Sunday, November 10, 2019

Practice Making Comics with Google Slides

For over five years I've been teaching students and teachers how to make comics with Google Slides. We still use the process in my district and students still love the creative possibilities.

Recently I started introducing it in a new, interactive way that has worked well. It will allow you to just assign it and let students learn and practice right in the one presentation. It's basically a hyperdoc created in Google Slides.

Click here to get your own copy of the Google Slides presentation.

Some notes:
  • The easiest way to assign this would be through Google Classroom, with the option to make a copy for each student.
  • This is written on the first slide, but remind students not to click Present to go through the slideshow. They need to keep it in edit mode so they can do the practice on the later slides.
  • The final slide tells them to download it as a PDF and turn it in through Classroom. I like them to get the practice of downloading as a PDF, but you can change that if it's not a priority for your class.
  • We use this presentation as the first step in a comic creation project. You might have a specific project in mind or you could introduce them to the process just so they have it as a creative option for any project in the future.
  • Usually after students learn the process, I show them a tutorial like this one so they can use the Google Slides app to take photos on a phone or tablet.
If you like this simple, self-contained introduction to comics, please consider purchasing one of my inexpensive tech activities on Teachers Pay Teachers:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Simple Informational Video Projects With WeVideo

Our high school Communications class creates video announcements each week. We have three teams responsible for "features" that are created in advance, usually outside of the studio. This year it seems they only want to focus on interviews and challenges, which result in similar interactions with staff and students week after week.

To get them thinking of other options, I recently made a tipsheet for what I call Informational Video Features. While that could be extremely general, for our class it means:

  • It's scripted.
  • Most likely it will have a narrator rather than someone on camera, talking to the audience.
  • It uses graphics, text and still images to enhance the narration.
Here's an example we made based on a survey we gave students just before Halloween. (I know the audio is pretty bad. We have upgraded our audio equipment since making this!)

I love using WeVideo for this because (as you see in the example) they have a lot of quality, easy to use motion titles. They even have a growing list of seasonal ones, which worked great for our Halloween poll. That combined with plenty of good transitions and tons of feature video clips and images to choose from makes it the perfect choice for the classroom. (It's not free, but check out their educational pricing here.)

Here's the direction document I created to help students get started on this. It is not a tutorial for how to use WeVideo, since our students already have a lot of experience with the basics. If you need more tips to get started, WeVideo has a lot of tutorials here.

Some additional tips for using this in class:
  • We often do a "Quick Poll" on our student website to gather opinions and information from our students. We use Google Forms to make the surveys and they're a great source of information for these quick video features.
  • As noted in the directions, there are a few options for recording the narration. If you want to use TwistedWave, here's something I posted on this blog a few years ago about that online audio recorder.
  • The directions say, "Write the script", but that can be a big challenge for students. Concisely summing up dozens of open ended responses from a survey, some percentages and possibly facts from other sources is likely an assignment in itself. Start with a small list of facts for the first time and use a rubric to help them know exactly what you're looking for.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Updated Creativity Game for 2019

This week I presented an updated version of what has been the most popular post on this blog for years. I used a different tech tool this time (Google Sheets) and I run the game part of it completely differently. (Click here for the original post and here for another recent way I've used it.)

I led this version of the activity for a class of about 30 students from grades 9 - 12. It was very well received and the teacher told me the students asked to play more the next day. 

Since I've written at length about these activities elsewhere, I will just link to the new resources below and explain this updated process.

