Harnessing the Power of Technology for Innovation in Education
I am a Google Certified Trainer, blended learning coach, and all around awesome person! I have been an educator for over twenty years, serving in every capacity from classroom teacher to media specialist to digital learning specialist. Currently, you can find me serving as a technology integration specialist for the Lebanon City School District in Ohio.
With the rollout of add audio to Slides finally on the move again, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to create the audio clips you need to make your Slides sparkle. Well, maybe not sparkle, but definitely be a resource for teaching and learning!
If you are a premium Screencastify customer, you might have missed their quiet roll-out of the export audio feature. With this feature, you can pull justthe audio from any of your Screencastify videos. The audio will export as an MP3 file, which is exactly what you need to take that audio clip on the road! You can use the audio file just about everywhere, but especially as an audio file on your Google slide!
To make the most awesome teaching and learning Slides ever, all you have to do is record your video, export the audio, and add it to Slides with the Insert > audio feature. Imagine the possibilities!
Read aloud text
Language acquisition activities
Student read alouds
Goodness, there are so many amazing things that you can do with audio in Slides as long as you know how to create that ever important audio file.
Creating that MP3 file is very easy. Just open Screencastify as you normally would and record your video. It doesn’t matter if you record using the webcam, desktop or tab view because all that matters is the sound of your voice. Once you have finished your recording and the preview/share screen for your video pops up, simply click the downward pointing arrow and select Export audio.
Since Screencastify automatically saves the audio clip to your Google Drive, you can now insert that clip right into Slides once the Insert > audio has hit your domain!
I am sure you have heard of breakout rooms and Google’s Breakout EDU program. One way that you can build a breakout activity is by using digital tools to create a digital environment for your students to work in. Digital breakouts are a great way to engage students and get them showing what they know, and the best part is that there are no physical locks to be reset or clues to be rehidden. There are many different ways to create your breakouts. And there are a wide variety of online tools that will make your breakout awesome. Sometimes all of these options can feel a little overwhelming. With that in mind, I created a simple guide to help as you build your digital breakout. Feel free to use this, but I would be even happier if you shared it with your students and let them build their own digital breakouts! Get your own copy here.
When students are practicing their oral fluency, a key component of that practice is for students to hear themselves reading aloud. Try using Screencastify and Google Classroom to create opportunities for students to record themselves reading, allowing them to hear their own oral fluency.
The idea behind this is that you give students a passage to practice their fluency. The students then use Screencastify to record themselves reading the passage. After finishing the recording, they listen to it and decide if their oral reading was fluid and with expression. If it isn’t, they can practice some more and create another recording. Once they are happy with their recording, they turn it in to the teacher via Google Classroom. Turning in a video created in Screencastify is super easy since the video lives right in the student’s Google Drive. The teacher now has a sample of the student’s reading fluency, and if he or she continues with this assignment over time, they will create a record of student growth and progress.
Creating this activity is relatively easy:
Find or create short reading passages in a digital format. Good places to find already created passages are Newsela, ReadTheory, Epic!, your local library, and if you live in Ohio, Infohio. I really like the idea of creating your own using content you are reading in class or short poems from some of our favorite children’s authors.
Create an assignment in Google Classroom. Remember, you can individually assign to students or assign to small groups of students. There is no reason that all students should be practicing their fluency on the same piece. Differentiation is key!
Students then access the fluency assignment in Google Classroom, open the attached piece and practice reading it. When they feel ready, they will open Screencastify from their Chrome browsers and record themselves reading aloud.
Once students have finished their recording, they can rename the video. They will need to change the privacy settings on the recording so that you can view it once they have turned it in via Google Classroom.
To change the privacy settings for the video, all students need to do is click on the share icon, make sure “Google Drive” is selected and click “Get Link.” This will change the video permissions to “anyone with the link can view.”
The final step is for the student to turn the video in via Google Classroom. To do this, they simply open the assignment, click on the “Add or Create” button on the top right and use the Drive icon to pull the video directly from their Google Drive.
