Reducing the size of Youtube clips on blogs

Has anyone ever embedded a Youtube clip onto a blog entry, only to realise that it ends up in widescreen – and off the right edge of the blog page – making the “Full screen” playing option impossible to choose?

I hit upon this snag recently. Some Youtube clips are now in HD and widescreen, so they don’t all defer to the smallest screen automatically, and sometimes even the 560×340 frame will be too wide for a blog.

Through trial and error, I’ve worked out a solution. At the Youtube site, click on the little asterisk-looking “cog”/”wheel” icon on the right of the “Embed” text box. That will permit you to “Customize” the embedding code. Tick those of the boxes you require (but definitely not the “Include related videos” option, as that can often lead you to porn and other unsavoury videos related by coincidence of a secondory meaning for your original keywords).

Next, you can select a colour combination for your frame from nine different options (match your blog theme, or something appropriate to the clip itself), and then, under that, choose “480×295” as your desired size from the four frame sizes offered. Now return to the “Embed” box, cut and save your revised HTML code and drop the saved text into your blog entry.


Green eggs and little white dogs

National read-aloud

The last few years we’ve participated in ALIA’s Simultaneous Storytime (K-6), but we were inspired by the success our K-2 students being a part of the “Cat in the hat” Read-aloud of 2007, which celebrated an important Seuss anniversary.

This year, we”d already planned to have a K-6 (and extended school community) reading picnic at the end of Term 1, so adding “Green eggs and ham” to the agenda of the afternoon was relatively easy. We realised that, being so close to Easter, there should be no shortage of green eggs: every supermarket should have green foil-wrapped chocolate eggs on hand, and we are thinking of some rhyming challenges to add to the day. A green clothing mufti day might also be fun!

Of course, having celebrated the 50th anniversary of “Green eggs and ham” in Term 1 won’t stop us from joining the Simultaneous Storytime 2010, which this year is “Little white dogs can’t jump” by Bruce Whatley & Rosie Smith (HarperCollins).

Fiction… with a twist!


This week, I have taken five groups of Stage 3 students – about twelve students per group per afternoon, for 30 minute lessons – through an orientation of Fiction with a twist, compared and contrasted the online sample student introductory biographies and the fictional character sketches, then I set the paragraph writing for “Voice” as homework. All between packing up the library for six months of rebuilding. Eeek!

On Monday, the first group returns to share their writing, and/or complete it, and/or enter it onto the blog. I’m figuring that some students will turn up to rap next week, empty-handed. That’s okay, they can write while others type into Word. But each group went off, this week, fairly confident that they could write a bio (noting that each online samples had at least one humorous sentence in the paragraph) and a fictional character sketch. They were amazed to note that each writer had mentioned hair – and so my students began thinking about what they noticed whenever a new colleague arrived at school, ie. was hairstyle really one of the first things we note about a new face?

Fiction with a twist is a blogging project coordinated by NSW DET’s Libraries and Information Literacy Unit. It’s aimed at gifted readers and writers in Stage 3 and 4, but can be used with any students of those Stages. Authors John Larkin, Deb Abela and James Roy will be reading and responding to the students’ writing. The only compulsory weekly task is the paragraph writing task – everything else is optional and flexible!

Introducing Antarctica

Stage 3 students will be studying Antarctica this term during HSIE. These Youtube videos introduce the topic.

“Potty pioneers”:
A sketch from the BBC television series, “Horrible histories”, based on the best selling books by Terry Deary. In this segment, Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott, checks his equipment before setting off to the South Pole… just to make sure it’s completely useless.

Horrible histories – Scott of the Antarctic

Even the natural weather sounds on the soundtrack on this one is informative:

Onboard The National Geographic Explorer In Antarctica, 2008

Icebergs, glaciers, snow, ice and water:

Antarctica: Icebergs, glaciers, snow, ice and water

Lots of Antarctica information, including the “Race to the Pole”, is at Antarctic Connection.

Introducing British colonisation

4/5P is studying the British colonisation of Australia. Here are four Youtube clips that should prove useful to introduce the topic.

1980s television commercial for Old Sydney Town:

Old Sydney Town commercial [1980s]

Here is Old Sydney Town in October 2001 (mere months before the famous historical theme park was shut down). Captured here in the form of digital stills, this presentation shows all the features of one of Australia’s longest running theme parks:

Old Sydney Town (digital stills)

Historic Houses Trust has uploaded several useful video clips on the early days of Australian colonisation to Youtube:

200 years ago, convicts at Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks didn’t have lighters or matches to light their pipes. See how to light a fire the hard way:

A convict started a fire

Convicts sent to Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney weren’t always lucky enough to be issued with socks. And to make matters worse, their shoes weren’t even specifically made for the right or left foot. See what they did to ease the pain:

A convict without socks

Little Miss Muffet and cheese making

Our Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students are studying nursery rhymes. Here are two animated versions we found, plus a Teletubbies parody and a useful video on cheese making (from curds and whey, also known as junket).

Little Miss Muffet – animation:

Little Miss Muffet – animation:

Teletubbies perform Little Miss Muffet:

How it’s made – Cheese:

(from “The Discovery Channel”.)

What should you do if you meet a Goliath Tarantula spider?

(from “National Geographic”.)

Inventions for Stage 2

Our Stage 2 students are about to undertake a study of inventions in HSIE (Human Society & Its Environment), and I found several useful Youtube video clips to kick off the unit:

Biggest barbeque
An outtake from “Inventions from the shed”:

Original Australian Wheelman Bushpig
Named one of Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year”, it is a combination skateboard, snowboard, surfboard and wakeboard:

Bricky Australia
Bricklayer’s mortar template:

Wacky inventor – Japan
Dr Nakamatsu claims to be the world’s most prolific inventor:
Click here.
(Note: The video becomes inappropriate for Stage 2 towards the end, after the inventor is photographing his food, so stop it then.)

Da Vinci’s machines
A visit to the South Australian Museum to see replicas of Leonardo da Vinci’s medieval machines in action:
Click here.

Class 4W showed me this amazing musical invention, made from farming equipment:

Extraordinaire instrument de musique