The Technology: Screencasting
Screencasting software allows you to create videos that your students can watch anywhere. It also makes student-created videos a possibility without having to use any equipment other than a computer. Screencasting software is available for all operating systems and much of it is free.
Here are some of the most popular options:
-Screencast-o-matic: One of the oldest screencasting websites, Screencast-o-matic is free for a basic account. If you would like to make longer videos or have access to some of the more advanced editing tools, the premium account costs $15/year. Note: You may need to download and install a screencast launcher in order to use the website.
–Quicktime: If you have a Macintosh computer, you probably already have Quicktime, it often is included upon purchase. To create a new screen recording, just locate the application on your computer and go to File > New Screen Recording. The application will ask if you want to record just part or all of your screen. Choose, and then hit the record button and go!
-Screencastify or SnagIt extensions: If you use the Google Chrome browser on a laptop or Chromebook, you can install Screencastify or SnagIt extensions. You will need to give the extensions permission to access your computer’s camera and microphone, and you may have to designate where you will want screen recordings saved.
In Your Classroom
The Technology: Hyperdocs
If you’ve made a commitment to use more technology in your classroom this year, Hyperdocs is a good way to begin. While encouraging and supporting technology use, it still puts educational goals front and center.
What is a Hyperdoc?
A Hyperdoc is a Google Doc that allows teachers to use the structure provided by a Google Doc to create lessons with engaging media, visual appeal, inquiry learning and opportunities for collaboration. Basically, it’s like an old-time worksheet, but with superior, 21st century tools. With one simple link, students can access a Hyperdoc that contains instructions, links, tasks, multi-media and many more innovative features that can help get kids engaged and thinking.
How can I learn more about Hyperdocs?
The Hyperdocs website has great information and resources, including sample Hyperdocs, templates, a how-to tutorial, and links to Pinterest board collections of Hyperdocs. You can also check out the Hyperdocs YouTube playlist for some great explanatory videos.
How do I make my own Hyperdoc?
The easiest way to make your first Hyperdoc is to use one of the sample lesson plans on their website, and customize it for your own content. This basic lesson-plan template, for instance, details each part of a lesson (exploration, application, and sharing, for example), and gives suggestions for each step.
Need a coloring book? Here are some awesome links to online resources you can download for free.
I’m a fan of the Talmud – how about you? This is HUGE news: Sefaria has announced the release of The William Davidson Talmud, a free digital edition of the Babylonian Talmud with parallel translations, interlinked to major commentaries, biblical citations, Midrash, Kabbalah, Halakhah, and an ever-growing library of Jewish texts. There’s a Sefaria app, too, which you can download here.
The Global Digital Citizen Foundation has another really nice guide on Nurturing Student Creativity Fluency. You can download the guide and watch the accompanying video here.
You can now insert videos from your Google Drive into Google Slides (you used to only be able to insert from YouTube). This is a great improvement! Here’s more info.
TodaysMeet is a private, digital chatroom that teachers can use to encourage student participation. It allows students to share their ideas to the entire class by typing in their comments that are then projected onto a board where everyone can see them. This allows for a back and forth discussion in which even the quietest of students are able to easily contribute their thoughts.
To set up a chatroom, simply go to TodaysMeet and pick a name for your room. You don’t need to create an account, but it’s free to do so, and creating one will give you the ability to moderate content.
Once your room is set up, you can give your students the TodaysMeet URL and they’ll be able to type their comments or questions right into the message box. Comments are limited to 140 characters, so brevity is a must! You can keep a room open for up to a year, and close your room at any time.
In Your Classroom
December is Human Rights month. Teaching Tolerance’s Perspectives for a Diverse America has some nice resources, which you’ll have to register for a free account in order to access. You’ll find the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1929 poem, On Liberty and Slavery, resources for lesson planning and more.
Simple Machines is a charming website developed by Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Students can help Twitch build simple machines by using inclined planes, levers and more.
Intrigued by 3D printing? Check out Tinkercad. You can create a free account and view their tutorials to learn more about the tool. We’ve found this to be the easiest 3D modeling application for beginners.
You probably know that Google and Facebook are under fire because of fake news sites and the influence they may have had on the recent election. From a tech educator’s standpoint, this is really frightening, and I think we need to carefully consider if we’re doing enough to teach our students how to discern what’s legitimate on the web. Here are some resources regarding this troubling issue:
A great article from the New York Times about the issue.
Information about a free Chrome extension that you can install to let you know if you’ve arrived at a fake news site (including a link to download it).
Leave it to the kids! Three Princeton students tackled the problem during a recent “hackathon” and produced their own Chrome extension – read more about it here.
The Technology: Adobe
Adobe has updated several of their iOS apps and given them a new look and some new features:
The apps haven’t changed much. They work on the same simple premise: you choose a template, and add words, music, text and images to it. The app then takes that content, and uses it to create a final product. There are not many options for customization, and you are mostly locked in based on the template you choose. That may seem like it’s limiting (and, well, it is), but if you only have forty-five minutes for your students to create a product, it can also feel really liberating!
To check out Adobe’s iPad apps, visit the iTunes App store. All are free to download and use. The only premium feature that you may want to purchase is a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud storage plan, which provides additional storage.
Additionally, it’s notable (and a welcome change!) that you can now sign up for a free Adobe ID in order to use many of the apps or you can use your Facebook or Google account. This is very convenient for those of us who already use Google and don’t wish to have another account.
In Your Classroom
Many of us rely on using videos in class. Why not? They’re engaging and open explain concepts much more efficiently than we can. Commonsense Media has some great strategies teachers can use to help students think critically about videos, including backchanneling, integrating videos into your curriculum and using tech to customize videos.
Just when I think that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t have to explain what “GAFE” is any more, Google goes and changes the name! Google just announced that GAFE will now be known as G Suite. We’re not sure what that means long term (paid model, maybe?), but if you want to read about what it means now, check out the Google Cloud blog post here.
Want to give your students a brain break? Edutopia has some nice ideas here.