Now that the student has turned their video in to you, you can watch the student videos directly from the assignment view in Classroom. Don’t forget that these turned in assignments also live in the “Classroom” folder in your Drive. You can access them at any time and use them to share with other teachers, administrators or parents. What an excellent way to progress monitor!
If you do not have content in a digital format, don’t worry! You can still do this activity. Students can read directly from a book at school they will just need to record using the webcam camera from Screencastify instead of the desktop or browser camera.
Screencastify is a wonderful extension for both teachers and students. There are so many awesome things you can use Screencastify for. If you don’t already have it on your Chrome browser, sign up for an account download it today!
I can’t believe that I am saying this, but stop letting your students share.
Just say no to the sharing of Google Docs, and Slides, and Sheets, and whatever else they think they want to share with you!
It is time to get rid of those endless emails alerting you that your students have shared something with you to review or grade. Let the natural workflow of Google Classroom work for you!
When you create an assignment in Google Classroom, students can attach virtually anything to that assignment as long as it is in their Drive or available as a web link. They also have the option to create a Doc, Slide, Sheet or Drawing. Once they have attached content to an assignment, you can immediately interact with their content. If the students are turning in something like a Doc, Slide, Sheet or image, all of those are easily located because they are all in one place! You can find them right in the Classroom assignment or you can find them in the Classroom folder with the assignment name in your Drive.
Once they have attached something or created something, you are able to view it, make comments on it, and even grade it. If the students are turning in something like a Doc, Slide, Sheet or image, all of those are easily located because they are all located in the same place. You can find them right in the Classroom assignment or in the Classroom folder with the assignment name in your Drive.
You can interact directly with the student work; edit, leave comments and even grade.
This is in comparison to the hot mess you get when students share their work with you via email or with the share button. Of course, that work will show up on the shared side of your Drive, but how will you track what you have gotten, and from whom? Just put the assignment in Classroom and let it do it’s magic.
Workflow in Classroom:
Teacher – Create assignment. You do not have to attach anything to the assignment. Just make sure that in the instructions section, you tell students that they should add or create their content right there. There is a button. People love to push buttons!
Students – Add or create their work by using this button inside the assignment.This button gives them the option to go right into their Drive and pull something that is already housed there or they can create right on the fly. Students also have the option to add files that are not Google files like images, PDF documents and web links. The possibilities are endless!
Teacher – Interact with the student content right in Classroom. No need to go digging through email or looking at the shared side of your drive.
I can’t believe it, but here in the Cincinnati area the school year is quickly coming to a close. It is getting to be time for final report cards, clean desks, bare walls and the annual cleaning up and archiving of your Google Classrooms.
There are two simple things to do to close out your Google Classroom for the year:
Return all student work
Archive the class
Return Student Work
If you have been using Google Classroom throughout the year to assign and collect work from students, you need to be sure that you return all of their work to them. Classroom works as a file management system. The ownership of any docs, slides, drawings, and sheets that are created or added to Classroom flows back and forth from you to your students. Once a student turns their work into you, their work becomes “view only” for the student until you return it to them.
What this essentially means is that the document will live forever in the student’s Drive as a “view only” document. While they will be able to make a copy of it and then edit the copy, they will never be able to change anything that is on the original document. While this might not be a big deal for a third grader, high school students often have the need to reuse or revisit their work.
Returning work to students can happen in a few different ways. When you are finished grading an assignment, you have the option to return the work right from the grading screen.
If you would rather do a bulk return of an assignment after you have finished grading all of them, you can do this from the assignment page.
Now, let’s say that maybe you haven’t returned any work all year long and now you have a lot (and I mean a lot) of work to return. While Google has not yet given us one fancy button that we can hit to return everything at once, there is a slightly expeditious way to do this from the gradebook view of Classroom. If you open up the gradebook, you will see three dots to the right of each assignment name. Click on those three dots and choose “Return All” from the option menu.
And that’s it! All work is now back in the hands of your students.
