Thursday, April 21, 2016

3 Reasons You'll love Video Feedback with

Video Feedback with is the answer I've been looking for in student video feedback, and I think it's got huge potential to positively impact my classroom. I've used screencasting for student video feedback in the past, and it's great, but it's time consuming, and the workflow isn't as seamless as I'd like despite the ease of Google Classroom.


What is  It's a free video feedback app that is cross platform and allows students to respond with a brief video.  It's perfect for giving every student a chance to voice his opinion, share an idea, summarize his learning, or provide a reflective self-assessment.

How does it work? Like many other feedback classroom apps, the teacher creates a virtual classroom (I didn't see Google Classroom integration yet, but it's in beta right now, so maybe?), students join with a unique code or by email, you create a video prompt, and students respond with a video.  You can change how long you want the student responses to be (15 secs-2 mins.), set a due date, assign to a whole class or select students, and include a thumbs up, thumbs sideways, thumbs down "Assess Yourself!" poll question.  

Students log in to, click on the assignment, watch the video prompt (there's a written caption), click the record button, and make a student feedback video. It's quick and easy.  When their responses are recorded, you can view a graph of the "Assess Yourself!" poll, see each response, play all responses, and it even creates a review reel of highlights with a whimsical frame added to the video.  The result for me? I had a face to face virtual conference with each of my students, and I viewed it in less than 10 minutes. Awesomeness!

Three reasons you'll love

Personalizes and streamlines video conferencing and feedback: allows students to record short one take video feedback to a video prompt that you provide.  To hear their tone and see their expressions in their video feedback adds a personalization to the feedback process that I wasn't expecting.  My 8th graders Snapchat regularly, and I think the idea of giving a quick video feedback is a task that might be familiar to most of them because it's just like a "snap" on Snapchat, a quick video.

Develops Student Agency and Student Voice:  I loved giving my students the chance to voice their personal opinion and literally hear their voice; the shy, quiet student and the outspoken student all get heard, and all students get a chance to communicate in a format that is familiar and comfortable for them.

It's free and fun! Oh, and differentiated! The first time we practiced with, my room was filled with self-conscious giggles and a little goofiness, and that was OK.  They were getting comfortable with the tool.  I imagine the next time we give feedback, it will go more smoothly, and students will take the task to heart.  I can see this being a tool I turn to regularly for formative feedback or to gather reflections from each student.  I love the options for differentiation that are built in as you could potentially customize lessons for students.  Imagine Parent Teacher conferences with a personalized video input from the student.  Fantastic!

I'll eagerly add to my toolbox of digital feedback tools.  Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Using Images to help Writers add Details

My students' writing was lacking details.  They had the basics down, and their sentences were generally clear, but details that add depth and meaning were generally not showing up in their writing.  I realized that images were a good way to help them understand the difference between practical writing and elaborate writing.  The first image that came to mind when I thought of elaborate was a chandelier.  Using Google Classroom's discussion prompt I asked students to describe the first image (light bulb), then describe the second image (chandelier), then tell the impact of the differences between the two.  What would be the mood or tone of walking into a large room with the light bulb hanging in the center, and how would that mood and tone change if you walked into a room with the chandelier.  The students described the light bulb as useful, simplistic, and practical.  The chandelier, on the other hand, was shiny, beautiful, detailed, layered, mesmerizing (exactly what I wanted from them in their writing).  The analogy became clear when I asked for them to be intentional about adding elaboration to their writing.  I wanted their writing to make me gasp in its awesomeness, become fascinated by the beautiful details, and mesmerized by the engaging word choice and layers of meaning.

In reflection, this lesson taught me to slow down and take the time to create something that builds relationships.  Now when students hand in their writing, I ask, "Is this a chandelier?"  They smile and remember the lesson.  Using images to connect to students and to add impact to a lesson is not difficult.  Too often, I get swept up in the "getting it done" part of the classwork.  In contrast, I think taking the time to model what it means to be visually literate, to model how to examine and discuss an image, and to model how an image can be representational can positively impact my students and make my teaching more effective.

How have you successfully incorporated images and visual literacy in your classroom? I'd love to hear about your favorite visual lesson.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Our Virtual Field Trip to Shakespeare's Globe Theater

A few weeks ago I took my students to Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London, sort of.  After studying Shakespeare, the Globe Theater History, and Much Ado about Nothing, I figured it was time for a field trip.  But I've got no money and no time, and the all important standardized tests are coming up (sigh).  What I do have is a classroom of curious and interested students.

The solution?  Google Cardboard, Google Street View, and my iPhone6. I located several photospheres from Shakespeare's Globe Theater and included the experience as part of a differentiated stations activity that was inquiry driven.  The resulting student engagement knocked my socks off!

Student responses? "Wow!  It's taller than I imagined! It's much smaller than I thought; it looks oriental in design.  I didn't think it would be so intricate.  Is that where the queen would sit?  Would they throw things on the stage?  It is open to the  What if it rains?  Doesn't it rain in London?"  These were just a few of the reactions.

What did my students like best about our virtual field trip?  They liked the experience of feeling what it might be like to be in the theater and seeing the details in a 3D environment.

What did I like best about our virtual field trip?  The student engagement, wanting to stay after class to do more, asking where they can buy their own Google Cardboard, and wondering where we can go next.

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better experience.  Well, I could have asked for 30 tickets to London and the premier of the hottest show in town, but I'll keep my reality virtual for now.