Tools & Tips: FAQs
Here are some common questions with answers about the Young American Heroes website and the tools you will find here. If you don't see your question answered, you can ask your question below and we will try to add it to this section. Please also be sure to check the "How-to" Videos which offer on-screen demonstrations of how to use the tools and other website features. .

Getting Started


Q: What is Young American Heroes?
A: Young American Heroes tells real stories about young people from the past to help empower young people of today. We use primary documents and diaries as much as possible to tell the stories of ordinary young people doing extraordinary things during seminal moments in American history. The Young American Heroes project tells these stories through television programs and this interactive web site.

Q: What can an Educator (teacher or mentor) do on this site?
A: Educators may set up private classroom areas on this site where students can work on their projects with supervision from a teacher or mentor. Educators can also access Curriculum and Resource Guides, and share their own ideas with other teachers and mentors. For a more complete description, see our page “For Educators.” [link] It all begins with setting up an account as an Educator.

Q: How does an Educator sign up for an account?
A: Educators should fill out the request for an account. An email reply will come within three business days. Once the account is approved, the email address in the application will be the sign in name when an Educator logs in to the Young American Heroes web site.

Q: What can a student user do on this site?
A: The Young American Heroes web site is designed to let learners Explore, Learn, Create, and Share. As a student, you can find out about the lives and times of young heroes, and you can create new versions of their stories using VideoMaker or Graphic Novelist on this site. You can argue that a young hero behaved well or could have done better in the Court of History. If your teacher agrees, you can share your projects with your classmates – or with the world! You can even suggest a new hero to add to the web site and explain why you think that person should be here!

Q: How does a student register in a classroom work area?
A: Students need to get a classroom name and a password from their teacher or mentor to enter a classroom. Then the student selects a screen name and a personal password of his or her own choosing. That's it! Once a student is registered in the classroom, from then on, he or she only needs a screen name and password to log in.

Q: What rights do I have to use the materials I find on this web site?
A: Almost everything on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons By-NC license. That means you are free to use these materials for any non-commercial purpose as long as you let people know who created the materials you are using and where they came from. Read more about our YAH Usage Policy. Read about the Creative Commons license here. Please note that there may be a few items here that have different conditions on their use. These are clearly marked.

Q: How is privacy protected on this web site?
A: We do not sell or share any of your information with others outside of the Young American Heroes project. Please see our Privacy Policy for complete details.

Q: What software is necessary to use this site?
A: This site should work well with any current web browser. Note that to use some features of the site, including to sign in, the browser needs to have Cookies turned on and a current copy of Flash installed. NOTE: When using the tools on this site: VideoMaker, Graphic Novelist, and Court of History, do not use your browser's back and forward buttons. Instead, use the navigation buttons within each tool. Using the browser's buttons may cause you to lose your work.

Exploring the Young American Heroes Web Site


Q: Who is Turing and why does Turing speak on some pages?
A: Turing is an Artificial Intelligence character that appears in the Young American Heroes television programs. Turing speaks on some of the top level pages on this web site to let people know what will happen if they click on a particular button. This can be helpful for anyone but can be especially useful for younger readers or for those with vision problems. You can turn off Turing’s voice if you wish by clicking on “Stop” under the graphic box that moves when Turing speaks.

Q: What happens when I click on “Meet the Heroes”?
A: When you click on the “Meet the Heroes” button on the YAH Home page, or on “Meet the Heroes” along the top of the screen from many other pages on the site, the timeline along the bottom of the page becomes active so that you can see small images of the young heroes whose stories are featured on the site.

Q: How does the timeline work on the “Meet the Heroes” page?
A: The timeline will move either backward or forward if you move your mouse either to the right or left edge of the screen. If you see a person that you would like to find out more about, just click on that person and a short biography will appear. Some of the heroes have more information available. Their images on the timeline have a + sign in the corner. For these people, if you click on the “Find Out About the Hero” button under the person’s picture and short biography, you will find more information. As the site grows, more information about the other heroes will be added.

