Tag Archives: screencasting

Video evidence & reflection for student-led conferences

How PAML scaffolds screencasts for students

Students and their families at Peoples Academy Middle Level have participated in student led conferences for a number of years now. What’s new this year? The opportunity for each 5th and 6th grader to tell the story of their learning through video evidence and reflection. It’s these “Learner Story” videos they share at their conferences.

Let’s examine how one middle school in Vermont invites their learners to create video evidence and reflection for their PLPs. Now let’s see how Peoples Academy Middle Level fosters and supports this process that then re-feeds the PLPs in question.

The setup

Many Vermont educators facilitate identity building work at the start of the school year. They do so through teacher advisory and as part of Personal Learning Plan (PLP) development. Students explore the questions “Who am I?” both as learners and as integral members of their school community. Knowing students well means we are better positioned to support them on their learning journeys.

Yet, often this identity work stops after this initial back-to-school and PLP prep ends.

Enter: the student-led conference

A teacher-generated video example launches the project. Students consider how to meet the requirements of sharing learning aligned to clear targets from their interdisciplinary project-based work:

  • Include at least 5-6 pieces of evidence from Expedition
    • Explain in writing or speaking:
      • What was the assignment?
      • What did you learn?
      • Did it meet a learning target?

Expedition at Peoples Academy is an integrated studies course team taught by seven educators. Their driving question?

How Do Communities Thrive?

Students select evidence of learning to reflect on. And they *explicitly* link this evidence to clear learning targets. And they do it with video stories.

Izzy’s “Learner Story”

Spoiler: it’s a video.

Let’s jump right in to 6th grader Izzy’s Learner Story, below, then look at how the PAML educators support and guide students with the creation process.

Amazing, right? So good. So comprehensive and clear, and quite a few signposts guiding you through Izzy’s learning journey! (Btw, a big THANK YOU to Izzy and the PAML folx for sharing that video.)

Now let’s reverse-engineer it:

Check out the full slide deck PAML educators share with their students. It spells out how students should:

  • review the learning they are engaged in;
  • curate their evidence;
  • and tell compelling visual stories of how they met shared learning goals.

It provides a solid foundation of instruction for getting students to sit down and think concretely about what to include in their videos.

(Grab yourself a copy of this fabulous resource by going to File > Copy.)

The slide deck asks students the following questions:

  • What’s your story?
  • What have we done?
  • How are you feeling about your student-led conference?
  • What do you need to include in your Learner Story?
    • A link to your math and expo slideshow
    • 5-6 pieces of evidence from Expedition (boom: examples!)
    • What you learned
    • Whether it met a learning target
  • What are you proud of? What didn’t go so well? (Rose and Thorn protocol) What could you do differently next time?

And finally:

  • What are you looking forward to next?

Format: keep it simple

Video evidence and reflection, as a term, can conjure up visions of 20-minute documentaries with a full cast and multiple dance numbers. And yet, PAML keeps it simple with screencasting.

Stop! Pedagogy time: focus on skills over tools

Sylvia Tolisano in her post  12 ideas for amplified forms of digital storytelling  explains what she sees as a strategic choice to include video as a medium. In this way, digital “Learning Stories” amplify the learning because they tap into “previously unknown possibilities.”

Documenting by capturing evidence of learning and sharing it in a strategic way allows for the development of a learning story. Take digital portfolios to the next level and go beyond the accumulation of disconnected artifacts to curate strategic evidence of learning. Create connections (chronological or non-linear) between them. Make reflections and metacognition (the thinking about your thinking) visible. Make your learning process and your growth visible. The learning story can become an inspiration for others, when you share and make your learning trials, obstacles and mistakes visible to others. The act of documenting and telling your learning story can become an integral part of the process of learning itself.”

Peoples Academy teachers value both the process and product.

Students revisit, reflect upon, and synthesize their learning as they create these Learner Stories. In this way, teacher advisors say they’ve learned so much about the students in their advisories simply by watching the videos as they help students prepare for conferences.

Multiple ways to create Learner Stories?

Check out Richard Byrnes’ list of digital storytelling resources for your students to share their Learning Stories.

(Want to know more about Student Led Conferences? We’ve gotcha covered. Plus, check out Katy Farber’s Padlet.)

Now, how might you create opportunities for all learners to reflect on and represent their growth through digital storytelling?

