We’re fortunate to teach in an era in which 1:1 classrooms—with one device for each student—are increasingly the norm. Still, we’re constantly asking ourselves: Are we utilizing this omnipresent technology to the best of our abilities? How can we be sure that its use supports our students’ academic growth? Let’s face it: A worksheet is still a worksheet, even if it’s stored on Google Drive. Dr. Linda Darling Hammond has found that for technology to be used effectively in the classroom, three key criteria must be met: Learning must be interactive; the technology must be used to explore, design, and create rather than to “drill and kill”; and there must be the right blend of teachers and technology.
G Suite has recently released two features that allow teachers to meet these criteria and maximize their instructional time: Google Cast for Education and Screencastify.
Google Cast for Education
Google Cast for Education is a free Chrome app that allows teachers and students to share their screens wirelessly from anywhere in the classroom. The app runs on the teacher’s computer, which is connected to the projector; students use Google Cast, which integrates seamlessly with Google Classroom, allowing the teacher to set student permissions and remain in full control at all times.
Maximize Conference Time: The teacher can easily see a common problem that the students are facing during independent work. One of the students can cast his screen, and the entire class can instantly look at the problem and work together to solve it.
Or let’s say your students are hard at work during Writer’s Workshop. As you conference with individual students, you notice that a few are struggling to add meaningful dialogue to their work. Invite a student who has mastered this skill to project his screen to the class and use the opportunity to analyze his craft.
During an informational writing unit, some students are struggling to find key facts on their topic. Invite students to share their screens and facilitate a discussion. “That’s a great piece of evidence! Can you cast your screen to show your classmates where they might find that type of fact?” You can also use this opportunity to cast your screen and walk your students through a brief reteaching lesson on finding credible sources online.
Turn a Projector Screen Into an Interactive Whiteboard: Present your lesson to a projector or Smart Board from your device. This allows for more control over the presentation and gives you the chance to face your students. If you cast from a tablet or touchscreen laptop, you can use its features during your presentation, thus turning even a simple projector screen into an interactive whiteboard.
Transform Your Tablet Into a Mobile Document Camera: Cast your tablet, turn on the camera, and project student work onto the board from anywhere in the room. This allows for minimal interruption to classroom workflow as the student does not need to stop what he is doing and move to the document camera—the document camera comes to him.
Screencastify is a screencasting extension for Chrome that enables you to record, annotate, store, and share video screen captures with your audience. While there are many screencasting platforms available, the beauty of this tool lies once again in its simplicity. Once you’ve installed the Chrome extension and granted it access, its icon will appear alongside your address bar in Chrome. Plus, Screencastify is fully synced with G Suite, making it Google Classroom ready.
Instructional Videos: Use Screencastify to create lesson recaps or introduce new content to your class. This is especially powerful for students who need multiple opportunities to learn.
You can use this to flip your class by creating instructional videos for your students to watch outside of class time to prepare for more hands-on, in-depth work in class. Screencastify can also help with remediation: Lesson recap videos are a powerful tool for students who need more time to grasp a tricky concept. They can watch the lesson at their own pace, using the pause and rewind buttons as needed. You can also develop screencasts for students who are ready for additional content and challenges. This gives you the opportunity to introduce higher-level content to a targeted group of students and maximize instructional time.
Verbal Feedback: Written comments are highly effective, but you may consider also leaving audio or video feedback on cumulative student projects so that you can provide a more detailed and precise response. It’s simple: After students submit their work via Google Classroom or Drive, you can click on the Screencastify record icon and start commenting; you can also use the pen tool to mark up the work with digital ink.
Student Presentations: Students can collaborate on a Google Presentation and then activate Screencastify to record audio narration over the presentation. Students submit their video directly to Google Classroom.