Saturday, September 3, 2016

Journey - My Angel's Landing's Story

What do you think of when you hear the word "journey?" What images do you see in your head? What experiences highlight the journey of your life or career?

One journey that I recently took parallels a journey that I am embarking on today. Just two months ago my friend, Laura, and I tackled one of "the top 25 most dangerous hikes in the world." (Scroll to #23)  We traveled to gorgeous Zion National Park, Utah, arrived early in the morning and started our climb to the peak of Angel's Landing. 

The path curved into two sets of numerous 'switchback' S-curves that look amazing from the air but are quite grueling on the ground. 

We reached Scout's Lookout with only 1/2 mile to go when we realized the real challenge was just beginning. Chains were erected on the side of the mountain to help hikers with the climb. At times, we had to wait for other hikers who were using the chains to go down so we could have enough room on our ascent.  We kept going up and up and up and the last 1/2 mile took us over 45 minutes. It was both physically and mentally exhausting.

After much effort, we made it to the top and were greeted with a spectacular view! We also felt that undeniable feeling of SUCCESS.  

However, the journey wasn't over, because we feared hiking DOWN may pose even more difficulty than hiking up! 
Luckily, we made it to the bottom unscathed. Overall, it took us about five hours to complete the entire hike.

On our journey to Angel's Landing, there were times that we gripped onto the chains and didn't want to let go. There were times that we reached for strangers' hands for help and support. There were countless times that we gave encouragement to those we passed along the way. There were times that we just stopped to breathe and take in the beauty around us. 

The reason I'm sharing a short account of this story today is because the beginning of the school year is undeniably the start to a new journey. There will be times throughout the year that you (and your students) will be scared, apprehensive, and nervous. There will be times that you will have to depend on others (your colleagues, your students, their parents, and even strangers) for support. There will be times when you aren't sure if this is the path you should have taken. However, be steadfast, have confidence and know that whatever path you are on, is EXACTLY where you should be. Take a moment to breathe and take in the beauty that is around you. Take the time to give encouragement to others and be ready to take advice when others give it too! Have a great school year!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Help Students Find Their Passion with THRIVELY!

Among the many edtech tools, websites, apps, etc. that educators can choose to use is one very unique website called Thrively. Thrively, an innovative company that works with schools and families to help students find their passions, interests and strengths. Thrively strives to put each student on the right path on the JOURNEY of life. 

I began using Thrively with my students in May 2015 and we were immediately hooked. Here is a short video four of my students created on the last day of school just a few months ago (with no help from me) about why they love Thrively:
There are many parts to Thrively that students and teachers love, but it all starts with the Strength Assessment. Students (and adults!) enjoy taking the 25-minute 80-question assessment developed by two neuropsychologists. 

After the assessment is completed, the students receive an uplifting report about their top 5 strengths

In addition, after the assessment is completed, a unique website is created for each student based on his/her strengths, chosen career paths and interests. 

Thrively has curated hundreds of activities, videos, apps, and websites the students can explore that are interesting to them. The site even provides information on suggested activities in the student's local area.

There is a dedicated section for students to explore different career paths as well:

There are also "Values and Skills" lessons and courses that the students can complete in the categories of Social Emotional Learning, Social Responsibilities and the 4 C's (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking)

In addition, students can create a Digital Portfolio throughout the year by adding highlights and tracking goals. 

Teachers can set up "Projects" for collaborative online group work as well. This is a perfect feature for any content area or Genius Hour project. 

Students also are encouraged to write journal entries about everything they explore on Thrively. These journal entries can be accessible to each student throughout the year, and the teachers can view all their students' journal entries to keep track of their progress!

Finally, teachers can view data of their students' strengths, interests and career paths with the click of a button! 

If you have not begun YOUR Thrively journey yet, please check it out: Here is a three-minute video to give you an overview:

I would love to tell you more about how we can help your students reach their fullest potential.   Feel free to connect with me on Twitter at @ArinKress if you have any questions or would like help getting started! Thrively's twitter account is @Thrively.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Skype-A-Scientist Week

As a 5th grade science teacher, one thing that is always on the forefront of my mind is how I can make the content relevant to my students. For the past two school years I have used Skype to bring in guest speakers to share about their profession and to answer my students questions. During the 2014-2015 school year my students Skyped with an entomologist when we studied the life cycle of a butterfly, an employee from the NASA's Kennedy's Space Center during our Earth and Space Unit and Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned oceanographer, as we studied about the impact of humans on the world's oceans and marine life.

