Friday, April 9, 2021

Get Kids Screencasting with Screencastify Submit for Free


Screencasting is such a great way to get students to demonstrate learning. It gives students the opportunity to insert their voice into and take ownership of their learning. Managing student video recordings, though, can be a hassle. Not too long ago, Screencastify added a feature called Submit. What this does is coordinate with Google Classroom and allows you to create assignments where students will turn in a screencast right from Screencastify.

If you're a current Screencastify user, free or premium, go to your Screencastify account and click My Account.

After clicking My Account, select Integrations and toggle Google Classroom to the On position. You'll be prompted to give Screencastify permission to access your Google Classroom. 

After going through that process, when you click the Screencastify Chrome Extension, select Submit in the dropdown menu. Once you've arrived on the Submit page, get started by clicking New assignment. In the pop up that appears, select Google Classroom.

You will be prompted to Select a recording type. Choose Screen + Webcam recording if you want to see students' faces along with their screen. Webcam recording only means you will only see the student and not the screen. Screen recording only will allow students to show their screen, but not their faces. Click Next after making your selection.

The next step is to name your assignment. What you put in here is what will show in Google Classroom. Be sure to leave detailed instructions. If you have English learners, use Google Translate to put instructions in other languages. 

The setup continues as you will choose which classes to assign this screencasting assignment, points, due date and topic.

Below is what it looks like on the student end in Google Classroom. Students will simply click the link to get started.

When students click the link, they will be taken to a new tab in Chrome. They will be prompted to turn on their microphones and cameras and allow permission.

Once the microphone and cameras are on and permission is given, the Record button will turn blue and they will be ready to record. 

Before recording begins, students will be prompted to share their screens. In the pop up that appears, they will need to click the image of their screen and click Share to begin the recording.

There will be a countdown before recording begins.

When the recording begins, a small banner, as seen below, will appear on the bottom of the screen. This lets the student know that their screen is being recorded. There is a pause button on the left side of the banner and a Stop sharing button on the right to stop the recording.

When students are finished recording, they will be taken to a page where they can review their video before turning in. If they are not satisfied with the video, they can click Start over. If satisfied, they will click Submit.

On the teacher side of things, when you open the assignment in Google Classroom, click on a student's name and you'll be able to access a thumbnail that will open the student's video.

If you have a premium Screencastify subscription, you don't necessarily have the unlimited version of Submit. Submit is an add on to the premium subscription. Don't worry, this can be done for free. In the free version, you can only have one assignment open at a time. If this is you, the next time you click New assignment, a pop up will appear saying you've reached your assignment limit. No worries. You can still get away with using the free version.

To add a new assignment, click the three dots on the far right of your previous assignment. In the dropdown that appears, click Close assignment. With that assignment closed, you can now click New assignment and start a new one. 

If at all possible, I recommend adding the paid version of Submit to your account. But if that's not possible, you can accomplish much with the free version.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Digital Organization Tips for Students with Gmail, Tasks and Calendar


Time management is something students need to learn to be successful the modern classroom and workforce. As more teachers rely on digital tools for distributing and collecting materials and student work, there are many simple ways in Google Workspace for students to manage time and organize themselves digitally. Take a look at a few of my favorite tips and tricks.

Google Classroom, Google Calendar and Google Tasks

When teachers assign assignments in Google Classroom, students receive an email notification. Keeping track of Google Classroom notifications for multiple classes can be tricky. To help to remember to work on an assignment, when the student opens the email, they can click the Add to Tasks button on the top toolbar. 

When they click the Add to Tasks button, Google Tasks will open on the right side panel. The subject of the email will be added as a task. Below the task, students will see a button that will give them one click access directly back to this email if they choose to address the assignment later. Next to the task, there is also an edit button.

When they click the edit button, they can add a time reminder that will alert them when they are ready to work on this assignment. 

Another simple tip for students is to create a task independently that will remind them to check Google Classroom for new assignments and announcements. When they click edit, they can not only set a time reminder, but make it recur daily.

When students use Google Tasks, their tasks can appear in Google Calendar. If they have the Google Calendar app, they can receive push notifications on their phones for each task just like a calendar event. To enable Tasks in Google Calendar, on the left side, below My Calendars, click the checkbox for Tasks. In addition, students can view Google Classroom assignments in Google Calendar. They can enable this the same way as Tasks.

