Recreating Pop Hits as Content-Related Lyrics Videos

Never gonna go to war, never gonna drop a bomb
Never gonna shoot a gun and hurt you
Switzerland is never gonna say let’s fight
Never gonna tell a lie, Neutrality

These are not lyrics by Rick Astley.  They’re by me, and they’re really lame.  But . . . .they serve as a pretty good intro to the idea of having students record their own videos/songs of pop hits recreated with content-related lyrics.

If you know me, you know that I love a good “Rick Roll.”  You also know that I love the idea of students proving their mastery of content by creating things rather than by filling in bubbles.

This idea mixes students love of 1) being creative and 2) lyrics videos on YouTube.  Here’s a video (with even worse lyrics), followed by the steps.

Continue reading Recreating Pop Hits as Content-Related Lyrics Videos

Screencasts in Math Class

Years ago, as a middle school math teacher, I had a dilemma.  My 51 minute math classes had been shortened to 43 minutes.  As any teacher knows, this is a big deal.  After wrestling with a lot of ideas for how to handle here’s what I landed on:

Each day, during my planning period, I pressed record in a screencasting program called Jing, stepped up to the SmartBoard and went over the day’s homework as if my class was there.  (I’m sure I looked like I had lost my marbles to any passerby) I did it quickly, forcing myself to keep it under 5 minutes.  Any longer would mean 2 things: my assignment was too long and I was using to much class time to explain content that my students had already done.

The next day, I would play that video while taking attendance, checking to see who did their homework and meeting with any students who had been absent.  This allowed me to combine two sets of things that I had previously done–going over the homework and doing the beginning of class teacher stuff–at once.  It made up for those 8 lost minutes, and then some.

Nowadays, my philosophies about homework and classrooms where all students are doing the same thing at the same time has changed, so I wouldn’t repeat this format.  However, I think these recordings would still be valuable in a blended learning setting.  When students finish certain assignments, they could view the videos to self-assess and learn more.  Learning Management Systems and websites really open up the possibilities on this.

Here’s a sample of one of these videos:

Practice Speeches in Screencastify

Giving speeches or presentations in front of their peers can be a really nerve-wrecking activity for students.  We often encourage them to practice, but . . . what’s practice without reflection and self-assessment?

Students can use the free Google Chrome extension Screencastify to record themselves giving their speech or presentation.  Then, they can view that recording and reflect on how they did.

Practice Speeches in Screencastify Animation

Screencastify automatically saves to their Google Drive and is not public, unless the student chooses to upload to YouTube or share the Google Drive file.

The steps:

  1. Install the Chrome Extension.
  2. Click on the extension and follow the prompts to set it up.
  3. When ready, click on the extension to record.
  4. Select Desktop (recording entire screen), Tab (recording just the current tab, even if you navigate away from it) or Cam (recording only the camera).  If doing Desktop or Tab, decide if you want the webcam on or not.
  5. Click Record and start talking!
  6. Click stop and then watch your masterpiece.  Remember that it’s also saved in your Google Drive in a “Screencastify” folder.

Create Materials for Print with Custom Dimensions in Google Slides

Need a flyer? A sign? A visually appealing handout?

Google Docs is a great word processor, but it can be hard to get images, text and word art laid out in just the right way. Tools like LucidPress are great for this, but they have a learning curve. For most educators and students, Google Slides is perfect for this – we know how to add & resize pictures and text as well as how to move them around on the screen.

So, why not use Google Slides for creating Printed Materials?  Go to File > Page Setup and give your slides the dimensions of your piece of paper.  Bam.

Custom Dimensions in Slides Animation

Scratch as a Content Area Tool

Scratch, developed by a group at MIT, has a tremendous reputation as a computer science learning & creation tool.  But, I believe it is under-appreciated as a tool for the content areas.

It is a great way for students to show their mastery of content standards, while honing their computer science skills and practicing the 4 C’s.  It’s also a great way for educators to create content for their students to interact with.

This summer, I hope to make some examples of how Scratch can be used in content areas.  For now, here’s a little taste:

Scratch in Edu Animation

FILTER Formula in Google Sheets

You can filter using menu buttons and create filter buttons in Google Sheets, but sometimes it’s valuable to setup a FILTER formula.  One such instance is shown in the GIF below: when you have a Sheet that contains data about many students across many grades or classes.  Using a filter formula, you can create a tab for each class or grade.  You can also create tabs for certain criteria (like lower scores that require follow-up).

=FILTER(range, condition1, [condition2, …])

Note from the formula above, that you can actually identify multiple criteria (such as Mr. Kotter’s students who scored below a 75%).

Filter Formula (Google Sheets) Animation

Creating GIFs in Camtasia 2

You may have noticed: I create lots of GIFs.
You may have wondered: how does Jake make his GIFs?

I ❤️ the functionality of creating them in Camtasia 2 for Mac.  Under Advanced Export is an option for “Animated GIF.”  It’s pretty much that simple….

