Create Digital Portfolios with @Seesaw

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 10.36.10 AMWhen I hear the word seesaw, I usually picture the playground equipment of my youth, also known as a teeter totter. Now that I’ve been using the Seesaw app for awhile, however, I get a new picture in my mind: students quickly and easily sharing work with their teachers and their parents using the Seesaw app. If you’ve been searching for ways for students to “take their work off the iPad” and get it to you, you will definitely want to read on!

How Does Seesaw Work?

Seesaw is a “student-driven digital portfolio.” It allows students (or the teacher) to upload digital work, take photos of analog work and upload to the student portfolio, or create work to be organized in the digital portfolio directly within the app itself. Students are able to take photos and videos, draw, make notes, record their voices, upload from the camera roll, or add links they have copied from the Web. Seesaw also has a blog feature that allows the teacher and the students to publish work to the class Seesaw blog. Additionally, parents can download the Seesaw Parent app to have access to their child’s work as long as you turn that feature on and provide the join code.

You’ll be prompted with a few introductory screens once you sign up for an account. After that, you’ll let the app know how your students will be accessing your class.Seesaw_accessIf your students are younger than 3rd grade or they do not have their own email addresses, you’ll want to choose “Use Class Code.” You will then receive an email that contains the class QR Code that students scan when they open the app.Seesaw_codeWhen students launch the app, they choose “I’m a student” and then scan the code. It couldn’t be easier. Bonus–the app provides quality directions on the screen; just be sure you read through everything!

Once students are in the app, they have a few options for adding work. They can take a photo, record a video, draw on the recordable whiteboard, write a note (which also includes the option to record their voices), upload a photo or video that already exists in the camera roll, or include a link.IMG_2006As the teacher, you can also access this screen from the class feed by tapping on the green plus sign in the upper right-hand corner of the Class Feed screen or by tapping your name on the left-hand side and choosing Add Item.

Once the student has finished uploading or creating, he or she will tap on the correct name (or names in the case of group work!) and add it to the portfolio(s). You will then get a notification that a student has added an artifact and you have the option to approve the work before it is posted to the class feed.

Students can also add the work to specific folders that you’ve created. Underneath the work you will see a folder icon. Tapping the folder allows you to create a folder or add the work to a folder that’s already been created. Work can be added to multiple folders. You can also create folders in advance by tapping the folder icon located above the class feed list of students. You’ll know which folders an artifact appears in because you’ll see the folders underneath the work once you’ve organized it.Seesaw_foldersSeesaw has some built-in social sharing features, as well. Students can like work and they can add typed or audio comments to classmates’ work. This is an option that you can turn off if you wish under the Manage Class section in the left-hand menu (tap your name to access the menu).Seesaw_overviewIn the overview image above, you can see that one of your viewing options is the Calendar View shows you each date and how many assignments were turned in on that day. Tape the date itself to see thumbnails of all the assignments.IMG_2035The newest feature of Seesaw is the class blog. Tap on the globe to create the blog. Once you’ve created it, you or your students can tap the globe underneath the work to publish the work to the class blog. IMG_2041Last, students are able to send work directly to Seesaw from other apps. All they need to do is tap the Send/Share button, and Seesaw should be one of the options to “Open In.” If not, tap on “more” and slide the button to on. Students will then be able to choose their name from the list or share the artifact with everyone. If the wrong class launches when they share from another app, they will have the option to change classes.IMG_2042

Common Core Connection

Seesaw has done an excellent job of providing Common Core connections for different grade levels spans. From the left-hand menu, tap the blue “Help & Teacher Resources” button. On the next page, tap on Activity Ideas for your grade level span. There you’ll find ideas for lessons you can teach as well as “Common Core Standards Related to Seesaw” under the General Resources and Materials section.Seesaw_resources

In addition to the Common Core standards identified by Seesaw, using this app also helps students develop their 4 Cs: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. Using this app is a great way to capture student work and student thinking in an organized way, and it’s perfect for classrooms that only have one iPad or for classrooms that have 1:1 devices.

What Do You Think?

Are you using Seesaw with students? If so, please tell us how!