My recommendation for easily viewing tasks and Google Classroom assignments in Google Calendar, as seen above, is to use the Schedule view. You can change the view by clicking the button at the top next to the waffle. Enabling this view shows a list, in chronological order of all calendar events and tasks for one day at a time.

Organize Gmail Inbox with Labels

As an edtech coach, I have seen countless students' Gmail inboxes. More often than not, their inboxes are an unorganized mess with thousands of emails. A good practice for students is to organize their inboxes with labels. Think of labels in Gmail like folders in Google Drive. Have students create labels for each subject or teacher and move messages that need to be saved into the respective folders. Remind students to delete messages they know they don't need anymore.

For example, if there are a bunch of messages from science class, have students move them into a science label. Get started by check marking the messages you want to move. At the top, click the Move To button. 

If you don't have a label created yet, click Create new. If one is already created, click the label in the list that appears in the dropdown menu.

When you create a new label, a pop up will appear. Name the label and click Create.

Your labels will appear in alphabetical order on the left side of Gmail below Drafts. Click on your labels to view the messages in each label.

Feel free to use these tips to streamline your workflow and organize your digital workload, and don't forget to share with your students.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Hidden in Plain Sight: Subtasks in Google Tasks


Not too long ago, I wrote a blog about creating new, secondary lists in Google Tasks. That is a great organizational tool, but you have to switch over to those lists to see them. More importantly, you need to remember to switch over. As my colleague Kathleen Giannandrea says, "Out of sight, out of mind". If you fall into that category, the subtasks function in Google Tasks will be helpful. 

For example, if you have a separate list in Google Tasks to remind you to make or check on IEP accommodations, you could, instead, create a Task just for IEP Accommodations with accompanying subtasks. This will keep these tasks at a glance in your primary list without having to switch lists to view. One downfall to adding subtasks to a task is the inability to set it to repeat. You can set a one time reminder for the "parent" task.

Get started by creating a new task in Google Tasks found in the right side panel in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Chat, Google Drive or Google Sheets.

After typing the task, click the "pencil" button to edit.

While in edit mode, click the button to Add subtasks.

You will add the subtasks in the same manner you would a regular task. The difference is the subtasks won't have an edit button. If you need to add multiple subtasks, either click Add subtasks again or push enter/return on your keyboard after entering a subtask.

What you see below is an example of a task with multiple subtasks. 

Here is what it looks like on the right side toolbar. You can click the circle button next to each task to cross off individual subtasks, but if you cross off the "parent" task, all the subtasks will disappear.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Mote is Now Available in Gmail


Just this morning, Mote released a cool new update that allows you to easily embed Mote voice notes into Gmail! The next time you click the Mote Chrome Extension, what you see below will appear. Click Yes to enable Mote in Gmail.

After enabling it in Gmail, do a quick refresh of your browser and start a new message in Gmail. You'll notice on the bottom toolbar a Mote button. 

When you click the button, it will immediately start recording so be ready to talk. Click the Mote logo in the pop up to stop recording. 

When you're done recording, what you see below is what it will look like in your message. If you're not satisfied with the recording, click the three dots in the top right corner of the recording and click Delete.

Below is what it looks like on the recipient's end. On a computer, the recipient will simply click the play button and hear the message. On a mobile device, when they click the Mote message, it will open in a mobile browser window where they can click play and listen.

Chrome Accessibility Update: Live Captions Now Built In


There have been quite a few exciting new updates to Google Chrome recently. One of my favorites is the ability to enable live captions. According to the folks at Chrome Unboxed, the live captions are the product of machine learning and are done on the fly, in real time. At this time, English is the only language supported. This has not been fully released yet, but full release is on the horizon. If you are updated to the most recent version of Chrome, you can get a head start by enabling it via chrome://flags.

Start by typing chrome://flags in the Omnibox and hit enter/return. 

In the search bar that appears at the top, search for Captions. In the results, click the button that says Default and switch to Enable. You'll be prompted to relaunch Chrome and when it restarts, you'll have the ability to turn on the captions in the settings with a variety of other customizable options.

Once enabled, go to your Chrome settings. On a PC or Mac, access this by clicking three dots in the top right corner of Chrome. On a Chromebook, click the bottom right corner of the screen. With the settings open, click Advanced.

After clicking Advanced, scroll down and click Accessibility.

Scroll down to the section called Captions and click it.

You will see a toggle to turn on Live Caption. Below, you'll see customizable options for the appearance of the captions.

Take a look at the video below to see what this looks like.