Q: What happens when I click on “Work on a Project”?
A: The “Work on a Project” page allows you to start a new project, or to continue with an existing project that you have already begun and saved. If you click on “Choose an Existing Project” and you are already logged in, you will see a list of projects you have already worked on and saved. If you choose to “Start a New Project,” you can select the hero you would like to do a project about.

Q: What happens when I click on “See What Others Have Created”?
A: This page allows you to see projects that others have created and that have been approved by their teachers or mentors for sharing with everyone. Just click on one of the listed projects to view it. This is a good way to get some ideas for projects of your own.

Q: What happens when I click on “Find Out More About YAH”?
A: In the “About” section, you can read about the whole YAH project on the “What’s It All About” page. From this page, you can also find out more about how to use the site in “Tools & Tips” and “FAQs” and some ways to think about the important question “What Is a Hero?”. Just click on the buttons on the left of the page.

Q: What happens when I click on “For Educators: Teachers and Mentors”?
A: This special section of the web site enables Educators to sign up and open an account, create a classroom, and access Curriculum Guides and other resources to help students use the YAH site to the best advantage.

Using VideoMaker


Q: What is VideoMaker?
A: VideoMaker is a simple tool that allows users to select supplied video clips, supplied music clips, supplied still images, add simple audio or video clips made by users, and create and save a new video production to tell a story about one of the young heroes on the YAH web site.

Q: How do I create a New VideoMaker Project?
A: There are several ways to arrive at the “Work on Project” page from other pages of the YAH web site. Once there, you have a choice to “Start a New Project” or “Choose An Existing Project.” When you choose “Start a New Project,” you will come to the page that asks “What type of Project do you want to create?” Choose VideoMaker from the three available choices. You may use the VideoMaker program to create a new video. You may also choose to download video clips from this page and create a video on your home or school computer using your own program such as iMovie. Then you can upload your completed video program for your teacher to review.

Q: How do I create a new video using VideoMaker?
A: If you want to use VideoMaker to make a new video program about a hero, click on “Make a Video” on one of the episodes from the person’s life that are listed on the right side of the screen. A new screen will appear that describes the steps for making a new video. Once you have read about the steps, click on “Now Watch the Video!” at the bottom of the page. After you have watched the short video of the story as it exists at present, click on “Now Get Started” to re-edit or make your own version of the hero’s story.

Q: How do I add video clips to my project video?
A: Once you have clicked on the “Now Get Started” button, a new page will appear with a selection of video clips you can choose to add to your video. When you click on one of the video clips, it will play in the window to the right of the screen. When you find a clip that you want to use, just drag it to the video timeline at the bottom of the page. Be sure to put video clips on the green video timeline. When you want to see what your video will look like, click on the play arrow under the video window on the right side of the screen. You can turn the sound on or off using the “Volume” buttons to the right of the timeline.

Q: How do I rearrange video clips in the VideoMaker timeline?
A: If you decide to change the order of your video clips in your video, just drag the clip that you want to move to a new position in the timeline.

Q: How can I add an image to my video?
A: On the left side of the “Step 1: Select Video” screen, there are four tabs. If you click on the “Images” tab, you will see still images you can add to the video timeline by dragging them there. You can change the order of a still image just as you can with a video clip by dragging it to a new position.

Q: How do I delete a clip from the VideoMaker timeline?
A: If you decide not to use a clip after you have put it in the timeline, just drag the clip to the “Delete Clip” button in the lower right corner of the screen, the one with the trash can on it. The button will turn red and the clip will disappear from the timeline. Note that the clip still stays in the selection bin so you can put it back in the timeline later if you wish.

Q: How can I record a video clip of my own to add to my project?
A: On the left side of the “Step 1: Select Video” screen, there are four tabs. If you have a camera built in to your computer or a web cam connected to it, click on the “Record” tab. When you are ready to record, just click on ”Start Recording.” When you are finished, click on “Stop Recording.” You can view what you have recorded by clicking on “Play.” If you are happy with what you have recorded, click on “Save to My Videos.” When you then select the “My Videos” tab, you will see any clips you have recorded and saved and you can add them to the timeline.

