Tag Archives: Screencast-O-Matic

Purposeful Vocabulary and Grammar Instruction

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Jeremy Hyler and Troy Hicks’ From Texting to Teaching: Grammar Instruction in the Digital Age (2017) is filled with grammar and vocabulary lessons that utilize technology. Their premise is to help teachers and students learn to “code switch” between academic, formal language and cultural text speak. Each chapter illustrates how teachers can weave grammar into authentic classroom experiences, rather than skill and drill.

When speaking of grammar, this includes usage, rules, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Grammar matters because “it offers us options – both as speakers and writers – for creating meaning” (pg. 4) Looking at the Common Core Standards, grammar is now under the Language Standards” and students are expected to gain commands of conventions and show their knowledge of language and conventions when reading, writing, speaking and listening,

Hyler and Hicks’ approach teaching grammar with digital tools, utilized flipped lessons to learn parts of speech, utilize social media, Google Docs, and other digital tools to enliven vocabulary, master mechanics, and learn sentence style with formal and informal writing. Grammar matters because the standards suggest it, digital citizenship has become an essential skill, and revision matters.

“Technology can enhance writing instruction. Smart grammar instruction – coupled with smart uses of technology – will help improve students’ understanding of how to use various sentence patterns, phrases, punctuation, and other stylistic techniques in their own writing” (pg. 24). 

Consider the grammar lessons you teach and how you might enliven them to help students master language conventions to be effective and creative communicators. Here are three ideas from Hyler and Hicks to help you infuse grammar with technology in effective ways.

A teacher made screencast or podcast is a great way for students to demonstrate new knowledge, learn new topics, or listen to a review. Use the tool screencastify or screencastomatic to plan and script an instructional screencast or podcast. The benefit of  a flipped lesson is that these lessons are at students disposal to review when needed. Plus, the best flipped lessons have students do more than a lecture to watch, often teachers provide thoughtful, scaffolded activities associated with the video that students watch. Hyler utilizes a “Watch, Summarize, Question (WSQ)” tool or guide for students as they view the flipped lessons and utilize conventions in their own writing.

To help students learn sentence styles and study great writing, examining sentences in the texts we read help understand the nuances and beauty of writing. Posting a beautifully crafted or complex sentence from a class novel on Padlet is one way to have students analyze sentences and think carefully about writing. Or a sentence that needs revising can be posted on Padlet and students can use revising strategies to help revise the sentence.

For vocabulary building Hyler and Hicks recommend having students “create videos with web tools like WeVideo depicting a real world use of vocabulary words. If real world connections can be made with vocabulary and spelling, students are sure to retain more of the information they have learned and see the relevance” (pg.81). Students storyboard their video draft ideas and are required to draw connections between the vocabulary word and the text students are reading. Lastly, reflection is necessary to gain feedback about the process and new understanding.

Grammar should not taught in isolation. Nor should not be left by the wayside in the English Language Arts classroom. Teachers must constantly reflect on the technology and learning landscape and how we can blend the two to creative relevant and engaging lessons that help our students succeed.

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Mash Up March: Genius, Google Stop Motion Animations, & Screencasts

Kukimbia means running in Swahili. Kukimbia is also the name of a documentary directed by Spencer MacDonald and Eva Verbeek showcasing the dedication and culture of three Kenyan runners:

Paul Koech
Specialty: 3000 meters steeplechase
2004 Olympic bronze medalist
Three-time winner IAAF Diamond League
Personal Best of 7:54.31 minutes – third fastest of all-time

Micah Chemos
Specialty: 3000 meters steeplechase
2013 World Championships gold medalist
Four-time winner IAAF Diamond League

Leonard Komon
Specialty: long-distance road race
10K & 15K World Record Holder
Fastest half marathon debut ever


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/173574639″>KUKIMBIA: A Journey Through Kenyan Running Culture</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/ambedo”>Ambedo</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

What’s Your Vision? In the future what do you want to be? These two questions are asked of the runners presented in the documentary, and are also questions posed to viewers. The documentary showcases perseverance and dedication. It juxtaposes the landscape of Africa, animals in the wild, starry night skies, and lush greenery against the villages, people, and daily life for the runners. The colors throughout the films, the types of shots, transitions, symbolic pictures against the voice overs and music help to convey ideas about what makes the Kenyan running culture an international success.

This documentary gave me the idea to have my own students choose a visionary they are inspired by: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Coco Chanel, J.K. Rowling, Martin Luther King, Jr., Walt Disney, Taylor Swift, Malala, Gandhi, Shawn White. Once students choose a person they deem a genius and visionary, they will research to find out more about them, their education, their inspiration, telling quotes, and accomplishments.

Based on the information gathered on the biography note-taking organizer, students create a Google stop motion animation movie showcasing this person, this genius. To make animated movies in Google Slides, students make multiple slides and incorporate .gifs on the slides.

The following directions to making a Google Slides stop motion animation are from Eric Curts, Google Innovator and author of the blog Control Alt Achieve.