At the end of the school year my students participated in Skype-A-Scientist Week. We had the privilege of Skyping for 30 minutes with four scientists from various fields on four consecutive days. Each scientist took about 10 minutes at the beginning of the call to explain a little about his/her profession. Then my students asked the following questions of each scientist (so their answers could be compared and contrasted at the end of the week):

-Why did you choose this profession?
-What education or background experience did you need for your profession?
-What is your current position/role?
-What is a time where you had to persevere to reach your goal?

 Finally, at the end of each call, the students were able to ask their own questions until it was time to say goodbye.

Here are some pictures from each of the calls:

1.)  Roller Coaster Engineer - Adam House  @GreatCoasters

2.) Mariane Biologist - Founder of Sharks4Kids - Jillian Morris @BiminiSharkGirl   @Sharks4Kids

3.) Paleontologist  - Matt Borths    @MattBorths   @PastTimePaleo

*Matt and two of his colleagues made this video for my students to watch prior to the call!

4.) Geophysicist -  Mika McKinnon   @MikaMcKinnon

Each scientist shared great information about his/her profession and I can't thank them enough for the time and enthusiasm that they put into each call. If you would like to conduct a similar week or if you would like to Skype in guest speakers throughout the school year here are some suggestions:

Create a Skype in the Classroom account.  If you are new to Skype in the Classroom,  search for fields in science that fit with your content area.  Send them a message on Skype to begin to set up the call.

Search for scientists on Twitter.  In order to find two of the contacts above, I just typed in their profession, "roller coaster engineer" or "geophysicist" in a Twitter search. You may want to look up other hashtags too that relate to your content. (Ex. #scichat and ask other teachers who may have contacts that could Skype)

BE RELENTLESS. Sometimes contacts don't reply, timing doesn't work or conflicts arise. If you want to provide this type of opportunity for your students, you can make it work! If one scientist can't Skype, ask for a recommendation of a colleague who could be interested.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about conducting a series of Skype calls such as Skype-A-Scientist Week.  If you are interested in Skyping with your students, here are some other posts that may interest you:

My Skype Challenge

Um, Skype is blocked??? (and other issues)

My First Skype Mystery - Figuring out how to Skype

Answer The Call

Windows to the World (Global Classroom) 

Good luck,
Arin Kress
@ArinKress on Twitter.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


As we turn the calendar to a new year, like most people, I am focused on setting goals for 2015. At school, I also have my students focus on goal-setting. This month is @ClassromChampions's #StepsToSuccess month where the students will either set new goals or reassess goals that were set in September.  I plan to use the following video with my students to spark the discussion on goals. Even if you're not a huge soccer fan like I am, you'll love this video:

I think everyone who watches this video would agree how cute it is, but let's dissect it and find out how it can be impactful for educators and students:

First, here's the description of the video on YouTube: Little Josh Turnbull, son of Chelsea goalkeeper Ross Turnbull, scores in front of the cheering Stamford Bridge crowd after Blues' last match of the Premiership season.

Seconds 1-12:  Yes, this little guy has soccer in his blood with his dad being a professional goalkeeper. However, when everyone else is focused on what appears to be an award's ceremony, he wanders off to do his own thing. 

Implication for educators and students:   DO YOUR OWN THING! Set your OWN goals and do something that is challenging for YOU! It's ok to break away from the group and blaze your own trail. 

Seconds 13-33:  The crowd begins to cheer. Josh sets his sights on the goal. He falls down. He gets back up. He keeps dribbling and dribbling. He keeps his eyes on the goal. The cheering gets louder...

Implication for educators and students:   KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR GOAL! You might fall down. It might be a long road, but never lose sight of what you want to accomplish. In @ClassroomChampions's #StepsToSuccess month, the students will list out 5-7 mini-goals to reach a larger goal. Josh would have never scored in one hard kick. He literally needed to take "baby steps" toward the goal line and that's what needs to happen when setting large goals. Think of smaller, realistic goals that can help you accomplish something big!