Q: Can I add some additional audio to my project?
A: Once you have selected the video clips you want in your new program, you may want to add some audio in addition to the sounds contained in the video clip. In the “Steps” row above the video window on the right side of the screen, click on the “Add Audio” button. You can also click the “Next: Add Audio” button below the video window. Either of those buttons will take you to the next page which is entitled “Step 2: Add Audio.”

Q: How do I add audio clips to my project?
A: The bin on the “Add Audio” page contains audio clips instead of video clips. There are three tabs to the left of the bin. The top tab is labelled “Music” and contains a selection of music clips that you can add to your video. To hear a clip, click on it, and it will play while the title appears in the window on the right side of the screen. If you want to add a clip, just drag it to the place you would like to put it in the Audio section of the timeline.

Q: How can I record my own audio to add to my project?
A: Just as with video, you can record audio clips to add to your project. On the left side of the “Step 2: Select Audio” bin, click on “Record.” You need to have a way to get sound into your computer through a built in microphone or through some other audio input device connected to the computer. When you are ready to record, just click on ”Start Recording.” When you are finished, click on “Stop Recording." You can hear what you have recorded by clicking on “Play.” If you are happy with what you have recorded, click on “Save to My Audio.” When you then select the “My Audio” tab, you will see any clips you have recorded and saved and you can add them to the timeline.

Q: How Can I See and Hear My Finished Video?
A: In the “Steps” row above the video window on the right side of the screen, click on the “Watch Video” button. If you are on the “Step 2: Select Audio” page, you can also click the “Next: Watch Video” button below the video window. Either of those buttons will take you to a page where you can watch your finished video project.

Q: Can I revise (make changes to) my project?
A: Sure. Just click on the “Revise Your Video” button underneath the video play window. When you click on the “Revise Your Video” button, you will return to the “Step 2: Select Audio” page. If you wish to go back to the “Step I: Select Video” page, just click on the “Previous: Select Video” button under the video play window.

Q: How do I send my project to my teacher?
A: If you are satisfied with your video, give your video a title in the box on the left side of the screen, and then click “Submit to Teacher.”

Q: Can I make a video at home or at school and upload it to my project?
A: Yes, you can. From the young hero’s VideoMaker page, click on “Upload a Video” button beneath any of the scenes there and follow the directions. The uploaded video will not appear on the VideoMaker page. It will go directly to your teacher for review.

Using Graphic Novelist


Q: What is Graphic Novelist?
A: Graphic Novelist is a simple tool that allows users to select supplied characters, backgrounds, and speech bubbles to create and save a new graphic novel segment. That segment can tell a new version of the story of one of the young heroes on the YAH web site.

Q: How do I create a New Graphic Novelist Project?
A: There are several ways to arrive at the “Work on Project” main page from other pages of the YAH web site. When you arrive at the “Work on Project” page, choose Graphic Novelist from the three available choices. You may use the Graphic Novelist program to create a new graphic novel.

Q: How do I create a new Graphic Novel using Graphic Novelist?
A: To use Graphic Novelist to make a new graphic novel, select “Choose a Topic” from the list on the right side of the page. You will go to a page that outlines the steps in the process of creating a new graphic novel section in Graphic Novelist. The first step is to watch the video if you haven’t seen it before.

Q: How do I create a new Graphic Novel using Graphic Novelist?
A: To use Graphic Novelist to make a new graphic novel, Choose a Topic from the list on the right side of the page. You will go a page that outlines the steps in the process of creating a new graphic novel section in Graphic Novelist. The first step is to watch the video if you haven’t seen it before.

Q: How do I begin to construct my new graphic novel?
A: From the “Step 1: Watch the Video” page, click on the “Next: Create a Story” button at the bottom of the page. That will bring you to the “Step 2: Create Your Story” page. This page contains a bin on the left side with six tabs, and a viewing area for the panels you create on the right side of the page.

Q: What are panels and what can I put in them?
A: Panels are the units or pages of your story. Each panel shows some kind of action that takes place in your story. You can have up to five panels in your story.

If you click on the "Backgrounds” tab to the left of the bin, you will see a selection of backgrounds that your characters can be placed in. Just click on one and it will appear in the viewing window. If you decide you do not like that background, you can remove it from the panel by clicking the “None” background frame in the upper left corner of the bin. That will remove the background and you can select another if you wish.

If you click on the “Left Characters” tab, the image you select will appear in front of the background on the left side of the panel in the viewing area. Again, if you decide you do not like that character in that position, you can remove it from the panel by clicking the “None” frame in the upper left corner of the bin. That will remove the Left Character and you can select another if you wish.

If you click on the “Right Characters” tab, the image you select will appear in front of the background on the right side of the panel in the viewing area. Again, if you decide you do not like that character in that position, you can remove it from the panel by clicking the “None” frame in the upper left corner of the bin. That will remove the Right Character and you can select another if you wish.

NOTE: You can only have one Background, one Left Character, and one Right Character in a single panel.

Q: Can I make the characters in my story say words?
A: Yes. Just click on the “Speech Bubbles” tab on the left side of the bin. You will see a variety of bubbles that you can place in your panel. Some are speaking bubbles, some are thought bubbles, and some are a combination of the two types. When you select a bubble, it appears in the panel with “Type your text here” in the bubble. Click inside the bubble and type what you would like the characters to say. If you decide to change the type of bubble, just click on the “None” frame in the upper left corner of the bin. If you choose another style of bubble, when you select it, it will still have the words you wrote in it. If you want to change the words, just click inside the bubble and edit. NOTE: You can only have one speech bubble in a single panel.

Q: How do I add or remove panels from my story?
A: You can add a new panel by clicking the “Add Panel” button beneath the viewing window. To remove a panel and everything in it, click on the “Delete Panel” button beneath the viewing window.

Q: What does “Support Your Story” mean?
A: When you are finished getting the characters, backgrounds, and speech bubbles into your panels to tell your story, you can make your story stronger by adding evidence for the way your story is told.

Q: How do I add historical sources to my story?
A: Click on the “Support Your Story” button. You will come to the “Support Your Story” page. On the left is a bin with documents or images. You can select from these items to show how historic documents support your story line. To select an item, just click on it. You can read a transcript of any of the documents that are difficult to read. Once you have chosen your supporting sources and typed in your comments, you can click on the “Revise Story” button to return to the “Create the Story” page in case you want to make any changes to the story.

Q: How do I share my new story?
A: From the “Support Your Story” page, click the “Review Story” button. You will see all of the panels of your story. You may save your story (“Save for Later” button) if you want to work on it more later on. If you are happy with the story as it is, click on the “Submit to Gallery” button and it will go to your teacher or mentor for review.

Using Court of History


Q: What is Court of History?
A: Court of History is a tool that allows students to argue for or against a particular position about a decision that a young hero made in his or her life. For example, young Frederick Douglass ran away from his slave master in spite of the fact that to do so was against the law at the time. So the question might arise: Should we consider young Frederick a “fugitive from justice” or as a “person seeking civil liberty”? In Court of History, students can argue for one side of the question or the other by supporting their positions with primary historical sources.

Q: How do I create a case in Court of History?
A: On the “What type of project do you want to create” page click on the Court of History icon. You will come to the Court of History page for the young hero you chose to work on. On the right side of the screen is a list of issues you can work on. Click on the “Build a Case” next to whatever issue you would like to argue.

Q: How do I start to build my case?
A: When you click on the “Build a Case” link, you will come to a page with a short introduction to Court of HistoryYou will see a short description in the “Your Case” box. If you change your mind about the case you would like to work on, click on the “Previous: Change Your Case” button and you will be taken back to the page where you can select another case to work on. If you want to proceed with building this case, click on the “Next: Build Your Case” button.

