Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Video Editing with WeVideo



Some of my first experiences with using technology in my classroom were based around video production. It was a great way to have my students record and share media in exciting and innovative ways. At that time, your options were to use the video editing software that was available for the platform you were using. (ie-iMovie for Macs and MovieMaker for PCs) Now that we have Chromebooks, having an all purpose video editing tool that kids can use anywhere, anytime is essential, and that�s where WeVideo comes in!

WeVideo allows us to use our Google accounts to log in, so once students are in their Chromebooks, connecting to WeVideo is simple. Connecting through Google Drive also allows us to store video and images in our Google Drive so that students have easy access to media when creating their videos. WeVideo will also create a folder in your Google Drive that will be titled, "WeVideo" where your projects will be saved.

Once you�re in WeVideo, you may default to the Storyboard Timeline. It�s a nice, simple format for creating video including a voiceover recording. If you�ve done some video editing before, try switching your Timeline view in the top left corner of the screen to the Simple or Advanced Timelines to give you more options for adding in your voice and other audio tracks.

WeVideo is a great tool to use for digital storytelling. This simple list of steps can help you make your way through a digital storytelling project, as well as any video projects that your students may be completing.

  1. Modeling: Create a sample digital story in WeVideo to use as a model for your students.
  2. Script Writing: GoogleDocs work well for this part of the process. The writing process is as important as the technology that you will use for your digital storytelling creation. Remember, you need a good script to create a good digital story!
  3. Editing: This includes self-editing, peer editing and teacher feedback on your scripts.

  4. Record your scripts:
    In WeVideo this is your voiceover. Your voice is the star of your digital story, so this is one of the most important parts of your final product. Recording your script at the beginning of the digital story creation allows you to easily add in your media because you will know exactly how long your story needs to be. Make sure that you are able to create a nice, strong and clear voiceover. Students can record in the hallway or other quiet areas of the school to help with classroom noise interference. You can also take your browser out of full screen on your Chromebooks and open up a second window in order to put your GoogleDoc script side by side with your WeVideo window. This will allow you to read and record your script without printing out any pages.
  5. Asset Collection: This is where you collect your images, video, and music. You can load your images and video into Google Drive, and then upload them into your WeVideo Media file storage area. WeVideo also includes great options for music, so you don�t have to look any further than the project that you�re working on for a great soundtrack! Remember to choose music that will compliment your story. Lyrics can interfere with your voice recording, and the tone and style of the music should match the feelings expressed in your story.
  6. Digital Story Assembly: Once everything is loaded up into your Google Drive, you will then put it all together with your voiceover. When you add in your music, you have a great opportunity to adjust volume levels so that your voice can continue to be the star!
  7. Include Citations: Remember to include citations for any images that you use in your project. You can add an End Title to include these citations. If you need extra room for your citations, then try adding more than one End Title.
  8. Publishing: You will be sharing your digital story to your Google Drive account. As you Publish, have your students click on the �Public� Button to change their privacy settings in Google Drive to private. Once the video is in Google Drive, they can share it to the individuals who need to view their work.

Need more help with creating a WeVideo project? Check out WeVideo Academy Tutorials. You can also check out WeVideo's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to see how WeVideo addresses students under 13 using WeVideo. WeVideo has many plan options, including their free version so that you can find the plan that fits your needs.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Voices from the Classroom: Using Schoology for Student Reflection


The Office of Instructional Technology has had the pleasure of working with extraordinary teachers throughout the Cherry Creek School District.  We decided that we would launch "Voices from the Classroom" as a way to highlight innovative teaching and learning from the teachers themselves, in their own words.  

We're kicking off the new blog segment with Sean Vair and his "Vairy" impressive lesson utilizing Google Forms and Schoology as a way to facilitate student reflection connected to Student Learning Outcomes.   Sean has been teaching Science since 2004.  He received his Masters in Educational Technology at Grand Canyon University. He currently teaches at Fox Ridge Middle School where he serves as the Science Coordinator and is a leader within the CCSD STEM Cohort.   

Using Schoology for Student Self-Reflection
Written by Sean Vair 


I have spent the last couple of years at Fox Ridge Middle School trying to discover how to use Schoology to make my class run more smoothly and help both the students and myself reflect on the learning that is happening during class.  I started, as many of us have, by posting a calendar and various materials that my students and their parents could use to determine what we were doing in class.  I then discovered the possibilities of submitting assignments and have not touched a piece of paper for homework since.  My most recent exploration was to figure out how to use the test and quiz option to help reflect on the student�s knowledge of the content based on the standards.

This exploration started by doing some research into suggested ways to encourage self-reflection.  We came across the article, �Self-Monitoring Tools and Student Academic Success: When Perception Matches Reality� published in the Journal of College Science Teaching.   This article talks about working with the students to help them connect their perception of how well they know the content to the score that they receive on the final assessment.

The article had some great suggestions about self-reflection at the end of the unit, but did not have much about how to start out the unit.  This is where Schoology comes into our plan.  We started out by looking at the standards and the questions that are provided in our textbook�s question bank and creating a quiz that consisted of questions that would test the student�s proficiency at a very basic level.  We then uploaded this into a question bank on Schoology and aligned each question to one or more of the six standards we will be covering during this unit.  

The next step was to create a way for students to record their initial perception of their understanding of the standards.  We created a Google Form that asked the students to rate their proficiency of the standards on a scale of 1-10.  This was uploaded to Schoology as a link so the students could access everything in one place.  

