Thursday, February 24, 2011

Great blog posts: Feb 24th, 2010

Here are some great blog posts that I am reading:

Teaching related:

Grades for learning, or learning to get grades? - I have taken a huge interest in grades this year.

Student blogging activity: Teaching quality commenting - Need to do a better job of this with my students

Football Related:

Coach B Dud's post about the Vertical Pass Set - Something I have been studying

Coach Hoover's Double-Slant Post - Some great tips and video on this simple concept

iPad + Hudl = Awesome - A must have app for any coach

Wide Receiver Drills - Even though it is from UT, some great stuff here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

iPad & Hudl = Game-Changer

The way coaches and athletes watch film has gone through many evolutions over time. From 8 mm film, VHS tape, mini-DV cassettes to DVDs, film has become more convenient and easier to manipulate. This week, Hudl released a new app for the iPad that will allow you to watch game film in literally the palm of your hand.

This app is a game-changer.

If you are unfamiliar with Hudl, then you should quickly acquaint yourself with it. Hudl is an entirely web-based sports video editing and analysis software. Instead of storing your video on mini-DV tapes, DVDs, or your computer's hard drive, Hudl allows you to upload your video to their servers (think YouTube), where you can view it from any computer with an internet connection.

Since Hudl began three years ago with only a handful of teams, it has quickly emerged as an innovator in sports video analysis and editing. They have been consistently ahead of the game compared to their competitors, releasing new developments that the other guys haven't even started thinking about yet.

This app will revolutionize the way coaches and athletes prepare for competition by making it faster, easier and more efficient to watch game film. I can see so many applications and uses for this app, it makes the iPad a necessary investment for any high school sports team who uses Hudl.

Here is a video demonstration of the app:

After testing out the app for several days, here are my first impressions:


1. The video quality

As you can see from the video above, the video quality is excellent. I have also had zero problems with buffering or waiting for the video to load. I have been testing it out on a Wi-Fi connection, but I may need to invest in 3G on my iPad so I can watch video where Wi-Fi is not available.

I would dare to say that the video on the iPad is better than through the website.

Imagine being able to take your iPad out to the practice field and showing your scout offense the actual play on video, rather than drawn up on a card.

2. Simplicity

If you know how to play a YouTube video, you will be able to run the Hudl app. Similar to their website, there are very few buttons or options to choose from. This is obviously by design to help with the ease of use for coaches and athletes. You can download this app, log-in, and begin watching game film in literally less than a minute.

There are very few options to choose from, and that is OK. 

A thing of the past
3. Smoothness of the video

Watching film in the app is very smooth, almost easier than through the website. With only your finger sliding back and forth, you can rewind or fast forward the film. This has obviously been designed with coaches in mind. It makes the old cowboy remote obsolete.

4. Mobility

I can't count how many hours over the years I have spent setting up clunky projectors, laptops, and running extension cords. I carried around a huge bag with all of these cords and parts in it. With the iPad, you can carry something the size of a folder to your meetings, practices, and clinics. It makes the ability to watch film so much easier and more convenient. A huge time-saver.

Suggested Additions:

While this app is already very powerful, there are some features that I believe would be beneficial to coaches. However, I am not sure of the logistics of incorporating them in the app.

1. Telestrations

One of the most powerful features of the web-based version of Hudl is the ability to telestrate on top of the video and share your drawings with your team. On the iPad, you do not have any of your saved telestrations or the ability to telestrate. It is purely video.

One of the greatest benefits of the iPad is that you can manipulate what is on the screen with a touch of a finger. Imagine pulling up a video and being able to draw lines to explain a blocking scheme or route concept to your players.

2. Presentations

I also really like the presentation feature on Hudl, where you can create online presentations very similar to PowerPoint. I have used this feature a great deal to create scouting reports and video playbooks. These presentations are not accessible on the iPad.

Even if we can't create the presentations in the iPad Hudl app, it would be nice to be able to view them anywhere you take your iPad.

