We have been using Google Classroom in our district for a long time now, but I feel like admin are still a little shaky when it comes to their understanding of the functionality of Google Classroom. A few of them jumped on the bandwagon in the early days of adoption and made a classroom for staff communication, but by-and-large, they have kind of abandoned the medium for their own uses. I think it is important that admin have conversations with their teachers about how they are using Google Classroom, so I made these quick guides for admins to use. One is focused on how the “Stream” functions and the other is on the nuts and bolts of the “Classwork” page.
What do you think? Will these drive conversations in the right way? Am I missing something that you think I should add? Let me know in the comments! If you would like a copy of these for yourself, here is the link to the Google Slide I used to create them.
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!
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.
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!
The ability to add audio to slides has been on my want list since I started using slides years ago. Those of us who were PowerPoint users fondly remember the day when we could add a lovely melody to play over our entire presentation, but we were sadly shut out of this feature when we made the jump to slides.
Well, be sad no more for the ability to insert audio to Google Slides is here! (Or will be here for all users by the end of November if the rumor holds true) This feature is not just for playing sappy music over a photo show of your students at the end of the year; this feature is perfect for so many different teaching and learning activities!
But first, let’s look at how to use the feature. It is relatively simple.
First, you must have the audio file (it should be an MP3 file) in your Google Drive. You can easily use the New < File Upload feature to upload any audio files you might have on your computer. Need to make your own audio files? Check out my blog post about using Screencastify to create your own MP3.
Open your Google Slide presentation. (Remember, if you are starting from scratch, you can type slides.new into your URL bar to quickly create a brand new presentation).
Click Insert and select Audio from the dropdown list.
Once you have inserted the audio, you can choose how your audio will play
You can change the audio icon to an image of your choice if you so choose. Simply click on the audio icon and click “Replace image” from the toolbar. You can either pull an image from your Drive, computer or photos or you can search the web. (Excuse the yucky food images in my gif. I am in the process of lodging a complaint about my bean burrito with a certain fast food chain. 😉)
That’s it! That is all you need to do to add audio to Google Slides. Check in for my next blog post about ideas for using this new feature in your classroom. I mean, beyond that end of the year cry fest when your students fly away and leave you with nothing but the memories.
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.