A New Year, A New #oneword

crossroads-997123_1920A little under a year ago, I wrote about my #oneword for 2015: Focus. I spent the year working on keeping my focus on the big picture in both my personal and professional world. Did I get distracted? Absolutely. Did I keep returning to the #oneword image I created to help me out? You bet. Do I want to keep focus as my word for 2016? Yes.

I wanted to keep the word that I chose last year because focus is what I need. I don’t have any kind of medical diagnosis, but I certainly do get distracted more often than not. I tend to get lost in minutiae and then completely forget about my purpose for doing whatever it was I was doing in the first place. And it was as I was thinking about this not-so-awesome part of myself that I realized my new word for 2016.

Purposeful

Even with all the focus in the world, if I’m not purposeful about what I do, what’s the point? I thought about the word systematic as well, but I think that purposeful encompasses working in a systematic way. I have so many projects that I’m working on; I must make it a point to be purposeful with these projects. Otherwise, I will continue to let things slide by accident. I must be purposeful with the words I use and the questions I ask as I work to help shift teachers’ thinking. I must ask myself, “Why?” (and have an answer!) when I propose something new or suggest a change. I must be purposeful.

I am confident that this word, purposeful, will help me in my goal to promote meaningful change in my school district and in the field of education.

Help me in my endeavor to be more purposeful and tell me: How are you purposeful in your work? What’s your oneword for 2016?

The 12 Days of #tosachat: Day 4

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 7.44.54 PMI participate in several Twitter chats, but there’s one chat I try as hard as possible to make each week, and that’s #tosachat. Over winter break, #tosachat took a departure from the regular weekly chat and held a 12-day “slow chat.” A slow chat is different from a regular Twitter chat because participants respond to one question per day (or per week) instead of 6-8 questions in one hour.

The founders of #tosachat put out a call for guest moderators for the the 12 days of #tosachat. All we had to do was sign up for a day and come up with a question to ask. The obvious choice of days for me to moderate was Christmas day. I figured I’d take one for the team so all of my Christmas-celebrating friends could enjoy the day with family and friends. My question was nice and simple:Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 12.26.40 PM

I was surprised by how many of my #tosachat friends participated in the chat on Christmas day. I didn’t think I’d have anyone playing– I figured they’d all be busy and unplugged. Instead, I found out that many were spending the day with family and friends, and some had various celebrations that they’d be attending. A couple spent the day like I did– with a movie and Chinese food (Jewish tradition!) and Twitter (new tradition!). Some people got cool gifts and posted pictures. But most importantly, I realized that holidays don’t trump the need for the connected educator to stay in touch with those near and far. Many of us have #fomo (fear of missing out!) and that motivates us to continue to tweet and converse on Voxer, even over the holidays. But I think it goes deeper than that.

The addition of #tosachat into our lives has given us a tribe. A group of like-minded educators who understand one another because we are living very similar existences in which we are forging our professional paths as we go. Many of us are “lone wolves” in our school districts. Many of us are new to our positions, and some of us have been on assignment for multiple years. Regardless, we have created a learning community and have quickly become friends who can quote episodes of Friends. We can all count on our #tosachat Team Awesome colleagues whenever we want to learn something new, if we need advice, or when we want to celebrate. It’s not easy to unplug from a tribe such as this one.

If you are a Teacher on Special Assignment, please join #tosachat on Monday nights at 8pm PST if you have not already. You can join in the conversation even if you aren’t on assignment because everyone’s voice is valued by Team Awesome. Maybe #tosachat isn’t for you, but I urge you: Find your tribe. Find a group that works for you and jump in. Create and grow your PLN. You will not be sorry (and your students will thank you!).

Happy New Year!

Twitter Entry Points for Teachers

lhcsdchatI’m on a personal mission to get the teachers in my school district active on Twitter. Some teachers have taken the risk and jumped in with both feet, and others have needed a little more scaffolding. Below are three entry points I’ve used to help teachers feel more comfortable about using Twitter for professional growth and learning.

 

#eatandtweetedu

I travel to nine schools, and I like to eat lunch at the schools to build relationships with teachers and be available to talk about tech. I had the idea to try and get teachers on Twitter during lunch in a casual, non-threatening way, and not as a traditional PD presentation. Teachers and I sit at a table in the lounge and we are all on our devices. We learn all the basics of Twitter, such as following others, navigating the interface on whichever device is being used, and we learn about how to use hashtags. We tweet to #eatandtweetEDU, and I encourage you to try something similar and use the same hashtag. Let’s build a learning community through #eatandtweetEDU!

