Lesson packaging or content packaging is an important part of teaching these days. Just as you would create a handout, worksheet or physical activity for students, you can create a digital activity that can be shared with students in a digital environment like Google Classroom. When you use the theme builder in Google Slides to build your activity, you can rest in the knowledge that students will be unable to delete any lesson elements accidentally. Some of my favorite edtech creators use the theme builder to create fun activities like the “disguise the turkey” and “decorate a jack-o-lantern” activities. It is also beneficial for those of us using interactive projectors. Isn’t it annoying when you go to click on your model slide and it selects and moves an element without you wanting to? If you are super crafty, you can also create your own slides layouts and designs like those awesome creators on slidesmania.com and slidescarnival.com.
To learn how to use the slide theme builder to create your own slide template, check out my slide tutorial below. (How many more times can I use the word slide in this very short blog post?)
I would love to see the amazing slide templates you create with the theme builder feature. Drop a link in the comments to showcase your work!
There are many times when students create content in Google Classroom as part of a project or assignment and we want them to be able to share their work with their classmates to allow for discussion and interaction. Once the students submit their work to their teacher, it kind of gets locked down and the only person that can view it is the teacher, who then has to figure out ways to grab the content and make it shareable with the class. There are all sorts of work arounds but it usually requires the teacher to put time and effort into copying and pasting student work into a new format or by using a third party app like Flip for students to record and share their work.
The easiest way to have students share their work with their classmates and have opportunities for their fellow students to comment on the work and give feedback is by using the “Question” tool in Google Classroom.
Essentially, you create a question that simply asks students to share their work. To share their work, students create an “anyone with the link can comment” link from their work and post that link as their answer to the question. Once the link has been posted, other students are able to click on that link, view the work of their classmates and then use the comment feature naturally built into Google products to leave feedback for their classmates. Since the question is assigned to students, teachers will be able to see, at a glance, which students have responded from the grading side of the assignment. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
Here is how to create this sharing opportunity:
Open Google Classroom, navigate to the Classwork page, click “Create” and select “Question from the dropdown.
Set the question type as short answer and then give your students directions on how they are to share their work. The easiest way is for them to open the work to be shared and create an “anyone with the link – commenter” link that can be copied and pasted in as a response to the questions. Your district might have this option locked to just your school domain, so the student would pick that option along with “commenter.”
If you want the students to be able to respond to the work directly on the question thread (this gets a little messy and I don’t necessarily recommend it), make sure you have the “Students can respond to each other” option toggled on.
You can also choose to let students edit their answers. I found that to be helpful when students created and posted the wrong type of link and had to go back and share the right one.
When you create the question, you can always include additional materials. You could create a video showing students what you want them to do. You could share your own work for the students to comment on. You could add a funky music video that harkens back to the golden age of MTV. It is totally up to you!
Students will then be able to answer the question by posting their link as a response. What is kind of cool about this is that they will not be given the option to see the responses of their classmates until they have posted their own response.
Once they have posted their link, they will then be given the option to see the responses of their classmates.
Students can now click on the links their classmates shared, open the materials and use the comment feature to leave feedback for their peers.
As the teacher, I can then look at the student answer side of the question to see who has turned their work in and who has not. The links are there for me to click on and I will be able to see who left comments for their peers. It makes it pretty easy to track participation.
Now, I know that you can get all fancy and do this with Flip, but it requires students to go out and use a third party application. The nice thing about using the question feature is that it is all in-house and contained in Google Classroom. And, you can have the students submit just about any product for their peers to view. Videos, docs, drawings, slides, sheets, and images are just a few that come to mind.
I hope this method of student work sharing makes your life a little easier. How do you see yourself using it with your students?
In education, we often work in video. Fortunately, we have been able to step away from the “whole class watches the video at the same time” method of teaching thanks in part to programs like BrainPOP and Edpuzzle. The problem with those programs though are that they don’t live in Google Classroom and are not portable for students to be able to keep their responses or notes for future use after the video assignment has ended.
That is why I am in love with the video preview feature in Google Docs. Using this feature, you can build a multimedia response activity right on a single doc. The students don’t have to have multiple windows open as they can watch the entire video right there while working on their doc.
As an example, I created an activity focused on invasive species. I wanted my students to watch a short video and answer some questions based on the video. I am planning on having them use the answers to those questions in a larger project, so they will need to be able to access them again in the future. Plus, I want them to have access to the original video in case they need to review it as they are working on the larger project.
I created a doc and placed a table in the doc. On the right side of the table, I wrote the questions I wanted the students to answer. I put it on the right side because when the video is previewed, it will cover up the right side and I didn’t want them struggling to move it to type their answers. On the left side of the table, I left space for the students to write their answers. I used a table because I wanted the space to be able to grow as they wrote but still be aligned to the original question. At the top of the table, I linked the video. I used the smart chip feature in Docs to make the link look prettier, but you could just put the link there.
Students can then mouse over the video link and when it pops open, they simply mouse down to the bottom right of the video and click the preview button. The video will then open on top of their doc and they can play it, pause it, rewind it or skip ahead as they work to answer the questions.
