Posted in Cool Tools, Screencastify

Screencastify Magician

I love Screencastify. It is one of my most favorite edtech tools ever. I started using it a few years ago before it had a built in editor and just got accustomed to either living with mistakes or redoing my video a gabillion times until it was perfect. Never did I dream of one day not only being able to make simple edits to my video, but also of being able to combine multiple video clips, zoom in to highlight important concepts or add text. Now that I have access to the awesomeness of the Screencastify editor, my videos have gone from awesome to magical and I truly feel like a Screencastify Magician!

With the Screencastify editor you can:

  • trim a video
  • cut out parts of a video to be deleted or rearranged. 
  • add multiple video clips from any source to your video.
  • add text to video clips
  • crop part of what can be seen on the video screen
  • zoom in to a video clip to highlight specific parts of your screen

In addition to features available in the editor, there are some special features that you have access to from the video page that pops up after you finish recording. On this page you can:

  • create an animated gif
  • download just the audio from your video
  • generate a QR code for your video
  • share your video directly to Google Classroom or upload it to Youtube

Check out this guide I created to see all of the awesomeness Screencastify has brought to your fingertips.

Screencastify Editor
You are going to need to open your video with the editor. There are four ways to access the editor. Click on each option to learn more. 
Visit Screencastify Edit directly
Click “Open in Editor” on a recording’s Video Page
Click “Open with Screencastify Video Editor” from Google Drive
Click “Launch in Editor” from the Screencastify Dashboard 
Undo or Redo an Action
Before we get very far into the editor, probably the most important thing you need to know is how to undo or redo an action. If you accidentally deleted something or moved a clip to the wrong place, you are going to want to know how to fix it! Click here to see how. 
Cut and Rearrange Clips
You can use this editing feature if you need to trim off the beginning of a video, get rid of dead space at the end of the video, or cut out a chunk from the middle of the video. Once the clip has been cut, you can delete it or drag it to a new section in the video timeline. Click here to see how. 
Add/ Remove Video Clips
The Screencastify editor allows you to remove unwanted video clips, but it also allows you to add additional videos from any source, as long as they are in your Google Drive or on your computer. Once the clips are added, you can edit them and then place them anywhere on the timeline that you need. Click here to see how. 
Add Text to a Clip
Sometimes you want to add a title, clarify a point, or give some additional information. Use the text feature to add short sentences or content to your video. A really nice addition to this feature is the ability to elongate the clip where the text is to give your viewers time to read your text content. Click here to see how. 
Crop a Clip
Do you have too much dead space around an important image in your video? Is the background behind you or your topic distracting? You can use the crop feature to get rid of dead space and bring important material into focus for your audience. Click here to see how. 
Zoom Into a Clip
You can add a zoom effect to your video. This zoom effect is great when you are trying to give more detail or really focus in on a part of your screen. You can also use this zoom effect if you are trying to show part of your screen while also protecting sensitive information that is elsewhere on your screen. Click here to see how. 
Save an Edited Video
Once you have opened a video in the editor, you must save a new copy of it. You can either save the edited video directly to your Google Drive or you can download it as an MP4. Click here to see how.  
Export Audio (MP3) Only
If you need an audio clip for a project, as part of an adaptation to an assignment, or to place into a Google Slide, then you will want to use the Export Audio feature in Screencastify. Click here to see how.
Create and Export an Animated GIF
If you ever need to create a short, visual how-to that doesn’t really need to be a video, consider using Screencastify to create an animated GIF. A GIF is a moving image. It can be funny or it can be educational. You can record a short sequence using Screencastify and then download that sequence as a repeating moving image (GIF). Click here to see how. Click here to see suggestions for when you might want to use a GIF. FYI: Unlike the audio file, if you download an animated GIF, it does not automatically upload to your Drive. You will need to manually do this once you have downloaded the GIF.
Create a QR Code For Your Video
If you are creating an activity that will happen outside of a computer but you want to include a video component, consider creating and printing out a QR code for your video. You can then take your QR code and post it somewhere like a poster, a wall, your whiteboard, or on a piece of paper. Parents and students can then use the camera on their phone to scan the QR code to view your video. Click here to see how. Remember, if you are going to do this, make sure the share settings on your video are set to unlisted on the video screen of Screencastify or as “anyone with the link can view” in your Google Drive. 