Seconds 33-37: Josh kicks the ball across the goal line - the crowd erupts - and the little guy seems stunned and confused.

Implication for educators and students:   When we achieve our goals, it may be shocking at first or even later when reflecting on a previous goal that we met, we may have the "Wow, Did I really accomplish that?" type of reaction. It's good to feel a sense of awe about the things that we have accomplished. Think about it now. What are some goals that you have accomplished in the past? Are you surprised that you accomplished that goal? What allowed you to be successful? Acknowledging the success you've had in the past will help give you confidence for the future!

Seconds 38-40:  (My favorite part!) The crowd continues to cheer and little Josh raises both hands in the air in celebration! 

Implication for educators and students:   Even at such a young age, he knows the sound of success. Imagine if the crowd sat silently and paid attention to the ceremony at midfield and not his little jaunt toward the goal. He would have dribbled, scored and went on his way. But it was the cheering from the crowd, the support from strangers, that gave him the excitement to raise his two little arms in the air in jubilation. I think it's safe to say that he would not have even realized that he did something great, without the crowd erupting! .....When we are the ones who reach our goals, we need to CELEBRATE!!  We need to raise both hands in the air and take it all in.....When we're the ones in the crowd, watching others take strides in the right direction to meet their goal, we need to CHEER THEM ON!  Encouragement can go such a long way! When they meet their goals, celebrate with them! Acknowledge their hard work by offering IMMEDIATE praise (or feedback.)

Seconds 41-53:  A coach gives the ball back to Josh. He dribbles out a little and turns to face the goal again. 

Implication for educators and students:   Reaching a goal doesn't mean that you're finished. Grab the ball again and keep going!  Create a new goal or expand on the one you just accomplished!

Seconds 54-End:  Josh's dad appears, quickly celebrates with him. And, at the end you see him running after the ball as the camera pans away.

Implication for educators and students:  One of the key components of @ClassroomChampions's goal setting month in September was to "share your goal with others." I'm sure that Josh didn't verbalize to his dad that he wanted to score a goal that day. But I'm also sure that this isn't the only time that he's played with a ball and kicked it in the net in his dad's presence. Having those around you know your goal is SO important. They can give you support along the way and help keep you accountable. They can provide encouragement when necessary too. Finally, once you reach your goal, be sure to celebrate with the people important in your life who encouraged you and supported you along your way!

It's funny how teaching impacts you as a person. I would be a hypocrite if I continued to say things like "Dream Big! You can accomplish anything!" and I didn't take my own advice....So, I have my sights on a rather large goal for 2015. I want to co-author a book. I've always enjoyed writing poetry and blogging, but writing a book is a completely new venture. I'm excited to share this goal with my students and to hear the goals they set. With each other's support I know that we will help keep each other accountable and achieve more together. 

Good luck on your goals in 2015 and don't forget: #DreamBig!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015

This is my "Looking Ahead to 2015" post. Below you will see different projects, websites and products I hope to use in 2015. If you're interested in any of what I describe and want more information, please don't hesitate to contact me on Twitter (@ArinKress)  Also, if you're interested, here's my "Looking Back on 2014" post where I explain many changes that occurred for my students and I during the past year. 

Most Exciting Project for the Students on My Team:  Distance Teaching Project  
In November, Mike Soskil asked me to join the Distance Teaching Project. Here's a quick write up found on the site: 

On this site you will find videos created by students. Since students learn more of what they teach than what they consume, students from around the world will be sharing their learning with each other. This project started as a collaboration between students at the Wallenpaupack South Elementary in Pennsylvania, USA  and students at the Cheery Education Centre and Havila Children's Center in the Kibera Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Since then it has grown as other teachers around the world have seen the power of peer teaching. Through teaching, we hope that all students involved learn a wide variety of content, the joy of helping others, and cultural understanding.

