NEOTech Conference: Screencastify Session

Next Thursday, I’ll travel to Kent State University (my Alma mater!) for the NEOTech Conference. I attended last year, and enjoyed being a learner for the entire day, but this time, I’m going to do a bit of teaching!

I use Screencastify to share my screen and my voice with students, colleagues, and friends. It’s so versatile. Certainly, the people coming to the session will figure out useful ways to integrate it into their practice. After a brief introduction, they’ll have time to play around and learn by doing.

I’ll be in 306A, from 1:15-2:05, but in case you can’t make it, or you can and you’re curious already, here’s my slide deck.


A Sheet(y) View, Improved

“Oh my goodness, that’s awesome!” said a fellow Building Level Team member when viewing the spreadsheet created from a Google Form. He was genuinely excited and surprised to find out that the data collected from the survey was automatically organized. Our BLT wanted to view individual responses, but since the default settings in a sheet are not ideal for that task, I made a few quick changes to improve the clarity. Knowing how you can (and that you can!) do the following in sheets will make your eyes smile.

  1. Freeze Rows or Columns
  2. Adjust column width
  3. Wrap text
  4. Show Summary of Responses/Explore (Automatically created Charts and Graphs! So magical.)

Use playlist button to switch between videos.

Google Forms Advanced Video Playlist

For my snow day, I decided to finish up my video series on Google Forms. In the advanced playlist below, you can see how to add section titles, pictures, videos, and sections (which are actually different pages). You can learn how to make respondents jump to different sections (different pages of the form) depending on their answer to a multiple choice or drop down question. Finally, and most importantly, you can learn how to add collaborators. Two heads are better than one, right?

Remember, click the jump button  to jump to different sections.

And here’s a post on how to best view your data.


Google Forms Video Series

  1. Collect data
  2. Analyze data
  3. Take action based on data

All teachers and administrators need to follow these 3 steps. Completing the first two efficiently gets us to the most important step more quickly. Google Forms allows us to create highly customized surveys, questionnaires and assessments in minutes, send them out in seconds, and analyze much of the resulting data instantly. Also, it’s free.  Learning to do all of this will take you under 12 minutes.

The video playlist below shows how to start a Google Form, what all the question types are, additional options for questions and the form itself, how to send it out, and how to find and analyze the results. If you want to skip around within the playlist, click on the 1/17 in the top left corner.

I will be making more videos about the advanced features of Google Forms, but this will get you started. Let me know if you have any questions!

Ready for the advanced options? Need to know how to view your data in a visually appealing way? Check the linked posts.



EasyBib Extension Makes Citing Sources Simple

Teaching middle school students how to do the research process is tough, but important. They are unfamiliar with almost every aspect–using advanced search techniques to find relevant information, evaluating those sources, putting facts in their own words without inadvertently plagiarizing–but properly citing sources in MLA format is not only an alien concept, it requires a meticulousness that few adults possess. Thankfully, EasyBib extension is available to automate and break down creating a Works Cited page into manageable bits.

Here’s the intro video from the makers of EasyBib:

And below is my first attempt at showing my students how to use it. I redid this video for my quarter 2 students, and I’m hoping to nail it for quarter 3. (I don’t have my mic with me today, so I can’t record Q3’s video with good or even reasonable audio quality, although I would like to.) In any case, though it isn’t perfect, my video walks through getting on a website, using EasyBib extension to create a citation, and then exporting the formatted Works Cited.

If only this existed while I was in college, I’d have used more sources when writing my papers. Anyone else avoid using more sources because citations were so time consuming/fear inducing? That doesn’t need to be the case any more. Please share this valuable (but free!) extension with teachers and students alike!

Symbaloo to the Rescue!

Rememer that WVIZ Tech and Learning Conference post I wrote a couple weeks ago? (It was as much/more for myself than it was for you. Every conference I go to, there are way too many things that grab my attention than I can actually deal with in a day!) One of the new-to-me apps has already proven useful. Woo-hoo!

Our district tech committee decided that we wanted to provide an “Apps Warehouse” and training on how to find and evaluate apps. I started it off by creating a document that had apps we were using. Although the document had district specific information, and was organized by UDL categories (Engagement, Representation, Action and Expression), it was simply unappealing–ugly and not user-friendly. Plus, it was taking a lot of time to compile. We knew we needed to change course. We needed something that would be eye-catching, applicable to everyone, and easier to make. I had a vague idea that one of the websites I heard about at WVIZ might work…Symbaloo to the rescue!

