Wednesday, June 22, 2016

3-2-1 Action! Screencasting Tools

Screencasting is an easy way of making recordings in your classroom. Whether your students create screencasts for project-based learning or you create them for flipped learning, you'll love these ideas and tools for enhancing your teaching.

Ways Teachers Can Use Screencasting

There are many ways teachers can utilize screencasting in the classroom. Check out a few below:
  • Flip your classroom - Create content videos for your students
  • Demonstrate how to complete homework
  • Create training videos for staff or students
  • Explain to your sub what the students are to do for the day
  • Introduce material if you are out; your sub can show it
  • Make screencasts of your student’s presentations in order to showcase them
  • Create screencasts for parents about a big upcoming student project

Ways Students Can Use Screencasting

Likewise, there are many ways students can utilize screencasting in the classroom. For example:
  • Show understanding of taught material
  • Teach others how to do something
  • Show off work
  • Illustrate concepts or solve problems
  • Create voice-over images or screencasts that tell a story

 Ways Administrators Can Use Screencasting

Screencasting isn’t just for teachers and students. Administrators can utilize it too. This would be a great way to model technology use as well as show support of technology. Some ideas include:
  • Share information with parents
  • Flip faculty meetings
  • Explain a concept to your staff
  • Give school updates

 Screencasting Tools

There are many good screencasting tools available today. Below are just a few of my favorites:
  • Jing - Jing is free, but you must download the software to your computer. It can record up to five minutes at a time. You have the option to either upload the finished screencast to or download your video to your computer.  Jing captures still images and video.
  • Screencast-O-Matic - This tool is free and you can either download the software or record directly from their website. You can record up to 15 minutes at a time and it allows a webcam picture in the recording. The videos are saved in either MP4, FLV, or AVI format or can be directly uploaded to YouTube.
  • Snagit Chrome Extension - While the desktop version of the Snagit program is not free (unless you are a Google Certified Trainer), the Chrome extension is. The extension allows you to capture great-looking screencasts with just a few clicks.
  • Screencastify Chrome Extension - Screencastify is a simple video screen capture extension for Chrome. Just press record and the content of your tab, webcam, or desktop is recorded.

Just Try It

Why not give screencasting a try? Your screencasts don’t have to be very long or perfect. It is actually recommended that you keep them as short as possible and only stick to one subject per screencast. So create one today!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Express Yourself with Office Sway

At the upcoming Tots and Technology conference, I will be presenting on Office Sway. Office Sway is a presentation program that allows users to combine text and media to create captivating presentations and was released by Microsoft in August 2015.
The purpose of Sway is to convey concepts quickly, easily, and clearly. It is primarily used for presenting ideas onscreen, such as tutorials, topic introductions, and interactive reports. Sways are stored on Microsoft's servers and are tied to the user's Microsoft account.
A Sway is composed of multiple cards that are combined into a storyline. Cards are containers that hold text, images, and videos. You can combine cards into groups. A collection of cards makes up the storyline.

Accessing Office Sway

To access Office Sway:
  1. Go to
  2. Login in with your Microsoft or Office 365 account. If you do not have an account, you can easily create a free account.
There is also an app for Office Sway for iPhones and iPads. The app can be found here.

When to Use Office Sway

There are many instances in which you might want to use Sway. Below are just a few:
  • When creating media-rich content - After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • When you want your reader to interact with content - Sway has the ability to include live content, such as tweets and embedded sites from numerous sources that the user can interact with, including Google maps and numerous other sites. See a list here.
  • When you want to focus on content rather than formatting - You can choose from numerous canned designs, fonts, and navigation patterns or you can have Sway remix layouts for you.
  • When a document is not required - Sways can be shared, but not exported.
  • When you want to create tutorials, newsletters, or interactive reports

Office Sway in the Classroom and Beyond

There are many ways in which you can use Office Sway in the classroom, as well as for personal productivity. Take a look at a few examples below:

Give It a Try

If you have never used Office Sway before, I challenge you to give it a try. Many tutorials exist, from how to create a newsletter and a digital story to how to create tutorials and presentations.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Flipped Side of Professional Development

I am very honored to be presenting at the upcoming ISTE conference in June. I will be presenting on ways in which you can flip your professional development. As we all know, there are many challenges to traditional professional development, such as large group instruction with a one-size-fits-all type of delivery. This is why many school districts are turning to the flipped model for their professional development.
Just like the flipped classroom model, flipped professional development involves teachers reviewing resources or watching videos ahead of the designated meeting time. This would then allow the PD time together to be spent in more meaningful ways. Meeting time could turn into a discussion about a topic or planning time with colleagues.

Benefits of Flipping PD

There are many benefits of flipping professional development, for both teachers as well as staff development facilitators. Below are a few:
  • Teachers can learn at their own pace.
  • Teachers have the opportunity to review the material over and over again, if they need or want to.
  • Teachers are engaged and can take ownership of their own learning.
  • Facilitators can spend more time supporting teachers with practice.
  • Facilitators can be involved with teacher learning rather than lecture.

Some things I will be sharing in my presentation include:
  • Steps for getting started with flipping your professional development
  • Examples of how schools are flipping professional development
  • Digital tools that can help you move your content online.

The ISTE conference will be held in Denver, Colorado on June 26-29, 2016. I hope to see you there!