#20DayTwitterChallenge

This idea came from @tnalau with the City of St. Charles School District and it was brought to my attention by one of the administrators in the district. We thought it would be a great way to give teachers a daily focus for tweeting. I tied the challenge to earning a badge on our district badges website (lhcsdbadges.org), and it was great to see many teachers getting more involved on Twitter during the challenge. The challenge helped teachers participate actively on Twitter, and many have continued their learning beyond the challenge. We will be starting another challenge on January 11th. Join us! Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 7.57.17 AM

#lhcsdchat

This is a district-wide chat that I started last year to help teachers feel more comfortable with Twitter chats. The fast-paced chats can be intimidating, and some teachers have been hesitant to join the conversation because they aren’t sure what to do. Our smaller chat has definitely been an entry point, and teachers who have gotten the hang of it are participating in global chats now, too.

 

What Do You Think?

What entry points have you used to get teachers sharing and participating on Twitter? Please share in the comments!

Sharing Student Work: From iPad to Google Drive to the World

DriveThe iPad is an excellent tool for students to use when creating content. They are able to make different types of presentations, annotate still images, and create dynamic videos using content from multiple apps. But how does a student share work once the it is completed? Let’s look at how a student can share work (not just turn work in to the teacher) using the camera roll, Google Drive, and QR codes.

Taking Work off the iPad

The first step in sharing work is to ensure that the work has been saved to the camera roll. Different apps have different ways of making this happen, but most of the time you are looking for the send/share button– a square with an arrow coming out the top). Tap that icon and there will be an option to Save to Camera Roll. Again, different apps have different ways of showing this. If you don’t see something that looks like this image, just keep looking for the Save option.IMG_1946Once the content is in the camera roll, open the Google Drive app. Look for the + sign. Depending on the version of Drive that you are using, it will either be in the top right corner or the bottom left corner. Tap the + icon and look for the option to Upload. Choose Photos and Videos.Drive_Add

Tap the location you want to choose from– either the entire Camera Roll or one of the albums you have created. Tap the small thumbnails of any image or video that you wish to upload. When you are finished selecting, tap the check mark in the upper right corner. Your images will begin uploading immediately.Drive_UploadNext, tap on the “hamburger” menu in the top left corner (3 stacked lines) and go to the Recent tab. The images or video that you just uploaded will be at the top.Drive_RecentStudents can share their images or videos with you by tapping on the 3-dot menu to the far right of the document name.  He or she will choose “Add People” and then type in your email address when prompted. Tapping on the pencil will allow students to change the permissions of the document. Students can add a message if desired and then tap the send arrow.

You will find the work students shared with you in your “Shared with Me” tab in Google Drive.

Now comes the fun part. In my district’s GAFE domain, all documents have the default sharing setting of, “Anyone in Your Domain With the Link Can View.” This means that anyone logged into their account on our domain can view the document. However, this setting needs to change if you want outside viewers to see the product. Whether you do this next part or you have your students do it, you’ll need to be on a computer to change the sharing settings within the document.

  1. Sign into your Drive. You can access this from the waffle menu at the top right of the Chrome browser or by typing in drive.google.com.
  2. Right-click on the document (video, image) you want to share.
  3. Choose Share.Drive_Share
  4. Click the down arrow next to where it says, “Can View.”Drive_Share_Down_Arrow
  5. Click More.Drive_More
  6. Select the radio button next to “Anyone with the link can view.”Drive_Anyone
  7. Save!

There is another way to share the link. It starts in the same way:

  1. Right-click the document you wish to share.
  2. Click “Get Link.”Drive_Get_Link
  3. Click “Sharing Settings.”Drive_Share_Settings
  4. Follow the same procedures as above.

Next Step: Make the QR Code!

Again, you’ll right-click the document (video, image) you wish to share. Choose “Get Link” (as pictured above). Copy the link– it’s already highlighted. Visit a QR Code creator website– I prefer  to use i-nigma.com. Go to Create Barcode. Drive_QRCopy and paste the code. You can give the QR code a title if you wish (it’s much easier to identify QR codes if you do this!) and then right click on the QR code image generated.Drive_QR2

What Do You Think?

