Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Updated - Screencasting on Chromebooks - Built-in Tool vs. Third-party Tools

Back in June Google introduced a new screencasting tool for Chromebooks. Back then I wrote a comparison of the Chrome OS screencast tool and some others that are available to use on Chromebooks. Since then Screencastify has changed their free plan and Flipgrid has been renamed as Microsoft Flip. So I think it's time that I publish an updated overview of the screencasting tools available for use on Chromebooks. 

Chrome OS Built-in Recorder
The obvious benefit of using the built-in recorder is that you don't have install any third-party extensions. Additionally, your recordings automatically save to your Google Drive. And because the video is saved in your Google account, it is incredibly easy to share your videos with your students. The best aspect of the built-in Chrome OS screencasting tool is that your video is automatically transcribed for you and your students can have that transcript translated into the language of their choice. 

The shortcomings of the Chrome OS screencast recorder are the limited drawing tools and limited editing tools. It will probably get better in time, but right now it doesn't have nearly as many drawing and editing options as other screencasting tools like Screencastify and Loom. 


Screencastify
Screencastify was one of the first screencasting tools developed specifically for Chromebooks (it should be noted that it can work on any computer running the Chrome web browser). Over the years it has improved in leaps and bounds. Today, Screencastify offers more than just a tool for recording a video of your screen. It offers a complete video editing platform. 

With Screencastify you can record your screen, use a wide variety of drawing and zoom tools, and edit your recordings in your web browser. Recordings can be automatically saved to your Google Drive account, downloaded as MP4 files, and shared to other services including Google Classroom, YouTube, and EDpuzzle. 

The editing tools in Screencastify include cropping, splitting, and merging clips. It also provides tools for blurring faces and objects in your videos. Finally, you can use Screencastify to build must-answer questions into your videos before you share them with your students. 

It should be noted that on October 3, 2022 Screencastify introduced some severe limitations to the features mentioned above for those who are using Screencastify's free plan. Those limitations include a limit of having only ten videos in your account, a limit of only 30 minutes of export time (the total amount of video that you download from your account), and videos can't be exported as MP4 files. Those limitations make Screencastify's free plan not nearly as a good an option as the Chrome OS screen recorder or Loom's free plan for educators. 

Loom
Loom is a popular screencasting tool partly because they offer a generous list of free features for teachers and because those features work really well. Perhaps my favorite of those features is the ability to record a screencast directly from your Gmail inbox or from anywhere else in your Chrome browser. Loom also offers automatic transcript generation, viewing insights (get notifications when people watch your videos), and a tool for suppressing background noise in your recordings

Loom lets you download your recordings and MP4 files and share your videos directly to variety of places including YouTube. 

Here's a demo of how I used Loom and Google Jamboard to make whiteboard videos. 

Microsoft Flip
Although it's known for it, Microsoft Flip does offer a convenient screencast recording tool. It doesn't include a capability to draw on the screen while recording, but it is easy to use and easy to share your recordings with your students. You can also combine a screencast with a simple webcam video or whiteboard video that you make in Flip. Here's a demonstration of how to make a whiteboard video in Microsoft Flip. If you want to know more about Flip's other uses, take a look at this playlist of videos

Creative Storm - A Student Video Contest

Creative Storm 2022 is the title of the latest Next Vista for Learning video contest. Like previous Next Vista contests, this one is open to students and teachers. There is a category for student-produced videos, a category for teacher-produced videos, and a category for videos created through the collaborative efforts of teachers and students. Regardless of the category, all videos must teach a lesson in 90 seconds or less. The lesson can be about almost any concept a person would learn about in elementary, middle, or high school.

Entries into Next Vista's Creative Storm video contest must be received by December 16th. There is a small bonus for those who submit their entries by November 18th. Contest winners receive Amazon gift cards and the pride of showcasing their videos for a larger audience. Complete contest rules and instructions can be read here

Take a look at this video made by a Kindergarten class or any of the previous contest's finalists here for some inspiration.

And for some ideas and instruction on making videos take a look at Creating Animated Explanations

Monday, October 3, 2022

The DMCA Scam Returns in the Form of Nationwide Legal Services

As you may recall, last spring I unravelled a scam in which someone pretending to be an attorney sent out phony DMCA takedown notices. That scam was centered around a website that pretended to be the law firm of Arthur Davidson Legal. Eventually, that website was suspended by its web hosting company. Well it appears that scam has popped-up again. This time in the form of a website that pretends to be the law firm of Nationwide Legal in Austin, Texas. 

