Monday, October 15, 2018

7 Tips for Successful Screencasting You Can Do

Last week, I wrote about 4 reasons why screencasting has greatly helped me. And from looks of it, I wasn't the only one who was talking about screencasting last week! 

You can read last week's here ↬ Screencasting You Can Do.

Another EdTech guru I follow - Jake Miller - shared "3 Screencastify Features You (Probably) Didn't Know About". He's right! I didn't know about these 3! You definitely should read this.

Today, I want to share some tips if you've not started, or are new to, screencasting. Screencasting is a great tool for teachers for the reasons I shared last week, but it's also a great tool for students to use, too! They will most likely take to it easier than you or I!

Here are a few suggestions & tips:

When setting up your account (or setting up accounts with students), make sure you set it to automatically save to Google Drive. To do this, click on the extension, select  "Options" & on the new browser window, the top option is saving to Drive or on local device. I LOVE the Drive option. It will create a Screencastify folder for easy access with ALL your recordings in one place.

Learn and think through the potential uses for the recording options. You can record the browser tab, the entire desktop, or just the webcam (meaning what your camera sees). Each option has it's pros & cons. If you just choose the browser tab, you have to stay in just the open tab. The desktop will capture everything you can see on your screen. The webcam can capture outward images.

There's a time and place for your just your webcam to record. There's a time and place you don't want the webcam at all. There's also a time and place to have the webcam AND your screen being recorded. 

Be sure to point out specifically to your students the little black circle IS their camera! Some may not make that connection without it and be unsure where exactly to look.

The microphone. One more great tool to think about it. Make sure you notice if the microphone is on or off. I've made the mistake of recording and not checking - only to find out I forgot to turn it on! πŸ˜‚ In a classroom setting, make sure your students understand they can record, but there will be a extra noise. Students can go a long way in being considerate of others by leaning in and talking quietly into their devices. It's all about sharing classroom space - not competing to see who is the loudest.

Rest assured - it might feel weird to record yourself! I know it felt awkward to me! Then to listen to myself ... let's just say I say I deleted quite a few recordings because I didn't like how I sounded! Then I realized ↬ everyone is used to hearing me ... except me!

This is super important ... name the ones you want to keep and don't be afraid to delete! If you mess up - DELETE. If it's a "keeper", NAME the video. Otherwise, your folder will be full of screencasts and you won't know which one is which. Students need constant reminders about this. It is incredibly tough to find the right video when you have a bunch a videos that all look the same.

Last one ... 

Keyboard shortcuts. SUPER helpful. I have them written on a post-it note with my computer. The most basic are the start/stop/pause. At the very least, write these down for handy reference.

to Start or Stop recording

to Pause & resume recording

Here is a LINK to Screencastify's collection of shortcuts. These are good for those who are ready to take screencasting to the next level.

I hope this helps you feel a little more confident in your screencasting adventures! Enjoy!

Please reach out if you have questions. You can comment below, or find me on Twitter @kiefersj -- or Google+ +SarahKiefer .

Monday, October 8, 2018

Screencasting You Can Do

One area of tech I did nothing with when I had my own classroom was screencasting. To be honest, I had a hard time listening to myself! Then, one of the first things I was asked to do when I started as a tech integration person was to screencast how to log into various programs. Gulp! Now, I had to!

I won't lie - it took me FOREVER! I made and deleted and remade and deleted some more. Fast-forward 2 years, and while I still do not really care to hear myself, I find it much easier to do as well as a HIGHLY efficient way to accomplish various tasks. (I'll explain later.)

I truly wish I had gotten on board with screencasting while I was in the classroom because I've found some pretty awesome ways to use it that save time and allow you to build a bank of good resources.

I know there are all kinds of screencasting tools out there - my preferred one is Screencastify. It allows me to log in with my Google account and I choose to have it automatically save my videos to My Drive. SUPER easy! I only use the free version & have yet to hit any need for a paid version. (Sure some of the editing tools would be nice, but I've made do.)

I'll share some tips at the end. Here are some of the ways I've found screencasting is helpful:

"How To" or Demonstrations

I am split between two elementaries and I often am asked "how to" questions or "I need help with" ... but I'm at the other elementary. While I could type out directions, I've found it very helpful to create a quick little video and then share it. I've received very positive feedback from this - it's specific to the person and it provides a visual along with the auditory instructions. 

CHALLENGE: record a "how to" for your students.


