Monday, January 26, 2015

Video Through Google Chrome

To create videos in Google chrome I have found that there are several tools you need, if you want to do this for free.  First, you need an extension for capturing the video.  Second, you need an app or a website for editing the video you have captured.

Capturing the video.  

There are 2 extensions I use to capture video, screencastify and skiblz cam.  Skiblz is limited in that is only captures video, no sound, but you can create as much video as you want.  Skiblz will record what you do in your browser, so you can be creative in the silent movie manner.  Screencastify allows you to capture video from your web browser tab, your webcam, or your desktop.  This will capture audio and video, but there is a 7 minute limit for free accounts.

Editing the Video

Up until recently, I had only used wevideo for the editing of videos.  The tools available in wevideo are comparable to some of the page software video editors.  you can add menus, background sounds, transitions between video segments, voice-over, etc.  Recently, youtube has altered their uploading of video content page and included an editor.  Prior to publishing videos it is possible to edit videos, capture videos, or even create a slideshow from images.  There is music available to use as background sound, transitions for video segments, subtitles, etc.  For a great synopsis on this, here are some places I read about before trying it out myself.  Youtube Teaching Resources.  Slide Shows with Audio on Youtube.

Now, to be perfectly honest, as much as I love Chromebooks there is no combination of app or extension I have found that rivals the video tools on the iPad.  Should you have one of those, I highly recommend iMotion HD for stop motion video creation, and Touchcast for creating professional videos (both free).  As my district has gone with a mass adoption of chromebooks, I can figure out ways to do everything I want to do with the free video creation and editing tools on the chromebooks.

Chrome Extensions

Though chrome extensions are not solely for the chromebooks, they are a large part of why I like Google chrome.  I can make by browser do other things for me rather than take me to websites and help me create and share on Google Drive.  As you read through my list of extensions, there are some that everybody lists as their favorite, so I will not describe them much.  The others, I will go into depth with, just to let you know what they do.

The Popular

  • Awesome Screenshot take browser screenshots and annotate.  When used with an equation editor, students can take picture of math problems, step-by-step, and use the annotation tools to describe rationale.
  • Tab Scissors - Use tab scissors to split your browser window into two different browsers for multitasking.  
  • OneTab - open a set of pages that either you visit or that you would like your students to visit, onetab combines them all into onetab and allows you to create a webpage that you can share with students. Complete with link address and QR code.
  • Clearly - Get rid of adds when reading articles.
  • Diigo - annotate what you read, share your annotations, follow others.  Great research tool.
  • Screencastify - create videos of your browser and the actions taken in a tab.  Great for making training videos.
The Not-So-Well-Known
  • Google input tools - change the language of your keyboard to type in different languages.  Great for world language classes and simple access to accents, special characters, etc.
  • QR code extension - Creates a QR code of the page you are on and scans QR codes using your webcam.  I like this for sharing Google drive folders or for sharing specific webpages or tools.
  • Improvedtube and Herp Derp for youtube - customize the way youtube looks on your computer.  Get rid of suggested videos, set the default size for a video you wish to watch.  Change the content of all comments from actual comments to herp derp.  Kind of fun to read.
  • Notable pdf - a pdf annotation tool that allows you to annotate pdfs, collaborate on the annotations, and export the document with or without the annotations.
  • Citable - highlight content on a webpage and click on citable.  This extension will save the quote with all the citation information in a spreadsheet to access later when you are writing a paper and need actual quotes from reliable sources.
  • Black Menu - my favorite extension.  This is a customizable window that gives quick access to many of google's services.  Shorten a URL, search youtube, search google, maps, literally everything.  There is a more button that lets you skim through each of the lesser known google services like public data explorer, flu trends, etc.
This list is, by no means, extensive.  These are simply the extensions I use in chrome and what they allow me to do.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Creative Uses for Google Slides and Drawings

1. Google Slides

One can quickly describe Slides as the Google version of Microsoft Powerpoint.  Create a slide show to deliver information, support a presentation, and collaborate through the process of creating that presentation.  That is rarely how I have used this in a class setting.

2. Google Drawing

A free space to add whatever you want to the space.  Oddly, I find it easier to insert and not as easy to draw in drawings.  Nevertheless, it is a nice functionality to have.

