Friday, December 19, 2014

All Things Youtube

Youtube has become a powerful educational tool lately that can be used in a variety of ways.  While there is always a place for the cat and fox videos that we all love (or hate), it can also be used to post content videos for students to watch, to assist in classroom flipping, or as a resource for students to find, use, and upload their own video creations.  On the surface, Youtube is simply a platform to post and share videos.  However, there are a variety of options and features that make it much more. Below you will find directions for uploading and editing videos, including increasing the 15 minute per video limit, subscribing to channels, creating and sharing playlists, and downloading Youtube videos.  The options are endless!

Uploading Videos:

  • Teachers and students can post videos to Youtube and share them.  One issue some teachers have run into is the 15 minute limit set on our school Youtube accounts.  However, that limit can be increased by following the directions below from the Youtube Help Site: Increasing Your Youtube Limit
  • Additionally, students can upload their own videos by following these directions: Uploading to Youtube.  
  • Once you have uploaded videos to Youtube, you also have the option to edit those videos, right in Youtube.  This video has instructions and help for editing your videos in Youtube.

Along with uploading videos, you can create and have students subscribe to your Youtube channel, making sharing classroom videos easier, or you yourself can subscribe to channels of interest to you.  For instance, Fargo Public Schools has an informative and helpful Youtube Channel with technology help videos - check it out here!
If you prefer not to access a complete channel or to create your own videos for classroom use, you can also create your own playlists, which are a collection of videos you choose and organize.  This works well if you use a variety of videos that you show in class or have students watch and you want to keep them organized and handy.  See the links below for videos on how to use channels and playlists.
     How to Subscribe to Channels
     How to Create and Share Playlists

See all the videos on the Youtube Help Channel here.

Downloading Youtube Videos and Audio

There are a number of ways to download videos from Youtube and options for downloading entire videos or just the audio of a video.  Students will often want to take short clips from videos to use in class projects, and the following sites allow for that.  This is also very helpful if you want to access a video later when you don't have internet access, or as a safety if you are planning to show a video in class, in case something isn't working (we all know the day you want to show a video is the day all it will do is buffer and not play).

  •      Keepvid: This site allows you to download videos from a variety of sites, including Youtube.  Simply copy and paste the video link in the box at the top of the page and click Download.  The site will provide options for downloading in a variety of formats, including video or audio only.
  •      Clip Converter: This site is another options for downloading online videos, or for uploading and converting the format of a video you have saved on your computer.  To download, simply paste the link and click continue.  Similar to Keepvid, you will get a list of options for downloading, including audio only.
  •      Youtube to MP3: This is one I recently leaned about from students, where you can again use the link to a Youtube video and convert it to an MP3 file that can be downloaded.  This is an easy way to get just the audio from a video or to get music that students can then use in presentations or classroom projects.  There is a variety of public domain music available on Youtube that students can use.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Are You in Kahoot!?

Formative assessment is a big topic around here and a focus this year, so this blog post will focus on another formative assessment tool called Kahoot.  Kahoot is a student response system that allows teachers to create pre-made quizzes, discussions, and surveys, which can then be done interactively in class.  The site adds a game-like quality to the formative assessment, making more fun and interactive for students.

Teachers can create their own Kahoots (quizzes, discussions, or surveys) or use ones other teachers have created and made public.  After completing the activity teachers can receive a summary report that provides information about each student and the class as a whole, including a breakdown by question on how the students did during the activity.  This can help teachers evaluate later individual students who may need more attention, or topics that they may need to reteach.

See the videos below for more information on using Kahoot!

Introduction to Kahoot for Classroom Assessments
Get Kahoot  - link to site for teachers to sign up
Kahootit! - Link for students to participate in an assessment

Friday, December 5, 2014

Video Creation

There are a variety of tools available online, as software, and as apps that can be used for video creation. Some, like Windows Movie Maker, we have had access to for years on our school computers and most teachers and students are fairly familiar with.  Others, only a few teachers have ever tried, and still others are completely new to us all.  This blog post will cover a couple of tools that are not as frequently used in our school or that have specific features that make them unique.

