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!

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

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Chrome Bookmarks Bar

1. Folders

It’s nice to have easy access to lots of sites, but that bookmarks bar can get crowded.  Use Bookmark folders on your bar to categorize them while still having convenient access.

2. Shorten those bookmark titles.

Shorter bookmark titles take up less bookmark bar space. Take the title out to just use the sites logo. If the site doesn’t have a logo, or it doesn’t make the destination clear (like a docs logo), use short words or even emojis to save space!

3. Create Bookmarks for Creating New Docs or Slides

Did you know that docs.google.com/create opens up a fresh new Doc?  Or that slides.google.com/create does the same with Google Slides?  Create bookmarks for those links and have quick access to that capability.

 

4. Different Bookmarks for Different sections of your Drive.

Do you go to your Starred files often?  Need quick access to Shared with Me when someone sends you a file in a meeting?  Do you have a folder for all of your students’ assignments that you go to daily?  Make a special bookmark for different locations!

5. Different Bookmarks for Different Parts of Docs, Slides or Sheets

Different tabs in Sheets, Headings in Docs and slides in Slides have different URL’s.  That means you can make your bookmark (or a link you send in an email or message to someone) direct you (or the recipient) to a specific spot.  It’s nice when you want to send someone to today’s meeting agenda in the massive Doc with all meeting agendas in it.  It’s also super convenient if you regularly access a certain spreadsheet tab.

6. Bookmark specific sections of GMail

Have a certain GMail label you access regularly?  Want quick access to your starred or important files?  Want to be able to get to emails from your admin or boss quickly? Create a bookmark for that exact part of your Gmail.

7. Bookmark specific Calendar Views

Want to be able to access Day, Week, Month, Agenda or a Custom View quickly?  Make it a bookmark.

 

Chromebook Management ideas from @MrGrifftastic

In the episode below of The Chromebook Classroom Podcast, John Sowash interviewed Eric Griffith.  Eric had some really great insights for going 1:1 with Chromebooks.  Here are a few of my favorite things that are different from what we currently do at my school . . . but may consider adopting in the future: Continue reading Chromebook Management ideas from @MrGrifftastic