Symbaloo allows users to create and share collections of bookmarks in a visually appealing way. Here’s their official Welcome To Symbaloo video.

I went on Symbaloo and found a whole bunch of webmixes, screenshot them, and made this slideshow with links to each.

It looks better and has way more content. It will be easier for teachers to navigate than the document.

In a recent survey at Cardinal Middle School, teachers cited Time as their biggest barrier to using new technology. A majority (77%) said they would use an “Apps Warehouse” to find new apps, and just over half said they would like a rubric or checklist to use when evaluating. So, we are planning on giving them time at an upcoming staff meeting or early release day, a rubric and the slides. I hope that everyone (including you!) finds at least one app that will help their students.

Symbaloo seems like a pretty sweet way to organize your own bookmarks. I haven’t done it yet, but I bet it’s simple. If, like me, you just want to find what other people have already spent time collecting, here’s a video (from Symbaloo) on how to do that.

WVIZ Tech and Learning Conference

Today I attended and presented (on Google Classroom) at WVIZ’s Tech and Learning conference. Usually after conferences, I feel like there are so many things I want to look in to, but then, I only ever get around to one or two. I thought it might help if I immediately made a list that I could return to later. Also, in case you couldn’t go, I could help you find something useful! Since I don’t know much about these things, they will just be links and maybe a sentence description.


How Video Killed the Red Pen: Using YouTube to Explain Complex Concepts.


Draw My Life

One Minute, One Take

Orthodox Teaching Disrupted by Innovation

As seen on Twitter with #wvized


Note: I love using Twitter at conferences. (You can follow me @gorland2) I wish the hashtag would have been promoted better though! The picture at the top came from @AmyRoediger


Up Your Vid Game with eduCanon

My friend and colleague Shaun Spence shared eduCanon with our staff at the beginning of this school year, and I was immediately excited about it. It’s a website where you can find and create “Video Bulbs”–videos with questions built in at particular times. Their tag-line is “Deeply engage learners and accountably measure understanding”.

Here’s a 3 minute Video Bulb of Kid President that you can watch to see the possibilities. With a free account, you can add multiple choice questions, free response, and reflective pauses. If you upgrade to a paid account at $89/year, you add in Check all that apply, Skip Segment, Website and Fill in blank. eduCanon question types

The free options are just fine for my purposes. I’ve used eduCanon to have some of my 2nd quarter students watch and think about a video called “Why You Need to Fail” by Derek Sivers. If you’re curious about that, you can check it out below. (In the first quarter, I had them watch that video and take notes using It shows a video on the left and has a time-stamped note-taking feature on the right. But when I found out about eduCanon, I thought it would work better for the assignment). 

As they watched and answered in eduCanon, I was able to use the Monitor tool to see their progress, and grade the extended responses. Multiple choice are graded automatically. As you can probably guess, green=correct, pink=incorrect, and grey=not finished yet. Orange means they answered, but I haven’t graded. The whole grading process took much less time than I expected, because I was able to focus on one question at a time, instead of grading one kid’s entire assignment. Plus, I didn’t have to wait for them to be done with the whole video. So, I finished grading everything just after the last kid finished answering! I also caught one girl who was skipping the extended responses by typing a space, and was able to redirect her to go back and change those non-answers. With a traditional grading system, I wouldn’t have been able to correct that issue as quickly.eduCanon Monitor

You can also reset the bulb for individual students, that way, they can try again if they do poorly the first time around, or if they just enjoyed it that much and want to re-watch and answer. I had a couple of students take this option, and I love that it fits in with what the video is trying to teach them.

Setting up my class lists was simple, because eduCanon and Google Classroom work well together. Other friendly entities include Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle, Blackboard and more. Students can use single sign-on with Google or Clever, or sign up with a class code. If none of those work for you, upload a spreadsheet roster instead.

One way to use this that I haven’t tried yet is to take one of my own videos (created with Screencastify) and eduCanon-ify it. The level of relevance of content created for my students in that way could be swoon-worthy! But remember, you can start slowly, by assigning Video Bulbs that are already created. There are some really wonderful bulbs out there.

I feel like this is one of those things where you might think, “Cool, I’ll have to look into that when I have time.” And I totally understand that feeling. But carve out even just 10 minutes to play around with eduCanon. It’s really fun! More importantly, it’s a way to get your students engaged with the content.