My students will be in charge of contributing science videos with students from the following states and countries contributing videos in the following subjects: 
Grove City, Ohio - Science
Newfoundland, Pennsylvania - Math
New Hyde Park, New York - Reading
Surat, India- Physical Education
Nairobi, Kenya- Foreign Language - Swahili
Draguignan, France- Foreign Language - French
Shenzhen, China- Art

Here's our first submission. In the video below, one of my students teaches about what causes day and night:

Please check out the Distance Teaching website periodically as more videos will be added in 2015! Mike, thank you for your leadership with this project and for asking my students to participate!

Most Exciting Project for The Students At My School:  Playground Transformation 
One frequent complaint from my students is the lack choice during recess. My students only have 15 minutes a day for recess and can choose to jump rope, play four square and basketball. One great thing about the 'playground' is that it is comprised of a LARGE paved area. Therefore, I hope to help bring more choice to my students. We are looking into using Fit and Fun's plethora of stencils to give the students more variety during recess, keep them active and even give teachers the opportunity to use the stencils to add a kinesthetic layer to their lessons. My favorite stencils as a teacher are the numbers grid, the US map, and compass rose. I think my students will enjoy the MAZE, agility ladders and Skelly Board game the most. I'm excited for this project and will hopefully write posts as the transformation occurs.

Most Exciting Project for a Small Group of Students:  Lunch Group 
The week before Christmas break another teacher and I started a lunch group for students who expressed interest in strengthening friendships. We had a great first meeting and I'm really looking forward to the opportunities this groups provides the students who participate.

Most Exciting Project for ME:  AssistEdShift 
Oliver Schinkten (@schink10) is one educator who continues to inspire me to push boundaries. Oliver and I began collaborating in the fall of 2013. He is one of the most passionate educators I know and he has an incredibly tireless work ethic. Oliver decided to step out of the classroom for the 2013-2014 school year as a 'moral imperative to make positive change in education.' He admirably offers his expertise and services in any way possible to help educators. He also spends time speaking to and inspiring others around the country as both himself and his alter ego, Big Ron Crowley. Here's my favorite video from Big Ron about standardized tests:

Joking aside, I predict that 2015 will be a huge year for Oliver. In addition to all of the above, he has created AssistEdShift (with minimal help from yours truly.) Right now it's in its infancy, but the great thing about AsisstEdShift is that it's envisioned as a one-stop shop for educators with a collaborative twist. Right now, AssistEdShift is made up of recommended blogs, podcasts, videos and other resources from educators around the globe. However, what Oliver and I have have planned for 2015 is very exciting and we need YOUR help. Think about what YOU want changed in your classroom, at your school, in your district. How can we help provide you with resources, guidance and inspiration. Oliver and I know that together we truly can make positive change. We want to ASSIST you as we SHIFT EDUCATION in a positive direction. Please join us on our journey! To learn more go to and follow @AssistEdShift on twitter.

Most Exciting Conference I Plan to Attend:  ISTE 
In June, I will attend the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia. I am very excited to learn from top educators from around the world and I hope this conference will be a highlight for me in 2015.

Most Exciting New Website to Use with my Students:  BlackRocket  
Just two weeks before Christmas Break, I introduced Black Rocket to my students. Black Rocket allows students to create their own video games based off content being taught in class. My students have only been on Black Rocket twice at school and they are extremely motivated to create and play the games. I can see Black Rocket adding a lot to my classroom in 2015.

Most Exciting New Website I Plan to Use  PledgeCents 
PledgeCents in a great website and company who helps educators raise funds for supplies in their classroom. I created a cause and am waiting for approval within my district. PledgeCents representatives have been EXCELLENT to work with and you can tell they have their priorities right when it comes to working with teachers. @PledgeCents participates in Twitter chats and daily tweets positive encouragement to educators. I look forward to using PledgeCents in 2015 and recommend others use it as well!

Most Exciting Product I hope to Get in My Students' Hands:  Sphero 
If I can get my PledgeCents cause funded then my students will have access to ten Sphero robotic balls. If you haven't heard of Spheros before here's a quick video on how it can impact math and science instruction. On Sphero's Education site, lesson plans for math and science are available with many other resources.

