Friday, July 7, 2017

YouTube Academy for Teachers Blogpost - Day Two

Six forty five a.m. on a “vacation” day, and I was out the door! Some may say I am nuts, but for YouTube Academy, I’m willing to be diagnosed with whatever you want to call it. If not wanting to miss a minute of the second day of this three day wonder makes me crazy, then yep, crazy I be.

The day began with an incredible Israeli-born English teacher (from the private sector) who uses YouTube to teach English pronunciation. Hadar Shemesh started out very simply with a camera, and a “Hi I’m Hadar!”, which, over the course of the past 9 years, she has developed into her own business. Hadar produces a video a week, provides free content, encourages engagement, and builds community: a community who are the first to jump onboard when she offers a paid-for course!  By breaking words down, explaining what is behind them, sprinkling it all with aesthetics and humor, she produces winning videos to help people soften (or even get rid of) their foreign accents (providing American English is their goal…. and why wouldn’t it be? ;-). See for yourself at The Accent’s Way Magazine. (And if you have students who want to improve their accents, or if you are non-native English speaking teacher and want to work on your own without anybody knowing ;-) her free videos look really useful!)

Her main messages for us as potential YouTubers?
  1. Be yourself. (The internet abounds with YouTubers - don’t try to imitate anyone - figure out who YOU are, what you want to say, and how you feel natural saying it.)
  2. Target the content: know what message you want to convey, be sure it is focused and concentrated.
  3. Practice makes perfect! Make a 3-minute video every day. Look back at what you did the day before, appraise, improve.
  4. Engagement is the key. Build a community of followers and engage them with activities that encourage them to respond to your video.

After hearing Hadar, we began learning how to do the pre-production part of the task for the day, which was to be woven through the interspersed frontal sessions. Anat Szekely, Project Manager at Google, Tel Aviv, recommended key guiding questions to ask ourselves when planning a YouTube movie:

  1. What do I want to say?
  2. What is the topic of the movie?
  3. What is its aim? Is it for a trailer for my channel? Is it to teach something? To convince? Encourage?
  4. Who is the speaker? Even if several people are going to participate, there should be no more than one or two main people, in order to keep it personal.
  5. Who is the audience?
  6. What are the tools and capabilities I have at my disposal?

Then, in order to get our heads around that, we each wrote a short synopsis of about 3 lines, about our own project.

Since movies are made with Storyboards, which map out what the audience will see and hear, and in essence, plan how you are going to get your message across, we were asked to prepare one in order to make a movie for practice.

This is the storyboard that my group made collaboratively for our exercise:

Anat summed up this pre-production intro by suggesting best practices for how to tell our stories:

  • Catch your viewers in the first 5 seconds (or lose them!) Let your audience know what the clip is about.
  • Read your text out loud (what looks good on paper doesn’t always sound good out loud)
  • Seek out where it’s possible to encourage interaction with your audience.
  • YouTube is a personal media. Plan close frames to make it feel intimate - as if it’s just you and your viewer -  and speak directly to the audience IOW: look into the lense of the camera, unless there is an explicit reason not to do so, otherwise it looks weird (and weird is what we are trying to avoid - at least in public ;-) .

The final speaker of the day was the inspiring Diva of Israeli DIY:  Dana Yisraeli, who gave us an intensive crash course in how to film, edit and produce YouTube videos directly on our smartphones!

I am proud (and only slightly embarrassed…. because I don’t really get embarrassed easily) to present the fruit of our labors of the day (I have no doubt we will all look back and laugh at this someday)  

Credits: Meirav (who worked her magic with her editing experience), Irit (cinematographer and one of my all-time-favorite Google Ninjas to have around) Gil (who got there late but hit the ground running), Hanita (whose infectious laughter made it so much fun) Rania (who had to leave early but was an integral part of the process) and the always-ready-to-ham-it-up: yours truly.

Sending a big "THANKS" to the guest speakers, and of course, Anat and Yael Doron Drori for another stupendous day of YouTube Teachers' Academy!

And now I have to do my REAL homework for the next session - make the first movie for my new channel! Curious to see what it’s going to be about? You’ll just have to wait, I’m afraid! Be sure to subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss it, and have a great weekend!

Digitally yours,


P.S. Do YOU have any suggestions for things you would like to get in a YouTube channel, and haven’t found yet? Something you feel would help you for your professional development, or with your students? I already have a pretty clear direction for my channel, but if you have a need and can convince me to do something else, I’ll consider changing!  Write your requests here, in the comments, or email me directly at  

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