Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Videos of Analysis

Common Core requires students to read and analyze nonfictional text.  As they get older, students will need to analyze multiple documents and write a DBQ (document based question) response.  Here is a way to scaffold the informational text analysis.  Teach students to annotate pictures of text.


  1. Some Text, picture, etc.
  2. Awesome Screenshot Extension
  3. Screencastify Extension
Use Awesome Screenshot to take a picture of the text.  

For those who have not used it, awesome screenshot allows anybody to take a picture of a webpage or a part of a webpage and then annotate it with arrows, shapes, text, etc.  Play with it.  It is how I made this picture.

But once you or your students find a document and take a picture... STOP.  We are going to use the annotation tools to create a video.  Get the picture and plan out the annotations.

Use Screencastify to create a video of the annotation.

Screencastify allows a user to record the action in a tab and the audio captured by a microphone.  Start the screencastify extension and begin recording.  During the recording, annotate the image and talk through the annotation.  This does not need to be long.  Just a quick analysis of the document.

Once the video is created, view screencasts.  Students can Share the screencasts and get a link to the video they created.  Turn that link into google classroom or however you accept assignments.


I have had teachers do this where they break the students up into groups and provide each group with a different primary source document.  The groups analyze the document then follow the procedure above. Groups turned in their video link via email.

The teacher then showed all videos and students had to choose 2 documents and analysis as evidence in their response to a DBQ as homework.  In a class of 8 groups, groups analyzed 8 informational text documents in 20 minutes and all students watched them, (8 x 1 minute videos).

Yes, there are other ways to do this and other applications.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Screencast your Solutions

With a history as a chemistry teacher I found that I solved many of the same problems over and over again throughout the years.  I would give a homework assignment and offer to go over all the questions students were unable or not confident in solving.  I found that, although this was a helpful task, it quickly ate up time in class.  How could I streamline this process?  I began screencasting problems.

The Tools:
Screencastify (or screencast-o-matic if not on a chromebook)- Allow the recording of up to 10 minutes of either a tab in a browser or using a webcam.  I just made sure I downloaded the video to google drive and shared it to free up my 10 minutes.

Daum Equation Editor - This is a web based equation editor where I could type in the problem end explicitly work through how I solved the problem.

Webcam - Like a webcam, many document cameras can hook up to a computer with a USB cable.  This will turn the document camera into a high resolution camera.  I often used this to record my hand writing out the solution to a problem on a piece of paper, just like you would do it on the board.  While doing this, you can also project the image that you are recording.

WeVideo - If I wanted to get fancy.  I could edit the video.  As I tried to keep these to quick videos, I rarely used this tool.

Tell the Class to be Quiet and hold their Questions.
As I would go over the problems, I would always save one problem to screencast.  When I got to this problem, I would tell the students to be quiet and that I would be turning this into a video.  I would record the video and audio of me solving the problem, then post it online for students to see.  Upon completion I would turn off the recording and ask if there were more questions.

Get it Done Before Class.
Prior to class I would do the same thing and I would post them to my class webpage.  As students entered the room, I would check their homework and then tell them where to find the videos in case they had questions.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Google Slides

This last weekend I attended a conference and purposefully went to sessions that had nothing to do with chromebooks.  That has been my area of expertise and what I have supported the most.  But I still get asked a lot of questions about the things that iPads can do and what is the comparable app or extension on chromebooks.  After listening to how teachers are using iBooks author and screencasting with explain everything, a truly brilliant use of app smashing, I wanted to see if the same thing could be done on chromebooks.  There are many screencasting apps, I recommend screencastify.  The creation of the content was the challenge for me.  I came up with Google Slides.

Most people use google slides as a replacement for powerpoint presentations.  Yes, it is nice that you can create a presentation online with the ability to collaborate and quickly insert pictures and text.  It is the other facets of the program that I think are better.

Change it from a Slide to a Poster
Open up a Google Slide and select a theme (I like the blank theme).  Once open, select the file menu and choose page setup.  Here you can change the size of the slide to a custom size, for a poster, brochure, book, etc.

Format the Poster
The best part about slides is the lack of format rules.  In a Doc, there are limits to where text can be (left, right, center, and in a table).  In Google Slides, you add a text box where you want the text box, put a picture where you want that.  Move it around, design the space, super easy.

Displaying the Slides
Publish the Presentation - on the File menu, there is an option to publish the presentation to the internet.  Choose this and the presentation can be embedded or linked.

Make it a PDF - on the File menu, select Donwload as, and choose PDF.  Put that PDF in your google Drive and share the link with others.  Much like the publishing to the internet, but it is possible to zoom in on PDF files.

One Page is a Poster, More Pages are a Book
Just because it is thought of as a presentation tool does not mean that there are additional functionalities built into it.  I have seen teachers use them for students to creatively display book reports and character studies, political cartoon identification and analysis, propaganda poster creation, product presentation of engineered solutions, and calculation problem solving posters.  One thing that I know could be done, but have not yet seen, is the creation of a multipage poster that essentially turns the posters and presentations into a book.