaign to promote the value of brain research -- so I've gathered some fascinating videos to help us explore how we're wired. I'm no scientist, but I do know that as the field of neuroscience advances and new discoveries are made, the implications for teaching and learning get more compelling. So enjoy this little primer on brains and get your thinking caps on!

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Whether you're a softie who jumps at any opportunity to tell everyone around you how much you love them, or a curmudgeon who thinks February 14th is a holiday manufactured by Hallmark and the candy industry to make everyone spend money, Valentine's Day gets a rise out of almost everyone. I confess to being the former, so I couldn't help gathering a collection of videos to celebrate the art, the science, and the mystery of love. As always, please preview anything you want to share with students -- there are some mentions in this playlist of topics not appropriate for the littlest ones. Enjoy!

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It's no secret that I am a passionate advocate for using video in the classroom. When used well, videos can help students make connections to people and ideas beyond their usual frame of reference. That's why I've been really excited to see a wave of new (and mostly free or low-cost!) tech tools recently that enable teachers to take favorite clips and make them more valuable for educational use. Whether you use videos to flip your classroom or you just appreciate the power of video to engage kids, maybe one of the tools in my playlist below will help you go deeper in 2014.

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Of the many ways that technology enhances our lives, one compelling example is assistive technology (AT) -- tools to help people with learning or motor disabilities complete everyday tasks. In schools, assistive tech can mean the difference between a student falling behind or being able to successfully work alongside other kids in an inclusion model. Check out Edutopia curator Ashley Cronin's new roundup on assistive technology for a comprehensive list of resources; to accompany that, I wanted to share some amazing videos I've found about how technology can empower kids with special needs.

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Move over, bake sales. It's a brand new year, and time to start thinking big about how to use the Web to fund new projects or get gear for your classroom. Edutopia has just released an amazingly useful downloadable guide to crowdfunding, and to dovetail with that, I've collected nine ideas for how to raise money online and follow those classroom dreams. If, like many teachers, you have great ideas but no resources to carry them out, then this list will be a jackpot for you -- the season of giving and generosity might not be over yet!

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I can't believe it's already the end of the year again and time for all the wrap-ups and best-ofs you can stomach. Among my favorites each year are Google's get-the-Kleenex Zeitgeist and YouTube's Rewind -- which is like the most meta-parody-mashup video you can imagine. I had a blast putting together the Best Education Parodies of 2012, so I thought I'd do it again for 2013. I hope this list gives you a few belly laughs, not too many obnoxious ear-worms, and a sprinkling of good ideas for fun student projects in the new year.

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After the Thanksgiving week, which for many in America is symbolized by bounty, excess, and consumption of all stripes, I was struck by the value of seeing how people live in less wealthy parts of the world. Living on One Dollar is a full-length documentary made by four college students who traveled to rural Guatemala to live on just a dollar a day. Upon their return, they created Living On One, a nonprofit to raise awareness and inspire action around global issues like hunger and poverty -- and started by publishing the Change Series of video shorts. I found it so compelling I've dedicated this whole film fest to it. Each episode not only succinctly frames an issue faced by people in the developing world and makes it personal, but also offers resource links to learn more -- and even better -- to do something about it.

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