Zoetrope is actually at Windows 8 app that is available for install on our student devices and teacher computers that have Windows 8.  This app is a great choice for creating stop-motion movies for classroom projects.  The app makes it easy to take pictures and provides an overlay of the previous image, making it easier to create the stop-motion effect.  Once the images are completed, it is easy to save the video and then share it with others, or put it into another program such as movie maker to add more effects.  A couple of our math teachers recently used this app to have students create stop-motion videos about trig functions and it worked really well.  Overall, what makes this app appealing is that it is easy to use.  See the links below for more information on downloading and using the app.

Zoetrope App in Windows Store
Directions for Students for Downloading an App on their PLDs
Directions for Using the Zoetrope App

Stupeflix is a website that is great for classroom projects with younger students, students who aren't as technology savvy, or when you want a fast and easy option without a lot of bells and whistles.  Stupeflix lets students create videos using a premade theme that they choose (and there are only two free options to choose from), and then students add in their own pictures or videos to use.  There are a few features like being able to add a title and credits, or adding text overlay on an image, but there are no frills or extras with those features.  Additionally, music or audio can be added to the project, and the site provides a database of free music that can be used, or the students can upload music or audio recording.  Once a video is finished, it is easy to complete and share.  The biggest benefits of this site are how easy it is to use and that younger students or those without strong technology skills can still create videos.  We recently used this site with our ELL New Americans class where they created videos about their learning styles and likes and dislikes.  The limited options worked well because they were able to focus on the content and ideas instead of getting caught up in how to use the technology. Click the links below for more information or to access the site.

Stupeflix Website
Directions for Using Stupeflix
Link to Stupeflix Youtube Channel - How-to and Example Videos

Friday, November 21, 2014

Voice Feedback for Student Assignments and Peer Editing Using Kaizena

The English teachers in my building approached me recently looking for an easy way for students to give each other feedback on writing assignments, and in particular they wanted a tool that would allow for voice feedback. For years we have told students to read their papers aloud or have someone else read it aloud in order to hear whether the sentence fluency or word choice needs work.  However, the teachers wanted a way to assign students to be able to do this and to give each other feedback and for teachers to more easily be able to track that.

We started using Kaizena, which is a tool that works with Google documents and allows students to provide feedback to each other, or for teachers to easily provide feedback to students on assignments.  This is not just a peer editing tool, although that was how we started with it, but teachers can also use the tool to easily give feedback.  Additionally, the tool can be used as an app in Google Drive, which allows for the benefits or the full website, or as an add-on in Google docs, which makes it easier and more streamlined for students.

The Kaizena add-on only has to be installed once, and from there it can be used on any Google doc.  Teachers or students can use it request feedback from someone else or to provide feedback.  Feedback can be given in the form of audio comments, text comments, or links, which is a great way to provide additional resources to students.  Additionally, tags can be used for those comments or corrections that seem to happen over and over, saving time by not having to retype or write the same comment every time.  The Kaizena website allows for more robust organizing multiple papers or from multiple class periods, and can help teachers with the organization of assignments and feedback.  Overall, this tool can make providing feedback to students or having students peer edit a much easier process. Check out the directions below for more help on accessing and using the app or add-on.

Directions for adding and using the App in Google Drive

Directions for adding and using the Add-on in Google Docs

Friday, November 14, 2014


With the increase of visuals in the classroom and attempting to more fully engage students in creating and using presentations in the classroom, infographics are an easy way to have students present information or create visuals to use in classroom presentations and projects.  Infographics are a visual representation of data, and having students create them draws on a number of skills and literacies.  There are a number of tools that allow for the creation or use of infographics in the classroom, but I chose to stick with the two that I find easiest and most familiar.

My favorite tool for creating infographics is called  In easelly you can reuse public infographics or create new ones from scratch.  You can use premade themes or create your own infographic from a blank slate.  There are a variety of options for backgrounds, text, charts, images, and other objects you can add to your infographic.  You simply drag and drop different elements onto your canvas and arrange them how you like.  They are easy to create and add information to, and when you are finished your inforgraphic can be saved, shared, or downloaded.  Check out easelly and start creating your own!

The other tool that students can use to easily create an infographic is Infogram has very similar features to easelly but focuses more on interactive charts and graphs.  Again, creation is easy using premade themes and then adding your own personal information to it.  There are a variety of chart types you can choose from and a myriad of ways to visually present your data.  You can add charts, maps, text, images, and video.  When you are finished, you can publish your infographic online, embed it into a website, or share the link.