Over the weekend I got an email from someone pretending to be a trademark attorney with the law firm of Nationwide Legal. I won't link to it, but you can find it at nationwidelaw (dot) org. The email had all of the same tell-tale signs of being a fraud as the previous scam that employed a website pretending to be the law firm of Arthur Davidson. Those signs include not actually addressing me by name and not asking for anything other than a link to some shady website. Take a look at the screenshot of the email below and see what other signs of a scam you can spot. 


Other signs of the scam:

When I went to the website, I found the picture of the person who pretends to be "Alicia Weber, Trademark Attorney." I then did a reverse image search of her picture and found that she also goes by the name of Maria and is a professor of history at MetaTeaching and appears on dozens of other websites. 

A variation on the same attorney website domain has already been suspended by its host. And once I report this one to its hosting company, I'm sure it will also be suspended. 

The lessons!

1. If you get an email from someone claiming to be an attorney, don't believe it if they can't even bother to address you by name. 

2. Don't be a sleazy, lazy scammer.

Using Focusable as a Progress Journal

Disclosure: Focusable is an advertiser on my websites.

About a month ago I started using Focusable to help me focus on my work even when I really didn’t want to. That includes working on a particularly frustrating project that I have to get done. The project is rebuilding my Practical Ed Tech website from the ground up. That includes rebuilding and or editing some databases and doing a lot of quality assurance checks. The work is rather tedious, frustrating, and something I’d just pay someone else to do if I could.

I started using Focusable to help me focus on the work of rebuilding my Practical Ed Tech website. It has helped a lot! I’ve gotten more done in the last few weeks than I did all summer. Last week while recording my reflection in between time blocks in Focusable I realized that I was journaling my progress. In each reflection I was stating what I had just tried and what I was going to try next.

When I start to work on my project again today after a weekend away from it, I’ll watch my last Focusable reflection video to remind myself of where I was when I stopped and where I need to start the next step of the project.

Applications for Education
Focusable was built for the purpose of helping students learn how to focus on their work while ignoring distractions. An ancillary benefit of using Focusable is creating a little journal to document progress on a project. If you give students a little direction like “state what worked and what didn’t,” they can use Focusable to develop the skill of focusing while also documenting their progress on a project. You can then use your Focusable teacher account to view your students’ progress.

See A Great Tool to Help Students Learn to Focus for a complete overview of how Focusable works.

Webinar This Week - Search Strategies Students Need to Know

Many students will spend just a minute or two looking at search results before declaring, "Google has nothing on this." If you have ever had a student say that to you, you know that they think of search as a function and not a process. In a webinar this Thursday I'll teach you how to get students to approach search as a process and employ a variety of strategies to discover new information. 

During Search Strategies Students Need to Know on October 6th at 4pm ET you’ll learn the tools and strategies that students need to know to conduct good online research. Register Here!



Highlights of this webinar include:
➡ How to formulate search lessons for your students.
🔎 The alternative search tools students often overlook.
🔖 Tools and tips for organizing online research findings.
🏫 How to make your own school-safe search engine.
🤔 Why you should be on a first-name basis with your school’s librarian.

Join Live or Watch the Recording!
The live webinar is at 4pm ET on October 6th. It will be recorded for those who register in advance but cannot attend the live session. Register here!

Physical Education With a Halloween Theme

Justin Cahill runs a great blog called Keeping Kids in Motion. One of the regular features of his blog is a monthly thematic challenge. Those challenges are accompanied by printable calendars and handouts for teachers. The challenges for this month are Trick or Treat, Move Your Feet, The Pumpkin Dice Latte Challenge, and The Fitness Spooktacle.

Trick or Treat, Move Your Feet is a kids fitness challenge for the month of October (adults can do it too). There is a downloadable calendar of little workouts that you can do with your students throughout the month of October. Each workout is represented by either a jack-o-lantern, a skull, or a bat.

When students complete the Fitness is Spooktacular challenge they can receive a certificate. Certificates are available for teachers to download and print for free from the Keeping Kids in Motion blog.

