Screencastify for Feedback

I’ve done a number of posts about Screencastify, but recently I was reading a blog post that presented an idea that I had not previously thought of.  In it, the author talks about using a screencasting tool to give both visual and auditory feedback on a student’s work.  It seems to me that this would be so much more useful for a student than just comments on the doc.  Plus they’d be more likely to view it.

Add in the ease of use with Screencastify – quickly sharing in Google Drive – and you’ve got a win-win.  Below is a GIF I made to share the process.  In the GIF, I am giving (fake) feedback on a Google Doc, but it could be anything.  I could even show how it falls on a rubric within the video!

You could even have students give each other feedback this way!

One last note – if you start doing this regularly, you could create one folder in your Drive for each of your students and then drag the videos into those folders for the students to view.

Screencastify for Feedback Animation

AutoPlay & Loop in Google Slides

Need slides running on loop during an Open House or other event?  Here’s how to do it!

It’s super simple!

  1. File > Publish to the Web
  2. Link (not embed)
  3. Select the amount of time between slides (unfortunately, all slides have to be same length.  Need some slides to show for longer? Duplicate them so that they show twice.)
  4. Decide if you want it to start playing as soon as you open it.
  5. Decide if you want it to loop (restart).
  6. Access the link.  Hit the full screen button. That’s it!

Note: If you’d like it to be a slideshow of pictures that are in your drive, I recommend the Drive Slides extension (by Matt Miller & Alice Keeler) for getting those images quickly into a slideshow.  It’s limited to 50 images/slides, but you could always make separate slideshows and then import the slides from one into the other.

AutoPlay & Loop Google Slides Animation

Note: if this is for a permanent hallway display or sign, you should try out Chrome Sign Builder.

You can also select embed to easily embed the auto-playing, auto-looping slides into a non-Google Sites webpage, like this:

Continue reading AutoPlay & Loop in Google Slides

Private Google Docs in New Google Sites

Google Sites are an awesome tool for teachers to make sites, for students to make digital portfolios, for students to create projects and more! One of the best features is the ease of embedding Google files into them.  The most important thing to keep in mind when doing so, is to make sure that the Doc, Slides or whatever you’re hoping to embed has the appropriate sharing settings.  If they don’t, they might not be seen by your audience.  Check out in the GIF below what happens when you embed a private Google Doc onto a public Google Site.

Note: In the animation, I use an Incognito Tab to test the site.  If your site is intended for the public, this is a great way to make sure it’s set right!

Private Doc on a Google Site Animation

On Twitter, Micah Carlin-Goldberg reminded me of a great way to make sure that your docs are always “Anyone with the Link Can View” prior to putting them on your site:

I prevent the problem by adding (Shift+Z) all website items to a folder that has anyone with the link permissions. Because Drive permissions of a folder apply to the contents adding them to the folder makes them visible on the website.

Update the Master Slide in Google Slides

One function in Google Slides that most people don’t notice is there is “Edit Master.”  This option is great for adding branding to your slides and much more.  Here are some of the things that you can do in there, followed by a GIF of how to do it:

  • Change the font style for all of your slides
  • Add a logo or watermark
  • Change background colors
  • Make all slides match the theme of a lesson or presentation
  • Change the layout (find that you’re always moving the title up to give more space to type? Do it here)
  • Add new slide layouts (need a 3-column layout?)
  • Change layout of all of your slides at once
  • Lock objects in place (the pictures become part of the background!) for activities with students
  • Create layouts for certain uses (i.e., Yearbooks, eBooks, etc.)

Edit Slides Master Animation

Change your Default Font in Google Docs

Arial 11!?  Seriously, Google!?  Does anyone like their Docs to be typed in Arial 11?

Here’s how to change your default font style so that it’s what you typically use, so that you don’t have to do it each time.  In the GIF below, I show how to change your “Normal Text.”  Note that you can follow the same steps to change the default formatting for titles, headings, etc.

Here’s the animated process, followed by the step-by-step directions

Change Default Font Style Animation

Continue reading Change your Default Font in Google Docs

Representing the Writing Process with the Version History

Note: I’ve heard this mentioned elsewhere, so I’m not claiming to be the originator of the idea.  One place I heard it mentioned was in Episode 21 of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast.  Another is in this great post by Eric Curts. I am, however, the creator of the GIF below.