As you can see, it looks like 2015 will be another very busy year. Thanks to all the educators and companies above who will continue to inspire me and many others around the world! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Back on 2014

Here is my "Looking Back on 2014" post. Although this is a reflection post for me, I hope you can learn something from my experience and what I recommend:

Best Flipped Classroom Platform:  EdPuzzle -
EdPuzzle changed the way I teach math. I have flipped for two years but EdPuzzle's incredible analytics allow me to formatively assess my students daily. If you're interested in flipping I just posted a five part series for the beginning flip class teacher. Here's the first post.

Best Software Purchase:  Camtasia ($99) -
I create about twenty videos a month between flipped class videos, global classroom videos and Classroom Champion videos. Camtasia is extremely easy to use and well worth the money! I use it to create all my screencasts and to edit all my videos. Video instruction adds so much to my classroom and Camtasia really has changed the way I teach.

Best Hardware Purchase:  Video Camera and Tripod (Approx. $300) -
About two months ago I bought a videocamera and tripod. It was by far the best purchase for me for the school year because I have used it in so many ways: To create flipped videos, to record those exciting, unplanned moments you don't want others to miss, to record my teaching so I can reflect, to record student brainstorming and replay the discussion after learning the content to see how far they've come, etc. However, the most frequent use I get out of the camera is when the students use it to teach short lessons that I use for flipped classroom videos. The students BEG to use the camera to teach and it has added so much to my classroom. (I spent close to $300 but you can get a camera and tripod much cheaper, or get one donated through a grant, so don't let the price hold you back from something that could change your classroom! Before I bought the camera I would take pictures and record using my cell phone. I constantly ran out of space and I never wanted students to handle my phone. Now, the camera is 'our' tool and something the students know they can use easily.)

Biggest Instructional Impact:  LearnPads  
In January 2014, I began to use devices in the classroom. My district purchased LearnPads and each teacher has access to twelve. Immediately I saw the value devices brought to the classroom, and I began to adjust my thinking instructionally. Thankfully, other teachers have allowed me to borrow their LearnPads, so for this school year I have been operating in a one to one setting.

Biggest Change Instructionally:  Gamification
Because my students have access to LearnPads, I decided to totally revamp the way I teach science. I felt like I was too focused on providing the instruction  and not as focused on student discovery and questioning. Therefore, I turned our science curriculum into a video game format. Students have to complete 7 tasks and pass a ten question quiz to pass a "step." The students will work through 3-5 "steps' to pass a level (unit). At the end of the level the students must pass a 20 question test. When students finish the level they can work on an enrichment project for the level until the other students are ready to move on. Students work at their own pace either by themselves or with a partner or small group to research the topic and complete the tasks. I try to have at least one hands on activity in each step and most of the other steps deal with inquiry based questions. This set up allows for me to meet with students who may be struggling, while allowing other students who learn quickly time to learn the content and expand upon the questions that they have asked during their research. This has been a huge shift for me instructionally but the students love it. They are asking so many more questions and are much more involved in their learning. I'm excited as to what my gamification science classroom will morph into in 2015. Let me know if you're interested in my gamification classroom and I will gladly elaborate.

Best Chrome Add On Flubaroo
After my students complete different levels in science, they will take a quiz via google form. I use Flubaroo to automatically grade the quizzes and email the students' scores to their school email address. Flubaroo creates a "Grades" tab within the Response spreadsheet that I can use to analyze the students' scores, commonly missed questions, etc.

Best Teacher Phrase  "I don't know"
I probably said "I don't know" more this year than I had in my previous eight years of teaching altogether. Saying this phrase often means two things: 1. My students are asking the type of questions I want them to ask. Questions that I TRULY don't know the answer to. And 2. I'm giving the students ownership of their learning. Even if I know an answer to a question, I may said "I don't know, what do you think?" to give the student an opportunity to verbalize his/her thinking. Many times the student may run and research the answer online and then enlighten me with the findings. The students feel so much more empowered when they teach others in the classroom. My suggestion would be to say "I don't know" more in 2015 and see how it changes your students' thinking.