Applications for Education
Keeping Kids in Motion is a blog that's great for elementary school physical education teachers as well as anyone who is looking for ideas on how to encourage kids to stay physically fit. The blog is full of ideas that can be implemented across a school and not just in the gym.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Science of Pizza, Diets, and the Esophagus

Last week two of my favorite YouTube channels, TED-Ed and SciShow Kids, published new videos on the topics of food and weight loss. And those videos reminded me of the Reactions playlist of 76 videos about food science including Better Pizza Through Chemistry. Between the three videos there are lessons for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. 

In How Does Food Get to Our Stomach and More Answers to Your Questions SciShow Kids explains to primary grade students the role of the esophagus in getting food into our stomachs. The video also explains the difference between the esophagus and the trachea and what it means when we say "something went down the wrong tube." Jump to the 3:03 mark in the video for the lesson. 



Is It Possible to Lose Weight Fast? is a new TED-Ed lesson that explains the basic concept of weight loss and what happens in your body when you have a calorie deficit. The video gives a scientific explanation of why just having a calorie deficit or using a "detoxification" diet in which you entirely avoid certain types of foods don't work in the long run. Unlike some TED-Ed lessons, this one has some good questions to support your use of the video in your classroom.



Like a lot of families, every few Friday nights is pizza night in our house. As you can see in the picture in this post, even our cat gets in on the fun. And try as we might, we just can't make pizza that turns out as well as pizza from a local pizza restaurant. But that could change if we utilize some of the tips in the Reactions video titled Better Pizza Through Chemistry. The video does a nice job of explaining the science of making a good pizza dough including why we need to give it more time to rise and need to bake it at a much higher temperature.

Join Me and Rushton Hurley This Tuesday Evening for a Free Webinar

On Tuesday, October 4th at 8pm ET/ 4pm PT Rushton Hurley and I will be hosting the second episode of our third season of Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. Just like the title says we take questions, answer questions, and share some cool stuff that we've found around the web. We'd love to have you join us for this fun and free half-hour webinar. You can register here to join us live

If you have a question for us, send it to me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or just join us live and drop your question into the chat. And to see what our little webinars are all about, watch the recording of the first episode of season three

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Videos, Writing, and Pictures - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where it was a beautiful autumn day. My kids had soccer practice, we rode our bikes, and I mowed the lawn for what was hopefully the last time this year. And before bedtime tonight we have to get ready for my youngest daughter's birthday party that we're hosting tomorrow. It should be a fun day. I hope that you have had a good weekend so far. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Updated Big List of Tools for a Variety of Classroom Video Projects
2. The Writer's Workshop - 29 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing
3. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
4. How to Find TED-Ed Lessons by Grade Level
5. My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students
6. A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects
7. Five Time-saving Ways for Teachers to Use Technology

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 43,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

An October Video Project - Halloween Safety

Halloween is thirty days away. My kids have been planning their costumes since last November or so it seems because they're very excited about it. Last fall I shared a list of Halloween-themed activities and resources. In that list I included playing a Halloween safety review game from Kahoot. Keeping with the idea of Halloween safety, consider having students create a short video about trick o' treat safety. 

There are a lot of tools and ways that student could create a short video about trick o' treating safety. They could make a quick one-take video in Microsoft Flip in which they share a Halloween safety tip. Another option is to use Adobe Express to make a little audio slideshow about Halloween safety. And my favorite option would be to use Canva's video editor to make a little animated video about Halloween safety. 

A quick search for "Halloween" in Canva will provide you with templates for making Halloween-themed videos and lots of Halloween-themed animated GIFs and drawings. Here's a demonstration of how to create an animated video by using Canva's video editor. 



Applications for Education
Making Halloween safety videos could be a good way for elementary school students to show what they know about being safe on this fun day. Creating Halloween safety videos could also be a good exercise for middle school and high school students to do to practice video editing skills while creating PSA-style videos for younger kids. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

September's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on the week and on the month of September, 2022. I don't know about you, but for me the month seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. My oldest daughter started Kindergarten, I hosted a bunch of webinars, and tried to enjoy some cool autumn evenings. I hope that the first full month of the 2022-23 school year went well for you. 

As I mentioned above, I hosted a bunch of professional development webinars in September. I'd be happy to host one for your school or library. I'm also have some limited availability for in-person events this year. Please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about those opportunities. 

At the end of every month I take a look at my Google Analytics account to find the most popular posts of the month. Take a look and see if there's something interesting that you missed in September. 