I’ve gotta admit, I was apprehensive when Google renamed my beloved Revision History as the Version History.  I thought “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  But there is an added value in the format change – and that value rests mainly in the Writing classroom, but it applies in any classroom.

Now, you can name the versions in the Version History.  Pre-writing, First Draft, Peer Revision, Second Draft, Teacher Feedback, Final Draft, Published Version, you name it.  Students can now represent the stages of the Writing process with the names of their document versions.  With Writers’ Workshop being the trend in our writing classrooms, this seems like a no-brainer.

Name Versions of Version History Animation

Embedding Slides in “New” Google Sites

When I recommend Google Sites to people, it’s typically because it’s so easy to embed so many of the things that we regularly use.  Google Slides is no exception.  Here are a few notes about it, followed by a GIF animation of how to do it.

  • Be sure that the Google Slides file has sharing settings that will allow the appropriate people to see it on the site. If your file is private and someone goes to your site, they’ll see a blank box where the slides should be.
  • You can set the slides to auto-play when the site loads!
  • With auto-play on, you can set the slides to auto-loop and modify the amount of time that each slide plays for.
  • You can change the size and position of the embedded Google Slides presentation.

Embed Slides in New Google Sites Animation

“New” Google Sites

With as fast as technology moves nowadays, you can’t really call the “New” Google Sites new – I mean, it’s been more than a year since the upgrade was announced.  But still, you have to manually select to jump to the New Google Sites.  The GIF below shows how and, like Nike says, “Just Do It” – the kinda New Google Sites is much better than the “Classic” Google Sites.

Go to New Google Sites Animation

Screencastify, Paper & Math: Spin It Around, Write It Down, Explain with Sound!

This post originally appeared on the Screencastify blog, here.

We all know how important it is for students to demonstrate

their understanding of a particular subject or problem by “showing their work.” If your students are using tablets, there are a number of great interactive whiteboard recording apps that allow students to write with a stylus, annotate images and provide audio explanations.

But what about the large student population who are using Chromebooks, not tablets?  Some new Chromebooks have touch screens and a small number are ready to roll with Android apps, but for the majority of our students, this type of recording feature is nowhere in their near future.  And it’s a great feature!  What’s better than telling a student to “show their work”!?  Telling them to “explain their work” or, better yet, narrate it.

As an educational technology advocate and problem-solver, I am always looking for a hack.  And, here’s my hack for this.  Tell your students: “click on the Screencastify extension, select Cam, spin the computer around, aim it at a piece of paper, starting writing or drawing and explain away.”  In short, spin it around, write it down, explain with sound.

Check out my hack in action in the video below!

Easy Citations in Google Docs

Digital citizens are constantly sharing other people’s content.  We are all cultivators of stuff.  Images, quotes, GIFs, artwork, you name it – we share it.  It is very important that we teach kids to give credit where credit’s due.

Unfortunately, students are very resistant to citing their sources when they do schoolwork.  Why?  I believe it’s because it’s a pain to do so.  Who would want to cite their source if you have to do tons of sleuth work to figure out who the original source really was?  Who would want to cite their source if you have to enter a boatload of information into a separate site to prepare the citation to put in your document?

In my book, the goal for students, especially those in middle school, should simply be to get them to cite their sources.  I’m not going to stress out about if it really is the accurate original source.  I also wouldn’t stress about them correctly placing their periods and commas in their MLA citation.  I just want them to recognize that the content is not their own and that the originator deserves credit.  Google Docs makes that easy with two tools.  Let’s check them out . . .

Using the Explore Tool in Google Docs

This will only work for resources on the web (not books), but it’s super easy to use.  It creates footnotes, which I’ve heard aren’t commonly used in K-12 writing.  However, as you’ll see in this animation, you can easily copy those footnotes and turn them into a Works Cited.  Check out this GIF to see how:

Using the EasyBib Add-On

This tool is great for citing books, but not as good at citing websites.  It keeps track of your entire bibliography until you’re ready to add it to your doc.  If you are using the Explore tool for your websites, you can just combine them when you’re done, just like I do in the animation below.

Disclaimer: I’ve heard from a few sources that these two tools do not always produce 100% accurate citations.  In my opinion, as stated above, this is a risk that I’m willing to take, at least until students are in college prep high school courses.