14 ways to create great classroom video with Screencastify

Screencastify makes it easy to record video of your screen or with your webcam. Here are ideas for classroom implementation. (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

Screencastify makes it easy to record video of your screen or with your webcam. Here are ideas for classroom implementation. (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

Not too long ago, video creation required bulky, awkward video cameras with big, plastic VCR tapes. Playback required a TV, a VCR and a hope that everything worked nicely together.

And video editing … well, that just wasn’t readily available to the average person.

My, how things have changed.

Everything seems to have a camera these days. Our phones can shoot video and pictures. Our computers, Chromebooks and related devices have webcams on board.

There’s a reason video creation grown so quickly and become so popular. When you watch a video, it creates a connection with the person you’re watching. You hear their voices. You look in their eyes. A bond is created quickly.

Video has never been so accessible to the classroom.

So … what do we do with it?

Why use Screencastify?

One of my favorite classroom video creation tools is Screencastify. It’s a Chrome extension … a little program installed into the Google Chrome web browser in the top right corner.

I love it because you can:

  • record video with your webcam OR record what’s happening on your screen.
  • record a specific web browser tab, the entire web browser or your computer’s desktop.
  • choose between cameras and microphones if you have more than one plugged in.
  • include the system audio (sounds the computer makes) or turn them off.
  • upload directly to Google Drive or YouTube

Oh, and it’s free! (I’ve only needed the free version, which records up to 10 minutes and puts a Screencastify logo on the screen. The paid version gives extra options, unlimited recording and no logo for $24/year.)

If you use Google Classroom, Screencastify is pure gold. Saving videos to your educational Google Drive account (unlimited storage) and sharing them to Classroom is so easy. (Save video to Drive, add a new announcement/assignment to Classroom, attach video, and you’re done!)

Great Screencastify activities

So … back to that original question. What do we do with the access we have to video creation?

Glad you asked. Here are some ideas that you and your students can start with as soon as you install Screencastify in your Google Chrome web browser:

1. News cast (webcam) — Students become the news anchor and deliver what they’re learning about as the news of the day. Set them up in front of a white board (or green screen!) with a desk and let them summarize the important details.

2. Moving paper manipulatives (webcam) — Have students draw and cut out paper objects that illustrate the concept they’re learning. Point the webcam at the desk (positioning the computer is tricky but doable!). Then have students describe their idea while using those paper manipulatives to illustrate.

3. Moving digital manipulatives (screencast) — Want to avoid all that paper and cutting? Create digital manipulatives instead. Use Google Drawings, Google Slides or PowerPoint. Use text boxes or pictures as items to move around the screen. Then start a screencast video with Screencastify. Explain what’s happening through the microphone and demonstrate by moving those digital manipulatives around the screen.

4. White board explainer video (webcam) — Ever seen those RSA Animate videos where they scribble illustrations furiously on a whiteboard? You or your students can make a version of these videos using Screencastify and YouTube to create great videos that show their understanding or teach content. Here’s what you do:

  • Plan out your drawings first.
  • Record yourself drawing them on a whiteboard using the webcam.
  • Save the video to YouTube.
  • Use YouTube Creator Studio (click “My Channel”, then “Video Manager”, then “Edit” for the video you want to edit).
  • Under the “Enhancements” tab, choose “4x” from the enhancements to speed the video up.
  • Under the “Audio” tab, choose a song to play with the video. (Note: If you want to record a voiceover instead, you’d need to use a video editing tool like WeVideo, Windows Movie Maker or iMovie instead.)

5. Tour Builder walking tour (screencast) — Google has this neat tool that lets you create virtual tours using Google Maps. You choose the locations. You choose the view (satellite view from overhead or Street View from the ground). Then you can display it full screen to show others. This fits perfectly with a Screencastify screencast. Have students set up their tours. Then they can record them, narrating with their microphones and showing all the locations they’ve added to their tours. They’re the virtual tour guides!

6. Sub lesson plans (screencast) — If you’ve ever left lesson plans for substitute teachers, you’ve probably felt the frustration of students not following your instructions specifically as you described them. Make sub plans crystal clear with a screencast video, complete with your voice and video of your screen. Then leave that video in Google Classroom (or on a class website with a link), where students can access it and watch it themselves.

7. Animation (screencast) — One of my favorite non-traditional uses of Google Slides is to create stop-motion animation (flip book animation) by duplicating slides and making slight changes. (See how in this post or watch a great example in this video.) After you’ve created your own animation, record it with a screencast using Screencastify … then bring it into YouTube and use Creator Studio (click “My Channel” then “Video Manager” then “Edit” on your video) to add music to it.

8. Interview (webcam) — Interviewing is a medium that news professionals, talk show hosts, podcasters and more use frequently. People are drawn in to the question and answer format. Students can conduct their own interviews with a laptop/Chromebook and a Screencastify webcam recording. Have them interview each other, teachers, school leaders, family members, veterans on Veteran’s Day, community leaders and more in relation to what they’re learning.

9. Presentations (webcam / screencast) — Oral presentations in front of class are a practice as timeless as education itself. The anxiety over presenting in front of peers goes back that far, too. Recording presentations (with slides or without) using Screencastify provides several benefits:

  • That anxiety is eased when there aren’t dozens of eyes watching.
  • The presentation can be re-recorded if necessary.
  • It helps students watch the amount of time they’re presenting.
  • The webcam can record their faces as they speak alongside their slides.

10. Instructional videos (screencast) — In-person, in-class teaching and learning still has tons of advantages. There’s a drawback, though. Once the teacher says it, there’s no rewind button. There’s no pause button. For tricky concepts, recording instructional videos that students can watch later gives them those benefits. Record short videos for your students that they can watch later (or at home with parents when they’re struggling to complete an assignment).

11. Record your class (webcam) — When students are absent from class, they miss a lot. To help them get back on track, you can record class and make it available to them online. Use a Screencastify webcam video to record your instruction. Simply set a laptop or Chromebook up on a stool or desk at the front of the room and start recording. Save the video to your Google Drive and share it with students.

12. Audio assignments (webcam) — So many assignments students do are writing-focused. Change things up by letting them record an assignment with a webcam video. They can be instructed to speak off the cuff, to prepare brief bullet-point notes or to go from a script. This is a great way for foreign language students to practice speaking the new language and demonstrate their skills — by recording a conversation or a monologue in the target language.

13. One question deep dive (webcam / screencast) — Instead of assigning 20 questions or problems for students to work on, what if students only did one — and explained their answer thoroughly? A screencast or a webcam video with a whiteboard lets them dive deep into their thinking and explain their process. Sometimes, when students explain their thinking, it clicks with other students in ways that a teacher explanation does not.

14. Verbal feedback (webcam / screencast) — Written comments from the teacher are quick and easy, and they have their place. Have you considered leaving students oral video feedback? When grading essays, reports or other cumulative projects, teachers can record Screencastify webcam or screencast videos to give more personal feedback. Plus, when they can hear your voice and see your face, those nonverbal and voice intonation clues can show what you really mean when you say “nice job”.

Question: What are other ways that screencast videos can help in the classroom? What has been your experience with video creation with students? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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