A big part of my job is supporting teachers with integrating tech into their classrooms. Last winter, we did a district-wide professional book study on George Couros "The Innovator's Mindset". It was fantastic!!! As part of the wrap up, I devised "The Innovator in YOU" so our teachers could capitalize on these great ideas. One was a 2nd grade teacher who said he'd like to make videos to share with the parents on how to do the math. (Don't laugh ... this is a regular complaint for math at all ages! It's mostly a vocab thing.) I helped him get going on this project. Eventually, the hope is he will teach his students how to create these. But for now, wow! What a great idea! 

You can check him out his YouTube channel is "David Williams". I love this & I've shared it with as many primary teachers I can. Better yet, subscribe and you'll be notified each time he posts a new video.

CHALLENGE: record a video on a specific area your students struggle & share it.

Next best thing to in-person

I love being in the classroom and working with teachers and students. Love it, love it, love it! I have regular appointments with several classes. And try as I might, I have to reschedule or skip it sometimes. Boo! I had to do this last year with two 2nd grade classes. Man, was I bummed! I talked to the classroom teachers and asked if it'd be ok if I made a short video and share it with them in my absence. They agreed! I sat on my front porch two nights prior and recorded what I was going to do with them. Once I was done, I shared it with the 2 teachers. Even though I wasn't there in real time, I was there in video form!

CHALLENGE: record your sub plans! Read below for more ...

Relaying Problems

This is one I just recently realized the power. We recently adopted a new portal in our district. As much as we πŸ’–it, we are finding we have some kinks to work through. One of these was incredibly tough to write out and make sense so the company would truly understand what I was needing help with. Brain spark! I'll make a quick video! So I did ... at the same time I was explaining, I was showing my question. This really helped both sides figure it out! 

Since it worked so well for the portal, about a week later, a teacher had an issue with using one of our programs, I made a quick little video & shared it with the company, and again, SO much better to explain and show at the same time.

CHALLENGE: next time you run into a problem with a program, record it & send it to your tech person. Let them really "see" your question.

Uses in the classroom

Did you notice the challenge I put at the end of each of the 4 areas I've found it helpful to use screencasting? You can do this!

Let me give you the classic example ... you have a professional day out of the classroom (or a planned day for another reason) ... sub plans are a PAIN. (Can anyone other than a teacher really understand what a pain sub plans are???) 

Here's the regular scenario for me I chaperone the 8th grade DC trip each year. That's 3 days out of the classroom. Three. Not a big deal for the 8th graders who don't go, but I still had full classes of 7th graders who were expected to keep have social studies class. I grew tired of leaving plans for the sub that got misinterpreted, or worse, not followed at all. I decided I was going to use this new LMS to my advantage. Schoology. I could schedule things to be available on a certain day and time. Sweet! I wrote my plans TO my students. I gave them step by step instructions. Then I left a note for the sub ... "all my plans are posted in Schoology for the students to read". (I think I might have printed them for the sub, too.) I see now, I could have easily screencasted them rather than typing them & then my students could see AND hear me give them instructions. Beautiful!!!

Once you start, you'll find numerous reasons why screencasting can be a wonderful tool to add to your tool belt. 

And just when you get comfortable, take it to the next level ... teach your STUDENTS how to do it and let their learning shine through!

Next week, I'll share some tips when you start screencasting. Talk with you then!

Please reach out if you have questions. You can comment below, or find me on Twitter @kiefersj -- or Google+ +SarahKiefer .

Sunday, September 30, 2018

2 Google Drive Shortcuts You Will WANT To Do

Back in January, I wrote about two of my favorite topics ↬ Google Drive and organization. You can read that post here: Google Drive Organization You Can Do.  Today, I'm excited to share with you TWO pretty awesome shortcuts you will definitely want to add to your tool belt.

Organization greatly helps your everyday life, and these shortcuts will help you even more. 

Now, you might be thinking ... why would I want to use these? Have you ever wanted a quick peek at a file in your Drive (probably because the title isn't super clear)? Or maybe you are in your Google Classroom folder and you simply want to scan through your student work? What if you are doing a clean up and you want to change names? These 2 shortcuts are invaluable!

Select a file, then click the letter P ↬ a quick preview of the file pops open. From here, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard (or use your mouse to click on arrows on the screen) to scan through ALL the contents of the particular folder you are in. 

Select a file, then click the letter N ↬ a window will pop open allowing you to rename the file. This makes me super happy, because I don't want double-click to open the file, wait for it to load, and then click in the title box. I know it sounds silly, but every little bit of time-saving is important to me. 