I will assign this activity in Google Classroom with the “make a copy for each student” option. After they turn it in, I can easily return it and students then have access to their notes by either opening the assignment in Google Classroom or by locating it in the Classroom folder in their Google Drives.
This feature makes taking notes so much more accessible for our students! Just an FYI, kids can click the little x in the video to get rid of the commercial bar that covers the video at points. How are you going to use this feature with your students?
Your Google Chrome browser now has a built in QR code generator. If you want to share something as a QR code, you can now do so in two easy clicks! Simply look to the right of your URL and click anywhere in the white space of your URL bar. A QR code icon will show up. Click on it and a QR code will generate. All you need to do is download that QR code and you are set and ready to go!
If you are working on a computer instead of a Chromebook, you will click on the square with the inset arrow icon to access your QR code.
Don’t forget to change your share settings if you planning on creating a QR code for a Google Doc, Slide, Sheet, etc. Nothing worse than getting all of those request for access emails.
I use Screencastify almost every day to make short instructional videos. Sometimes these videos are just a quick point and click moment where I am trying to show someone else how to do something, and often, I don’t even use my microphone because what I am teaching is pretty obvious by what is seen on the screen. I decided that instead of sending a short video to people, that I would just use the cool feature on the Screencastify watch page to turn that short video into a GIF and send that instead. That way, the teacher doesn’t have to click play or rewatch the video because it will just keep playing on a permanent loop.
I then got to thinking about all of the things that I could turn into GIFs. Math problems, science demonstrations, funny reactions, quick guides, and so much more. Because I am in charge of edtech PD for my district, I decided that all of my teachers should know how to make awesome GIFs with Screencastify, and so the following how-to guide was created. Enjoy! I hope you make the most awesome GIFs ever!
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about how to combine Google Classroom and Screencastify to give students opportunities to practice their oral fluency. We still use Google Classroom for our 3-12 students, but have begun using Seesaw for our PreK-2 students. After working with a kindergarten teacher, I realized that we could also use Seesaw to create activities that would allow for fluency practice. The kinder teacher (Melissa) I was working with wanted her students to practice their letter naming fluency two different times to see if they could get faster and more fluent the second time. She wanted this fluency activity to be on one page with multiple opportunities to record. While this activity was designed for kindergarten students, you could create something similar for older students by adding passages to the canvas in the same way we added the letter charts.
To create this activity, we used a single page activity with directions for students to use the record voice option. We also used the Seesaw Reflect extension to grab content from online. We are very fortunate to live in Ohio where we have access to a statewide resource of teaching and learning materials called INFOhio. My activity is the one on top. I tried to give the students a visual cue on how to access the record voice option by creating the how-to steps with images. Melissa created the one on the bottom and provided a really nice set of directions. Can you tell who the real kindergarten teacher is? If I were to do this with older children, I would take some of the reading passages found in INFOhio and add them to the activity using the Seesaw Reflect tool.
When students add their response to this activity, they open the activity, click on the three dots on the left, click the voice button and record themselves reading. Since Melissa wanted the kids to do a one minute timed trial, they could use the recording counter that begins once you start recording as their timer. When they finish their recording, Seesaw automatically creates a button that says “Listen” and their recording is attached to it. As long as they keep their recordings under five minutes, they can record multiple times. Each time they record another “Listen” button will be created. If they want or if directed by their teacher, they can change the word “Listen” to numbers to show their first, second, and subsequent recordings.
Once challenge I discovered is that the recording feature often covers the content I want the students to read. I have tried to create the activity so the the material is off to the side a little to keep it from getting covered when they are recording. Another option is to teach the students to double click or double tab on white space on the canvas to get the text box option to pop up. Once it does, they can tap the three dots and choose voice from the menu. It is a little more fine motor work, but it will keep the recording button from covering the content you want the students to read.
This activity will give your students a lot of independent opportunities to practice their fluency independently. Because the recordings stay right on the Seesaw canvas, students can listen to themselves and hear their growth over time!
Screencastify has become a big part of my life during this year of the pandemic. I don’t know how I could have made it this far without it.
If you have been making videos but have not yet learned about the zoom tool in the editor, here is your chance to learn how to make the most awesome videos ever!
Usually, when you create a screencast, your entire screen is captured and students or other viewers might not be entirely certain where to look or may not be able to clearly see what you are trying to show or model. The zoom tool lets you physically zoom your camera into a specific part of a video you have already recorded and make that part larger and easier for your viewers to see. You can keep this zoomed in section for as long as you need, and then you can zoom out and then zoom into another section of your screen if you so desire. I frequently use the zoom tool in my videos so that my audience can read any text I am sharing or see where they need to click. The editing process to use it is pretty quick and painless. Not sure what I mean by zooming in? Take a look at this example video from Screencastify.
Now that you know what the zoom tool is, watch this short video to learn how to use it!
I hope this tool makes your videos as awesome as mine!
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.
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.
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 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 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!
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.
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.)
When using Canvas, you can begin with a blank canvas or you can start with an image that you intend to create on.
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.
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.
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!