Overall, infographics can be a neat way to challenge students to visually present information in the classroom, useful in presentations and projects, and help explain concepts and terms to students who may better understand concepts with a visual representation.  For more information on infographics and using infographics for assessment, check out Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything on Infographics.

And if you're still not sure what exactly an infographic is or what purpose it can serve, check out the infographic below on what an infographic is (I saw this on another blog that I frequently visit, Free Tech for Teachers, when I first learned about infographics and found it helpful).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Google Drive on Your Computer

So one of the problems I have trying to convert everything over to Google is that I have a lot of documents that I have made in Word or Adobe or other applications that do not convert well when I upload them to Google or that I want to keep in the original format so that I can still work on them in Word or wherever.  So my solution has been to use the Google Drive Client available on our computers.

What the Google Drive Client does is download Google Drive onto your computer and then sync it with your online files.  What this means is that if I have a Word document, I can save it as a Word document directly into that folder.  It then syncs online so it is still backed up in the cloud.  So if anything ever happens to my computer, I can still access all of my documents and I don't lose anything.  For those of us here at Davies, think about it like your H drive, just syncing online to Google instead of to the district servers.

Another benefit of this is that I can open these documents from Google Drive on my computer, and they will open in the correct program (ex. Word), and I can work on them there, save them as normal, and the changes save online, too.  Additionally, if I am not on my work computer, I can still access all of those documents online through my Google Drive there, and download them if I need to work on them (of course, that means I have to upload them again when I am done, but the benefits of anywhere access outweigh the inconvenience since that rarely happens).

So if your H drive is full and you have been toting around a huge external hard drive or trying to back-up all of your teaching materials to a bunch of flash drives, look into utilizing Google Drive for your computer.  With 30GB of storage, it will take a while to fill it up (compare that to the 1.5GB your H drive probably has).  The videos below show you how to install the Google Drive Client from the software center (if you have a new Windows 8 computer it is already installed and you can just open the app), and how to access and use your files once you have it downloaded.  See the library if you have questions or need help!

Google Drive Client Install through Software Center

Friday, October 31, 2014

Twitter in Education

So what place does Twitter have in our schools?  For teachers, one of the answers to this question is that Twitter can be an incredible resource for classroom ideas and educational content.  If you are looking for more resources in your subject area, Twitter is a great place to connect with other educators and share ideas.  And you don't need a Twitter account to search for content.  There is a great video by Richard Byrne, author of the Free Technology for Teachers blog (great blog!) about "How to Search Twitter for Educational Content."  Check out the video here to see how to connect with others and make the most of this resource.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Google Forms Add-ons

Well, we have add-ons for sheets and docs, and they certainly make our lives easier when it comes to all of the extra things we need to do in Google, especially when it come to teaching and managing student work.  Now, in order to add even more flexibility and freedom, we have add-ons for Forms.  This will make adding those extra things you always wish you had (limits on how many responses or an end date for your form, not having to repeatedly remake questions all the time in forms, etc.  From a blog post by Saurabh Gupta:

Here are just a few of the growing list of add-ons that you can use today with Google Forms:

  • formLimiter: Close your survey automatically, after a maximum number of responses is reached, or at a date and time of your choosing.
  • gMath: Create both simple and complex mathematical equations along with graphs and statistical displays directly in your form.
  • Form Values: Store and pull from lists that you use regularly in Forms, like a list of staff, students, rooms, resources or anything you want.
Here is a link to the full blog post.  And another link to a different technology blog with great information on technology for teachers.  Have fun making your forms, surveys, and classroom assessments even better!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Google Classroom - New Features

Well, we've been using Google classroom here for almost two months, so it was only a matter of time before some of the feedback we've been giving and some of the things that we wish it did came through.  Google has released some new features to classroom on our domain.  These include:

· Groups integration: Ability to pre-populate classes with your class list by using the people picker after clicking Invite under Students.
· Mark assignments as “done”: Students can mark assignments as complete even if there's nothing to turn in (e.g. watch a video, read a chapter, bring something to class)
· Export all grades: Teachers will now have the ability to download grades for all assignments at once, making it easier to export assignments to any gradebook
· Sorting: Teachers can now choose to sort students by first or last name, depending on their needs
· Greater teacher controls: Teachers can now set permissions for whether or not their class can post or comment in the stream, they can mute individual students from posting or commenting and can even view previously deleted items in the stream
There is a Tech Tip Video on our district Youtube channel with an overview of the features.  Click this link to access the video directly.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Letter of Encouragement

