Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Google Slides Closed Captioning and Screencastify

Did you know that Google Slides recently added the ability for presenters to display closed captions while presenting? We've used it a few times to support one of our American Sign Language teachers and it has been great!

The new closed captioning can be turned on and off when in the presenter view of any Google Slide Presentation. Right now the captions are not recorded or saved, but presenters can use Screencastify or another screen recording tool to record the presentation and capture the closed captioning.

You can learn more about Closed Captions in Google Slides from this Google's Keyword Blog.

What’s that you say? Present with captions in Google Slides

Looking for more EdTech and Google Tips? Explore the Archive of Past Tuesday Tips.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October Book of the Month - 40 Ways to Inject Creativity into Your Classroom with Adobe Spark

The best educators are not content to do the same old thing year after year. Innovative educators push their thinking by engaging in social media, exploring blogs, attending conferences, and exploring the newest generation of educational books.

I've created a Recommended Educator Book Site to organize and share some great books connected to teaching and learning. I will also occasionally feature a new book recommended by my PLN on this blog.

This month's book is 40 Ways to Inject Creativity into Your Classroom with Adobe Spark by Ben Forta and Monica Burns. I absolutely love Adobe Spark and use it all the time in my classroom, so I was excited to dive into some new ways to use it.

40 Ways to Inject Creativity into Your Classroom with Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is a fun, free content-creation tool that anyone can use. Easily accessible on web browsers, Chromebooks, and mobile devices, Adobe Spark’s intuitive and easy-to-use design makes it the perfect tool for learners of all ages to create . . .
In the hands of creative educators, Adobe Spark provides students with a fun way to embrace critical communication and creativity skills. But what if you don’t consider yourself a “creative educator” or just aren’t sure where to start?
That’s where 40 Ways to Inject Creativity into Your Classroom with Adobe Spark comes to the rescue! Experienced educators Ben Forta and Monica Burns offer step-by-step guidance on how to incorporate this powerful tool into your classroom in ways that are meaningful and relevant. They present 40 fun and practical lesson plans suitable for a variety of ages and subjects as well as 15 graphic organizers to get you started. With the tips, suggestions, and encouragement in this book, you’ll find everything you need to inject creativity into your classroom using Adobe Spark.

If you are curious about some of my past recommended books, you can find them here

Have an idea for a new featured book? Please share in the comments below.

(Image Created with Adobe Spark)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Favorite YouTube Channels to Support Teachers and Learners

What are your favorite YouTube Channels connected to teaching and learning?

Flashback Alert - Have You Ever Seen the First Video Ever Uploaded to YouTube?
YouTube has come a long way since this video!

YouTube is an incredible resource for teaching and learning. You can learn just about anything on YouTube. There are also many incredible educators and creators uploading new content daily connected to teaching and learning. 

Did you know that every second, one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube? That's a lot of content that can be leveraged to support teaching and learning. Have you ever seen the One Hour Per Second YouTube Visualization Site?

How do you keep track of it all? Where do you go to avoid hours of searching? One way is to find and subscribe to YouTube Channels connected to teaching, learning or specific subject areas. Here are a 6 of my favorite YouTube channels connected to teaching and learning. Right now, I am going to steer clear of anything that is focused on a single content, but if you have a favorite channel regardless of how it could be classified, please share in the comments below or in this collaborative Padlet.


"Welcome to Edutopia's YouTube channel. We create videos about what's working in K - 12 education. Whether you're curious about project-based learning, integrating tech tools, or social and emotional learning practices, we've got you covered. And don't miss our Schools That Work series, which focuses on evidence-based strategies that you can bring to *your* classroom/"

Big Think

"Big Think is the leading source of expert-driven, actionable, educational content -- with thousands of videos, featuring experts ranging from Bill Clinton to Bill Nye, we help you get smarter, faster. We aim to help you explore the big ideas and core skills that define knowledge in the 21st century, so you can apply them to the questions and challenges in your own life."

Crash Course

"Tons of awesome courses in one awesome channel! Nicole Sweeney teaches you sociology, Carrie Anne Philbin teaches you computer science, Craig Benzine teaches film history, and Mike Rugnetta is teaching mythology! Check out the playlists for past courses in physics, philosophy, games, economics, U.S. government and politics, astronomy, anatomy & physiology, world history, biology, literature, ecology, chemistry, psychology, and U.S. history."

