Friday, August 5, 2022

Five Interesting Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom

A couple of days ago I wrote a short post about the changes to Screencastify's free plan. At the end of that post I included some ideas for using Screencastify in your classroom. If you missed that short list, here are the ideas in more detail. 

Add Interactive Questions Into Your Videos
Adding interactive questions into your instructional videos is a great way to make sure that students actually watch your lesson all the way through. It's also a good way to determine if you need to re-teach something or alter your explanation of a concept. You can do that by looking to see if there is a pattern to the answers your students choose while watching your video. Here's a demo of how to use Screencastify to add questions into your videos.
 


Blur Faces and Objects in Your Videos
The option to blur things in your videos is a great way to protect your and your students' privacy when publishing a video. Besides blurring faces you may also want to blur names or email addresses if they appear in a screencast video. Watch this video to learn more.



Comment on Google Docs
The process of using Screencastify and Google Keep to create a video comment bank for Google Docs is fairly straight-forward. First, record your short video comments or short lesson with Screencastify. Second, get the "share" link from Screencastify. Third, create a note in Google Keep that contains the link to the video (I recommend giving the notes easy-to-remember names and labels). Finally, whenever you need the video link just open Google Keep in the sidebar of the Google Doc you're viewing and copy the video link from the Google Keep into your comment. Watch this video for a demonstration of the whole process.



Make a Common Craft-style Video
A little more than decade ago Common Craft created a whole new style of explantory video. You and your students can make your own videos in that simple style by using a screencasting tool like Screencastify and Google Slides. Watch this video to see how that's done.



Record a Narrated Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser
The web version of Google Earth doesn't have the same tour recording tools that are available in Google Earth Pro. The solution to that problem is to use a tool like Screencastify to record your tour. Watch this video to see how you can do that.

Google Search Tools Students Often Overlook

The default action for students to take when given a research task is to turn to Google. Unfortunately, many students won't venture much beyond the first couple of pages of Google.com results pages before declaring, "I can't find anything about this." But as Dan Russell reminds us in The Joy of Search, good search often requires the use of multiple tools. To that end, Google offers search tools beyond just Google.com. Unfortunately, students won't use those tools unless they know that those tools exist and how to use them. Here are some of the Google search tools that students often overlook. 

Google Books helps students locate and search inside books without having to track down a physical copy of each book that they are interested in reading. If students do want a physical copy of a book, Google Books can help them find a local library that has a copy of the book they desire. Those features of Google Books and more are demonstrated in my new video Five Things Students Should Know About Google Books


Google Dataset Search is a search tool that is designed to help users locate publicly available datasets. This isn't a tool for searching within the datasets, it's a tool for finding datasets. For example, if you're doing research on earthquakes and want to find some datasets to analyze, Google Dataset Search will help you locate datasets that you could then open and or download to analyze. Watch the following short video to see how to use Google Dataset Search



Google Scholar is probably best known as a search tool for locating peer-reviewed, academic papers. It can also be used to locate patent filings and to locate court cases. Those features and more are demonstrated in the following tutorials.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

How to Create a Badge Tracker in Google Sheets

A few days ago a reader reached out to me with a question about creating a badge tracking system to keep track of students' progress toward various goals. While there are quite a few companies that offer badges as part of their systems, ClassDojo comes to mind, she was looking for something that was a little more independent and customizable. My suggestion was to try using the Badge Tracker Google Sheets template from Flippity

Flippity's Badge Tracker template lets you create a customized badge system. You can add in your own badge designs and set your own badge goals. It can be used to award complete badges and partial badges to students. 

Watch my short video that is embedded below to learn how to use Google Sheets to create your own badge tracker

Short Lessons on Centripetal Force and Tea Cups

Last week I took my older daughter to Storyland to ride the roller coaster as many times as she wanted to. Today, I'm taking my younger daughter for a daddy-daughter day at Storyland. Her favorite rides are the Flying Dutch Shoes, Alice's Tea Cups, and the Cuckoo Clockenspiel. In other words, she likes to spin around and feel the effects of centripetal force. 

Thinking about those spinning rides prompted me to look for some concise explanations of centripetal force. Here are a few resources that I found that could be helpful to students. 

CK-12 offers a couple of interactive simulations and lessons about centripetal force. Students can use these on their own or as part of a larger lesson that you lead. 

Planet Nutshell published a concise, animated explanation of centripetal force. You can watch it here or as embedded below. 



Here's a student-produced video addressing centripetal force in the context of "the tea cup problem." Jump to the two minute mark to see how he enlists the help of his brother to create the explanation.


Finally, PhET offers lots of lessons and interactives to help students understand various forces in physics. Make sure you look at their list whenever you need help explaining a physics concept to students. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Significant Changes to Screencastify's Free Plan

Screencastify is a versatile screencast recording tool that I've used over the years to create many kinds of instructional videos including Common Craft-style videos and virtual tours. As I write this blog post, I still prefer Screencastify to the new built-in recording option in Chromebooks. That said, it should be noted that Screencastify has just introduced some significant changes to their free plan. 

Here's What's Changing in Screencastify

The new free version of Screencastify increases the recording time for your videos from five minutes to thirty minutes. That's a huge change! The trade-off is that you now can only store ten videos in your free Screencastify account. That's also a huge change! The previous free version allowed unlimited videos as long as they were under the five minute limit. You can still export all of your videos as MP4 files. 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. 

Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom