Google Classroom – A Differentiation Strategy

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I am honored to contribute to the BAM Radio Network EdWords Blog. In my first post there, I document a strategy for differentiation in Google Classroom. I hope its screen caps and embedded YouTube video help you make even better use of Google Classroom. If you would like to discuss further, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom. Thank you for reading.

Making Lesson Recap Videos with Screencastify

Making video recaps of my lessons has revolutionized my teaching. I am so grateful to Chris Aviles for suggesting it at EdCamp New Jersey. A parent told me she wishes every teacher made video recaps. A learning support teacher uses them to help my students study in her instructional support classes. Students who need multiple opportunities to learn and absent students benefit the most from video lesson recaps.

I have documented how I use SnagIt to make recaps on my Chromebook. SnagIt met my needs until it had a problem with static in March 2015. I researched and found that Screencastify does essentially the same thing. Screencastify is an extension for the Google Chrome browser so it works an any computer with the browser.

Watch this video where I discuss how I use Screencastify:

After installing the extension…

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Before starting the recording be sure “Desktop” is selected and “Embed webcam” is not.

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“Desktop” makes sure Screencastify captures the entire screen. “Embed wecam” puts a small webcam in the lower right corner of the screen when you screencast. I prefer to open the computer’s webcam and size the window to my liking.

When you stop recording, Screencastify puts the video file in a Google Drive folder.

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Overall, I have been thrilled with Screencastify. Its file sizes are roughly 10-20MB per minute. That is much lower than SnagIt-made video files. This saves me time when uploading videos to YouTube. If you do not want to be on YouTube, share the video in Google Drive with your students. The small file sizes mean less bandwith used when multiple students view it in your classroom.

Video lesson recaps have tremendously benefited my students. I am happy to share this strategy far and wide. Please be in touch if you want to discuss further!

Making Lesson Recap Videos with SnagIt and a Chromebook

I went to to EdCamp New Jersey at the end of November where I heard Chris Aviles suggest teachers should make video recaps. He argued that in a 1:1 classroom, video lesson recaps are a powerful tool to fight learned helplessness. A student doesn’t know the answer to a question? Have them watch the video recap. Chris also made the point that video recaps give students multiple opportunities to learn and help absent students catch up.

Intrigued, I set about using December to incorporate video recaps into my practice. I made this video about what I have done so far:

After you create your account (I used my school Google e-mail), SnagIt creates a folder in your Google Drive. It is called “TechSmith” after the company that makes SnagIt.

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When you record using SnagIt, the app will capture your screen and the Chromebook’s microphone. I use the Chromebook camera so students can see my face rather than listen to a disembodied voice. When you stop a recording, it will appear as ” unfinished video” in the TechSmith folder.

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You can rename your video in the SnagIt video player and push it directly to your GAFE connected YouTube account.

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When SnagIt is finished processing you can access the video file in the TechSmith Google Drive folder.

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From Google Drive, you can download the video. I take this extra step because I post videos to my personal YouTube channel.  I want the videos to still exist should my job change. It is very easy with only upload and download time as minor inconveniences. Login to your personal GMail account and go to YouTube. From there:

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Then simply click on upload and you’re good to go.

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Pixiclip is another tool with great potential for video recaps. As I explained in the video above, I stopped using Pixiclip because when my students play it back on their Chromebooks they cannot rewind and fast forward.

Video lesson recaps are one way educational technology transforms educational practice. I am only one month into using them and am thrilled with the opportunities they create for my students!

 

 

Math Teachers: Add g(Math) to Google Forms!

g(Math) is a great add-on for Google Docs. If you do not have it, go get it! g(Math) is now available as an add-on for Google Forms too.

To get g(Math) for Forms, open Google Drive and create a new Google Form. While editing the new form, follow these steps:

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The form you are editing will now looks like this:

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To take advantage of g(Math)’s capabilities:

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Now your form will look like this:

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Have fun using Google Forms to assess math!

We Can Digitize That: A Visual Guide to Using Google Docs to Digitize Print Documents

Google Classroom is a great tool for moving towards a paperless classroom. But what happens when curricular materials are in print with no Google Docs or Microsoft Word copies available? Don’t worry, we can digitize that!

You will need a scanner to turn your print document into a PDF. I am fortunate to work at a district that uses some nice Canon copiers that scan and e-mail PDFs. This tutorial is based on how I digitize print documents with Canon photocopiers.

Start by selecting “Scan and Send” on your copier’s display.

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I then choose “New Destination.” This allows me to send the PDF to any e-mail address in the world. I could send it directly to an absent student if I wanted to.

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Once you have inserted your e-mail and pressed OK, all you need to do is press the Start button.

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Check your e-mail to see that your PDF has arrived.

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This is what it will look like in the body of the e-mail:

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You have two options for the attached PDF:

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To successfully digitize the document as quickly as possible, save it to Google Drive. You can place it any Google Drive folder you wish.

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You can now go to the same Google Drive icon and, rather than allow you to save it in Google Drive, it will take you to the folder where the PDF is saved. Please note that the file is named with a number. You have to change that:

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Now it is time to digitize and manipulate the file.

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You will then see this in a new tab that has opened in your browser:

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I love seeing that processing screen. It means I am seconds from having a document digitized. The result is a Google Docs file that has both the text of the original document and images of each page of the print copy you scanned. You often need to play with the format to make the Google Docs file look like the original copy. Sometimes you don’t. Either way, I like having the images there as a reference and they can easily be deleted. The transition to digital is not always perfect because of formats and some letters can get changed. The letter “O” is sometimes changed to a zero. Proofread the Google Docs file and make necessary changes.

Now the file is not only ready for Google Classroom, but you can edit and improve materials you were locked into when they existed only on paper. The possibilities to make them more engaging for students (add writing prompts, images, maps, links, etc.) are endless!