I think the editor features of Screencastify makes this a useful tool for any teacher or student. If you would like to grab a Google Doc copy of this guide to share with students (or other teachers, click here.

Posted in Cool Tools, Feedback

Faster Feedback for Students with These Awesome EdTech Tools!

Every teacher knows that just in time feedback can really help a student master and understand a concept. Giving feedback to students as they are working on an activity, rather than after they have submitted the work for a final grade is a huge benefit to using technology in the classroom. Even if you have to wait until the student has submitted their work, the ability to get fast feedback into the hands of students increases their engagement and the likelihood that they will actually interact with and absorb the feedback you have given them. 

Just as we know that giving feedback is an essential part of teaching and learning, we know that it can take hours and hours to hand write out that feedback. This is where tech can come in and help streamline the feedback process. Check out these different techniques and tools that are designed to help you quickly give meaningful feedback to your students.

Google Classroom App:

The Google Classroom App has some bells and whistles that the regular web version does not have. With the Classroom app, you can directly annotate and mark on student work. Classroom takes that annotated work and turns it into a PDF that is attached to the assignment for the student to review. In addition, you can use the microphone on your tablet or phone to dictate voice comments that will be transcribed into text. To learn more about how to use the Google Classroom App, check out this article.


Google Classroom Comment Bank:

Google Classroom has a built in comment bank that you can access to provide fast feedback to your students on assignments in Google Classroom. This feature is great for when you find yourself giving similar feedback to multiple students or on multiple assignments. To learn how to access the comment bank and ensure that your students are getting your feedback watch this video.


Mote Extension:

Mote is an extension that allows you to create voice comments and feedback on a Google Doc, Slide, Sheet or right within Classroom. Students do not need to have the Mote extension installed (in fact, they do not have access to it at this time) in order to hear your feedback. They can simply click on the link Mote will create after you have created the feedback. The free version of Mote allows you to create voice notes that are 30 seconds in length and creates a link for your students to be able to listen to your feedback. To install the extension, click here. To learn how to use Mote, click here.


Screencastify:

Screencastify is a great tool for making short videos of feedback for your students. Screencastify is a Chrome extension that saves all created videos in your Google Drive. Click here to install the extension. Watch this short video to see how to use Screencastify to give fast feedback.


Seesaw Audio Comments:

Teachers have always been able to leave typed comments on Seesaw posts. A rather recent update is the ability for teachers to now leave an audio comment as feedback. This feature allows you to give you more in depth feedback that students can listen to instead of read. This is especially fabulous for our younger learners that have not yet mastered reading! To see how to leave an audio comment (and quickly approve posts) watch this video.


Seesaw Private Video Messages:

You can record a private message of individualized feedback for students by using this technique. Not only can you build a great connection with a student this way, you can also include the family since they will be able to see the video as well. Watch this video to see how to send a private feedback message to a student. 

Hopefully one of these awesome tools will help save a little time and allow you to give the feedback your students need to grow as learners!

Posted in G-Suite for Education, how to

Want to know how to do something with a Google or EdTech Tool? Check this awesomeness out!

My full time job is to serve as an instructional technology specialist/coach for a small district in Southwest Ohio. Last year, I ran a badging program for my staff. The whole purpose of this program was to slowly introduce teachers to the features of tech tools and then show them how to use those tech tools with students.

The tools I focused on are all things that are in house at my district. I covered Google tools like Google Classroom, Docs, Slides, screencasting and more. There were a few district or state specific tools in there, but for the most part, each training is designed around a program that is free to use. When you look at the materials, anything that is labeled as “Pathfinder” is designed to teach about the basics of the tool. How do you create an amazing doc? Look in the Pathfinder Docs Toolbox badge. You can do all that with Slides? Oh, yes you can. Just look at the Slides Superpowers pathfinder badge. Did you know you can put audio in your Slides? Find out more in the Slides Audio pathfinder badge.

The trailblazer badge for each tool is how you turn around and use that tool in meaningful ways with students. The focus of that challenge (as I call them) is to create teaching and learning opportunities that use the tool as a base. The program was very successful and so many teachers said that completing the challenges helped to prepare them for remote learning.

