Wow. March 2020 has been quite a month. And buckle up, folks, because it looks like April is going to be more of the same.
For many educators, that means screencasts of lessons, assignments in learning management systems, and lots of time on Zoom or Google Meet.
But what about Formative Assessment? If we’re going to teach new content during these extended school closures caused by the coronavirus and COVID-19 (I’m not sure if we should, but that’s another post) then we need to know if students are comprehending that new content!
Two and a half years ago, I made an #EduGIF about adding timers to Google Slides using YouTube Videos and posted it on my site. Well, it’s time to introduce a new option.
Clay Smith is an educator in New York City. He’s also a talented coder. And that coding talent extends to gSuite Add-Ons and Chrome Extensions. The newest in his repertoire of projects is Slides Timer, an extension that makes certain text placeholders in Google Slides text boxes come to life as timers when in present mode.
<<time>> will display the current time in AMPM format
Judging by the feedback form on Clay’s site, I’ll guess that this extension is still a work in progress. There are a few things that I’d change, if I could, but it’s already an awesome option as it is!
If you could be a fly on the wall of an average classroom, it’d be pretty likely that you’d hear something like “Don’t forget to study your vocab words tonight!” or “Remember to review your flashcards tonight!”
While there’s been a move away from the rote learning of yesteryear, most educators agree that having a firm grasp of content area vocabulary is still an important piece to the learning process. I think that there are two important goals for learning vocabulary in content areas: (1) retention of the words (sticky learning) and (2) application of the words.
Not long ago, Google finally added the functionality of adding audio to Google Slides for all users. And, not long thereafter, we started asking for improvements! 😬 Hey, it’s what we do! 😃
In this post, I’m going to share with you a hack to get the most asked for improvement. It’s not an elegant hack (that’s an oxymoron, I think) but it’ll do until Google adds the actual functionality.
When you add audio, the main choice that you’ll have to make is
– “Do I want this to stop playing when I advance to the next slide…
– or do I want it to continue until the audio ends…
– or do I want it to loop until the end of the slideshow?”
Unfortunately, there’s no option to have it play on Slides 1, 2, 3 and 4 and then stop on Slide 5.
But what if that’s what we want? In this post, I’ll show you a hack to set your audio to play for a subset of slides, but not for others.
My first idea for a hack was adding a different piece of audio on Slide 5, but that just leads to both audio files playing simultaneously. Back to the drawing board.
My second idea worked. So, here it is… #EduGIF first, step-by-step instructions next.
Mike Mohammad joined me in episode 28 of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast to discuss 2 questions that an educator might have. One of the topics that we discussed was learner profiles. Mike posed the question, “How can students create a profile of themselves as a learner to share with an audience beyond the classroom?”
While Mike and I did not discuss the it during the show, I want to quickly compare and contrast the terms learner profile and digital portfolio. While there are similarities (both are typically curated by the student, both showcase the students work in school and both are often done digitally) there are also some differences (typically, digital portfolios are a showcase of academic work and growth while learner profiles also often focus on the students’ capabilities, characteristics and aptitudes as a learner).
Regardless of which end result you’re looking to cultivate in your school (learner profile, digital portfolio or a blend of both), there are plenty of tools that you can leverage.
A week after the episode in which Mike and I discusssed this aired, I hosted a Twitter chat about the questions from our talk.
Here are some of the participants’ responses to the question about learner profiles:
There are lots of reasons that you might need images with transparent backgrounds! Maybe it’s for a #StopMotionSlides project! Maybe it’s for a graphic design project! Maybe it’s for a green screen video or image!
No matter what your reason is for wanting an image with a transparent background, the easiest option is the same: do a Google Image Search for images with a transparent background!
There are ways to take images and remove their background, but if we can start with no background, that’s even better!
Search in Google > Images > Tools > Color > Transparent
Note: Unfortunately, this is not a perfect process. Using this strategy misses some images with transparent backgrounds and includes some images that it should have left out.
I think that educators’ definitions for the term student voice are inconsistent – some seem to believe that it simply means – hearing each student’s answer or thinking
– while others believe that it means empowering the students to have a voice in some (or all!) aspects of their education.