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
2. My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students
3. Quizalize Games - Turn Any Quiz Into an Epic Game
4. A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects
5. Two Tips to Make Chrome Run a Little Faster
6. A Free STEM Toolkit for Librarians
7. A Short Overview of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine - And How I Use It
8. 5 Little Things You Can Do To Improve Your Videos
9. How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom
10. The Physics of Soccer Kicks

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 43,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Significant Changes to Screencastify's Free Plan Take Effect on Monday

Those of us who are using Screencastify's free plan will have some choices to make on Monday when the changes that Screencastify announced back in August take effect

What's Changing?

Starting on Monday, October 3rd Screencastify's free plan will limit you to having just ten videos in your account at a time. Previously, you could have as many videos as you wanted in your account as long as they were each less than five minutes. The new free plan limits you to ten videos, but the videos can now be up to 30 minutes. 

You can still export your videos, but not as MP4 files in the free plan which limits what you can do with the exported video file. So if you find that you bump up against the ten video limit, you can export one or delete one to get back under that limit. But bear in mind that Screencastify is also now limiting you to 30 minutes of export time in the free plan. That's a change from the previous unlimited export time. 

Screencastify vs. Chrome OS Screencasting

Screencastify built its reputation by being one of the first companies to offer a screencasting tool for Chromebooks. Then in June of this year Google added a screencasting tool to the Chrome operating system. In doing so it appears that Google is going after some of Screencastify's market share. 

The free version Screencastify still has more editing options than the Chrome OS screencasting tool. That said, if you don't need all of those options and just need some basic editing functions, the Chrome OS screencasting tool is probably going to be your better choice now because it offers unlimited video storage (via Google Drive). 

Five Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom

Thursday, September 29, 2022

A Quick Way to Check the Safety of Links

One of the best ways to protect your computer and network from malicious software is to simply avoid opening links that appear in your email from unfamiliar senders. Additionally, you should avoid clicking on links that you weren't expecting and those that just set off your spidey senses. When you do come across a link that you think might be okay, but you're not entirely sure it is okay, you can check its safety with Google's Transparency Report Site Status tool without having to open the link your computer. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Google's Transparency Report Site Status tool to check the safety of URLs. 



Applications for Education
Over the years I've helped countless colleagues and students with problems on their computers. The vast majority of those problems can be traced back to malware or spyware that was installed by clicking on nefarious links. Using a tool like Google Transparency Report Site Status can help students avoid accidentally installing malware. Of course, the bigger solution is to teach students to be wary of clicking on links that they don't expect or don't trust.

Grading Google Forms Short Answers Without Google Classroom

Last week I got an email from a reader who was looking for advice about grading short-answer questions in Google Forms. Specifically, the person wanted to know if there was a more efficient way to grade short-answer questions than tabbing through the "responses" pages. 

While you can have short-answers automatically graded for you in Google Forms, it only works if students write their answers exactly as you wrote the answer key. That doesn't work well if you are requiring students to write complete sentences in their own words. In those cases you have to manually grade your students' responses to your questions. When I'm not using Google Classroom I do that by having Google Forms generate a spreadsheet of responses for me. I can then grade students' responses in one long column and update the scores in one long column. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to grade short-answer questions in Google Forms when you're not using Google Classroom. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Five Time-saving Ways for Teachers to Use Technology

Making time for yourself is one of the things that I talk about in my new keynote presentation titled Using Tech to Bring Joy Into Your Teaching. There are many ways that technology can help you get more time for taking care of yourself and doing the things you enjoy outside of professional responsibilities. To that end, here are five time-saving ways to use technology so that you can have more time for yourself. 

Use Smart Replies
If you use Gmail or any G Suite-based email account, enable the Smart Replies function. Smart Replies will predict what you want to write in response to an email in your inbox. Using Smart Replies saves me ten to twenty seconds per reply. Taking an average of fifteen seconds per email for twenty messages in a day and you’ve gained five minutes. Watch this video to learn how to enable Smart Replies in your inbox.

Use Canned Responses
This is similar to using Smart Replies but instead of letting Google guess what you’re going to write, you actually create replies that you save for reuse at any time. This video will show you how to use Canned Responses in Gmail.

If you're an Outlook user, you can create canned responses to use to answer frequently asked questions in your email. Here's a good video overview of how to create and use canned responses in Outlook.