Q: How do I add evidence to my case?
A: Once you click on the “Next: Build Your Case” button, you will come to a page entitled “To Make Your Case.” Read the three steps outlined there and then click on the “Choose Evidence” button. You will come to the “Choose Evidence” page. The bin on this page contains a selection of images of historical documents that you can use to support your case.

To view a document, click on it. A larger version of the document appears on the right side of the screen. To find out more, click on the “More About This Doc” button below the document image. If the image is of a document that has words that are hard to read, click on the “Read Transcript” button. You can also make the document larger or smaller on screen using the “Zoom In” and “Zoom Out” buttons. To see a different piece of evidence, just click on that image in the bin and it will appear on the right side of the screen. When you have decided to add a piece of evidence for your case, click on the “Select This Evidence” button at the bottom of the page.

Q: Can I add my own documents to my case?
A: Sure. On the “Choose Evidence” page, click on the “Upload” button above the document bin, and follow the instructions in the pop-up box. Your document or short video will appear at the bottom of the document bin and you can select it just like any other.

Q: I can’t read what the image says. Is there some way to see what the words are?
A: All of the images in the Image bin are also available on the hero’s “Primary Sources” tab on the “Find Out More About This Hero” page. If you click on the image on the “Primary Sources” page, a new window opens with a larger copy of the image that is easier to read. There is also some additional information about where the image came from and so forth. If the writing on the image is hard to make out, you will find a typed transcript of what the words on the image say on the left side of the screen.

Q: Can I add my own notes to a piece of evidence?
A: Yes. Once you have clicked on “Select This Evidence,” the piece you have selected will appear on a page by itself. On the left side of the page is an “Add Comments” button.

Q: How can I add text notes to a piece of evidence?
A: When you click on the “Add Comments” button, two additional buttons will appear. The top one says “Text.” When you click on the “Text” button, two additional windows appear. If you would like to type your comments, do so in the top box. If you would like to draw on the document, click on the pencil in the lower window. When you do, you will see colors to choose from that you can draw with. Click on a color and underline, draw a box, circle, or otherwise highlight the part of the document you wish to point out. When you are finished, click “Save” in the upper box. You will now see a “T” in a red circle. If you click on it, you will see the text and/or drawing you just added to the document. NOTE. Once you click on “Save,” you will not be able to change or add any additional information to your note so be sure you have both typed in your comments and drawn anything you wish to add to the piece of evidence before you click “Save.”

Q: How can I add an audio note to a piece of evidence?
A: If you wish to add an audio note using a microphone built in or attached to your computer, click on the “Audio” button. Two windows will appear. The lower one allows you to draw on the document and works exactly as described in the question above. The top window allows you to record an audio note. When you are ready to record, just click on ”Start Recording.” When you are finished, click on “Stop Recording." You can hear what you have recorded by clicking on “Play.” If you wish to do your recording over, just click on “Start Recording” again. When you are happy with what you have recorded, click on “Save.” You will then see a picture of an ear in a red circle on the left side of the screen. You can click on it to hear your recorded note and see any drawing you have added to your document. NOTE. Once you click on “Save,” you will not be able to change or add any additional information to your note so be sure you have both made your recording and drawn anything you wish to add to the piece of evidence before you click “Save.”

Q: How do I finish my case?
A: Once you have selected all of the evidence that you would like to use, choose the “Review Your Case” button. If you wish to add some music to your case, you can select from one of the pieces in the list on the left side of the page. Then “Give Your Case a Title” in the box on the lower left of the screen.

You can choose the “Save Your Case for Later” button if you think you may want to work on the case some more later on. If you make this choice, the next time you sign in you will see your project listed, and you can click on it and pick up where you left off.

If you are sure you are finished with your project, choose the “Submit to Teacher” button. Once you submit your case to your teacher, you will not be able to work on it any more.

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