Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Presentation Tools to Use This Year

Allowing Audience Questioning in Google Slides
Google slides has a nice feature that allows the audience to ask questions while the speaker is presenting. This is a nice feature because it adds to audience engagement as they can non only ask questions, but "vote" for questions pop up in the question feed that the presenter can respond to based on popularity or interest.

After clicking "Present" select "Presenter View" in the lower left hand corner. 

When this prompt comes, select "Start Now"

Viewers will see questions which can be posted with identify or anonymously. 

Teachers can respond to questions as needed. 

Air Server and Air Play to Present from the Ipad
Gone are they days when plugging the Ipad into the dongle and being forced to present from the projection cable. Air Server allows you to mirror the Ipad on your computer which can be plugged in, but allow you to roam around the room and interact with the audience.

After installing on both your computer and Ipad, scan QR Code to sync devices.

After enabling at the bottom of your Ipad, you're free to roam around the class and teach!

Splashtop to Control your Desktop from Mobile Device
Splashtop allows you to control your desktop from your mobile device. After installing it on your Ipad, go to the splashtop website and install the software onto your computer.
When Splashtop is activated, it will look for computers that have it installed. 

Controlling the computer from the mobile device.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Search for Free to Use Music in "Youtube"

I've been working on a highlights video for our Grade 6 Experiential Education trip that we did last week and no matter how many free sound effects Final Cut has, and were searchable on Creative Commons and Soundcloud, my video was lacking some great music that the kids would appreciate.

Youtube's Free Use Audio Library

Click on your channel in the upper left corner and select "Video Manager"
To access the free use audio library in youtube, you'll have to dig deep. After going to your channel click on the upper left and find your video manager. From that, go to creator studio and go down to the audio library and music policies tab. From here you can search youtube's data base from their audio library and find information about which songs are "ok" to use.

The audio library shows songs that are popular and what their use policy is on youtube.

For instance, if I want to know if you can use the song "This is what you came for" by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, youtube shows you that it will be blocked in 244 countries, so "no". However, Justin Bieber's "Sorry" will be fine everywhere except Germany. 

This is a fantastic place to search for and find easy to use music that even students can understand. I was told that this feature has been available for over a year and a few people in our tech department have just learned about this. Isn't that the case with all things Edtech?

Related Posts

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Giving Descriptive Feedback with Screencasts and Google Analytics

How do teachers know students are using the feedback we give them? This is THE question that many teachers struggle with (and pull their hair out over) when hours of work is spent grading essays, labs with annotation and notes with the occasional student not making suggested edits, forcing you to mention it AGAIN.

This pattern may seem familiar to the English, Social Studies or Science teacher and one wonders if there is a more efficient way of giving students feedback to guide their learning. Talking can be done faster than writing, so it's no wonder teachers are starting to use tools like Kaizena and Doctopus to breeze through giving oral feedback on a piece of digital writing. The hangup I've always had with voice over comments is that sometimes they may not be linked to a very specific section of text like a sentence or paragraph, so screencasts can come in very handy here as you can highlight sections visually.

The Screencastify Extension on Google Chrome

Screencasts as Feedback
I recently saw a very creative way of using Screencasts to do this. Typically, screencasts are used to create user "how to guides" although the way one teacher taught me to use them is with Screencastify which allows for easy uploads to youtube. Although "Quicktime" does the same, I think Screencastify does this easier with giving easier options to make videos "unlisted". After giving feedback through a screencast, a teacher can post a comment as the unlisted Youtube URL.

What an "Unlisted" Video Is
Unlisted videos can't be searched for, but can show up on playlists. From a general education teacher this is nice, as you can upload the video to your domains youtube playlist but the catch is that by putting the video link as a comment on a Google Doc, only the student that has access to the document can access the link.

A snapshot of uploaded screencast from the "youtube" video manager page.

"Checking" for Student Viewing
Here's where it gets cool. Looking at the playlist I can tell which students have watched their videos and which ones haven't. This is nice as I might need to provide some time in the beginning of class to some students who have not taken the time to look and listen to these comments and the analytics page shows watch time. When students have "taken in" the lessons provided, you can delete the video from the Video Manager.

Looking above, I know which watched the feedback I have provided for them. 

Related Posts
The Power of Screencasts (and the tools to do them) 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Resources for Podcasting with Garageband

Podcasts are great way of combining multiple audio tracks and layering one on top of another for an immersive experience. I was asked to do teach a lesson on podcasting for our Juniors in English Class and created some resources that I'd thought I'd share.

Project Rubric and Lesson Plans
Podcasting supported a number of Common Core and NETS standards, and here is an early draft of our project rubric and lesson plan for reference.

The "Garage Band" Dashboard for mixing Audio Tracks

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Teaching Green Screen Skills for Interpretation, Modelling, and Analysis

My students have just finished presenting weather reports for our "Weather and Climate" unit and three "Green Screen" studios in our school helped create a piece of student work that involved writing, reading and speaking. Before I get to the tech side of things, I want to say it was the curriculum that chose the tools.

  • Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

If the verbage of the standards asks students to develop, and whenever students must model, or interpret, public presentations allow students to present their learning in a way that is authentic and applied. I wanted students to interpret some screencasts of local weather and with that as a background, apply, interpret and describe what is happening using background knowledge used in our formative assessments.