Give Quizzes in Google Forms or Microsoft Forms
If you have to give multiple choice or similar quizzes, use Google Forms or Microsoft Forms. Both will let you create a quiz that your students can take online and have grades automatically calculated for you. An overview of creating a quiz in Microsoft Forms can be watched here. A series of Google Forms tutorials can be seen in this playlist.

Use Scheduling in Your LMS of Choice 
Every popular LMS contains a scheduling tool that you can use to write up a list of assignments and have them distributed on a schedule over the course of a week or month.

Block Yourself from Social Media Sites 
Those times when we check Facebook for “just a minute” are never just a minute and they quickly suck time out of our days without adding much, if any, value to them. Use a Chrome extension like ReCall Study Time or Stay Focusd (intentionally misspelled) to limit the amount of time that you allow yourself to spend on social media sites. Better yet, teach yourself to ignore social media distractions by using Focusable

The 2022-23 Practical Ed Tech Handbook

Every year I publish an updated version of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook. This year it took me a bit longer than usual to get it done. That said, the 2022-23 version of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook is now available for free to anyone who is subscribed to The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter or who registers for it here

This year’s edition of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook has 58 pages divided into thirteen sections.

1. Communication with students and parents – page 5
2. Creating Blogs & Websites – page 9
3. Web search strategies – page 15
4. Digital citizenship – page 17
5. Video creation and flipped lessons – page 22
6. Audio recording and publishing – page 31
7. Backchannels and formative assessment – page 32
8. Digital portfolios – page 36
9. Augmented and Virtual Reality – page 38
10. Intro to Programming and Makerspaces – page 43
11. Accessibility Tools – page 48
12. DIY Game Creation – page 54
13. Helpful things that don’t fit into one category – page 56

You can get your free copy of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook when you subscribe to The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter right here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How to Find TED-Ed Lessons by Grade Level

Yesterday, I received an email from someone who saw my post about TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop. She was wondering if there is a way to search TED-Ed videos by grade level. That's not a function available on YouTube, but it is a function available on the TED-Ed lessons website. To sort TED-Ed lessons by grade level go to the TED-Ed lessons page then look about half-way down the page on the righthand side to find "filter by" and "sort by" settings. In the "filter by" drop-down menu you can choose elementary school, middle school, high school, or university. You can combine grade level sorting with sorting to find the oldest, newest, most watched, and least watched TED-Ed lessons.


Applications for Education

As TED-Ed's lesson database continues to grow, being able to sort by grade level will become more and more useful in our searches for content appropriate for our students.

A Student Video Contest for Economic Education Month

October is Economics Education Month and the Council for Economics Education is hosting a student video contest to promote student awareness of how economics is a part of their daily lives. 

The contest is open to students and teachers in the United States in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. To participate students and teachers should create short videos (under 60 seconds) that answer the question, "how is economics part of my everyday life?" There are three divisions in the contest. Those are K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. The teachers and students producing winning videos will receive prizes in the form of American Express gift cards. 

Other than the time limit it appears that the videos can be made in any style as long as they address the question of "how is economics part of my everyday life?" Multiple entries can be made by teachers on behalf of their students. The complete contest rules can be read here (link opens a PDF). The submission deadline is October 19th. 

If you're looking for ideas for how you and your students can produce videos for this contest, take a look at my recently updated big list of tools for classroom video projects

Monday, September 26, 2022

My Updated Big List of Tools for a Variety of Classroom Video Projects

Around this time last fall I published a big list of my go-to tools for creating videos with students. Since then some of the tools in the list were rebranded and or had some notable updates. This is my updated list of recommended video creation tools for classroom projects. 

By the way, I created the list because other than questions about Google Workspace tools, I get asked more questions about making videos than any other three topics combined. 

Video Reflections/ One-take Videos
These are videos that require minimal, if any, editing before publication. In this type of video creation activity teachers will pose a prompt to their students and their students will response with a short video statement. 

Microsoft Flip (formerly known as Flipgrid) is the best known of all platforms designed for students to record video responses to a teacher's prompt. Teachers can create online classrooms in which their students post short video responses. Teachers can moderate submissions before the rest of the class can see the videos. And teachers can use Microsoft Flip to give feedback directly to their students. There are many other features of Microsoft Flip that are worth noting and are included below in the section about whiteboard videos. Watch this video to learn the basics of Microsoft Flip. 



Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade for a wide variety of purposes including collecting short videos from students. Students can use the recording feature that is built into Padlet to record a short video and share it with the class. Here's a short overview of how to record videos in Padlet. 



Audio Slideshow Videos

Other than one-take videos, the audio slideshow style of video is probably the easiest of all video formats to create. It's also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to using it in classroom. For an audio slideshow project to be effective students first need to plan the sequence, find the best visuals, apply appropriate text (but not too much), and choose an appropriate soundtrack. If you want to take it a step further, you'll want students to create a script to narrate their videos. Here's an overview of attributes to look for when students create audio slideshow videos. 

Here are my top three choices for students to use to make audio slideshow videos. 

Adobe Express
Almost since its initial launch six years ago, Adobe Express (formerly known as Adobe Spark) has been my go-to recommendation for this style of video project. Adobe Express makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. Adobe Express limits the amount of narration that students can record on each slide within their videos. Adobe Express also includes a library of background music that students can have inserted into their videos. Finally, students can upload short audio clips to include in their audio slideshow video projects. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a video with Adobe Express.



Canva
Canva now offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva's full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video





Microsoft Photos
Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video with Microsoft Photos.



Google Photos
In Google Photos there is a section called "utilities." It is in the utilities section that you'll find the video creation tool. To use it all you need to do is select up to 50 pictures and or videos that you have stored in your Google Photos account. Google Photos will then automatically select display length for each image or video and automatically add background music to your video. If you don't like what was automatically selected for your video, you can manually adjust display length and choose different background music.

Watch this short video to learn how to make an audio slideshow video with Google Photos. 



Green Screen Videos

Making a green screen video can be a lot of fun for students and also a lot of fun for peers, parents, and teachers to watch. More than a decade after it was published I still occasionally refer to this video from Greg Kulowiec's middle school class as an example of a fun green screen project. Making a green screen video can seem intimidating at first, but once you've tried it a time or two you'll find that it's not as complicated as it might seem. Today there are lots of tools for making green screen videos. Here are the three I typically recommend and introduce to teachers. 

Make a Green Screen Video in iMovie
If you have access to a Mac or an iPad, this is the tool to use. It's free (provided you already have a modern Mac or iPad) and has just enough features to make a nice green screen video, but not so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it. Watch this video to learn how to make a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. Watch this one to learn how to make a green screen video on an iPad.

WeVideo
For Chromebook users and Windows users, WeVideo is my go-to recommendation. Here's a demonstration of how it works.



Zoom + Adobe Spark
If you don't have a physical green screen to record in front of, you could use Zoom's built-in virtual green screen capability then import that video into Adobe Spark for final editing. Watch this video to learn how that is done.

Animated Videos

Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending upon the story, the animation could be as short frame or two that plays for twenty seconds or it could be a five minute story.  

ChatterPix Kids
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.

How to Make Talking Pictures With ChatterPix Kids (Android Version)



How to Make Talking Pictures With ChatterPix Kids (iPad Version)


Slides + Screencasting
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you'll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.

Canva
Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to almost any graphic that you create in it. You can animate text, make objects spin and move, and even add audio to play in the background when you make a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. Canva's video editor can be used to create animated videos. That's a process that I demonstrate in this video

Whiteboard Videos

From creating a math lesson to explaining a workflow there are lots of purposes for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. Last year I had students make simple whiteboard videos to explain network and wiring diagrams. Here's a handful of tools for making whiteboard instructional videos. 

In June Google added a built-in screencasting tool to the Chrome OS. If you're Chromebook is updated to the latest version of Chrome OS, you have access to this tool. With it you can you can record all of your screen or part of your screen. If you like to include your webcam in screencasts, you can do that with the built-in recorder in the latest version of Chrome OS. And you can draw on your screen while recording. When you create a screencast using the built-in recorder on your Chromebook the recording is automatically saved to your Google Drive account. Once the recording is saved you can share it much like you would share any other file in your Google Drive account. 

Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how you can record screencasts on your Chromebook without using any third-party extensions. 

Try using Screencastify to record over the free drawing space provided by Google's online version of Jamboard. One of the benefits of using Jamboard for this kind of video is that when you are done you can share the Jamboard images with your students. You could even share the Jamboard via Google Classroom so that students have a copy of the process that you demonstrated while making your video.




Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser. In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.



Microsoft Flip offers an integrated whiteboard function. You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Microsoft Flip. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. Watch this video to learn how to make a whiteboard video with Microsoft Flip.