  1. Create your Google Slideshow as normal.
  2. Insert images, shapes, text, and other items as needed.
  3. To save time, make copies of slides and make small changes to the items on each slide to simulate movement.
  4. To make certain slides last longer, make multiple copies of the slide.
  5. When done, use “Publish to the web” option to get playable link for your slideshow.
  6. Adjust the “Publish to the web” link to shorten the time between the slides to make them appear animated (from 3000 to 2000 or 1000 – depending on which speed which works best).
  7. Share the link with others to view!

After students create their biographical Google Slides stop motion animation, students write a script to add a voice over describing the key quotes and accounts of this visionary. Using a screencasting tool like Screencast-O-Matic, students can blend their stop motion animation with their voice overs and musical interludes. Once the videos are completed post online to share with others.

Based on your content area, grade level, or unit of study, this activity can be adapted and revised to best meet student needs. This is a great activity to use as an introduction to Genius Hour and Passion Projects. Or can be completed for a biography projects for history, science, mathematics, or side quest about great writers. Teachers can create a checklist of items students should include in their video including a key quote, symbolic images, and music to convey the theme. Viewing Kukimbia with students can lead to a discussion how filmmakers use specific craft moves to support their purpose and message before identifying the project requirements.

 

 

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Mash Up March: The Anatomy of a Scene, Booksnaps, Screencasts, and Flipgrid

Each blog post this March I will mash up a few apps and technology tools to with teaching ideas that promote reading and writing. This week I am am blending #Booksnaps, Google Slides, screencasting and Flipgrid for a close reading activity.

The New York Times has a series online, Anatomy of a Scene, where the director of a current film describes and dissects for viewers a scene from his or her movie. A clip from the movie is shown while the a voice over of the director describes the setting, actions, and craft moves. All these elements together convey the story and the director’s purpose. Check out this one Anatomy of a Scene for the Black Panther.

To have the director or writer describe the choices he or she made allows the viewer and reader to learn about craft, structure, and author’s purpose.  Essentially these are videos showcasing a close readings with the director articulating his or her intentions as a storyteller. Similarly, when we ask students to closely read the text, we are asking them to dissect the author’s moves and intentions. Imagine if students were to create their own “anatomy of a scene” from a text like The Great Gatsby or George Orwell’s 1984.

To do this, students first create #BookSnaps – snapshots of reading responses, connections, questions, and reflections using Snapchat or Bitmojis, and Google Drawings. Created by Tara M. Martin, these are great ways for students to synthesize their reading and showcase their thinking while reading. To learn more how to create a #Booksnap, check out Tara’s blog post Snapping for Learning. When my students are creating their #Booksnaps they create a Google Slide Deck to showcase all their snaps documenting their reading.

Then, Tara gave me an awesome idea, what if students Screencast their #BookSnaps and describe highlight’s of their reading using a screen casting tool like Screencast-o-Matic?Check out how Tara uses the Screencast #Booksnaps for Learning in her Flipgrid video. When students are describing their #Booksnaps and close reading they might describe what the scene is about, the setting and the mood, the key characters and symbols. Students can identify the literacy devices, structure and author’s purpose. They might use this Anatomy of a Scene for Harry Potter as a model for their own close reading scenes.

Once the projects are complete students can upload their screencast videos of anatomy of a scene and close reading to Flipgrid for the rest of the class to view and share responses.

I cannot wait to share the Close Reading Scenes my students are currently creating.

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Flipped Writing Instruction

This week I had to be out of the classroom for meetings and I wanted to make sure my students had productive writing workshop to begin working on literary essays. I decided to make screencasts to review the elements of essay writing: introductory paragraphs, building better body paragraphs, and writing a conclusion. Using Screencast-O-Matic, a free screen recording program, I recorded my mini lesson to go along with each slide deck covering the elements of and essay. These screen recording were to help my students begin writing their Multi-Paragraph Outline for their literary essay.

Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul wrote the book Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach (Heinemann, 2016) describing how students can access instruction independently, in small groups, and at home through flipped learning.  Johansen and Cherry-Paul write,

“Flipped learning is a blended approach to instruction. Catlin R. Tucker (2012) defines blended learning as a hybrid style in which educators “combine traditional face-to-face instruction with an online component” (11). Teachers “flip” lessons online so students can access them at school or at home and work at their own pace. Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams (2012), leaders of the flipped learning movement, state that “time is freed up to explore and discover concepts in an inquiry-based fashion” (46). Troy Cockrum (2014) says educators can use flipped learning to transform their learning environment. As with other teaching methods, flipped learning can play a central or a minor role in your writing workshop.”

With the ideas presented in the book fresh in my mind, I took my slide deck that I would have presented in my classroom as a large class lesson and screen-casted each lesson –recorded my voice thinking aloud through the elements of the essay. By screen casting my lesson and posting them in Google Classroom, my students can reference the videos when they get stuck writing. The notes that my students take from the flipped lesson go into their Interactive English Notebooks to help students to learn strategies like six ways to start an essay. The videos let students manage their own writing workshop time, work at their own pace, and return to key elements of essay writing throughout the school year.

Check out the three videos I have made so far. I can see myself creating a few others to touch upon leading in and leading out of textual evidence and formulating a claim.

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