Bottom Line

This app is truly a game-changer for coaches and video analysis software. There are so many benefits to making your video mobile, without having to haul around a projector and laptop when you want to watch film. In seconds, you can show your players practice film from last night or a defensive scheme that you talked about during practice. I am excited to see how Hudl expands into other mobile markets (iPhone, Android) so more and more coaches can access their game film from literally anywhere.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Five tips for blogging with your students

I asked my senior and sophomore English students to begin blogging this semester. I have dabbled with it on small projects in the past, but never on a full scale as I am doing now. After some time working with it, here are five tips I would offer teachers about starting out with student bloggers.

1. If you're gonna walk the walk, you'd better be willing to blog the blog

I have always asked my students to do writing assignments, but I never actually did them myself. I decided that if I am going to ask my students to blog, then I should do it myself. I have found that this is helpful in two ways:

  1. Providing a "model" for the students to see before they begin writing.
  2. It shows the students that we are all in this together, and that I am not going to assign something that I am not willing to complete myself. 

I currently maintain three blogs: this one for my professional writing, an English IV blog for my seniors and an English II blog for my sophomores. I use Edmodo to communicate with my students, so I set up my blog to automatically show up on Edmodo as a news feed. Students only have to log-in to Edmodo to see each time I post, so they don't have to know to check out my blog.

2. Use Google Reader to organize your classes.

I set up folders in Google Reader for all of my classes. This makes it very easy for me to see when students update their blogs, hour-by-hour.

I can also quickly run through the folder at the start of the hour to tell my students which blogs I have updates for.

If you have an iPad, you can add a section for each folder in Flipboard for your Google Reader account. This makes it very easy to read your students' blogs on your iPad. I highly recommend it.

3. Create a weekly award.

I created the Raven Blogger Award for the top blog posts each week.

Each week, I select 1-2 winners of the award from each hour. I create a post with my overall thoughts about what I saw in the blog posts. Then I name the weekly winners, with a short explanation about why they won the award.

This also is a way for my students to see a great example of each writing assignment. I am seeing them stepping up their games to win the award. Several students have asked if I have selected the winners yet, so I know it is important to them.

During parent teacher conferences, I had several parents tell me how excited their students were to win this award. One father told me that his daughter came running down the stairs screaming because she was so excited. It is a small thing, but it shows you how powerful it can be to feature your students' work and give them praise for excellence.

4. Get them writing about SOMETHING. 

I have not done much writing since high school when I wrote for the high school newspaper. I wrote papers in college, but they were purely academic. Blogging, however, has rejuvenated my passion for writing. I have always enjoyed writing, but I had not written about something I was really interested in for a long time.

I am trying to alternate between academic writing (persuasive essays, novel discussion) and writing just for the enjoyment of writing. I borrowed some ideas from Kelly Gallagher's book Teaching Adolescent Writing where he has some prompts that are meaningful for the students.

One prompt from the book that we did was about a snapshot that is meaningful to them. I asked them to post a picture of the photo, and explain what it meaningful about it. From this prompt, I saw some amazing writing because it was MEANINGFUL to them. I believe blogging is a powerful medium that can encourage our students to write in order to explore new ideas, try new writing techniques, take chances, simply have fun with writing.

5. Provide meaningful feedback

I am still working out the logistics of how to give the best feedback. Every method I have tried has positives and negatives.

I have left comments on their posts. This is good for posts where I don't have to necessarily critique their writing. The downside to this is that I don't know when or if they respond to my comment unless I go back through each blog and look for it.

I have sent messages through Edmodo with suggestions and feedback. This method is good, but the comments are not "attached" to the writing as they are when they are at the end of a blog post. If a student asks me about the comments, I have to go back and look at what I wrote on Edmodo, which can become cumbersome. is an excellent way to provide feedback to students about their writing. You can use highlighters and "write" directly on their paper. I am considering having them submit to so I can give them feedback before they post to the blog. I think this will be effective, although it will involve them "posting" their paper to and then posting to their blog.

I am really enjoying reading what my students are writing in their blogs. I believe this is a real-world experience where they have a much larger audience for their writing. What are some other tips you have for blogging with students?