How do you have students take their work off the iPad and share it with you?

Make Videos more Engaging with @EDpuzzle

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.31.37 PMUsing video in the classroom to help teach ideas is not a new concept. Teachers are now using videos found on the Web or creating videos for students to use as part of a flipped or blended classroom. For many students, learning through video is a relatively passive activity. They might take notes if they’ve been required to do so, but those notes may not capture the intended learning. How can teachers solve this problem? Enter: EDpuzzle, a web-based tool that allows you to embed voice-overs and questions into pre-made videos. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see an example.

How Does EdPuzzle Work?

After registering for an EDpuzzle account, you will be guided through creating your first EDpuzzle. You’ll be asked to choose a video from one of a variety of channels, including YouTube, LearnZillion, Vimeo, and more.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.12.15 PM

You can search for a video just by clicking through and exploring what is available in the channels, or you can type some specific content into the search bar. Once you’ve found a video you want to use, click on the Use It button (to immediately begin editing the video) or Copy (to save it to your content). By clicking “Use It,” you will enter the editing area, and you will begin in the cropping section. This is where you can trim the beginning or ending of the video you are going to use. Some of the videos available are quite long and you may need to crop the beginning or the end. Of course, if you upload your own videos you most likely won’t need to crop the video. *Pro tip: record a few extra seconds on the end of your video so that your voice won’t get cut off at the end the way mine did!

EdPuzzle Toolbar

You can click on any of the icons at any time throughout the process to toggle between cropping, inserting questions, or inserting audio tracks.

Each time you click on a new icon, there will be help text to guide you along the way, and it will also offer you a short video to watch the process.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.16.00 PMThe real key to using EdPuzzle is adding questions throughout the video to check for understanding and to see how students are thinking about the content. There are two types of questions you can add– open-ended questions and multiple choice questions. You can also add a comment. Adding a comment means that the video will pause and students will read your comment on the section. Then they get the opportunity to re-watch the previous part or continue to the next part of the video. Just click the Questions icon, play the video or drag the playhead to the point where you want to add the question, and click on the green question mark at the bottom of the screen.Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.41.55 PMIn addition to being able to add in assessment to the video itself, you can prevent students from skipping through the video and only answering the questions if you choose to do so. In your teacher dashboard, after your students have registered for the class you will create when you “Finish” your video, you’ll be able to view student data to determine who watched the entire video and who skipped through parts.Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.54.05 PM

If you use Google Classroom, you are still able to assign EDpuzzle videos by creating an assignment and including the link as part of your assignment in Classroom. Taking this route, however, means that data from answering the questions won’t be saved.Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.56.14 PM

EDpuzzle offers a student iPad app for those classes that use iPads. Students are able to sign in using Google accounts, Edmodo accounts, or with an Edpuzzle account. Students do not need to have a valid email address to sign up. Once they’ve created their account they can enter your class code to access videos you’ve assigned the class.

If your school uses a Learning Management System such as Haiku Learning, you can embed your EDpuzzle videos directly into your class. When students go to watch the video, they can sign in and enter your class so that their progress is saved. If you use another Learning Management System you will probably have similar integration.

Common Core Connection

One of the great things about using a tool like EDpuzzle is that the videos you create or choose can help you to address standards, while the questions you ask can help you to quickly assess whether students are meeting the standard. You are able to customize the questions you ask your students, which means that you can also address questions of varying Depth of Knowledge levels. And, better yet– students are able to make their own EDpuzzle videos when you assign them a project to do! They locate a video based on a topic or upload a video they’ve made themselves, and then they have the same tools that teachers have to add comments and questions to a video. This will give students practice with asking purposeful questions about a text.

Here’s an example of an EDpuzzle I made to teach you how to use EDpuzzle.

What Do You Think?

Have you used EDpuzzle with students? Please share how you’ve used it. Links to videos would be awesome :).