*** BONUS #1 *** ↬ Did you know there are TWO different views in Drive? Yep! To check it out, look for to change your view. It will be in the top right corner, below your profile image.
  • "grid view" arranges your folders & files as small tiles
    • PRO - folders arranged as tiles takes up less vertical space on your screen & provides tiny little previews of files
    • CON - files as tiles take up more space & titles of folders & files are shortened
  • "list view" arranges your folders & files in a vertical list
    • PRO - the full title of the folder & file can be seen, as well as owner & last modified info
    • CON - takes up far more vertical space
Check out the comparison of my My Drive in each view. There is no right or wrong ... it's personal preference ... but check them both out. You might just find you prefer the other view!

*** BONUS #2 *** ↬ I have two other shortcut tips on my companion blog. They might also be helpful to you.

Monday, September 24, 2018

4 Troubleshooting Tips You Can Do

If you use Chromebooks &/or GSuite, you may have noticed a few odd glitches this past week. This has inspired today's post where I want to share a few very easy troubleshooting tips. Teachers CAN do these ... students can do some, too ... and knowing how can empower you to solve a vast majority of your tech glitches. 

In my district, we are 1:1 with Chromebooks in grades 1 -12. I split my time between our two elementaries, grades preK-4. I frequently have students sent to me because something isn't working right on their Chromebook. The most common irritant is that the trackpad isn't working "right". Another common issue is the students' password isn't working. And finally, another common issue is the student can't access the program their teacher is directing them to use.

How do you handle this? What can you do? 
Here are 4 tips that you CAN do ↬

1 ↬ Sign out, then sign back in

This is the very first thing I suggest ... and it will solve about 90% of the troubles. Chrome is a browser that can and will update itself, if you completely close it down and restart it. I know it's far easier to just close your chromebook (or laptop) so you can pick up where you left off, and that's ok for a day or two. 

*** BEST TIP: sign out at the end of the day so that you start fresh tomorrow.

↬ Delete the profile(s) and sign back in

Deleting the student's profile (along with any others on the device) can help solve quite a few problems. Recently, we've had a number of students who are being told their is an issue with their password. There's no rhyme or reason, but we've found deleting their profile and adding it back does the trick! I would try doing this before going through the extra steps of contacting the correct people to do a password reset - that may ultimately need to happen, but if you can troubleshoot and fix it, that is a huge timesaver! Plus, it doesn't hurt anything. All of the student's bookmarks, files, and passwords are in the cloud, so log back in & you are in business.

*** BEST TIP: if you are 1:1, keep to this - assign one device to each student - build ownership. Don't let the students randomly use the devices. It's very difficult to make sense of what is actually going on with a device the more students who use it. If you are NOT 1:1, I still recommend assigning the devices. 

↬ Check your wifi network

Sunday, September 16, 2018

5 Chrome Settings You Can Do

Last week, I covered 5 reasons why you should use Chrome. This week, I want to dive further into the settings you can customize in your Chrome profile. This will further enhance your Chrome experience. 

I hope you'll come to love using Chrome just like I did.

Opening Your Settings

Your settings are the key to all things custom for your Chrome account. It is super easy to find. Check out my 1st #EduGIF ! (Thanks, Jake Miller!)

Your settings will open in a new tab and it provides a search bar at the top. Let's go over some simple ways that will make your Chrome account feel like YOU. It's also a great opportunity to make your school Chrome account different from your personal Chrome account.

Before you do anything ... make sure you are in your account. Once you are on the settings page, you should see your account listed. If not, use the sign in option. 

Another note ↬ if you are in a G Suite account for school, your admin does have the ability to restrict or limit several of these options. If you can't adjust in your school account, pop into your personal account and do it. Have fun!

Chrome "Theme"

The first thing you can do to personalize your Chrome account is to add/adjust your "Theme". This is the very first item under "Appearance".

Mine is currently set to "Beach Board". The little square with the arrow pointing out will allow you to navigate to the Chrome Web Store and change your theme. Look around, check them out ... you can always come back and change it later.

As you scroll through them, look closely. Some will only change the image when you open a new tab. Others will even change the look of your tabs! There's no right or wrong ... only personal preference. Try one and see what you think. You can always change it again!

Chrome "Home Button"

The easiest one-click bookmark you can do is to set your "home button" to the location you visit the most often. This option is located just under the Theme option.

Take a few minutes and really give it some thought. First of all, you do not even have to use it, but I find it to be very beneficial. I jump into my Drive all the time. So I've set my home page to my Drive. It's as simple as copy a URL & paste it in. Done. 

The home button is located just to the left of your URL/omnibox. One click and you are home. 

On Start Up, Open Specific Tabs