Monday, April 23, 2018

Screencasting Savvy

If you have been watching our Tech-A-Minute mini-series, you know that we have been exploring different options for student video creation. In our latest episode, we discussed screencasting.

A screencast is essentially a recording of your computer screen that allows you to capture the action on your screen while you narrate. Most screencasting tools also allow you to create a webcam recording from your device’s camera. You may have seen a screencast in an instructional video or as a presentation with a voiceover. While this can be a very powerful tool for teachers to deliver course content, create remedial content, differentiate for a student, or communicate with parents, it can be especially powerful when put in the hands of students.

As explained in this article, screencasts can turn students into digital teachers. They can present a project, answer an assessment question, and make other informal videos within just minutes. Some tools allow students to create more polished, edited videos, while others give students a platform to quickly express their ideas and show their understanding. Check out some of the examples of student-created screencasts below:

Examples from Mark Haxton at Aspen Creek K-8
Math Problem Solving example
Circle Hockey Presentation example
Close Reading example

Now that you know why you might want to have your students create a screencast, we can explore the how. Below are a few tools that your students can use across many devices, including Chromebooks. Check each one out to find a tool that will best meet your students’ needs.

Helpful Resources
A web-based tool that allows users to instantly capture their screen with audio commentary. There is both a free and paid version available.
Users can choose to save their video file on their device, upload to the Screencast-o-matic cloud, or to a YouTube channel.
A Chrome extension that allows recording from a tab, desktop, or webcam. The free version of this tool allows students to create videos up to 10 minutes long.
Screencasts save directly to their Google Drive for easy sharing.
A “record” option in a video edit that gives the option to record your screen or webcam. This option allows for editing and does not have a time limit.
WeVideo automatically saves finished videos to your WeVideo account, but can also save to Google Drive or a YouTube channel.
A Chrome extension that allows you to capture your screen or record a video and add in your own annotations.
Users can choose to upload to Google Drive, copy it to the clipboard, or share using a direct link.

As you get started with screencasting with your students, there are many resources to support you. Check out Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Screencasting in the Classroom or the Ultimate Screencasting Guide for Teachers and Students. And don’t forget that we’d love to see your BVSD examples of student screencasts. Tweet us @BVSDEdTech or leave your comments and questions below.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Guest Blogger - Erin Mayer | The Road Less Traveled - Going Gradeless

Erin Mayer, Science Teacher | Casey MS
21st Century Cohort 4.0
@Erinsmayer |

The Road Less Traveled - Going Gradeless

After a successful trial run last spring eliminating grades in lieu of feedback and reflection with my eighth grade science students (The Road to Gradeless), I decided to completely eliminate grades for all 155 of my sixth and seventh grade students this year. In September, after I felt that my students and I had begun to create and develop a collaborative, safe, learning community, I explained to my students that because our primary focus throughout the year would be learning and understanding, they would receive learning feedback from me, not grades. With the full support of my administrators, I also shared my vision with my student’s families (Learning and Grades Parent Letter).

To provide and document feedback on student learning and understandings, I use Schoology in conjunction with single point rubrics focused on our learning criteria.
If a student learner has met the learning criteria, they receive a “Proficient”. If they have not met the criteria, they receive a “Not Proficient Yet”. I include concerns, questions and evidence of advanced understandings in the comment column of the Schoology “gradebook”. I emphasize the “yet” in not proficient yet, consistently acknowledging and reminding my student learners that the learning process is messy and that it is often necessary to traverse multiple learning paths and revision processes to develop, refine and communicate understandings and ideas.

Our school is on a quarter system and I still need to submit traditional letter grades each quarter. At the conclusion of each quarter, my seventh graders reflect on and evaluate their learning using a Personal Learning Reflection and Evaluation template that I share with them. At the conclusion of this document, each student determines what their quarter grade will be. Students mini-conference with me after completing their reflection. These conferences are critical and allow my students and I to dig deeper into their personal reflection and evaluation of their learning. Our class is self-paced which allows us to mini-conference during class time because all students reach the unit evaluation and reflection phase at different points.

I discovered that my sixth grade students need more scaffolding to reflect and evaluate on their learning. Their most recent reflection, after a quarter-long problem based unit focused on bioplastics, provided this additional structure and focus: Polymers for the Planet Individual Learning Reflection.

Overall, the feedback I have received about our gradeless learning environment has been positive. Parents and family members appreciate our emphasis on learning and communicating understandings. At this point in our journey, most of my students have developed a deeper understanding of what gradeless means. This has been a transition for many students, particularly my seventh graders. An emphasis on learning and understanding over grades requires students to own their learning. Their experiences in our science classroom are helping them understand that learning is messy. They are realizing that it is okay, and often beneficial, to slow down and focus more deeply. They are more aware that the ability to communicate their understandings, in ways that work best for them, is critical and can be very rewarding. As my students’ learning facilitator, our experience has convinced me that a gradeless environment is best for kids. It provides the opportunity for all of my students, many who are often labeled as “underperforming”, to find learning success in our science classroom and ultimately allow to develop their capacities as thinkers, learners and doers.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Getting Started With a Student Video Project

BVSD Ed Tech’s YouTube show for teachers, Tech-A-Minute, is back with a series focusing on student video creation! If you missed the first episode, be sure to start there for an introduction to using video in the classroom. To complement the release of the second episode, we’re highlighting a few great resources to help you get started!

A successful student video project requires a balance of structure and creative freedom. Thoughtful planning by both the teacher and the student ultimately makes the video creation process more efficient and the finished product better. You may want to consider the integration of the following components:

Whether the plan is to record a voiceover or present a live broadcast on-camera, knowing what you are going to say will promote efficient recording and a coherent message. The scriptwriting process is a great way to encourage collaboration between students, allow for multiple revisions, and give the opportunity for teacher feedback. Video creation can be a powerful iterative writing exercise! For links to some great writing tools be sure to visit the Scriptwriting page on our Digital Storytelling website.

A storyboard is a visual tool that allows students to begin thinking about what images, audio, and effects will support their script in the final video. Storyboarding provides an opportunity to consider the audience, pace their video, and identify media that needs to be collected. While many powerful online storyboarding tools exist, it is also easy and effective to do it on paper. This printable template offers a simple way to map out a video project. Below are a couple of examples of student-created storyboards (click to enlarge):


Media Collection
One of the benefits of digital video creation is the ability to use a variety of multimedia content to support a vision. Students will love integrating their own photos and video clips into their projects! However, there are also times when using existing images, videos, and audio is useful. It is important to teach students how to seek out legal, free-to-use (such as Creative Commons licensed) media for their projects. Not all online content is created equal! For a list of fantastic media sources, be sure to visit our Media Resources website.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to BVSD Ed Tech on YouTube so you don’t miss the rest of our series on student video creation! If you’ve already done video projects with your students or have other resources to share, be sure to comment below.