Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Giving Descriptive Feedback with Screencasts and Google Analytics

How do teachers know students are using the feedback we give them? This is THE question that many teachers struggle with (and pull their hair out over) when hours of work is spent grading essays, labs with annotation and notes with the occasional student not making suggested edits, forcing you to mention it AGAIN.

This pattern may seem familiar to the English, Social Studies or Science teacher and one wonders if there is a more efficient way of giving students feedback to guide their learning. Talking can be done faster than writing, so it's no wonder teachers are starting to use tools like Kaizena and Doctopus to breeze through giving oral feedback on a piece of digital writing. The hangup I've always had with voice over comments is that sometimes they may not be linked to a very specific section of text like a sentence or paragraph, so screencasts can come in very handy here as you can highlight sections visually.

The Screencastify Extension on Google Chrome

Screencasts as Feedback
I recently saw a very creative way of using Screencasts to do this. Typically, screencasts are used to create user "how to guides" although the way one teacher taught me to use them is with Screencastify which allows for easy uploads to youtube. Although "Quicktime" does the same, I think Screencastify does this easier with giving easier options to make videos "unlisted". After giving feedback through a screencast, a teacher can post a comment as the unlisted Youtube URL.

What an "Unlisted" Video Is
Unlisted videos can't be searched for, but can show up on playlists. From a general education teacher this is nice, as you can upload the video to your domains youtube playlist but the catch is that by putting the video link as a comment on a Google Doc, only the student that has access to the document can access the link.

A snapshot of uploaded screencast from the "youtube" video manager page.

"Checking" for Student Viewing
Here's where it gets cool. Looking at the playlist I can tell which students have watched their videos and which ones haven't. This is nice as I might need to provide some time in the beginning of class to some students who have not taken the time to look and listen to these comments and the analytics page shows watch time. When students have "taken in" the lessons provided, you can delete the video from the Video Manager.

Looking above, I know which watched the feedback I have provided for them. 

Related Posts
The Power of Screencasts (and the tools to do them) 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Resources for Podcasting with Garageband

Podcasts are great way of combining multiple audio tracks and layering one on top of another for an immersive experience. I was asked to do teach a lesson on podcasting for our Juniors in English Class and created some resources that I'd thought I'd share.

Project Rubric and Lesson Plans
Podcasting supported a number of Common Core and NETS standards, and here is an early draft of our project rubric and lesson plan for reference.

The "Garage Band" Dashboard for mixing Audio Tracks

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Teaching Green Screen Skills for Interpretation, Modelling, and Analysis

My students have just finished presenting weather reports for our "Weather and Climate" unit and three "Green Screen" studios in our school helped create a piece of student work that involved writing, reading and speaking. Before I get to the tech side of things, I want to say it was the curriculum that chose the tools.

  • Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

If the verbage of the standards asks students to develop, and whenever students must model, or interpret, public presentations allow students to present their learning in a way that is authentic and applied. I wanted students to interpret some screencasts of local weather and with that as a background, apply, interpret and describe what is happening using background knowledge used in our formative assessments.

Step 1-Recording Background Screencasts
I started with teaching students how to do screen recordings. My students had some experience using
quicktime and screencastify but it was important to have the "base screen" which was the background for which students would interpret. I directed them to a number of weather websites that have live feeds and the students recorded a few minutes at a time.

Quicktime allows a student to record backgrounds to interpret

Step 2-Writing a Script
The script was the writing piece which was assessed and improved through multiple stages of drafting. The project rubric and outline was provided, but the script hinged on the screencast that students recorded and were able to understand with their background of atmospheric heating.

Step 3-Recording With a Greenscreen
What a "Green screen" back ground allows the user to do is to have a subject in the foreground, (usually a person) with a background that will be deleted so that the speaker will be superimposed over the image or video background. (Think your local weather forecast). Schedule different times for groups to access different rooms and tell them to be succinct with their times.

A greenscreen can be painted, or a green sheet. Lighting is optimal. 
Step 4-Overlaying in "IMovie"
My students were "Imovie" ninjas following the work that we did in the fall semester, but even if you and your kids are not, it's super easy. Import media recordings to your "Imovie" media. Start with the screencast as the base foundation and then drag the greenscreen overlay to the place where you want the screencast to pop up in the background. When you drag that over, there will be a double rectangle that appears and you can select "blue-green screen" to cut out the background.

In "IMovie" you can overlay screencasted backgrounds and video recorded 
Notice the square and the drop down description of "Green/Blue Screen"

Step 5-Finished Work
As students finished, the students had a viewing party and gave peer feedback to one another on their projects which were uploaded to their blogs and websites. Overall, it was a great project and one of my student's most memorable ones of the year. See this finished product below!