Step 1-Recording Background Screencasts
I started with teaching students how to do screen recordings. My students had some experience using
quicktime and screencastify but it was important to have the "base screen" which was the background for which students would interpret. I directed them to a number of weather websites that have live feeds and the students recorded a few minutes at a time.

Quicktime allows a student to record backgrounds to interpret

Step 2-Writing a Script
The script was the writing piece which was assessed and improved through multiple stages of drafting. The project rubric and outline was provided, but the script hinged on the screencast that students recorded and were able to understand with their background of atmospheric heating.

Step 3-Recording With a Greenscreen
What a "Green screen" back ground allows the user to do is to have a subject in the foreground, (usually a person) with a background that will be deleted so that the speaker will be superimposed over the image or video background. (Think your local weather forecast). Schedule different times for groups to access different rooms and tell them to be succinct with their times.

A greenscreen can be painted, or a green sheet. Lighting is optimal. 
Step 4-Overlaying in "IMovie"
My students were "Imovie" ninjas following the work that we did in the fall semester, but even if you and your kids are not, it's super easy. Import media recordings to your "Imovie" media. Start with the screencast as the base foundation and then drag the greenscreen overlay to the place where you want the screencast to pop up in the background. When you drag that over, there will be a double rectangle that appears and you can select "blue-green screen" to cut out the background.

In "IMovie" you can overlay screencasted backgrounds and video recorded 
Notice the square and the drop down description of "Green/Blue Screen"

Step 5-Finished Work
As students finished, the students had a viewing party and gave peer feedback to one another on their projects which were uploaded to their blogs and websites. Overall, it was a great project and one of my student's most memorable ones of the year. See this finished product below!


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Amazing Race comes to Education!

I just concluded a unit on "Weather and Climate" using a number of tools from the Google Apps suite and the theme of the TV show, "The Amazing Race". This was an idea first shared by Wesley Przybylski and further developed in conjunction with our IT integrationist, Richard Poth. I had never used a collection so integrated and seamless and work flow was a breeze. If you're not familiar with the amazing race, teams travel around the world to find clues to take them to another and another until they finish one leg of the race.

As gamification increasingly comes into education, I thought this would be a nice way of combining learning, geography and individual and team competition in a way that is fun and exciting. As I'm a science teacher, students would start the race, conduct and experiment along the way. At the end of the lesson, they would "finish" but submitting an assignment or completing a formative assessment in the form of an exit interview that was non-graded, but gave them feedback to help them reflect on their learning.

The Starting Line-Google Forms and Autocrat
Good instructional practices always start with articulating learning objectives. The start was a Google Form that when filled out, would generate an automated email with a document that had the key vocabulary and learning objectives. To see how it works, try filling out your own form here. Below is a document with merge tags shown by << and >>. When responses trickle in, autocrat can send out a personalized document (in this case below, I only had the name). To help manage my workflow, I created folders in GDrive and just made copies for new forms and new investigations.

The document with merge tags that each student receives to start their race. 

Enter Google Maps for Content
As you can see from the document below, there is a Map Link. Google maps have great versatility for a number of projects, but since my unit was so based on Geography, having maps for students to explore and learn about content was key. I could use place markers for students to click on to take them to places and learn along the way. Students usually spent about 15 minutes reading and taking notes on their maps prior to labs and inquiry based investigations in science.

Labs: Getting Googely With Doctopus and Google Classroom
Google classroom is a great file management system that's only a couple years old and Doctopus is a grading app that allows teachers to systematically give feedback on assignments. Although Google classroom is replacing SOME aspects of Doctopus, I still like Doctopus for group labs in science. If you share out assignments with Google classroom, Doctopus can "Ingest" an assignment for rubriced assessment. Here is Oliver Trussel giving a demo on how to do so. (On a side note, Oliver Trussel developed the add on "Super Quiz" which you should check out when you have the chance.)

The Finish Line-Flubroo Grading in Real Time
Students submitted lab through Google classroom or doctopus, but we also finished with exit tickets. Flubaroo has a feature that allows students to do a exit questionnaire and get results sent to their gmail box for feedback in real time.
After installing flubaroo, go to advanced features and "enable autograde". 

Data Amalgamation and Automation
As the race covered a number of investigations that were on different forms or spreadsheets, it was essential to have them all on one master spreadsheet for adding up points and analysis. Responses on one spreadsheet can be pushed into another spreadsheet and I created tabs from each investigation. The final tab at the bottom, "all data" compiled point values from each tab or spreadsheet into one master spreadsheet that could easily be added up and a final report (see this autocrat example) was sent out at the end as a certificate of completion.

The index function and match would push data and match scores from one sheet to another. 

Point values from each investigation. Notice the tabs at the bottom from each investigation. 

The "Import Range" function could take spreadsheet data from one sheet and push it to another. 

Putting this Into Practice
Although there was a lot of automation for this project, this did not replace good teaching. For instance, there was a lot of resources on the map, but unless students read the clues carefully, they could get "off topic". Because of this, I had to meet with some students to help them focus and also use warm ups to reteach and debrief misconceptions that were shown in exit interviews. Many college level classes and MOOCs are built on automation such as the amazing race, but I think it lends itself better to older students that are better at self monitoring.