I want to share these challenges with you, my dear reader. Feel free to look at my badging site: lcspd.org and explore the different materials available to you. If you look under the 19-20 challenge page, you will find 24 learning opportunities.

If you take a look at my site and decide to use it, I ask two things!

1: Drop me a comment and tell me how my site helped you do something amazing with your students.

2: Do not take and reuse my stuff without giving me credit. I happily and freely share my work and it really bums me out when I see it posted on someone else’s site or in TpT and no credit is given to me. All of my work has an attribution creative commons license. Please respect that.

Again, that website is lcspd.org. Take a look. I hope you find something valuable there.

Posted in Creating Accessibility, G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom, Student Workflow

To-Do List in Google Classroom – The Best Thing for Students Since Video Games

Students have suddenly had to adapt to a new digital learning environment and it can be overwhelming even for the most organized student. If the student has one teacher and is in one Google Classroom, figuring out what needs to be done does not require much more than a quick check-in on the stream or classwork page. If the student has more than one teacher or is in more than one Google Classroom, figuring out what work needs to be completed can be time-consuming as students navigate to each of their classes and view the stream or classwork page for assignments.

There is a feature in Google Classroom that few people seem to be aware of, but can be an amazing lifesaver for students (and teachers)! It is the To-Do List. 

If you are looking at your Google Classroom homepage, click on the three lines to reveal the link for the To-Do List.

Google Classroom To Do

To Do 1

Once you click on that To-do heading, all activities that have been assigned will appear in order of due date. If there is no due date attached, the assignment will be at the bottom of the list. As you can see, my student has some serious work to do.

View of to do list

Each class has a sidebar color that matches the heading color of the classroom the work came from, but you can also see which class the assignment is from if you look under the title of the assignment. To access the assignment, simply click on the title of the assignment and it will take the student right to the directions and attachments for said assignment.

Accessing work from todo list

Students can also click on the “Done” tab and see all assignments that have been turned in along with any digital grades that have been given.

Done

So, my fabulous teacher friends, let your students know about this amazing feature in Google Classroom. I guarantee that you will be helping at least one of your students get a better handle on how to manage their workload. And teachers, did you know that you also have a to-do list? It helps you know what you need to grade and return to your students. (Remember to return graded work to your students so that it doesn’t live in your Google Drive for the rest of your life!)

Posted in Google Classroom, how to, Screencastify, Teacher Workflow

Screencastify and Google Classroom – Remote Learning Edition

I have been getting a lot of questions from teachers about issues they are having with Google Classroom and Screencastify while trying to teach remotely.

The first, and probably most pressing issue teachers seem to be having is that when they create their Screencastify videos, their words don’t match their mouths. Nobody has time to look like they are a star in a poorly dubbed film! The fix for this is hard, arduous, and absolutely necessary. Are you ready for it?

RESTART YOUR DEVICE!!!!

Seriously, when is the last time you actually did something other than close the lid on your Chromebook or laptop? If you can’t even remember when, then you must shut down and restart right now (or after you finish reading this). Your device is managing a billion processes that you started and just left running. Doing a hard shut down and restart will help immensely.

The other way to fix this issue is to close the gabillion tabs you have open before you start recording. If your device is trying to manage a gabillion things at one time, your video is not going to get priority attention.

The second issue people are having is that they will create Google Classroom assignments with the “make a copy for each student” option, but the attachments don’t appear for all students. This is a known glitch in Classroom. Alice Keeler wrote a blog post about it. She says that eventually, the attachment will appear for the students. I have also heard that if you send the student a private message on that particular assignment, it will force the attachment to appear. What seems to work best is if students follow these steps:

1) Click the classwork tab at the top
2) Click on the assignment title to expand the assignment
3) Click on “View Assignment”
4) Locate “Your Work” in the top right corner and click on the file with your name on it.

Just remember, you are awesome and amazing and you are doing your best for your students as you try to learn this whole new way of teaching! Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve got this!

 

Posted in Creating Accessibility, Google Classroom

Access Google Classroom with your phone, your Xbox or your Playstation!

Now that many of our schools have closed and we have converted to distance learning, you might be wondering how you or your students can access Google Classroom; especially in one computer households or for students without devices. Well, accessing Classroom is easier than you think!