Best Student Phrase  "Can I make a video?" 
Like I explained above, I bought a video camera and tripod to use. I set up a dry erase board in the corner of my room and the students are constantly begging to make videos. Multiple times a day different students will ask to make videos. Sometimes I send them to other areas in the school (library, computer lab) so they can have a quiet to record and other times my five 'late bus riders' will try to squeeze in a recording in the five minutes before they are dismissed. There have been so many benefits to recording student teaching and this is a phrase that I hope to continue to hear in 2015.

Biggest Impact on my students' lives:  Classroom Champions - 
This year I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Classroom Champions teacher. So, for the past four months my students have participated in Classroom Champions lessons on Goal Setting, Fair Play, Community and Perseverance. On December 6th we had the first of two live chats with our mentors: Meryl Davis and Charlie White. If you're interested, here's the link to the call. 

The organization has been wonderful to work with and I would highly recommend applying next year. Follow @ClassroomChamps, @SteveMesler @GiddeonMassie and @HlePNW on Twitter and keep your eye out for the 2015-2016 application in the Spring. You can learn more about Classroom Champions here.

Biggest Impact on my life:  Global Classroom 
This year was transformative for me. For just over a month during the summer, I traveled to Australia by myself. I went to the Flat Connections Conference in Sydney, took a twelve day bus tour from Perth to Broome, met my global classroom partner class in Perth and then spent time with my global classroom partner teacher, Jacqui Korten. If Jacqui and I hadn't created the global classroom that we did during the 2013-2014 school year, I know I would never have made the trip to Australia and had the experience of a lifetime by swimming with sharks, repelling off cliffs and seeing some of the most spectacular sunsets I'll ever see! This is the perfect example of how the connections I've made online really have changed my life.

Best Education App:  Remind- 
Remind is a simple, sleek app that allows teachers to text students and parents. I use Remind four to eight times per week to 'remind' students of their homework, remind parents of important events at school and to inform students of amazing things happening such as shuttle launches, eclipses, etc. Remind is a great company that I would recommend to any educator. Here are some unique ways that I have used Remind in the past.

Best Education Website:  Skype in the Classroom  
Skype can transform your classroom, hands down. If you have not created a Skype in the Classroom account, PLEASE do so in 2015. Putting the time and energy into figuring out how to Skype at your school WILL be worth it. You can easily skype in guest speakers to provide expert insight to your content, skype with classes from around the world or use it in many other creative ways. Our favorite skype calls have been with two paleontologists, a marine biologists from the Bahamas, a Yellowstone Park Ranger, an entomologist and an employee at NASA. Again, please take the leap! Here's a post I wrote a few years ago to help teachers get started using Skype in the Classroom. 

Biggest Group Inspiration:  Skype Master Teacher Group:  
This year I was chosen to be a Skype Master Teacher. Through this group I have been in contact with extraordinary educators from all corners of the world. The projects that they do and the ideas that they share continue to inspire me to push boundaries within my own classroom. To get you started, I would recommend following the following educators on Twitter in addition to @SkypeClassroom: @msoskil, @teacherka,  @bevladd, @kcalderw, @murcha, @shannonmiller @Mrs_Smoke @campreadsmore @iro_st and @lkegode.

Biggest Individual Inspiration:  Livingstone Kegode: (@lkegode) 
Through Skype in the Classroom, I have not only exposed my students to places and people all around the world, but I have also been able to see first hand the work of teachers in six continents and in many different situations. The teacher who has inspired me the most, Livingstone Kegode, lives and works in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. The obstacles that he faces daily are ones that many of us can hardly fathom. Yet, he continues to educate the beautiful students in his region with the zeal and fervor of a teacher at the most privileged school in the world. He tries to set up a Skype call DAILY with his students which provides them with countless opportunities to learn and grow. However, whether he realizes it or not, the caller (speaker or class) on the other end is being inspired and uplifted at the same time. He is an incredible educator and someone I am happy to have connected with in 2014. Here's an article about Livingstone that includes a video of him explaining the importance of Skype and here are videos of his students teaching Swahili. Thank you, Livingstone for inspiring so many teachers around the world, including me!

I would like to thank all the people and organizations above who have helped me directly or indirectly this year. I truly believe I am a better teacher because of the time and effort you put into helping improve education not only for my students but students all around the world!'re looking for an all-inclusive flipped class platform?