Mike made it clear in his response that he subscribes to the 2nd “definition” of student voice. His response fits with the description that Edutopia uses: student voice involves letting “students’ input and expertise … help shape their classroom, their school, and ultimately their own learning and growth.”
I definitely believe that that is the type of student voice that we want to strive for. In a recent #EduDuctTape chat, educators shared their favorite tool for empowering student voice. It’s important to note that simply using the tool doesn’t provide opportunity for or empowerment of student voice. It’s all about how you use it.
On the Google Teacher Tribe podcast (one of my favorite podcasts) Kasey Bell & Matt Miller often refer to Google Slides as the “Swiss Army Knife of gSuite.” And I agree! There are so many things that you can do in Google Slides. In this post, I’m going to show you 3 super useful Graphic Design tools that are available in Slides.
Align – When you select 2+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can align them horizontally (left, right or center) or vertically (top, bottom or center) with each other!
Distribute – When you select 3+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can distribute them horizontally or vertically in relation to each other. This spaces the objects out evenly. It’s important to note that it’s based off of the positions of the leftmost and rightmost objects. So, get your left and right objects into place and then use this tool to distribute everything else out evenly in between.
Center on Page – This tool does exactly what you’d expect it to, but with one nice bonus – if you have multiple objects selected it will center them as a group. So, the objects themselves may not be in the center of the slide, but they will be arranged with the center of the group at the center of the slide.
A note for the Google Drawings fans out there: each of these items are also available there and work in the same manner.
Check out the EduGIF of these 3 tools in action below and, if it moves too fast, check out the Pausable EduGIF here.
Adjacent Possible. Have you heard of it? If you listen to the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, you probably have. It’s this theory that a new set of possibilities is enabled by taking one step beyond the current state of things. Every step opens up new possibilities, just like every conversation with a person can lead to new possibilities that you had not considered.
Well, I had an Adjacent Possible experience a few days ago while interviewing Tony Vincent for Episode 26 of the Educational Duct Tape podcast. Tony was responding to a question about how to help students get to know each other. He shared with me about this activity that he had done where his students took side profile pictures of themselves and then turned them into silhouettes of in Google Slides. They then added in images and words that showed their interests. The students presented their slides to their classmates and, later, those same slides were played on a loop on a screen in the room. What I love about this activity is that, on the surface, it’s a great “getting to know each other” activity. But, underneath that, it’s also a fantastic way to teacher kids some new skills with a tool that the teacher planned on using in class.
This is actually an activity that Tony teaches participants in his fantastic Classy Graphics course. If you’re interested in learning Graphic Design with Google Tools, you should check it out!
There are certainly ways to make these silhouettes that would be easier. But that’s not the point. The point is, opening students’ eyes to the possibilities within the tools that they have access to. As Tony shared in the episode, his students became highly capable at using Slides to create all sorts of things. I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised. By doing this activity, his students saw slides as more than just a tool for presentations. They saw it as a creation space.
Well, as you have probably already guessed, I was compelled to turn this into an #EduGIF, so here it is. After the GIF, I’ll share step-by-step instructions for making these. By the way, I’d be honored if you used this GIF and these instructions with your own students in class. You can repay me by showing me some of their creations!
After the episode aired, Dan Gallagher shared on that same grid some words of caution: Blabberize’s Terms of Service indicate that it’s not appropriate for all ages. So, in Episode 6, I shared this and then, on the spot, found a hack for a solution:
I’ve posted about #StopMotionSlides a number of times (here are my tips for making them) and they make a pretty good solution for this. Put a picture into a slide, use some careful cropping and then leverage a stop motion technique. Not only can you make the mouth move up and down, but you can then publish the animation (#13 in these tips) and then record them with Screencastify (or your screencasting tool of choice) with a voiceover (#14 in these tips)!
Voila! Not as easy as Chatterpix, but at least it eliminates the need of adding another tool and another set of terms of service to what you use with your students: you likely already use Google Slides & Screencastify!
Plus, unlike ChatterPix or Blabberize, you can have multiple characters, your characters can move, the scene change… You–and your students–can get super creative!
Here’s an animated GIF of the process, followed by a step-by-step breakdown.