Connect Your Classroom Using #MysteryHangouts

Hangouts_IconI am passionate about helping teachers connect their classrooms bring the world to their students. One way I’ve done this is through promoting Mystery Hangouts and Mystery Skype. The tool isn’t the point (although I do lean toward Mystery Hangouts and that will be the focus of this post)— the purpose is to help students with deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and questioning skills as well as to bring students from around the country and around the globe into your classroom. All you need is a web-connected device with a camera and a willingness to try something new!

How Does a Mystery Hangout Work?

Mystery Hangouts can be run in a number of ways, but the most basic form is like a big game of 20 Questions. Teachers find a partner class in a different state, and they meet up over Google Hangouts. Classes take turns asking and answering yes-or-no questions designed to help the class narrow down where the class is located, and the first class to find the other wins! Sometimes students need to find the state of the partner class, and other times the students will locate the city of the partner class. That all depends on how much time you have— it’s much more challenging and time-consuming to locate the city! However, if you are partnering with a class in your same state, you’d want to find the city.IMG_5099

Once you have a partner class, you and the teacher will probably email back and forth to determine how the connection will happen. One way to create the Hangout is through a calendar event in Google Calendar. It’s a great way to start it off because when you create a calendar event, a Hangouts link is automatically generated. Add the partner teacher to the event, save the event so an email will be generated, and the partner class can join the Hangout through that link by clicking on it in the email!Mystery_Hangout_Calendar

Another way to create the Hangout link is by creating an event in Google+ and inviting the partner teacher to the event. When the time comes to join the Hangout, you’ll find the link in your events in Google+.

Mystery_Hangouts_Event

A third way is to use Hangouts to call your partner class, but the first two ways are more convenient. It’s easy to miss a Hangouts call!

During most Mystery Hangouts, students have specific roles. One of the resources I have used for determining roles is a this blog post by Pernille Ripp. She and her students came up with the roles together. Other great resources for learning more about a Mystery Hangout or Mystery Skype are:

If you’re not sure about what types of questions to ask, check out this blog post. It has some great starter questions that you can have in mind when you have your students come up with the questions they’d like to ask. One thing I like to do, especially with the younger students, is have a desk map in a protective sleeve for them to write on. As questions are asked and answered, students can eliminate states by crossing them off with whiteboard marker. When they are finished with the game, they can reuse the map for the next time.

Once each class has found one another, some classes like to share interesting facts about their state or city. Others will ask questions back and forth about what life is like in the other state. In some cases, the Mystery Hangout will be the beginning of a longer collaboration between two classes.IMG_5073

How Do I Find a Partner Class?

The Mystery Hangout Community on Google+, is a great source for finding partner classrooms. Just post a message to the community letting them know your grade level and availability, and more often than not you will get a response. You can also reach out to tech coaches or other connected educators– they probably know someone who knows someone. You can also find partner classrooms using Twitter or other social media. Be sure to use the #mysteryhangouts or #mysteryskype hashtags.

Common Core Connection

The nature of mystery location allows students to practice several of the 4 Cs as they communicate, collaborate, and think critically. They may also have to use their creativity if they come across an issue that requires “out-of-the-box” thinking. Every student is engaged in this type of activity— they are on task, they stick to their roles, and they are determined to be the first to find the other class. Students work together to maintain the forward movement of the game, and depending on the grade level, they collaborate on adjusting their questions if necessary. The more calls the students participate in, the better they get at thinking critically in order to ask the right questions to narrow the location down quickly. When students create presentations about their city or state and write reflections at the end of the call, they are also working on their grade level writing standards. Turn the reflective writing into blog posts and students are then working toward even more of the Common Core State Standards for writing.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried Mystery Hangouts or Mystery Skype? Please share your experiences and any resources you may have!

The Padlet App: Great on the Web, Great on the iPad

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.27.33 PMPadlet is a fantastic online tool for communication, collaboration, and formative assessment. Now students who use iPads will have instant access to Padlet walls you create for them through the Padlet iPad app, and you’ll be able to create new walls for students in a snap.

How Does Padlet Work?

Padlet is like a digital bulletin board. Once your Padlet wall is created, you provide access to students so that they can post comments, images, videos and/or links on the Padlet wall. Among other ideas, Padlet can be used for

  • quick formative assessment of student understanding
  • crowdsourcing of information around a topic
  • Project GLAD Observation Charts
  • Response to a question or comment

Upon logging into Padlet, you will see your Dashboard. The image below identifies the different icons for you. Tap on one of your current Padlet walls to view the contents or Choose “New Padlet” in the upper left-hand corner to get started. You’ll notice the “Open” command at the top right– this is to scan a QR code or type in the URL for someone else’s Padlet wall.

