Ideas spread. This is often the case with teaching and technology. One example of this in Berkeley is using Screencastify with book projects. Last June the DigiTech blog featured how fourth grade students in Stefanie Wissmann’s class at Cragmont created and shared screencasts about historical fiction. Inspired by this, David Spiegelmann’s 7th grade humanities students at King Middle School followed this format for nonfiction book projects.
After students completed a nonfiction book of their choice, they created a Google Slides presentation to highlight key aspects of the book. David had students practice presenting in small groups several times. The classes discussed what makes a compelling presentation and agreed that the script shouldn’t be read verbatim. It was more important to hit the highlights and be engaging. Then students were ready to record their presentations. Each class visited the library to spread out. They used Chromebooks to create video recordings using Screencastify, a Google Chrome extension which captures the computer screen as well as audio narration.
Screencastify videos are automatically saved in Google Drive so students needed a way to share them. David’s goal was to replicate Stefanie’s launch page so he created a Google Doc that all of his students in his core classes could access to add their screencasts. He figured out the best way to manage this part of the process was to bring up small groups of students, assign them cells in the table, and have students add an image of their book cover and link it to their screencast (see image left). Students also learned how to change the sharing settings so that others can view their work. Afterwards, David had to spend no more than 20 minutes cleaning up the document and changing the sharing settings of the launch page to “view only.” This one document includes links to the 55 screencasts created in all of David’s classes. This way students can view work from David’s other English class.
These projects will be posted on King’s library website for easy access. Students will be able to go back to these screencasts in the future when they are searching for nonfiction book recommendations. What a fantastic way to share reading!
– Mia Gittlen, K-8 Instructional Technology TSA