Archive Your Class
Archiving your Google Classroom is a must if you want to start with a fresh and clean Classroom dashboard in the fall. Too many teachers fall into the trap of simply deleting students from their old classes and reusing them the following year. They do this because they don’t want to have to recreate the assignments they used in the past. What they probably don’t realize is that they can reuse any assignment or activity from archived classes. Once you create something in Google Classroom, I promise you that you will have access to it in the future. (Unless of course, you delete it. Then you are out of luck.)
Did you know that if you don’t archive your class, it will appear on the Classroom dashboard for your students forever! Many students get frustrated by seeing those old classes every time they open Classroom. The only recourse they have is to remove themselves from your course if they know the trick of clicking on the three dots. Don’t make your students hate you! Archive your course!
Archiving your class is a simple as a click of a button. Click on the three dots on their right of the Classroom tile and click “Archive.” A confirmation pop-up will appear. Click “Archive” again and after a few moments, the Classroom tile will disappear from your dashboard.
All course files remain in your Drive. All content is still accessible in Classroom. You can even view the entire archived course,
You lose nothing by archiving. But, sweetheart, you gain everything!
I was working on a project with one of the Title teachers in my district and she was talking about how she often needs to build background knowledge with her students, However, since she sees the kids for such limited time each day, she needed a solution where they could gain this knowledge in an engaging way that was easily managed but not completely teacher directed.
Mrs. D. wanted her students to watch short videos about the topics they were going to cover in class, but she was worried that the students wouldn’t really attend to the videos and would quickly forget whatever information was presented. She felt that having the students answer a few short questions after watching the video would help them engage with the content. And, if the students could rewatch the video as they figured out the answers to the questions, it would take the stress of having to memorize the correct answer out of the mix. By doing a little app-smashing, I think we came up with the perfect solution!
We searched YouTube for a short video that gave an easy to understand overview of the topic at hand. For this lesson, she was focusing on dolphins. Once we found the video we grabbed the share URL from Youtube and then added it to our blank Google Form using the insert video option.
We also created a few short questions that her students could answer after viewing the video. Because these students struggle with reading, we made sure that the questions were easy to read and followed the flow of the video. Forms not only allows you to add video, but you can also add images. So for one of the questions, we made sure that the students had images to work with as well as words. Adding images is relatively easy since you have so many different options for images in Forms:
I often like to have my images already saved in my Google Drive.
We spent a little time making the Form pretty, but within 5-10 minutes, we were ready to go!
We now had to decide the best way to share this content with the students. Since this teacher is already an avid Seesaw user, we decided that sharing it as a journal item would be the easiest way for the students to interact with the content. To do this, we needed to grab the “send” link from the Form. She didn’t necessarily want to force the students to have to login to Google if they were viewing this activity at home, so we had to make sure that we changed the Form settings to allow responses from users outside of our district domain.
Once we had the link, all we need to do was to post it in Seesaw to the student journal. When you go to add the link, Seesaw will ask if you meant to add it as a file from your Google Drive. You DO NOT want to add it as a file! Simply paste in the link and click the “Continue” option. After you complete this step, you will have the opportunity to share the Form with your entire Seesaw class, or you can individually assign to specific students.
Don’t be alarmed by the ugly “this format” blah, blah, blah! As soon as your students click on the link, it will bounce them directly to your Form where they can watch the video and interact with the content.
Your students will now be able to watch the video and respond to your questions by accessing it through Seesaw. Students get some background knowledge, they can watch the video as many times as they need to understand the content, the teacher is freed up to work with another student while the video is being watched, and everybody wins!
This can be used for a variety of purposes beyond just building background knowledge. Video is a powerful tool! You could do something similar for:
New skill introduction
Making connections with historical content or literature
You aren’t limited to Seesaw. Your delivery method could be Google Classroom, Padlet, Nearpod or any other student content management system.
Tell me how you would use this in your own classroom?
I opened up my Google Classroom this morning to find the most awesome update ever! My biggest complaint about the updated classroom for the 18-19 school year is that I felt like the Stream was a hot mess of information and that for some of our students, the visual noise was too much for them to deal with. Announcements, assignments, student comments – all flooded the stream.