This is the fifth post in a series about my flipped classroom. You can read the previous four posts here:
Beginning Questions for the Flipped Classroom

When deciding on a flipped class platform, there are many things to take into consideration. In years past I had used and wanted to compare other platforms. This year I decided to compare three other platforms before making my decision. Below are my notes on Sophia, Blendspace, EduCanon and EdPuzzle as you will see the positives and negatives listed in blue and red. I eventually went with EdPuzzle and am completely pleased!

Can insert the following files: Text, Image, Video, Screen Recording, Slideshow (Ppt), Audio, PDF, HTML
I would typically only insert video and a google form for each ‘lesson’ (The google form would act as my formative assessment)
I liked that the lesson was organized and could contain multiple forms of media. (Multiple videos, links to websites, etc.)
Students could access Sophia’s bank of lessons (many videos seemed too high for 5th grade, however)
Great online support (Twitter: @sophia)

I struggled with the analytics as I had difficulty figuring out who watched the videos, how the students performed on the quizzes, etc. I then had to use a google form for my data which became from cumbersome. Sometimes the analytics it would say students were online for 20+ hours which I knew wasn't accurate

Easily add in multiple content for blended learning in an aesthetically pleasing view…multiple videos, documents, pictures, quizzes, etc. ***
Can upload own content (thumbnail is blank though)
Students know if they got answers correct/incorrect after they take the quiz
Students can comment on videos, like/dislike or request teacher help.
There are privacy settings...lesson only viewable by link and to students within class….**** (Could share blendspaces with parents and they don’t have to log in)
Can choose MULTIPLE forms of media to insert (easily searchable and draggable within Blendspace)

When I set up a test class, the scores never were available. It glitched for me most times when trying to see the quiz results ******
Students can create their own lesson (I searched “balls” in youtube….and you can imagine what showed up...students could create their own ‘lessons’ and share the URL….From what I could find, the teacher has no way to tell what the students create.)
Slow customer service via email….Twitter account used mainly to address frequent user problems.

EduCanon -
Can choose from YouTube, Khan Academy, Vimeo, TeacherTube,,, etc.
Can embed questions during the video (Video pauses until question is answered)
Students receive immediate feedback on quiz questions (Teacher can provide explanation too)
“Bulbs” are assignments
Student view is nice (can tell what is overdue, due in a few days, etc.)
Can put due dates on lessons

Can’t upload own content directly***  (Can only upload a URL...must upload video into YouTube, for example, and then paste URL…extra step in my book.)
DIfficult to find where to add students

Can upload own content directly***
Can choose from other videos on YouTube, Khan, LearnZillion, National Geo, TED, Veritasium, Numberphile, Crash course, Club Academia, Vimeo, TeacherTube, etc.
Teacher option to allow fast forwarding
Analytics provided for the class and individual student **** (Easy to see how students did on quiz questions and who has/hasn’t watched)
Can insert voice, text, and quiz questions during the video (Video pauses until question is answered)
Students receive immediate feedback
If fast forward is allowed, you can still see if the student watched the entire video or not (progress bar shows skipped portion of the video) Very cool!
Can TRIM videos from the beginning or end another nice feature. The video will stop if you click another tab or go outside of Edpuzzle’s page! (Never seen this before, but it’s a great idea)
Easy to add students
VERY Quick (minutes) response on Twitter to questions. (Twitter: @EdPuzzle) Short videos provided with answers.

For the time being, you can’t organize videos into “lessons” (Folders can be created but only for the teacher end....)

This video explains the basics:

And this video explains the analytics:

EdPuzzle was an easy choice for me…..The editing functions are amazing, the bank of content is impressive, the analytics are insanely helpful and the student view is easy and organized as well. I began flipping in October this school year and I have been in contact with Quim who works for EdPuzzle since. Every time I talk to Quim, I am more and more impressed. He is always open to feedback and suggestions on how to make the site better and is constantly focused on providing a superior product for both teachers and students.

Check out what EdPuzzle offers here and feel free to contact me if you are looking into flipping or using EdPuzzle!

Thanks for reading!