Monday, December 28, 2015

Screencasts - Powerful Teaching and Learning Tools

Screencasting can be a powerful way to share resources and allow students to share their learning. Students can use screencasts to visually and verbally demonstrate learning. Screencasts are great tools to engage learners in student-centered learning environments.

Screencasting in the Classroom
  • Students record how they use the web to research a concept.
  • Students create a presentation based on web resources. 
  • Students can create flipped tutorials to share with classmates.
  • Students can review key concepts presented by a teacher in a blended learning model.
  • Teachers can use screencasts to provide feedback on digital activities. 
  • Students can review a website or online reading.
  • Students can explain their thought process as they create a diagram or mind map. 
  • Students can record and narrate a traditional slide-based presentation. 
There are many great screencasting tools, here are a few of our web-based favorites for Chromebooks and Chrome
  • Screencastify
    Screencastify is a simple video screen capture software (aka. screencast recorder) for Chrome. It is able to record all screen activity inside a tab, including audio. Just press record and the content of your tab is recorded. So you can easily create a screencast for video tutorials, record presentations etc. It also supports desktop capturing, allowing you to record anything on your screen (not just tabs).
  • Nimbus
    Capture the web page, either part of it or the whole browser window, edit your screenshots in a very user-friendly interface. Record screencasts - record video from your screen.
  • WeVideo
    Record your computer's screen with WeVideo's Screen Capture Tool.
  • Explain Everything
    Explain Everything™ Interactive Whiteboard brings together an interactive screencasting whiteboard and a content discovery portal. Dynamic and easy-to-use interactive screencasting whiteboard
  • Screencast-O-Matic
    Use their world famous recorder to record on-screen activity for short tutorials, visual presentations, and communicate while you demonstrate!
iPad Screencasting Apps
How would you use screen casting to support learning in your classroom? 

Monday, December 21, 2015

What is your favorite #EdTech Resource?

A recent post by Simon Helton in the ISTE Commons proposed an "Ed tech virtual gift exchange: share your favorite tool or resource." After a bit of reflection, I realized that I don't know that I have a single favorite resource. I use a variety of resources and I love trying something different with my students whenever I get a chance to experiment.
I decided to share my current favorites in 6 categories we use to do most of our coaching. If you ask me the same question next week, I might have a completely different set of choices . . . Stay tuned.  (Many of these tools can be applied across multiple categories, so take the labels with a bit of skepticism.)

    • Collaboration: Google Drive 
      (Suite of resources to collaboratively create Documents, Presentations, Drawings, and much more.)
    • Communication: Remind 
      (Remind (formerly Remind101) is a safe, free way for teachers to text message students and keep in touch with parents.)
    • Creativity: Thinglink 
      (Annotate image and video content with notes and rich media links.)
    • Critical Thinking: TEDEd 
      (Build a lesson around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk or YouTube video.)
    • Curiosity: Wonderopolis 
      (Check out a wonder of the day.)
    • Assessment: Formative 
      (Formative runs on any internet connected device and is optimized for an 1:1, BYOD, flipped or blended classroom.)
If you want a few more here is our full resource site built with the help of my PLN: Recharge Learning
Last year we stopped sending out emails with weekly tips and instead asked interested staff to subscribe to this collaborative blog: Teaching and Learning
Recently we've also started sharing a Chrome Extension of the week with staff on our Instructional Tech Page. Bitmoji was quite a hit during finals week. 
What are your favorite instructional technology tools or resources? 
Please share your favorite #EdTech Tool or Resource in the comments below!

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

RawShorts - Create Animated Video Presentations

Create short animated video presentations using RawShort's cloud based video maker.  It is a free online tool to create a professional presentation video.  There are many templates to use and graphics available.  Videos can easily be uploaded to Youtube. 

To get started, create an account and then choose the free template option on the left side of the page to view pre-made options or begin with a blank template to create your own design.  Name the design and launch the video builder.  Use options to add backgrounds, images, text and other features.  Videos include just five slides - keeping to the concept of creating SHORT presentations.  When complete, save and share your videos to social media or upload to Youtube.  Free accounts offer storage of 25MB and max resolution of 480SD.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bitmoji Chrome Extension - Creative Communication

What is Bitmoji?
Bitmoji is your own personal emoji creator. That you can use right from your keyboard! Create an expressive cartoon avatar. Choose from a growing library of moods and stickers – featuring YOU!
How can these be used?
The Bitmoji Chrome extension works directly on many websites. Bitmojis can also be downloaded and inserted into most digital resources for display or printing. The extension is also directly compatible with Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, most email programs, and just about anywhere you might communicate on the web. You can insert Bitmojis as you type, or drag and drop your character into comments and posts.

Bitmoji in Education
  • Digital Badges
  • Student Projects
  • Awards
  • Feedback
  • Twitter Avatars
  • Digital or Print Classroom Signage
  • Online Posts
  • Google Docs
  • Presentations
I would not recommend that younger students use Bitmoji on their own. While most of the Bitmojis are pretty tame, there are a handful of created avatar poses that involve alcohol or mildly inappropriate suggestions.

Installing the Chrome Extension
1. Click here to access the extension in the Chrome Webstore.
2. Click on Add to Chrome and then Add extension in the pop-up.
3. The extension icon will appear in the top right of your browser window, and a sign-up screen will appear.
4. If you already have a bitmoji account you can log in. If you don't, click Sign Up with Email.
5. If you've used Bistrips in the past, you can retrieve the avatar from Facebook. Otherwise, skip this step, and you can create your avatar from scratch. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your avatar.
6. After choosing your avatar features, click on Save Avatar. (You can change your avatar and outfit at any time.)
7. Click on the bitmoji icon, and a window will open that allows you to Edit your Emoji, search by keyword, or browse the categories.
8. When you click on the Bitmoji extension icon you can drag and drop bitmojis onto compatible sites, or right-click to save them to your device, or right-click to copy / paste them.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Search Better in Google Drive

Google Drive has always had some nice search features, but a recent update has made these features more accessible and easier to use. 