Slides and Drawings are both programs that have the same basic premise, free space for you to do what you want.  Set up a page and run with it.
Uploaded by Awesome Screenshot Extension

There are still the research tools available in docs, but docs likes to format, Slides and Drawings are free format spaces.  Add what you want, move it where you want.

  • Use an image as a background - Add an image and make it the size of the slide or drawing space.  Use the arrange option to send it back and format, image options to ,make it more transparent to use an image as a background or slide theme.
  • Use hyperlinks to link multiple drawings or make create your own adventure stories.
  • Citing images - click on an image, then click and drag the URL of the image to cite it quickly.
Through my training I have come across teachers who have found creative ways of using each of these tools.
  • Using Google Drawings as a book report.  Students used the drawing tool to summarize books, provide relevant images and then presented from the single-slide drawing.
  • Using Drawings for YOGA sequences - each student was individually responsible for creating a slide for a yoga pose.  Later, they worked with others to link together slides with four other members of the class to create a mini-yoga sequence to teach, present, and walk the class through.
  • Pecha Kucha style presentations - presentations made with slides containing a picture or less than 3 words.  Follows a time and slide format I used 6 slides x 10 seconds.
  • Newsletters and posters - due to the free flowing space, it is easy to create a newsletter or poster with either a single slide or a drawing, which is simply a single slide.
  • Making a website out of a series of google drawings.  Publish a google drawing and it is a webpage.  Link that drawing to other google documents or webpages you make later and you have a series of webpages.  Pretty simple to do and allows students to create effective designs.  I have seen teachers use this for student portfolios if they do not wish to learn google sites and they want students to have an e-portfolio.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chromebook 101 - Review

Even if, for no other reason, you have students get out their chromebooks just to have them on their desk, you are leaps and bounds ahead of a wasted computer. If you don't know how to implement them in class, dangling them in front of students will inspire them to find a reason to use them in class. Research, looking up definitions, presenting, who knows what excuse they will tell you.

Regardless of comfort with technology, most teachers start implementation of technology at the lower enhancement level of integration (Substitution rather than Redefinition).  This is the same for the tech-phobic and the tech-philic (my science background... sorry).  AND THAT'S FINE.

Sure your administration might ask you how chromebooks have transformed your class... We'll get there, Rome wasn't built in a day.  If you are at least getting the computers into the students hands and letting them explore then you are on the right track and are setting yourself up for excellence.  

Students may get distracted with computers on their desks.  Rather that punishing every distraction, focus the distraction and challenge students to do something that makes their presentation, paper, or project more personal... Something that they are more proud of and willing to share.

Is it a little scary to see what students come up with?  Yes.  Is there a chance that it will be bad?  Yes.  It is therefore a good thing that you set up expectations for use and have a progression of consequences.  Most of the time, in my experience, I have found that students surprise me more with excellence, over-achievement, and originality.  So much so that I ask them to either share with the class or teach me and others how to do what they did.

Technology proficiency is making its way into the standards, and if students are actively trying to learn standards, go with it.  Even if it seems like they are only interested in the computers, use that motivation to engage them in projects related to content.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chromebook 101 - Transfer Some Control

If you have read my other Chromebook 101 posts, then you have read how I feel it is important to set up a discipline and expectation structure as well as become proficient in 1 thing (I suggest Google Docs).  My suggestions on creating expectations and knowing google docs are simply to make sure that there is a level of comfort with implementing chromebooks in the classroom.  Often, teachers are more apprehensive about starting to use them and once they begin to see how easy chromebooks are and how seamlessly they can be integrated into current curriculum, they tend to continue to use them and learn new things.

This post is equally important for those with fears of using technology with students as well as those who welcome the use of technology in the classroom.  For those who are familiar with the SAMR and TPACK models of technology integration, you know that there are varied levels of integration and varied ideas of best practice integration.  Click on the link to get to know the levels of SAMR.  The lowest levels of technology implementation use technology to enhance learning (substitution and augmentation) whereas the higher levels transform the classroom (modification and redefinition).

It is important to know that computers are hard to break with a misplaced button click.  That being said, let students press buttons, click new things, search and learn.  Give up the choke-hold on the computer.  As long as your expectations are laid out, you can always reel students in with by letting them know when they are not doing what they are supposed to do.  Here are some simple suggestions to get you used to a classroom that lends itself to transformation.