Google for Education

"Google for Education is about learning for everyone, anywhere. Subscribe to our channel for product news and updates, resources, and inspiration. We believe that every student and every educator, in every classroom, deserves the tools and skills that set them up for success in building the future they want for themselves. So we’re committed to supporting students, partnering with educators, building products and making impactful investments that help expand access to education through technology."


"Seeker exists where technology, innovation, and the future collide. We celebrate relentless curiosity with an insatiable drive to question, inspire, and create."

Soul Pancake

"We make stuff that makes you think, laugh, and cry. New videos every week.
Dive into our brain batter of shows like Kid President, My Last Days, Metaphysical Milkshake, 0-100, Science of Happiness, Top of the Monday, BRICK X BRICK and more! Speak your mind, unload your questions, and figure out what it means to be human. Welcome to SoulPancake's YouTube channel."

I think 6 is enough for now. I have many other favorites that I will share in the Padlet and in future posts. Stay tuned!

Additional Resources

Friday, October 19, 2018

Let's Talk About Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides actionable feedback used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ attainment of curricular learning targets/goals

You Don't Know What You Don't Know
We believe that formative assessment is one of the most powerful tools we can use to enhance learning and engage students in the learning process. The best educators use a variety of formative assessment techniques and tools to help everyone in the classroom gauge essential understandings.  The best formative assessments also help drive the learning experience for both teachers and students.

Favorite Formative Resources and Strategies

I am excited this week to be co-authoring this post with my friend and partner in all things teaching and learning, Melissa Wilson. Melissa is an English teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School. We will be cross-posting this story on her blog “#Whatsup Wildcats”. If you’ve never had a chance to explore Melissa’s blog, I highly recommend that you change that today. Melissa provides some incredible insights into the teaching and learning experience at Neuqua.

We are in our second year of 1 to 1 with Chromebooks, and we have been amazed by the incredible formative assessments we’ve witnessed as teachers have enhanced and transformed their instructional practices. Teachers are facilitating and our students are collaborating, communicating, creating, and thinking critically as part of the learning process on a daily basis. Formative assessment has become an essential component of our students' learning experiences.

We believe that one of the most rewarding professional development activities is when teachers find time to talk to each other. Powerful things can happen when educators from different departments have time to sit and talk to each other about teaching and learning. With this in mind, our second CAFE Connect was born with a focus on formative assessment.

Melissa and I enjoyed two days of questions, classroom stories, and educators exploring resources to support formative assessment. We even created some fun Neuqua Trivia Challenges using six different digital formative tools to help staff experience the student side of some of our favorite tools. Other than the trivia, there were no formal presentations, just educators talking to educators. It was a great learning experience.

Here are some of our reflections on this collaborative experience:
  • Teachers are using the tools and techniques at all points in the learning process. We talked about formative assessment as a pre-learning tool, as a checkpoint during learning experiences, and as "reviews" near the end of an activity or unit. 
  • Teachers all have favorite tools, but they also realize that using a single tool all the time can have a negative impact on student engagement. 
  • Teachers are becoming more comfortable taking risks in the classroom and trying new resources to help engage, motivate, assess, and challenge our students. 
  • Teachers appreciate assessment tools that offer a way to provide answer feedback to students. Google Forms, Socrative, and Quizalise are a few examples of resources that offer this option.
  • While we know our students enjoy competitive assessments, our teachers report that at times, they can be more of a distraction. As stated earlier, the key to success with utilizing assessment tools is variety, and this is no different when it comes to game-based learning; they can't be used all the time and still be as effective. 
  • The ability to record student voices has been a huge benefit for many of our teachers and students. Resources like Flipgrid, Adobe Spark Video, and Screencastify have made a huge difference in our World Language classes. They have also become a great tool for student reflection in quite a few of our classrooms. There is something about a student needing to verbally reflect that is pretty powerful. 
Learn more about our favorite formative assessment resources and strategies on our Formative Assessment Resource PD Site. If you have a favorite formative tool or strategy, please consider sharing in our collaborative Formative Assessment Padlet.