A month ago we shared some Google Drive Advanced Search Tips and Tricks. These advanced features still work, but the new search experience is much cleaner and user friendly. 

Here is part of a recent post from Google about these awesome changes:

When you store important files in Google Drive they’re not only safe, they’re accessible from any device. Finding these files again from any device should be super easy, so we’re rolling out a new search experience to get you better results — even faster.

Drive lets you search across all your files, regardless of the device they came from. To make that easier, you can use these new ways to find your files:
  • Narrow your search to a file type from the search box on Android, iOS, and the web.
  • Open advanced search instantly from the search box.
  • Access recent files or search Drive from the home screen using 3D Touch on iOS. 
  • Search Drive using the iOS search bar without opening the Drive app.
Link to Google Post

Drive always had an advanced search menu, but the new menu is much cleaner and easier. Here is a quick summary of the advanced search features. Search by: 
  • File Type (Image, PDFs, Text documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Audio, Videos, Archive(zip), Drawings, and Folders) - Love the folder option!
  • Date Modified (Choose ranges or a specific day) - Great to look for a specific day!
  • Name (Enter a term that matches part of the file name)
  • Keywords (Enter words found in the file)
  • Owner (Owned by me, Not owned by me, Specific person...)
  • Shared with (Enter a name or email address . . . )
  • Located in (Anywhere, Starred, or Trash) - Would be nice if this drop down included "Shared with me" and Recent"? 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Awesome Shortcuts for Sharing Google Docs (Copy or Preview)

Google Classroom is a great resource to share Google files with students or other teachers. Google Classroom allows you to quickly share viewable or editable documents. You can also have Google Classroom make a copy for each student enrolled in your classroom. Google classroom only supports this sharing for students and teachers enrolled in your classroom.

Sometimes you need to share a document outside of Google Classroom. The sharing options in Google Docs allow you to share a document directly with anyone. You can get a link that allows you to share a document as "Anyone Can view", "Anyone Can Comment", or "Anyone Can Edit". You can also share with specific users. Click here to learn more about Google sharing settings.

There are also several shortcuts that allow the owner of a document to have anyone who clicks on the link to either make a copy or preview the document.

Here's how you can force a copy or preview of a Google Document.
1. Make sure the document is not private. It must be a viewable document,
2. Click on the Share and the shareable link will appear in a popup window. If you copy the link it will look like this:
3. If you want to share the link and force users to make a copy, you just need to modify the shareable link. Delete the end of the link up to the forward slash (/). Then type the word copy at the end of the link so that it looks like this:
4. You can do the same thing if you just want them to see a preview of the document in their browser without the Google Drive menu bar. This would look like this:
5. Google Slides allows you to share presentations that open automatically in the Presentation View. Simply replace the end of the sharing url with the word present. It would look like this:
6. Share the link in an email or on a website. You can even use a URL shortener with the link to get the same results.

Click on each of the links above to see the different options.
Here is a quick screenshot of the process. Let us know if you have any questions or additional shortcuts in the comments below.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Chrome Extension of the Week - Screencastify
Screencastify is a great video screen capture extension for Chrome that gives you the power to create videos for your classroom. Teachers can use Screencastify to flip their classrooms or share pertinent information with students and parents. Students can also use Screencastify to produce digital presentations. Screencastify is easy to use, and with one click, you can save your video to the Google Drive and YouTube.

Click here to install the extension and watch the included video in order to learn how to get and use Screencastify.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Study Smarter, Not Harder - Resources for Students

Exams may be just around the corner, so here are a few resources to help you organize, prioritize, and prepare for just about any assessment. 

Tips for Studying Smarter, Not Harder
Digital Tools to Support Individual and Collaborative Studying
  • Concept and Vocabulary Review - Quizlet
    Start with flash cards. Students can make their own, or choose from millions of flashcards sets created by others. Students can use several study modes including multiple choice tests and study games.
  • Collaboration - Google+ Communities Students create online study groups in Google+ Communities. Students can create private communities to share resources and have discussions.
  • Organization - Google Keep Create and share notes. Create checklists and reminders.
  • Video Concepts - Khan Academy and Learning Bird Video lessons to support math, art, computer programming, economics, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, finance, history, and more.
Video Resources
Additional Resources

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Google Search Tips you Probably Didn't Know About

I recently saw a post by The Gooru with a list of Google Search tricks that I didn't know about.  Here are a few that I thought I would pass along.....

  • Timer:  if you search "timer,"  you can pull up Google's timer, set it to how long you want.
  • Flights:  Looking for flights?  Just search "flights to_____" and google will bring you up available flight times as well as links to the airlines for easy booking.  Unlike other flight booking sites, google connects you directly to the airline and does not charge you a fee.
  • Graphing Calculator:  Google can now graph any function entered into the search bar as long as your enter graph before the function.
  • Comparisons:  looking for the difference between iPhone and Android?  Or the nutritional facts of a Sweet Potato and a Red potato?  Enter in the two options with "vs" in between and see a side by side comparison of the two items.
  • Can't remember all the words to what you are looking for?  Just substitute an * for the words you don't know.  Google will find terms that match the phrase using asterisks as variables.