4 ways students can control the pace of content delivery

Deliver the goods!

tech-rich social studiesRather than creating a unit on the Civil War, imagine working with an individual student or small group on a topic that fully engages them, but might be something you know little about. First we looked at how to find resources in multiple formats, to meet students’ different learning needs and preferences.

Now, how do we deliver those materials in a way that responds to students’ needs and also gives them some choice in how, when, and where they learn?
Continue reading 4 ways students can control the pace of content delivery

Screencasting as PLP reflection

Students create screencasts for student-led conferences

screencasting as PLP reflectionSixth graders at The Dorset School in southern Vermont are in their second year of working with Personal Learning Plans (PLPs). These exuberant adolescents have fond memories of one experience. Last year, these students were paired with teacher Amanda Thomas. Mid-way through the year of working with her students on PLPs, Mrs. Thomas realized that their PLP work was falling flat; she had to do more to involve them.

Continue reading Screencasting as PLP reflection

How to use Google Hangout for screencasting

NOTE: Whoo, five years is a whole *eon*, in tech time, people. So, the original updated version of this post, first written in 2015, then updated in 2018, remains below, because it will work to set you up for using Google Hangouts for screencasting. But there also two easier ways.

So here’s three ways to use Google Hangouts for screencasting.

One, pair it with screencasting software

Pair it with a conventional screencasting tool such as Camtasia, Screencast-o-matic, Snagit or Screencastify. Open your screencasting tool, then kick off a Google Hangout like you would normally.

Two, turn Recording on in Google Enterprise Suite.

But the updated version is that Google Hangouts have a button that simply turns recording on, if you have Google Enterprise Suite.

Here’s Google’s video tutorial on the topic:

And three, set your Google Hangout to be broadcast On Air.

Which gives you a recorded broadcast at the end.

Original 2018 post. (Oy.)

There are a plethora of screencasting tools available for Mac, PC and Chromebook, but one way to create a super-quick screencast when you want students to be able to see you in the picture, is to use Google Hangout for screencasting. Super useful for Google schools, and did we mention it’s free?

Step-by-step, here’s how to use Google Hangout for screencasting

1. Go to Google Hangouts on Air

how to use google hangouts for screencasting
Click the yellow “Create a Hangout on Air” button

2. Set it to private

Name your hangout, give it a description, then click on the X in the green “Public” button if you don’t want the whole thing posted to your Google+ profile. You do need to pick one person to share it with, but it can be your own alternate email address. Click “Share” to get to the Hangout. As shown in this 30-second, audio-free video snippet:


Troubleshooting tip: You do need to verify your YouTube account, if prompted, but it takes seconds.
Yes, I appreciate the irony in having used Camtasia to create that screencast. Stay tuned for “App-smashing and creating instructional blogposts” 🙂

 3. Click “Start” to enter the screencasting studio

how to use Google Hangouts for screencasting
You’ve been popped over into Google+ and on the lefthand side of the page is a Hangout window. Click the blue “Start” button.


4. Start your broadcast

how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
Now you are in the Hangout window. Click “Skip” to queue up a percentage progress bar at the bottom of your Hangout window. When it’s done, the progress bar will turn to a green “Start broadcast” button. You’ll get a little countdown up there in the corner, then boom! You are now recording from your machine.


5. Screencast with anything on your desktop

To do a voiceover of your slides, hover over the lefthand edge of the Hangout window until a column of icons appears. The third one down is Screenshare. Click it, and choose your slides from the set of options that pop up.


how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
The options will consist of every application you have open, plus your Desktop.


6. Start talking!

Once you choose your slides, navigate over to them on your machine as if the Hangout wasn’t there, and start talking. And what you wind up with as a finished project is something like this:


After you finish the broadcast, what you wind up with is an unlisted YouTube video. And from there, you can decide who receives the url to view the finished project.


tldr; a screencast showing soup-to-nuts how this works

For a complete look at how this works from the driver’s seat, I used Camtasia again to record what this whole process looks like from the back end. (Did I mention the app-smashing for instructional blogposts?)


Troubleshooting tip: obviously, this works best for schools with ready access to the Google suite of products. If, for instance, you find yourself staring at something like this:


how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
Then it’s likely time for an inservice conversation about fettered internet access, security and digital citizenship as a school-wide culture, but that, my friends, is a whole other blogpost.