The creativity exercise is based on a game system I designed with my friend, Kory Heath. The lesson follows this outline:
  1. Talk to the class about the importance of creativity for success in today's world.
  2. Lead into the creativity game Why Did the Chicken...?
  3. Show them how the game works. Ideally this will include tips on how to make creative answers.
  4. Run at least one round with a group of students from the class.
  5. Show how students will use the spreadsheet when they play on their own.
  6. Let them play the game in small groups of 3 - 5.
  7. Have them complete a reflection sheet.
Resources:  (Most of these are Google files that will open as a copy in your Google Drive.)
Other Notes:
  • I used to provide a lot more time to practice making good answers. The problem was we didn't have much time to play the game. After presenting it this last time, I plan to put a maybe five to ten minutes more practice and practical advice in the talk next time.
  • There's no doubt students will find it difficult to come up with answers. Remind them that they're probably trying to get an answer that makes perfect sense. Sometimes the key is just coming up with the answer that makes the judge laugh!
  • There are just over 50 words in the spreadsheet, but ideally it should be well over one hundred. Feel free to add to it. The best lists contain things from the students' school or community.
  • Remind everyone to keep answers school appropriate and to be kind to each other! Everyone needs to feel safe writing down a dud response. This is an important lesson for working creatively with a group.
  • Make sure students understand the role of judge passes from player to player each round. (See the detailed rules below for the flow of the game.)
Here are the steps to playing Why Did the Chicken...? this way:
  • Each group of 3 - 5 students will need:
    • One device to open the spreadsheet and make a copy. (I suggest sharing the link with them through Google Classroom.)
    • Pencils
    • Several slips of paper.
  • Pick a judge for the first round. The judge will use the spreadsheet to generate a random riddle.
  • The judge reads the riddle to the other members of the group.
  • They get two minutes to write as many possible answers as they can think of. Each answer should go on a separate slip of paper. After writing an idea, they put it in the center of the table face down.
  • After two minutes, no new answers can be started. Anyone can finish writing their current idea if still writing. Then all slips are gathered by the player to the left of the judge.
  • That player reads each answer to the judge. We like to have the judge read the question aloud each time, then hear the answer. It adds to the fun of the riddles.
  • After hearing all the possible answers, the judge must pick a favorite (or two favorites if they want).
  • The player(s) whose ideas were selected get a point.
  • The judge passes the device to the player on his or her left and the process continues.
  • Play until everyone has been the judge at least twice.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Creating Student Tutorials with Published Google Slides Instead of Videos

Here's something I just started doing and I'd love to hear comments from other teachers who make a lot of tutorials.

Instead of making a video tutorial as usual for new lessons, I put all the steps in a Google Slide presentation and published it to the web.

Besides being examples of this process, I hope you find the tutorials themselves useful for tech projects in your class.

Here's the first example, about using Stop Motion Studio.
And here's a very useful one for importing photos using Google Slides on the iPad.


Why do tutorials as Slides instead of video? Well, generally I'd say this is much faster to create at first. Especially if a series of screenshots will do the trick, it should be faster than recording, editing out mistakes, adding callouts, etc.

Another plus is that I can update it almost immediately if I find out students need more information or if I have a mistake. All the students have to do is refresh the page and they'll see my changes.

I think students might like this better, since they can more easily quickly jump just to the parts they need as they work with the app the first time. If nothing else, it is a change of pace from the many videos from me that they normally have to watch.

I'll have more to say about their preferences after we try these with a class next month. I'm also going to try it with some staff tutorials.

The Reality So Far

I will point out a couple delays I had when making the first tutorial.

It did take a little while to make the animated GIF I used in the animation tutorial. Such GIFs often are not necessary, but sometimes a moving image conveys a lot of useful information. I still think the whole thing was faster than editing a video tutorial. (And by the way, I use this site to change most of my video clips to GIFs.)

More significantly, I ran into a very time consuming delay when I tried to insert the screenshots into the first tutorial. I actually used a process similar to what's shown in the second tutorial. I suspect the very large screenshots I grabbed from the iPad choked up my home WiFi, though, and the app gave up trying to sync them.

I did almost the same process for creating the second tutorial and I had no problems. I did go a little more slowly as I inserted each image on the slides.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Making Video Slideshows from Photos With iMovie for iPad

I just finished this introductory lesson (along with four related video tutorials) for our redesigned Middle School STEM course. It walks students through the process of making a video from photos using iMovie on an iPad.

As the course goes on, our students will be expected to use this process to create short videos about their other projects.

The document at the link below contains all the links to the short video tutorials. It will require students to:

  • Take seven photos
  • Add them to a new iMovie video project
  • Change the order, length and transitions as they like
  • Add movement to each photo using the pan and zoom effects
  • Add titles to at least two photos
  • Export the video to the Photos area on the iPad
  • Upload the video to Google Drive using the Google Drive app

Note that our students share iPads, so the directions instruct them to share the video file from the iPad's Google account to their personal Google account. As with any part of the document, you can edit those directions to fit your needs.

Click here to get a copy of the document with all the directions.

If you find that free lesson helpful, be sure to check out these other tech based activities I created for Teachers Pay Teachers.