Right place at the right time. The place was Edcamp Palm Springs. The time was a session on video in the classroom led by Jessica Pack. This perfect moment pushed me to provide opportunities for students to use video in their projects.
Since my students have Chromebooks, I decided to use Google Slides to design content and screencasting extensions to record video. Google Slides is a very versatile image and text editing tool and I spent a lot of time throughout the year teaching my students how to use it effectively. In order to make our slide decks into video, I used screencasting tools for Google Chrome. The two best options are Screencastify or Snagit’s screen clipping app and extension. Both products have many of the same features, but Screencastify allows students to include their faces when creating video projects. Both of them work by clicking on the extension and then pressing the record button. Students can record a single tab or the whole screen.
One of the first projects my students completed was a screencast of a Google Slide presentation. Throughout the year my students worked in collaborative groups to create a slide deck to present to the class on a topic the class was studying. Unfortunately, this meant that students had to furiously take notes while the speakers presented. When we turned this assignment into a screen cast, the speakers could work on writing carefully worded scripts and the audience could pause and rewind the content as needed.
Next, I had my students create a Public Service Announcement after a unit on brain research. Students were required to come up with advice for fellow teenagers on how to use technology responsibly using the information my students had learned about the brain. Again, slides was an excellent resource for creating the visuals for the unit. While I usually tell students to stay away from animations in live presentations, many of the animations worked out well on a screencast. Students also had to think through how to create visuals to supplement what they had learned.
Finally, my 8th grade students had to create a children’s book for a performance task after completing a unit on Frederick Douglas. The book had to adapt an episode from his autobiography and turn it into a powerful narrative for fifth graders. After completing the books I wanted the students to share them with a wider audience and add a personal touch beyond the text. I decided to have them create an audio-visual book by screencasting themselves reading their book. Since the book was created in slides, all they had to do was record themselves reading the book while turning the pages. We could then share the links to the videos with one of our feeder elementary schools.
In the future, I would like students to create tutorials on how to use common web tools as a resource for other students. Screencasting can also be a great way to share Genius Hour projects with a wider audience. If it is on the screen, students can create a video project with it.
I am middle school teacher in Beaumont, CA. In 2014 I was the California League of Middle Schools State Educator of the Year. I have a passion for inspiring students to love reading, writing, discussing, and presenting. I do my best to incorporate technology into the classroom in a way that amplifies my instruction and engages students.