This is not my normal day for posting a tech tip, and this post is not really about a tech tip.  I was recently clearing off my desk and browsing through the stack of technology magazines that had seemed to pile up out of nowhere, when I came across an article in an issue of INTERNET@SCHOOLS.  In particular, this article was written to teachers who, for whatever reason, are not inclined to use technology in their classroom.  Despite the fact that I do enjoy using technology in the classroom, I still found myself relating to many of the things the author wrote about, and thought many of her suggestions made sense, particularly for those who may not be comfortable using technology in the classroom - although you can completely skip #3 because it clearly does not apply to us here at Davies.  In any case, here is a link to the article "An Open Letter to Teachers Who Do Not Prefer Technology" by Mary Ann Bell.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cool Things with Chrome Tabs

Tricks to Making Using Google Chrome Easier

This post is all about a few of the neat features Google Chrome has for their browsing tabs, which can make it easier to work in Chrome.

Pinning Tabs

First, pinning tabs.  We've all been there.  Working on a web page, you open a new tab, you are done with that tab and when you go to close it... you accidentally hit the red x and close all of your tabs.  Now you have to reopen your browser and start again.  Well, the pin tab feature helps prevent that.

When you pin a tab in Google Chrome, it will keep that tab from accidentally closing. If you accidentally close your browser, when you reopen it, that tab will still be there.  An added bonus is that when you pin a tab, it gets minimized so only the icon shows, which leaves you room for a lot more tabs!

To pin a tab, simply right click on the tab and choose "Pin Tab."

You will see the tab minimize and show just the icon.

Toggle Between Tabs

Next, toggling between tabs.  Just like you can toggle between open programs on your computer using Alt+Tab, you can toggle between tabs in Chrome by using Control + Tab Number.  So, if I am in the first tab I have open and want to move to the second tab, instead of using my mouse to click on the second tab, I can use Control + 2 to move to that tab.  It's very handy when you're using your keyboard.  

Closing Tabs

Finally, we'll talk about how to easily close tabs in Chrome, without having to close the whole browser or close each tab individually by clicking on its little x.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  
If you want to close all of the tabs except the one you are on (or ones you have pinned), right click on the tab you want to keep open, and choose the option to "Close other tabs."

Your other option is to close all the tabs to the right of the tab you are on (sorry, you can only close the tabs to the right, not the left).  But remember, you can also drag tabs around to reorder them if needed.  To close all the tabs to the right, right click on the tab you are keeping open and choose "Close tabs to the right."

Hopefully these few tips will help make your Chrome experience a little faster, easier, and more efficient.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Recent Changes to Google Forms

Google forms are a great way to do formative assessment with students, as they are quick and easy to make, provide results in easy to use and sort spreadsheets, as well as summary results in easy to analyze graphs.  Some recent changes make them even easier to use.

New features include:

  • Search the menus to quickly access Form features
  • Shuffle question order (great for formative assessments!)
  • Limit responses to one per user
  • Limit one response per column for grid style questions
  • Create shortened URL for sharing forms
Here is a recent blog post from the Google Gooru detailing the new form features:

5 More Updates to Customize Your Google Forms

    Google announced a redesigned version of Forms a few weeks ago, we hoped there were even more changes on the horizon. It looks like we got our wish with 5 more updates to bring even more customizability to Google’s survey tool.
A couple of the updates allow you to preserve the integrity of your surveys, by only allowing one responses per user and shuffling the order of questions. You can learn how to access all of the updates in the video, but it’s great to see an improved experience for anyone who wants to collect data.
The updates include:
  • ‘Search the menus’ to quickly access Form features
  • Shuffle question order
  • Limit responses to one per user
  • Limit one response per column for grid style questions
  • Create shortened URL for sharing forms
*Note* – The video refers to ‘require one response per row’ for grid style questions as the update. The update is actually ‘Limit one response per column’ which can be accessed by clicking ‘Advanced settings’ while inside the grid style question.