  • Be a Guide.  Just because you know the answer does not mean you have to tell them.  Help students learn to find the answer.  This strategy works great for when you do not know the answer.
  • Are you going to have students type your notes?  Try changing them to collaborative notes (where students work on notes as a group) or enhancement notes (where you give students your notes and while you are talking they reword or add to their own copy to make them more useful and personal).
  • Give options.  Just because you would do something one way does not mean that they would.  Challenge students to be unique with how they word and display information.
  • You do not have to know it all.  If you give students a project, let students know that you can help them in Google Docs, but they are welcome to use Slides, prezi, powtoons, wevideo, etc.  
  • Show students how to find information.  I suggest Google search for technical support.  If you ever need to show them, I suggest "Let me Google That for You" (Google it).

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chromebooks 101 - Get to know 1 thing

I often hear teachers say that they are intimidated by technology because there are so many things to know.  Yes there are, but, by the same logic, there are so many people in the world so I should be a recluse.  Get to know one thing and try that out.  Trying one thing might peak your interest and get you into trying other things with the chromebooks or your students might ask to try something out that you can watch and learn.

My suggestion for the 1 thing is Google Docs.  Google Docs is a lot like Microsoft Word and Pages which are pretty universal.  So if you have a set of chromebooks, go ahead and play around with Google docs and check some things out.  If you want, play around with the doc that I have attached to this post.  Once you open it, make sure to click on File and then Make a Copy so you will be able to edit it.

Google Docs Training Document

As a trainer I like to get teachers working with Google docs right away.  Teachers play through the training document, ask questions that pertain to their content areas, and force me to cover things that I had planned to cover anyways.

Once I get them going on docs, they always start asking me about Google Slides, Google Classroom, and anything else that they can use in their classroom.  The teachers I have trained this way begin implementing Google docs as soon as possible.  They are both confident in what students can do and their content knowledge extends the applications of Google Docs in ways I would have never thought.  Attached is the document that I share with teachers new to Google drive and Google Docs.  Please feel free to make a copy and use it.  My only request, if you find a way to make it better, please let me know and share the document back with me.  I would appreciate it.

Google Docs Training Document

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chromebook 101 - Setting Up Expectations

Like any activity that teachers implement in class or any tool that teachers provide for students in class, teachers are required to think about what can go wrong and what will be the consequence for the actions.  Many districts, mine included have created an acceptable use policy, a list of do's and don'ts with electronic devices and access to the internet.  That being said, once the acceptable use policy was written and printed, it was out of date.

You are never going to know all the things that can go wrong or all of the possible ways in which students can misuse technology.  Thought must be given to how you, the teacher, set up your expectations for electronic use and your consequence structure.  Here are a couple of things that have worked for me with both iPad and 1-1 chromebook implementations in my high school science class.

Read through the district policy on student electronic device usage.
  1. In some way shape or form, walk the students through the different things that are considered, by district standards to be wrong or inappropriate.
  2. You could read through it, jigsaw the reading, have a note-taking activity, video activity, or presentation activity showing examples of offenses to the Acceptable Use Policy.
Email the policy home to parents.
  1. It is not enough that students know the policy exists inside the classroom, let parents know what their kids will be held accountable to so they have the ability to support similar parameters for access to technology.
Avoid the consequence of taking away the chromebook.
  1. For the chromebooks to be an effective, transformative tool in the classroom, students need to use them.  The chromebooks should not be a novelty, a movie Friday, or a reward, they should be similar to a pencil, paper, or school book.  Would you take that away from a student for a day, week, or semester?  Find a way to discipline students without taking away the device.
  2. Come up with a progression of discipline.  In my class, there was a progression of consequence.  First, warning.  Second, warning and email/call home.  Third, warning, email/call home, and detention. Etc.
Parental contact early and often is important with technology implementations.
  1. This is often though of a best practice, so nothing new, but the more contact you have with the parents and the more you remind them of the expectations and how their sons/daughters are meeting them the more supportive they will be of the consequences.
Its OK for students to have them out and not use them.
  1. Personally, I had students get out chromebooks every day, even if I was not planning on using them.  Students would ask if they could do certain tasks on the chromebooks or ask to look things up on the internet.  Little by little, they became a larger part of the class.
  2. Chromebooks do not take a lot of time to power on.  Have students get them at the beginning of the period and put them away at the end of the day.  This will help with transitions between activities.  Remember, a closed chromebook is logged out and they will power on very quickly.