Wakelet has integrated the Microsoft Flip camera into their service so that you can create whiteboard-style instructional videos directly within your Wakelet collections. Watch my video below to see how that process works.



Seesaw is my go-to tool for making digital portfolios. I like it because it's a versatile platform that can be used for more than just portfolio creation. You can use it as a blog, use it to share announcements with parents, use it to distribute assignments, and you can use it to create whiteboard videos. In fact, there are a couple of ways that you and your students can create whiteboard videos in Seesaw. Both of those methods are outlined in my new video that is embedded below.

Three More Ways Focusable Can Help You Focus

Disclosure: Focusable is an advertiser on my websites. 

Last week I wrote about how Focusable is helping me get things done more efficiently. That blog post featured how Focusable works once you start working. What that blog post left out was how Focusable can help you get started when you have a task to do but you'd really rather not do it. 

When you're having trouble getting started on a task that you need to do, try one of the pre-work exercises that Focusable offers. When you are signed into your Focusable account you'll find breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and stretching exercises that are designed to help you focus and get started on your work. In this brief video I provide a demonstration of where to find those exercises and how to complete them.



For a complete overview of what Focusable is, how you can use it, and how you can use it with student read this article or watch the overview video that is embedded below.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Writer's Workshop - 29 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing

The Writer's Workshop is a playlist of twenty-nine TED-Ed video lessons about writing. The The Writer's Workshop contains lessons on basic topics like how to use punctuation and point of view. It also offers videos about more difficult topics like how to make your writing humorous.

A few of the videos from The Writer's Workshop playlist are embedded below.

First, Second, and Third Person


When to Use Apostrophes


How to Make Your Writing Funnier




Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

A Database of Solutions to Common Stains

Stain Solutions is a handy website developed by Susan Taylor at the University of Illinois Extension. The site is a database of dozens of common stains and the solutions to remove them. Click on a stain in the chart and you will be taken to a list of the ingredients needed to make a solution that will remove your chosen stain. Directions and warnings are provided along with the solutions.

Applications for Education
I don't know of any teacher who hasn't stained work clothes themselves or had them stained as the result of a student mishap. I've stained enough neckties to create a drop-cloth. Coffee, ink, and markers seem to be the leading causes of those stains. Solutions to remove all those stains can be found on Stain Solutions.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Social Studies, Soccer, and Search - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's going to be a beautiful autumn weekend. As I write this I'm sipping my coffee while the sun is rising on what is going to be a fun and busy weekend for me and my little family. We have soccer practice, fishing, bike rides, and a trip to Storyland to see Daniel Tiger on our schedule for the next couple of days. I hope that you have an equally fun weekend planned for yourself. 

This week I hosted professional development webinars for two different groups and was a guest speaker for another group. Please click here or send me an email if you'd like to have me conduct a webinar, a workshop, or give a keynote at your next professional development.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students
2. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
3. The Physics of Soccer Kicks
4. How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom
5. A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects
6. Five Google Search Products Students Overlook
7. Three Ways Focusable is Helping Me Be More Productive

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 43,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

43,000+ People Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

This morning when I logged into my YouTube account I noticed that my little channel now has more than 43,000 subscribers for the first time. I've never had a video go viral nor have I tried to make one for that purpose. Instead, all of my videos are just simple how-to videos about a wide range of educational technology topics like the basics of making Google Forms, how to see what's hidden behind a TinyURL, and how to create a video with Adobe Express

If you're interested in subscribing to my YouTube channel, you can do so here (here's a video about how to subscribe to a YouTube channel). And if you already have subscribed, thank you! 

Here's one of my favorite videos from my channel. 



And here's another favorite on a very different topic from the one above.
 

Is a Website Down or Is It You? Here's How to Find Out

Earlier this week a reader emailed me looking for a video that I made a couple of years ago. The video she was looking for was this video that shows two ways to check if a website is down of if it's just you.

The first method demonstrated in the video uses a website called Down for Everyone or Just Me. The second method shows you how to ping a website from the command prompt in Windows 10. The ping method will make you look super techy in front of your non-techy friends.
 

Google Workspace Status Dashboard
If you're having trouble accessing a Google Workspace tool like Classroom, Docs, or Calendar, check the Google Workspace Status Dashboard to see if Google is reporting any outages within the Workspace suite.