However, if you choose to do this, you want to put some thought into how & where you plan to use your GIF.  Certain platforms have time & file size limits for GIFs.  Others do not.  Twitter, for example, limits GIFs to 5 MB.  To obtain the perfect balance between high quality image and low enough file size, I leave the settings all of the way up and then nudge them down until I hit something just a hair under 5 MB.  I prefer the frame rate at 30 and won’t go below 20.  If a frame rate of 20 doesn’t get me low enough, I decrease the dimensions.  If needed, I even use custom dimensions to hit that sweet spot of quality-file size. (More content after GIF)

Make GIFs in Camtasia Animation

Twitter doesn’t appear to have a limit for the time length of the GIF.  However, the longer the GIF, the higher the file size.  So, I cut my GIF’s at 20 seconds.  That was always the limit for GIFs in the SnagIt extension, and it seems like a good number, so I go with it.  To hit this limit, I increase the speed of my videos to get them right to 20 seconds.

Increase Speed for GIFs in Camtasia Animation

(When I last checked, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers received Camtasia for free.  If you’re not eligible for that I believe it’s well worth the actual education price.)

Password Protected Google Forms

First off – I can’t take credit for this idea – just the GIF below.  I’ve heard it mentioned most recently on the Google Teacher Tribe podcast where the idea was credited to Jeremy Badiner.

Second – In a Twitter discussion with Molly MacKinlay from Google (I love Twitter!), she pointed out that there’s an easier way to do this.  I still think that there are valid uses of the password-protecting strategy, but when appropriate, her way is certainly easier.  I’ll get to this later in the post, right under the GIF… 

There are a lot of uses to password-protecting Forms, but here are the 4 main ones that I can see:

  1. Post a Google Form (i.e., an assessment) to your LMS early, but students won’t be able to access the questions until you give them the password or until they complete a preliminary activity that releases the password to them.
  2. Set this form as part of a BreakOutEDU style activity – participants can only access the form once they’ve found the password in the previous stage.
  3. Make it so only your intended audience can fill out a form. (i.e., 1st period class, but not 2nd period class)
  4. Keep sensitive information within the form, just like a password-protected website.

One important note: setting “error text” is essential – otherwise it will tell the user the password.

Password Protected Forms Animation

The other way of doing this:

In my aforementioned conversation with Molly, a product manager with Google For Education, she reminded me of the ability to turn off “Accepting Responses.” If you want all of your students to have access to this Form at the same time, this is definitely the preferred way to go about it.  Leave it off until the quiz starts, then turn it on, then turn it off when the quiz ends.  Easy-Peasy.  The exceptions start with anytime that you want differentiated access: i.e., students can’t start a quiz until completing a certain activity, only students from a certain class should be able to access a form, etc.  And they continue with specialized applications of Google Forms: Digital BreakOuts and more. So, choose based on your need.  If you’re just keeping a form closed until test time, use the “accepting responses button.”  If you’re differentiating access in some way, use password-protecting.

More Notes

Ah, the power of the Twitter PLN.  Both of the following notes came to me through discussions with people on Twitter.

  • @HaleEdTech pointed out that the user (i.e., student) can discover the password using Inspect Element or View Page Source (both are in the right-click menu).  If you intend to use this regularly, you may want to 1) turn off Inspect element in the Google Admin Console and 2) block “view-source” in the URL blacklist in your Admin Console.  These will only prevent this in Chrome – there are likely other steps you’d need to take with Safari or Firefox.
  • @EfrenR shared with me that people should refrain from using the word “password” in this situation, as Google Forms directly states that they’ll “never ask for your password.”  He reported that they may even flag your Form for requesting user’s passwords. So, it may be wise to use something like “keyphrase” or “Form Code” instead.

TwitListManager

If you’ve been on Twitter for a long time, you probably follow more people than you can possibly keep up with.  And, if you’re like me, it probably bums you out when you’re missing some good posts from some of the people that you really want to see everything from.

The solution is lists.  Create lists in Twitter that contain the “important” people or that relate to a certain thing (i.e., the school you work for).  Don’t worry: your lists can be private.

Well, if you’ve ever created lists in Twitter, you know that it’s clunky. TwitListManager is the best solution for that that I’ve found.  Go to the site, log into Twitter and assign all of the accounts you follow to certain lists.  Easy-peasy.

 

TwitListManager Animation

My strategy:

  • First, I have lists for my school district and my friends (I read every tweet in those lists).
  • Second, I separate everyone into Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3.  Level 1 are the people who I really want to see posts from.  I try to read all of them.  Level 2 are people who I’d like to read the posts from, but they’re not a priority.  Maybe if I have to wait an hour in the doctor’s office waiting room…  Level 3?  Well, I’m just following them to be polite.😬 Sorry, if you’re in Level 3! 😬
  • Finally, I have some other lists that I use at certain times.  That includes things like the NFL Draft–I use that list for a few days every April–and Fantasy Football–I look at that lists on Sunday’s in the fall and when I’m setting my lineup.