Finally, we created a reflection on Schoology using the Test/Quiz option.  We used the Test/Quiz option so the students could complete everything right on Schoology rather than having to use an outside source such as Google Drive and submit it.  The reflection had 6 multiple choice questions and 2 short answer/essay questions.  The multiple choice questions simply ask the students to compare their original prediction to the score that they received on the pretest.  The Mastery link on Schoology allows students to be able to see the percentage of questions they answered correctly in each standard so they have something to compare their predictions to.  The final questions ask, �What can you do to become proficient in the standards above?� and, �How will you know when you are proficient in the standards above?�  These questions were meant to make the students think about what they can do, aside from learning the content in class, to improve their own learning.

The answers that we received showed that the students spent time reflecting on their own learning and varied from �take more and better notes� to �explore outside sources to enhance my learning�.  Most students were able to provide an answer that, if followed, will definitely increase their understanding of the content.

The following video shows the lesson above in the order that the students would complete it along with some extra samples of answers from the students.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Nearpod in the Classroom

Many teachers use a digital presentation in their classroom to help them keep students engaged, to keep themselves on track, and to incorporate technology into their instruction. While presentations can be a great way to share information with students they are mostly a one way tool; students don�t really interact with the presentation, and often times it is merely projected at the front of the room. Nearpod is a presentation tool that allows teachers to create a presentation and bring it to life by pushing it out to students and guiding their activity in real time. It involves the student in the presentation by having them interact with and submit responses on any device. The teacher can monitor and measure student results, which is something that can be difficult to keep track of when students are only participating verbally or sporadically in class.



The process is simple. Log in to Nearpod, go to your library, select the presentation you wish to share with students and launch a live session. A pin/access code will pop up and you�ll share it with your students. Once students join the session, you will advance the slides and take them through the presentation with you and give them the opportunity to interact with the embedded activities. Hooray!


To start with Nearpod, create your free account. (While Nearpod has other paid options, this post will only focus on the features included in the free version.) You can use the web app from any device, or download the app for iOS, Android, Windows, Nook, or Chrome. Once you�ve signed up, you have several options.
 My Library will take you to any presentations you have created and saved, once you have them of course.

  • Explore allows you to see other presentations that have been created and save them to your library, use them, or modify them.
  • Join directs you to enter a code to join a live presentation.
  • Create brings you to the presentation creation menu.
  • Reports give you access to session reports. They show aggregated data and student details. This can also be downloaded as a PDF to review offline.


Teachers have numerous options when it comes to creating a Nearpod presentation. When you start a presentation in create mode, it automatically provides you with a welcome slide and a thank you slide (both of which can be deleted). Adding content to your new presentation is fairly simple. You can create a slide from scratch, add a video, or import a slideshow, images or other content you've already created by pulling it from your drive, Dropbox, or access it on your computer.

The activities that teachers can add to their Nearpod presentation are shown left.

  • Open ended questions require students to type a response, which can also be shared with the whole class by the teacher.
  • A poll allows you to ask a question and give students several options to choose from. Teachers get immediate data as students select their answer.
  • Quizzes also give you immediate information about their performance. Images can be embedded in the question as can math functions. The only question type available at this time is multiple choice.
  • Draw it gives students the chance to draw a concept or an idea, or write a response. Drawings can also be shared with the rest of the class by the teacher.


Nearpod is an easy to use, free tool to help keep students engaged, track data/responses, and share information with students. Give it a try in your class, or in your next PLC/PLT meeting and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Audio/Video Submissions in Schoology Assignments

We posted previously about how students can post audio/video responses in a discussion board, but if you want students to submit something privately (not for class viewing or commenting), you can use an assignment instead of a discussion board in Schoology.  This will allow you to grade on a rubric, give audio or written feedback, and download for sharing or saving later, but it will be nicely organized in one spot for you to assess & collect.

Having students submit an audio or video response in Schoology can be accomplished in a browser (like Chrome) or using iOS devices.  Need some ideas for how you might use that with students?  For example, you could have students:
  • tell a story or provide a response without having to type it on a keyboard (helpful for younger students or those with accommodations)
  • video themselves doing an experiment or explaining a process
  • explain how they solved a problem or came to a conclusion
  • practice for an oral assessment (like AP or IB courses that require a spoken component for assessment)
  • record themselves doing performing arts, like singing, playing an instrument, or acting out a scene from a play
  • practice speaking/responding in a language other than their first language
If students will be using a browser, the Google Presentation below walks you through the steps.


If students will be using an iOS device, you will still create an assignment, but when students submit, it will look slightly different:



Already have video or audio stored on a device?  Those can be attached to an assignment using the Upload tab in the student submission window.  Keep an eye on file sizes, though.  You can upload files up to 500MB.

Whether created inside of Schoology or uploaded from a device, letting students use audio and video can be a powerful way to have kids show what they know.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Relaunching Cherry Creek's Near Space Balloon Project



You may remember hearing about Cherry Creek's Near Space Balloon Launch Project from last spring. You may have even read our blog post about it. Seven of our elementary schools participated, each sending a balloon about 100,000 feet into near space with varying science projects attached. 


Many of you have asked for more information and how your school can get involved with this project. Our goal as a district is to make this a yearly fifth grade project, where every fifth grader in the district has the opportunity to participate in launching a balloon with experiments attached into Near Space.  

What was it like to participate in the project? Check out our latest Bright Spots video below to see for yourself. You'll witness footage taken by a GoPro camera attached to one of the balloons as well as interviews from Cherry Creek's Elementary STEM Coordinator, Jon Pierce, and from students and teachers who participated in the project last spring.