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

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!

Google Slides Flash Cards

There are plenty of flash cards sites, apps and ideas out there.  And many of them are great.  But… it’s nice to not have to add another tool to your classroom, another site to your list of resources, another password for your students to remember and possibly another account for your students to access.

So, if you don’t need a fully-featured flash cards solution, stick with what you’ve got (and know): Google Slides.

  • Students can work together to create the cards.
  • You can assign each kid a card to make . . . and 5 minutes later you have a whole deck.
  • Cards can involve pictures from a Google image search, pictures from students’ Drive or webcams, drawings and videos.
  • You can project it in class to have a class-wide review.
  • Students can use it to study from their cell phones and other devices.
  • If you have a class website, you can embed the Slides on the site.
  • Students can make a copy of the Slides to make them their own, add information that helps them, delete cards they already know and add cards for terms they struggle with.

Google Slides Flash Cards Animation

*Disclaimer: I’m really not a flash cards, vocabulary kind of guy.  Knowing the lingo has some value, but in general… memorization of stuff that fits on a flash card is just that: memorization.  Since I know that it’s an important part of a lot of classrooms, I want to share this strategy for doing it, but I hope that you do it along with other types of learning experiences, like Project-Based Learning and other inquiry-based strategies.

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

Test your Chromebook Battery

As another school year comes to a close, many schools are packing up their Chromebooks for a 3rd, 4th or even 5th year.  These older Chromebooks are likely (or will soon start) experiencing battery issues.  This is a great time to check their battery health in preparation for next school year.  Here’s how (there’s also a GIF at the bottom of the post):

  1. Close all open tabs.
  2. Open Crosh (Chrome OS Developer Shell) using Ctrl+Alt+T
  3. Type “battery_test 30” and press enter.
  4. The first number that reads out is your battery’s health (from 0-100%).  The higher it is, the better.  As a general rule of thumb, if it’s over 50% on an older Chromebook, you’re in pretty good shape.
  5. After 30 seconds (the number you typed in above) you’ll see how fast your Chromebook is discharging.  You could’ve typed in a smaller number to make it go faster, but the test may not have been as reliable.  If it’s discharging at a rate of more than 0.10% in 30 seconds, you may have issues in the future.

Of course, a weak or rapidly discharging battery is not a big deal if the device can be plugged in throughout the day.  But if you’re in a 1-to-1 school where students carry Chromebooks from class to class, a battery that is under 50% health and discharging faster than 0.10% in 30 seconds won’t make it through the day.

Chromebook Battery Test Animation

Clear your Cache & Cookies

It’s important that you clear your browsers cache and cookies regularly.  Doing it daily isn’t necessary, but doing it monthly (or even more regularly) would be wise.

In layman’s terms, cache and cookies are like little pieces of the websites that you visit.  In the short term, they help you load that site faster when you visit it next.  In the long term, however, as the sites change, the cache & cookies start clogging up processes (often because they are no longer part of the sites that you visit).  Clearing them will help your browser run more smoothly!

Here’s how to do it in Google Chrome:

Clear Cookies and Cache Animation

Note: it was really hard to make it through this post without using a lame pun with the words cache or cookie.   In fact, I think that my self-restraint earned me a cookie…. oops.

Adding Audio in Google Slides (Hack)

Listen, I get it – when you’re showing your students the chambers of the heart, you want to have “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing.  And, when you teach your class about the food chain, you need “Hungry Like the Wolf” rocking out of your speakers.  But, guess who doesn’t get it?  Google.  No audio in Google Slides.  Sorry, no music for you.

But!  I’ve got your back.  When you present about the states of water, you need to be playing this, or maybe this.  I didn’t invent this hack, but I created a GIF to showcase it for you.

Step by step instructions are below the GIF.

Adding Audio in Google Slides Animation

  1. Insert > Video
  2. Search for & Insert the video for the song you want from YouTube
  3. Right Click, Video Options
  4. Select “Autoplay when presenting”
  5. If desired, set a specific start time
  6. Make the video tiny
  7. Rock out when in presentation mode
  8. Keep in mind – your song will stop when you move on to the next slide, so plan accordingly

Note – this is a copyright gray area (or worse), for sure. I always try to use Vevo videos, because we at least we know that those were uploaded by the companies that own the rights to those music 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.

The Draftback Extension

One of the earliest edtech tools that I recommended to the teachers involved in the Writing Ourselves project, which I am the Technology Director for, was the DraftBack Extension.  Once enabled, the extension allows you to playback your writing process for any doc that you are an editor on.  Obviously, the best use case for this would be to have students do this.

What a powerful way for students to reflect on their writing process and for educators to assess (and offer feedback on) the way that they go about the writing craft.  Awesome sauce.

Draftback animation