Google Classroom App

I feel like the easiest way to access Google Classroom without a computer is by using the Classroom App on a phone or a tablet. Click here for the app on the App Store and here for Google Play  Once the app has been downloaded to a phone or tablet, students login with their school district accounts and will find an interface that feels very similar to the one they find at school.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They can click on any assignment, interact with the content, watch any videos you post (did you know that you can record videos directly into Classroom by using the camera on your phone while you are using the app?), and even create Slides and Docs right on their phones! I have known quite a few students that claim they can type an entire paper on their phone. Now is their time to shine! Teachers can even grade assignments and give feedback directly to students with the app. It is really a great tool to have at your fingertips.

Xbox and Playstation

Classroom can be opened on Xbox and Playstation. There isn’t an app that the students can add to their consoles. Instead, they are going to have to use the built-in browsers that come on the two devices. On Xbox, it is Microsoft Edge. On Playstation, it is the “www” browser. Your students will probably know how to find the browsers on their consoles, but if not, each one has a search function they can access on the home screen.

Once the browser has been opened:

  1. Type in classroom.google.com in the URL bar.
  2. A prompt for a Google account will appear.
  3. Type in your school district email and password – it doesn’t end in google.com and that is ok!
  4. The Classroom home screen will open up.

If students have a keyboard they can plug in, they will have a much easier time of navigation. Otherwise, they will have to use their controllers to click on the classroom tiles, open up assignments and type. I did a trial run on both consoles and was able to open assignments and interact with video and written instructions. I was also able to open attachments like Docs and Slides and type on them. It wasn’t easy with a controller, but at least I could access the content. I will say, I have watched my son type faster with his controller than some kids can on a keyboard, so maybe I am worried about this for nothing!

As we all struggle with ways to meet the needs of our learners, I just thought it would be valuable to know that there are multiple options for students as they access your content.

 

Posted in Chrome Canvas, Cool Tools, G-Suite for Education

Use Chrome Canvas To Create Your Own Images!

I love Google Drawings and frequently share it with teachers and students because it is a great tool for teachers to use to create the assets they need for instruction. Students can create pieces that let them show what they know or create their own images for a project. If you aren’t familiar with Drawings, check out some of the other posts I have written about their awesomeness.

The only drawback that I find when I use Drawings is the ability to freehand draw is very limited. Drawings has some native line tools, but they are clunky to use and the scribble line doesn’t really allow the user to do much more than, er, well, scribble.

That is why I was so excited when I discovered Chrome Canvas! Chrome Canvas (https://canvas.apps.chrome/) is truly a drawing tool, complete with a blank canvas, different pen and pencil types, personalization of color options, and the ability to add layers to any drawing.

white canvas with drawing tools on the side.
Blank canvas just ready for creation!

While I can use shapes and masking in Drawings to create, I have never been able to hand draw any of the elements I want. Canvas allows me to use my mouse or stylus to draw whatever I can dream up. (Caveat, I am not a very talented artist. My artistic career pretty much ended when I gave up safety scissors.)

Chrome Canvas
Change drawing tools, tip size, opacity and color to create the sketch of your dreams.

When using Canvas, you can begin with a blank canvas or you can start with an image that you intend to create on.

image being uploaded to blank canvas from the New from Image button
Use any image as the base to your Canvas drawing

Unlike Drawings, which have ordering (move to the front or move to the back) options, Canvas users will need to use layers to create scenes or images that require more fine tuned artistry, but the layers are easy to use and can be hidden, deleted or made transparent.

showing a design with three different layers on the right side as thumbnails
Each part of this amazing drawing is a different layer. I can change each part as needed without ruining my other work.

Once your Canvas masterpiece is finished, you simply click on the three dots on the bottom right of the thumbnail and save your work as an image.

three dots on the right opens a menu with save as image as the second choice on the dropdown
This is some fine artistry

The image will automatically save to your downloads folder on either your computer, laptop or Chromebook. Once it has downloaded, you can do whatever you like with it; even add it to a Google Drawing (or any other GSuite product).

Canvas lives as an app right in your Chrome browser and is free to use. This free tool opens up more possibilities when students and teachers are looking for ways to create and show their awesomeness!