George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Sometimes it's the little things that can prove to be powerful. The quick and easy action of taking a screenshot can transform how you use technology in your classroom. A screenshot is simply a picture of what is on the screen of your device. On the iPad, users press the home button and power button at the same time, and a snapshot of the screen is sent directly to the Camera Roll. Taking a screenshot is the perfect way to capture student work on mobile devices.


Whether students are solving math problems on a virtual white board or drawing a story map of a book they've read, a screenshot can show you what they've accomplished during a class period. Use this tool as a daily formative assessment by having students snap a picture of their work, send it to you in an email, or upload it to a class file sharing site like Dropbox. With a quick glance, you can see who's modeling decimals correctly using virtual base ten blocks, and who needs extra help highlighting words in an eBook.


Screenshots can also be used when displaying student work. Educators are moving farther and farther away from the days when file folders of student work would grow as the school year progressed. As everyday lessons and projects are going virtual, keep a collection of student work by saving screenshots of activities completed on a mobile device.

Common Core Rigor

One of my favorite ways to use screenshots in the classroom is as a starting point for writing. Students should be able to explain their thinking in words, and teachers can ask them to write about what they accomplished during a lesson that took place using a mobile device. If your students drew a factor tree on their iPad screen, have them write an explanation of prime factorization using their screenshot to support their writing. If your students found an image of a primary source document in social studies class, have them take a screenshot and explain what the image tells them about a period of history. An action as simple as a screenshot can be used to push students toward deeper thinking about the work they are doing in your class.


For teachers, a screenshot can be a powerful tool to demonstrate best practices and review assignments with students. Use a screenshot from inside a new app you're introducing to demonstrate the steps students must follow to complete an activity. It's an easy way to model expectations and show students how to navigate a new app. With screencasting apps like Educreations and Doceri, students can use screenshots they've taken of their work and record their voice as they describe what they accomplished. This might be screenshots of the steps used to solve a math problem, or images from different steps of the writing process when completing work on a mobile device.

How have you used screenshots in your classroom? What other ways do you capture student work?

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Comments (7) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Xaria's picture
4th grade elementary teacher from Turks and Caicos

Thanks for this great article. I have never used it before, however, after reading this article, will definitely try screenshots in my classroom.

Amy's picture
4th grade teacher in southern California

Hi, Monica! I enjoyed your post about screencasting. I've used screenshots with an app called Penultimate. The app has several different photorealistic paper styles to choose from and colorful screen 'gel ink' pens. Students can draw, sketch, take notes, and brainstorm on the app's pages. I teach fourth grade and started using the graph paper style with my geometry lessons. I draw complex geometric figures (with some measurements missing) on my iPad under the Elmo projector. Students have to redraw the figure on their iPad, determine the measurements of the missing sides, and then calculate the area and perimeter of the complex shape. They really enjoy it. Sometimes, I have them circulate and check each other's calculations. Walking around the room, I try to look at as many as I can, but then I have the students email me the files so I can check them more closely. I have a few students share their work with the class, and, as a reward for presenting in front of the other students, I send a screenshot attached to a celebratory email home to their parents. I have done the same when students share a strategy for solving a word problem on the SmartBoard. I have the students sign their work and then we print a copy for the wall of the classroom and I email a copy home to their parents.

Katie_M_Ritter's picture
Director of Curriculum and Technology Integration in Cincinnati, OH

Great post! One of my favorite free screenshot/screencast tools is Jing from Techsmith ( My favorite features are the boxes, arrows and text you can insert to highlight and point out important parts of the image.

ATaylors_Bio's picture
9-12 Life science teacher and department coordinator from Anniston, AL

We use iPads to document and assess student dissections. Many students will take photos, but interestingly, some decided to video the dissection, pause the video playback when key features were noted, and use the screen capture in their presentations. This also gives students who are not fond of "getting their hands dirty" a clean, yet important role.

Lynn Lanier's picture

I really enjoyed this post about the screen shots. Technology is becoming a popular tool in our Pre-K classes. I am a new Special Needs Pre-K teacher, and we are now implementing the "Hatch" technology in our classroom. I am very excited about this tool because it will give my little ones the opportunity to interact within the lesson projected on the screen! We can also do the screen shot of the child's work to use as an assessment! This will not only make things a little less complicated for teachers, but will assist my sweet babies in becoming a part of their own learning! Even with the special needs children, technology can make learning fun and easy!

Brandie Amato's picture
Brandie Amato
Elementary Special Education Teacher and fan of Technology

I appreciate the many uses you found on using a simple screenshot. I have used a few screenshots in my digital storytelling. On the desktop computer when I take a screen shot, using the print screen button, I find it not so "user-friendly". What are your recommendations for the desktop feature of a screenshot?

Brandie Amato's picture
Brandie Amato
Elementary Special Education Teacher and fan of Technology

Thanks for the link Katie. I looked at it briefly, but will definitely be playing around with it more this school year!

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