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.
Ben Franklin coined the phrase “Time is money.” Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim invented YouTube. It’s a match made in heaven. Well, kinda.
There is so much content available for educators and their students to learn from on YouTube. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t have enough time to watch those videos.
Know of a 20 minute tutorial that you’d like to watch, but only have 15 minutes available? I’ve got the solution for you!
Click the gear in the bottom-right corner of a YouTube video to access the speed settings. I recommend 1.5x for most videos, 1.25x if it’s highly technical. When I’m watching my own videos to “proof” them or look for a certain spot in the video, I go with 2x.
But the best advice I can give you – check out this video in 2x and 0.5x speed. You’re welcome.
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.
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. Visit https://huntingtonhelps.com/center/cherry-hill to learn more modern techniques of making the most of your class.
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.
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.
Insert > Video
Search for & Insert the video for the song you want from YouTube
Right Click, Video Options
Select “Autoplay when presenting”
If desired, set a specific start time
Make the video tiny
Rock out when in presentation mode
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.
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.
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.
Click on the extension and follow the prompts to set it up.
When ready, click on the extension to record.
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.
Click Record and start talking!
Click stop and then watch your masterpiece. Remember that it’s also saved in your Google Drive in a “Screencastify” folder.
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)
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.
(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.)
There are multiple options for creating animations (GoAnimate, Scratch, etc.) but my favorite way to do it is creating Stop Motion Slides. I like that I can make it exactly how I want it in this format. I think this has tons of potential in all subject areas (Please comment or share on Twitter with the hashtag #StopMotionSlides if you come up with any cool uses for it).
There are two main steps:
Create a Google Slideshow where each slide is an incremental change from the previous one (like a flipbook).
Open the slideshow up in Presenter view and use a screencasting tool (i.e., Camtasia, Screencastify, Screencast-o-matic) to record it as a video.
FlipGrid is a platform where (1) teacher poses a prompt or question, (2) students access that “grid” with a code, (3) students record their response, (4) students view each other’s responses and (5) students can comment on or like classmate’s response(s).
Amy’s example of the students showing, describing and explaining Chemistry lab experiments/demonstrations was phenomenal. On her first attempt out of the gate, she went above and beyond the “record a video response” format.
So, I’m getting in on the action. At this link, you’ll see a prompt from me. Hopefully, you’ll also see other professionals’ responses. And, even more hopefully (if that makes sense), you’ll record you response. I can’t want to hear what you share!!