But as of today, I can control exactly how my Classroom Stream looks. My three options are:
Show attachments and details
This option will keep your Stream looking exactly the same as in the past – no changes will be made.
Show Condensed Notifications
This view minimizes the assignments and collapses all the content. Stream shows full announcements, but only titles of assignments.
Clicking on the title takes the teacher directly to the grading view and takes students to the directions and attachments.
This will remove everything from the stream except for announcements (and if you have them allowed, student stream comments). With this view, students will have to navigate to the Classwork page to be able to see and interact with assignments.
To access these new options, click on the setting gear in the upper right-hand corner and look for the “Classwork on the stream” option.
You also have the ability to move any items, assignments or announcements to the top in the Stream. Now, if only Google would let us pin items to the top, all of my Google Classroom dreams will come true!
Often times, we want our students to interact with content that we have curated within a Google Slide. Maybe we want them to read a small excerpt and then use that knowledge to label a diagram. Or maybe we want them to work on a graphic organizer. The biggest worry with curating content for students to work with on a Slide is knowing that a student can accidentally delete an image, move a shape into the wrong position or delete important content. Instead of giving them the content as individual items on a Google Slide, why not use Google Drawings to curate the content, turn it into an image, and then add that image to your Slide as the background? It is a relatively easy process. Watch the short video below to see how it is done!
Two years ago I began this website with a blog post about my angelic son and his inability to keep track of assignments, materials, and generally, anything school related. I am dismayed to say that in the time that has passed, not a single thing has changed for him. Some of this is directly related to his 14-year-old self, but more of it is related to the fact that his teachers still do not allow their students to use their devices in any way that isn’t teacher directed. And since they aren’t directing him to use his calendar, he isn’t.
See, we are an extremely calendar driven family. With two kids that are in multiple sports, guitar lessons and a husband that travels extensively for work, we use our calendars to keep our lives in check and make sure we never miss anything. While my son uses his calendar on his phone to keep track of outside of school stuff, he doesn’t use his calendar to keep track of school assignments because his teachers don’t let him pull his phone out in class and they are not yet a 1:1 school were students have regular access to devices. If he were able to access his phone at school, he could easily add assignments to his calendar as the teachers assigned them. He could even take a picture of any of the documents related to the assignment and then immediately attach them to the calendar event, ensuring that he never really loses an important paper. But, alas, this is not allowed.
The district that I work in is slowly going 1:1 and we are at the point where our entire student body from grades 3-10 have their own Chromebooks to use each day. Many of our teachers are using Google Classroom. Some teachers even let their students have their phones out during the day.
But, very few of them are showing their students how powerful their Google Calendars can be. Why are we ignoring this tool? Why not expose our students to as many ways to get themselves organized as possible? Learning how to be organized now will only pay off in spades in the future!
Did you know that as soon as you add an assignment to Google Classroom with a due date that it shows up on a student’s calendar? Did you know that not only does the name of the assignment show up, but the directions and a direct link back to the assignment in Classroom appears as well?
Did you know that students can add their own events to their Google calendars? If their teacher isn’t using Classroom but still giving them assignments, the students can add it themselves. They even have the ability to include content from their Drive and customize reminder notifications. Just imagine; Students can create an event related to the due date of the assignment, set notification reminders that range from a few minutes to a few days before it is due, and they can include a direct link to their work! No more hunting for their work or trying to remember when things are due.
I would also encourage students to include their own events, like sports practice, extracurricular activities, or time with friends or family on their calendar. Since they can download the calendar app, their responsibilities can follow them everywhere!!! (They might not think this is a good thing, but I sure do!)
We don’t need to force all of our students to use their calendars, but showing them the power of a tool they have at their fingertips is essential. If they don’t know what they have access to, they are missing on gaining critical life skills they will need as they try to adult later in life. Give them all the tools they need to be successful and let them select the one that works best for them!