Clone Yourself with Screencastify

If you are a teacher, then you are a person who has to repeat yourself many times. If you have to repeat yourself many times, then you will get frustrated. If you don’t like being frustrated, get Screencastify! It is a Chrome extension that  allows you to record your entire desktop or just one tab. You can also use your webcam to record a video of yourself. In honor of my 50th recording this week, Screencastify’s recent cosmetic update, and my NEOTIE speech last Saturday, I wanted to provide a walkthrough on how to use it with your students or colleagues.

I estimate that using Screencastify has saved me at least an hour a week. This frees up time to help students who are struggling with the content rather than spending many minutes reminding those who can’t quite remember what to do next. Creating multi-step assignments with multiple video instructions allows every kid to work at their own pace. Critically, it allows my daily supply of patience to dwindle at a much reduced rate. It’s a win-win!

First, you will need to open Google Chrome and get the extension. Sign in with your Google Account and allow it to access whatever it’s asking for. You should get a little filmstrip icon next to your address bar. It’ll look like this: screencastify icon

When you click on the icon, you have 3 choices.

  1. Record a Tab. This allows you to choose one tab and record all that you do in that tab. It also has extra tools to show or hide your mouse, draw, erase, or clear your drawings. The drawback of this option is that if there are popup windows or other tabs that you need to show, you must manually switch the view so your recording jumps over to the new tab or window.Screencastify tab tools notification

    Screencastify tools
    The tools available with Tab recording
  2. Record your Desktop. This is my go-to choice. If you choose this one, you don’t have to remember to switch the focus from tab to tab. It will record whatever you are looking at. The drawback on this option is that you can’t use the drawing tools. In both Tab and Desktop you can choose to have a small square video of yourself. If you want that, make sure the checkbox is clicked next to Embed webcam. Then click to choose which corner you want to show up in.Screencastify Embed Webcam
  3. Record with your Cam. This just makes a video using your webcam. I never pick this one, because I think it best to have the visual of the written instructions or the webpage showing, plus the audio of my voice. And often, I embed the small corner cam view (with tab or desktop recording) so my students can feel a personal connection. But, maybe you have a good use for just using the Cam! Consider your options and choose what works for each case.

Normally, I prepare before I record by opening any webpages or creating documents I need to show my students. Then I click the Screencastify icon and choose Desktop, decide if I want a to embed my webcam view or not, and hit the orange Start Recording button at the bottom.

Choose Screencastify Desktop

Then I choose if I want to show my ENTIRE desktop (including my taskbar) or just my current window. My students don’t usually need to see my taskbar, so I choose the option on the right, and click Share.

Desktop choice

Here are some clues to look for to make sure it’s working properly.

Screencastify Recording On

Next, record your instructions. It’s important to articulate words and speak a bit slower than normal. Create a quiet environment to ensure good audio. Turn off fans or AC if possible. Circle your mouse around things before you click. Make sure you don’t click through things too quickly or without saying what to click on.  Underline words with your mouse as you say them to emphasize them.

There are 3 ways to stop recording

A new tab will open so that you can review your recording. If it turned out to your liking, make sure you rename it. You can then choose to download or share. The crop video option is a paid option. Trash poor recordings.After recording

You can choose to Share on your Google Drive, or YouTube. Here are what those screens look like, and their privacy options.

Share on drive


Share to YouTube

I always upload to YouTube, but I choose the privacy based on the content. A lot of times, I will just leave it on Public so parents and students can both find my videos easily. Also, some of my videos are helpful to anyone trying to learn about technology.

My penultimate step is to copy the link to my video from the side panel.

SCreencastify Copy Share Link

Clicking that chain link icon copies the URL, and then, finally, I put the hyperlink wherever it belongs. Oftentimes, that is in a Google document that includes the instructions for the assignment.

The process of creating a video and posting the link into my directions takes just minutes and saves hours. It only takes longer when I have to re-shoot my videos because of stumbling over my words or someone walking into my office to talk to me while I’m recording. Even with mistakes and interruptions, I can get video instructions done in 10 minutes or less, every time. With a little practice, you’ll be able to as well.

Please let me know if you have any questions about Screencastify! I will create a personal video to answer you. 🙂

#NEOTIE Ignite Session

A few weeks ago, I got asked to give an ignite speech at NEOTIE, an awesome local ed tech conference. I was surprised and honored to be chosen to speak alongside some of the best women around: Sarah Rivera (@PHS_STEM), Amy Roediger ( and Ann Radefeld (@AnnRad21).

Here’s what I said. Thanks to my dad for shooting this video!

And, if you want to see some pictures, here’s a beautiful slideshow by Ken Veon (@BeachwoodTech).