Thursday, December 31, 2020

Three Ways to Share Docs in Google Classroom - When to Use Each Method

As I do every year, I'm taking this week off from writing new blog posts. This week I'll be re-running a few of the most popular posts in 2020. 

As you might guess, I'm getting flooded with requests for help with all kinds of things related to online teaching and learning. I'm doing my best to respond to all of them although I am placing priority on the requests from my colleagues at my school. One of the requests that I got was to create an explanation of the best ways to share documents in Google Classroom. That's why I made the following video that outlines three ways to share documents through Google Classroom, what each method looks like on the teacher and student side, and when you might want to use each of the methods.

How to Make Digital Bookshelves in Google Slides

As I do every year, I'm taking this week off from writing new blog posts. This week I'll be re-running a few of the most popular posts in 2020. 

This summer I've had more requests for book recommendations than I ever have in the nearly thirteen year history of this blog. I've also had a ton of requests for help making things like digital choice boards. So to address both of those requests I made the following video in which I demonstrate how to use Google Slides to create an interactive, digital bookshelf. The process is simple and can be used to create all kinds of digital choice boards.

In the following video I demonstrate how to create and publish a digital bookshelf with Google Slides. There are really only five simple steps to it. First, create a blank Google Slide. Second, upload a picture of a bookshelf. Third, upload pictures of book covers. Fourth, insert links to the books. Fifth, publish the slide. All of those steps are demonstrated below.



Here are the links to the books in my shelf:
Invent to Learn
Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning
Draft Animals
Digital Minimalism
eSports Edu
The Boys in the Boat
The Joy of Search
The River of Doubt
The Ultimate Book of Dad Jokes

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

How to Play Kahoot Games in Google Classroom

As I do every year, I'm taking this week off from writing new blog posts. This week I'll be re-running a few of the most popular posts in 2020. 

This is the time of year when many of us are looking for fun ways to conduct end-of-year review sessions with our students. Playing Kahoot quiz games is one of the most popular means of doing that. Kahoot games are fun to play in a classroom and you can also use them for remote learning activities by using the "challenge" mode.

The challenge mode in Kahoot enables you to assign games to your students to play at home on their schedule. There are many ways that you can distribute the challenges to your students. If you're a Google Classroom user, you can distribute your challenges through your Classroom just like you would any other announcement or assignment. Your students then just click on the link to your Kahoot game to start playing it.

In the following video I demonstrate how to distribute Kahoot games through Google Classroom and how students can play those games right from the Announcements stream in Google Classroom.

Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Videos

As I do every year, I'm taking this week off from writing new blog posts. This week I'll be re-running a few of the most popular posts in 2020. 

Many of us are making more videos than ever before as a way to deliver instruction and or to simply keep our students updated about school. With time and practice you might become adept at using the editing functions in your favorite video software. You can also improve your videos without having to learn a bunch of editing tricks. Here are some simple things that we can do to improve our videos without having to learn a whole bunch of editing techniques.

1. Look at the camera, not the screen. 
It's natural to look at the screen on your phone or laptop while recording. When you do that, you're not looking at the camera and not making eye contact with your virtual audience. Practice looking at the camera.

2. Elevate your camera.
Put your camera at eye level or slightly higher. Doing that accomplishes a few things. First, people aren't looking up your nose. Second, it makes you look a little thinner and can improve your lighting. Third, I've found that elevating the camera makes it easier for me to remember to look at my camera instead of the screen.

3. Adjust Your Lighting
If you can, try to use relatively bright and even lighting around yourself. Doing this can eliminate shadows being cast on your face and can improve the overall visual clarity of your video. A ring light can be helpful in casting an even light but even just adjusting the position of a lamp on your desk can improve your lighting.

4. Pay attention to your background. 
Try to make your background interesting but not distracting. A large bookcase can make a nice background that is interesting but not distracting. An outdoor setting also makes a nice background, outdoor backgrounds can make lighting tricky. Try to record at a time and place that doesn't cast a lot of shadows. If you want to attempt making a green screen video, here's how you can do it with Zoom.

5. Adjust your sound. 
If possible, try to use an external microphone instead of the microphone built into your laptop or mobile phone. even a simple 3.5mm microphone can reduce background and echo sounds. Often the wired earbuds that come with some smartphones include a microphone that can be used for recording. If an external microphone isn't an option for you, just turning off audio playback (muting your speakers) while recording can improve the quality of your audio recording.

Rubrics for Assessing Videos, Podcasts, Blogs, and More

As I do every year, I'm taking this week off from writing new blog posts. This week I'll be re-running a few of the most popular posts in 2020. 

Over the years I've referenced the University of Wisconsin Stout's collection of rubrics for multimedia projects. It has been a few years since I last featured it so I think it's time to highlight it again.

UW Stout's collection of rubrics is organized by task or project type. There are sections in the collection for presentations, eportfolios and websites, social media, group work, graphic organizers, videos, games, writing, and the research process.

The section containing rubrics on the research process is new since the last time that I wrote about UW Stout's collection of rubrics. In the section on research process there are rubrics appropriate for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. There is even a link to Joyce Valenza's question brainstorming template that students can use to help them refine their searches.

Applications for Education
What prompted me to revisit UW Stout's collection of rubrics was the need for a podcast rubric. Sure enough, there is one right at the top of the presentation section in the collection. The rubric isn't a perfect fit for my needs, but it does provide me with a great starting point for making my own podcasting rubric.