Padlet login screen

If you do tap the Open button, the below image is what you will see. Students also see this screen when they launch the app and choose “Continue as Guest.” Tap “Scan QR Code” or just type in the URL on the line provided.IMG_1802

Once you do open or create a Padlet wall, you will see that the controls are *almost* identical to those that you see on the Web version. The biggest difference is the share button– that’s found at the bottom of the iPad screen.IMG_1783
To add content to your own wall, double tap anywhere on the wall or tap the plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner. If you want to add a link, photo, image, video, or any other type of link to your post, tap one of the icons at the bottom of the little post box.IMG_1781

When you are ready to share your wall, tap the share button at the bottom to see the various ways you can provide your students access to the wall.

IMG_1782

If you want to feel good about yourself, tap on the “Me” icon at the bottom of the dashboard for a little treat. In addition to the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get inside, you’ll also be able to change your profile by tapping on the settings gear in the upper left.IMG_1785

Students can use the Padlet app without having an account. They will be able to access any Padlet walls by typing in the URL or scanning the QR code directly within the app by choosing “Continue as Guest,” but they will not be able to create their own walls. Also, if students tap on the settings gear at the bottom of the screen, it will appear as if they are able to make changes to the visual appearance of the Padlet wall. These changes only appear on the students’ own iPad and not on the Padlet wall itself. This allows students to customize their own view of of the Padlet wall but it does not interfere with what you have created.

Common Core Connection

Using Padlet can address many of the Common Core State Standards. Of course, this depends on the questions you ask and how you employ Padlet as a tool in the classroom. For example, at the end of a lesson or a class period, a Padlet wall could be created that asks students to discuss their learning from that day. They might be asked to post an image of their understanding, a video they’ve found that illustrates the standard they are working on, or a link to their work from the day. This quick formative assessment can be used to determine student needs for the following day. Additionally, Padlet allows students to communicate and collaborate quickly and easily using these spaces that you provide for them.

What Do You Think?

Have you used the Padlet app with students yet? What do you think of the app versus the online version?

It’s Been a #CUERockstar August

Copy of CUE_RockStar_C_FINALV Square200Last year I took a risk and applied to be a faculty member at CUE Rockstar Manhattan Beach. I had never been to a CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp before, but the concept marries so many of the things I love: camp, technology, and workshop-type professional development. So I figured, why not apply? All the feedback I had ever heard was so positive; some teachers even call it “life changing.” It sounded like fun and it was something I wanted to be part of.

Hanging with my Fullerton Friends at TOSA Edition Photo Credit: Pablo Diaz

Hanging with my Fullerton Friends at TOSA Edition Photo Credit: Pablo Diaz

Later, I heard about CUE Rockstar Black Label edition, created exclusively for TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) being held at the StubHub Center in L.A., and I worked it out so I could attend. I can hardly put into words how powerful it was to be part of an event that allowed over 100 coaches and leaders to learn and grow together. We networked, we laughed (oh, did we laugh!), we ate, we played, and we learned. We made connections and collaborated to determine ways to invigorate our work. We brainstormed solutions to our own #tosaproblems and we created ways to make our lives a little more automated. Many of us met some of the educators we’ve admired on Twitter, and my classmates from the Leading Edge Certification for Professional Learning Leaders were able to meet one another live and in person!

Almost All of The Fantastic Faculty from Manhattan Beach Photo Credit: A Rockstar Teacher

Both of the CUE Rockstar events I attended– one as faculty and one as an attendee– were exhilarating, exhausting in a good way, engaging, fulfilling, and just plain awesome. I wish I could have attended every session that was available, because as much as I have to share, I have equally as much to learn. I continue to grow as an educator and as a presenter by providing professional development for others, but also by allowing myself to learn from colleagues and friends. So, the next time a Rockstar event rolls around, you should go. You won’t be sorry.

