Students remember concepts and information better when they create something with the new knowledge.

Help students demonstrate their newly acquired knowledge by having them design a visual project using Canva.  Canva is a web-based graphic design platform.  With Canva, students don’t have to spend too much time learning a new tool because it’s easy to use.  They can spend more time on the creative process.  By having the students work on visual-based learning projects, you encourage better retention and recollection of new information.


Ways to use Canva:

  1. As an alternative to Google Slides or Powerpoint, have the students create a presentation summarizing a field trip with notes and information learned on the field trip.
  2. For a mini research project, have students create an infographic to display their information.
  3. If you have a science project planned, have students create a blog to document the ongoing process.
  4. Instead of a book report, have students create a poster that demonstrates their understanding of the book.
  5. In History, have students create posters which feature influential figures or depict a movement in a certain era.
  6. Use with Genius Hour.  Have students create a poster which helps them promote an environmental issue or social action campaign.
  7. Have students create an infographic to show sequence of events or how-to steps.

Canva’s ease of use makes this tool accessible to all students at all levels.  Students will only be limited by their own creativity.

Any ideas how you can use this tool in your class?


Spark-Presentation Alternative

Give your students a different option for presentations with Spark.  Spark is a free online tool which is accessible on student Chromebooks and lets them use their Google login information to sign up.  Create a Post (ie poster), a Page (ie webpage) or a Video from scratch or use one of their creative templates available to edit with your own content.  It’s very easy to use and presentations come out looking very professional.  Students can use text, photos, video and voice recordings to create their presentations.  It comes with some basic features but beginning in April, premium features will be free for schools.  I’ll let you know when that happens.

Important  for 6th grade and under:  Under your supervision, students can create their account using their Google account but they must enter 2003 as their birth year when signing up.  This will be irrelevant in a couple of months when the upgrade  happens.

Implementation ideas:

  • Presentations in any subject area
  • Video lessons: students teach other students how to do something.
  • History timeline
  • Digital portfolio
  • Multimedia timeline
  • Images to tell a story
  • Posters or Memes

How can you use it in your classroom? Class projects coming up?  Leave a comment.


Google Voice Typing

Google Voice typing is a great feature to use in Google Docs.  To access it, click on Tools > Voice typing.  You and your students may get a pop-up window asking for permission to use the microphone and you will click on Allow.  When you are ready to start speaking, click on the microphone.


Why use voice typing?

  • Voice typing supports those students who still don’t know how to type or still don’t know how to spell all words.  For certain assignments, getting their thoughts on paper is more important.  This can help young writers feel successful.
  • Voice typing can accept dictation in other languages.  This can help you support ELLs or students learning a new language.  Students can compose in their native language and then translate their document, helping them learn English.
  • Support students with special needs such as dislexia or can’t use a keyboard or mouse.
  • Saves time on all types of writing and projects.  It will even add punctuation, formatting and correct mistakes.  See the support page for Voice Typing to see all the commands it accepts.


Engaging students with video

A great way to introduce content to students, especially in history and science, is through video.  Many of you show videos whole class, while some of you use video individually.  Both have their benefits.

In order to keep students engaged while showing videos whole class, consider having a Padlet set up where students can drop comments, questions or observations while watching the video.  This allows students to participate while watching the video and not interrupting.  At the end, you can address the questions or comments that were posted.  Padlet gives students who are usually quiet, a chance to participate.  Usually these students have great observations but are too reserved to communicate them.

Allowing students to watch videos individually gives you the opportunity to flip the classroom or provide instruction independently.  You have the freedom to work with other students while others are engaged in the video.  The video or videos can address certain content or skills or it must provide some way for them to interact with the video either by taking notes or answering questions about the video.

Below are some options to do that:

Post a lesson on Blendspace (now called TESTeach) with all the resources needed for that lesson.

Have students answer questions and hear you explain concepts on EDPuzzle or Vizia

Have students take notes while watching a video with VideoANT or MoocNote



Preparing videos for use with Students

Below are some tools available to prepare videos to use with your students.  Once you have the videos ready, post them on Google Classroom or Canvas for students to access them.  Remember that teachers have the ability to approve videos for student use on YouTube.  You will approve the video by clicking on the blue bar below the video:  Video not approved for

These tools help you provide video content to students with the sidebar showing related content or the comments that might be included with the video.  Although you have approved the video, there may be some material that is not appropriate for the classroom.  These tools will get rid of that.

ViewPure and Watchkin will eliminate all the ads and any suggested videos from the YouTube video you want to share with students.  Copy and Paste the YouTube URL in the box.  The link  you get will be the link you post to your students in Google Classroom or Canvas. Quietube is an extension to remove all ads from Youtube videos. And last, will also eliminate all ads and comments from the video.

Want to save the video to your laptop?  KeepVid will download the video in the desired format to your laptop or Google Drive.  Once you’ve downloaded them, there’s no need to go find them in YouTube.



Take your students on a virtual field trip

While visiting a couple of 5th grade classes today, I found out that they are going to be studying the weather.  Students can learn what the weather is like in various parts of the world by viewing webcams set up all over the world.  Your students can also take 360 trips and explore different cultures.

Some websites to explore:

Earthcam – live webcams all over the world

AirPano – 360 Panoramas and 360 Video



Tech Tools to help students who struggle with ELA

Help your students access information by using some of these tech tools to assist them.

Anouncify, and Speak It Chrome extensions will read text aloud for students from any webpage.  Read&Write Toolbar  will read text on a Google Docs or Slides.

Dictionary Bubble will define and pronounce the word.

If your students are reading from a website and have too many distractions on the page, simplify it for them by using Readability.

Proofreading, Grammar & Writing Practice –

Update:  Quill has added new passages.  “Over 150 activities directly from the Common Core State Standards.  All activities will always be made freely available. Each of our activities takes approximately 10-15 minutes. Teachers using Quill in a 1:1 classroom tend to assign Quill activities as a warm up exercise at the beginning of a class.”  K-9th Grade, College and Benchmark Assessments

KQED Teach: Learn Media Literacy Skills

This is a great website to learn new media literacy skills to use with your students to create video.  The website offers several courses.  The Getting Started course will show you what’s available on the website.

Other users share their videos and offer suggestions on various tools.  This is a great way to see how other teachers are using video with their students and learn new skills.


Making Videos with Screencasting Tools

I have been working with some of you across the district in making videos.  Some of you have done projects that involve students making a Book Review video, All about Me Video or a Science Report Video that combines Google Slides with ScreenCastify.  Others, mostly at OHS, have used Screencastify or Doceri to make instructional videos for you students.  Both great uses of screencasting.

I want to let you know of other options here so that you can try them out and see what works best for you and your students.  All of these can be used on Chromebooks and each has some additional features that you will have to check out.

CaptureCast– unlimited video length, can be uploaded to YouTube, easy setup

SnagIt– unlimited video length, can be saved to Google Drive or YouTube

Nimbus Screenshot – video can be saved to hard drive and then loaded to Google Drive or YouTube

Screencastify – 10 minute limit, video can be saved to YouTube or Google Drive

Let me know what you think.  If you’ve tried some of these other tools, share your experiences.

Remember that you also have your recording options on your Mimio or your Smartboard.