Let us know if you have any questions and learn on! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Makerspace Resources for Teachers and Students

"There are no rules here--we're trying to accomplish something." – Thomas Edison

What is a Makerspace?
My guess is that most people reading this post have some idea about what a makerspace is, so I won't spend too much time describing the spaces.
That being said, I recently rediscovered a post from one of my favorite blogs. This post reenergized my exploration of the makerspace movement and is the primary reason I am writing this post today.

Jennifer Gonzalez shares John Spencer's definition of a makerspace.
“I see a makerspace as simply a space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity,” he explains, “and the key thing there is they’re actually making something. Creativity is sometimes idea generation, it’s sometimes problem-solving. But (in) a makerspace, you’re actually going to create some kind of product. Now it could be a digital product. It could be a physical product. But there is an actual product, so you’re not going to, say, design an event or a service project. That’s not what a makerspace is for, so it’s a space devoted to and differentiated and set up for making.” - John Spencer
I like John's definition, but I know it is not the only way to look at the goals of a makerspace. I believe a Makerspace is what you make of it. Pun intended? I don't think there should be rules to what is and what isn't a makerspace if learning is happening. I've seen too many posts, with too many different opinions to ever tell anyone what a makerspace should or shouldn't be.

Why Makerspaces?
If you've been reading my blog you know that I am always curious about the 4 Cs connected to teaching and learning. For me, makerspaces provide students with opportunities to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create. The best makerspaces are all about student choice and student voice. I love opportunities for students to own their learning experiences, and makerspaces are great places for curious self-directed exploration.

Want To Learn More About Makerspaces?
I am by no means an expert on makespaces, but I love the potential that these spaces have to engage students. Here are some of the resources I've discovered as I've explored the Maker Movement. I apologize in advance if there is too much here. When I fall down a rabbit hole of exploration, it is usually a very deep one.

Social Connections to Learn More About Makerspaces
Web Resources and Posts Connected to the Makerspace Movement
Videos Connected to the Makerspace Movement
Some of  the Tools and Resources Often Connected to School Makerspaces
Funding for Maker Tools
  • School / District Grants
  • Local and National Educational Organizations
  • Private Organizations
  • Donorschoose.org
Makers Outside of Schools
What ideas or resources connected to makerspaces can you share in the comments below?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Engaging Learners with Video

Video in the classroom is not a new thing, but it is evolving as an essential resource for all learners. If you were born before 1980 you've probably experienced at least one classroom documentary on a film strip with an awesome and noisy Film Strip Projector. I know I was always excited to see the film projector and reels in the room, but when I reflect on my these learning experiences I realize that most of these documentaries did very little to engage me as a learner.

Video in the classroom has evolved. Today, classroom video is all about engagement and critical thinking. Students and teachers are creating content and actively engaging in videos using a variety of strategies and tools. Video has become a great medium for Creative Student Voice. I was inspired to dive deeper into my exploration of video in the classroom after exploring some of Common Sense Education's Video in the Classroom Resources.

I have also been looking to incorporate the ISTE standards as part of my teaching and learning foundations. There are some direct connections to video in some of the ISTE Standards.

ISTE Standards for Students - Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
ISTE Standards for Students - Knowledge Constructor
Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
ISTE Standards for Educators - Learner
Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
ISTE Standards for Educators - Designer
Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
Learn More: ISTE

When I think about using video to engage students I usually start by considering one of two categories: Creation and Exploration. Students and educators can create videos as part of the learning process. Exploring videos connected to concepts and skills can serve as a lesson hook, part of the body of a lesson, or as a way to reinforce or review key concepts. Mixing videos in with text and images are also great ways to differentiate the learning experience. 

Favorite Video Creation Resources
  • Adobe Spark Video - Create photo stories with voice-overs and music
  • Flipgrid - Video discussion platform
  • Recap - Video discussion platform
  • Screencastify - Screen recorder extension for Chrome
  • WeVideo - Full featured video creation, editing, and screen-casting resource
Favorite Video Exploration Resources
  • ClassHook - Popular clips from TV shows and movies
  • Edpuzzle - Interactive video engagement resource
  • PlayPosit - Interactive video engagement resource
  • TEDEd - Customized video lessons
  • TED Talks - Collection of talks from expert speakers
  • YouTube - Playlists and channels connected to anything and everything. 
Learn More -Additional Resources

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