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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Using Brush Ninja and Screencastify to Make Science Presentations

This week I had the opportunity to work in an eighth grade science class. I was there to help their teacher help them learn new ways to make presentations. The topic of their presentations was "forms of energy." That topic lends itself to having students making illustrative animations. In this case I taught the students how to use Brush Ninja to make animated GIFs that they then inserted into Google Slides. Click here for video directions on how to use Brush Ninja.


After making their animations of forms of energy the students inserted them into Google Slides. Those animated GIFs were positioned to take up about half of a slide. Once the animations were in the slides we moved onto using Screencastify on their Chromebooks.

The students used Screencastify to record short, 15 to 30 seconds, videos in which they gave explanations of the concept that their animations illustrated. Screencastify automatically saved their videos into their Google Drives. Then they were able to insert their videos into their Google Slides right next to their animations. My sample slide is embedded below (the students did a better job, but I didn't get permission to share their work on this blog).


If you'd like to have me work with teachers at your school, please get in touch with me here.

Recap is Shutting Down

Swivl has announced that they are shutting down their Recap service and replacing it with a new podcasting service called Synth. Once a competitor to Flipgrid, Recap just didn't experience the popularity that Flipgrid does.

Recap will be shut down in January of 2019. That gives you about ten weeks to find an alternative. You could start using Flipgrid. You could also try using the video features that are now included in Padlet.

 Here's an overview of how to use Flipgrid.



Here's an overview of how you can use Padlet.

Synth - Quickly Record Short, Interactive Podcasts

Synth is a new service from Swivl. Synth is a free service that you can use to record short podcast episodes that are up to 256 seconds long. When you record your episode you post it publicly for others to listen to and record spoken responses. In that way it is somewhat like VoiceThread without pictures. But Synth will automatically transcribe your spoken words and display the transcript when your recording is played.

Synth has a public gallery of recordings that people have made. You can also have your own small channel of your recordings. All recordings can be embedded into blog posts and web pages. Listen to my first recording as embedded below or click here to listen and reply to it.


You can learn more about Synth by listening to this introduction to the service.

Applications for Education
Synth was designed for use in education. In fact, the developers have a list of seven ways to use Synth education. That list includes making audio exit tickets, language practice and feedback, and presenting evidence of thinking. Check out the public gallery of Synths to listen to other teachers share their thoughts about how Synth could be used in their classrooms.

You can use Synth on your iPad, iPhone, or in the web browser on your computer.

More Halloween Science and Math Lessons

Last week I shared a handful of Halloween-themed math and science activities. PBS Learning Media also has a collection of Halloween-themed science and mathematics lessons. PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection includes lessons that can be used in elementary school, middle school, and high school classrooms.

One of the elementary school Halloween-themed lessons is all about the historical traditions that contributed to the creation of Halloween. The materials for this lesson include a short video, video discussion questions, and a vocabulary sheet.

The middle school and high school resources in PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection are videos without any other supporting materials. In the collection you'll find videos about why things sound scary, flesh-eating beetles, and supernatural elements in Macbeth.

All of the items in PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection can be shared to Google Classroom where you can add questions for students answer after watching the videos.