If you are interested in attending a CUE Rockstar event, be sure to check out the website! http://www.cuerockstar.org/

Create Interactive Videos with @TouchCast

TouchCast iconI have to admit— I had a hard time getting to know TouchCast. I knew its power and had a general idea of how to use it, but I was really struggling to make sense of how to create my final product. When I registered to attend ISTE 2015, I knew I had to find a session on using TouchCast, and I’m so glad I did! TouchCast Ambassador Crystal Kirch did a fantastic job with the lay of the TouchCast land, and now I can create my own (and so can you!).

What is TouchCast?

TouchCast is a free interactive video creation app that allows teachers and students to record themselves sharing a lesson or idea. Once the video is created, you add vApps, or video apps, to make the videos interactive. When a viewer taps or clicks on a vApp, the video will pause so the viewer can explore the vApp. Returning to the video is as simple as tapping back on the video! Some of the more popular vApps to add are websites, polls, images, videos, Google Maps, or files from Google Drive. Teachers and students all over the world are creating TouchCast videos and sharing them on public channels. Get the official TouchCast guide here. You can see what teachers and students have created here, which are links to TouchCasts found on Crystal’s original directions from the ISTE session. Also be sure to check out TouchCast for Education, or EduCast.

How Does TouchCast Work?

Start by going to the Cast Side to create your first TouchCast video. TouchCast opening screenYou’ll create a new project and have an option of themes you can choose from. Swipe to the left to see the different themes.TouchCast project screenOnce you’ve selected your theme, you will name your video. To start creating the interactive video, tap on camera. You’ll have the chance to create a transcript for the teleprompter, which plays on the side where the camera is (so you are looking at the camera!). You can also type out your transcript in a different app and copy/paste it into the teleprompter.TouchCast camera screenAfter adding your script to the teleprompter, record your video. You can record all of your video at once or you can choose to record separate clips of video. You also have the option of using a green screen background. Of course, you’ll have to record yourself in front of a green screen in order for this to work. Tap on the Effects tab to select green screen.

TouchCast effects screenAfter you’ve recorded your video, you will start adding vApps.

Tap on a video clip t0 add a vApp. Then tap on “Add vApps.” Tap again on “Add vApps” when the pop-up appears. Then tap “Add a vApp” from the menu at the bottom of the screen.adding vApps instructionsAs you add vApps, you can re-size them and move them around the screen until they are where you want them to appear. Then tap the little icon in the task bar and it will be removed from the video and will be stored down in the task bar.

Adding the vApps you want to use keeps them at the bottom of the screen in the task bar area. Once you’ve added all the vApps you want into each clip, you need to record them into the video at the times you want them to appear. An easy way to do that is to tap the record button at the bottom of the screen. This doesn’t re-record the original video clips. It just records the vApps into the video. If you press pause, though, you will be creating separate clips. When you get to the correct part of the video clip, tap the vApp you want to use. You should have already placed it in the correct place on your screen, so it will pop up where you wanted it to go. Because these are interactive video apps, you can interact with them while you speak and you can allow the viewer to interact with them on their own. For instance, if you add a website, you can scroll through the website as you are recording and the movement will be recorded into the video.

Another nice feature of TouchCast is that you can add a whiteboard to your videos. This can be an actual white board, a chalkboard, grid paper, or a glass screen, which allows you to annotate on images or on videos as you record them.

TouchCast whiteboard screenIt’s easy to get lost in the creating and get frustrated with TouchCast. To alleviate some of the frustration, I highly recommend that you write a script and/or a storyboard for your video so that you know what video clips you will use and which vApps you want (and when you want them to appear!). Remember that you need to tap on clips to add vApps, and you won’t be able to add vApps to a clip you’ve already recorded vApps into. So, have a plan!

Common Core Connection

Creating in TouchCast requires students to be creative and to think critically. Students are practicing their communication skills, and having students work in teams to create TouchCast videos ensures that they will also be developing their collaboration skills. Scripting and storyboarding incorporates the anchor standards categorized under Text Types and Purposes and Production and Distribution of Writing. TouchCast can be used across any discipline and for all purposes, making it a great choice for students to show their understanding.

What Do You Think?

Have you used TouchCast in your classroom? Please share how you’ve incorporated TouchCast into your teaching and learning in the comments!