We are in the process of learning how to work together and to do collaborative labs in our 6th grade middle school experience. Our subject is physical science and we are in our motion chapter. The emphasis is calculating speed and average speed. There of course the basic “Distance over Time equals Speed” to calculate average speed.
Using the new Google sites, forms, spreadsheet and YouTube, we are able to achieve all of that in an interactive lab website. I used a YouTube video clip from the University of Hawaii marching band to calculate how fast the members were moving across the field for their halftime show. There are many videos of this type to use in an interactive website. I chose this one due to it ease of observing how the band members moved across the yard lines creating their half time entertainment.
In the video I selected, the band created a stick figure football player, that would march down the field and finally kicking a football field goal, with the cheer team holding this large pigskin. Though the video is seven or eight years old, it is still a work of science beauty. The stick figure football player they created took two full steps and a third to kick the football. Our assignment was to calculate their average yards per second for each of the step as well as measuring the average speed for the center of the body.
The initial class reaction to the video was amazement. Then it was time to get to work and start counting the yard lines that they that the band crossed. Next was to bring the element of time into each step to calculate the average speed. Students watched and re-watch the video to try to get it just right. When finished collected and calculating their data it time to enter in a user-friendly Google form. The form and video were laid out side-by-side on the lab website.
A simple submit moved the lab table data to the spreadsheet, just below the video and the Google data entry form. Analyzing the lab data easy, whether in a large or small group. The students could compare their data with that of the other lab tables in this class, as well as all my other classes that did the same lab. If there was an error in data entry or calculation, the lab table could easily re-enter as needed and learning from those other data points that were entered. All of this happening in real-time in each class.
In summary I felt this lab was a success. It promoted lab table collaboration, as well as table to table and even class to class. The new Google sites was so easy to create this lab, inserting the form, the results spreadsheet, and YouTube video. In addition, students not in class that day could do the lab from home or from a remote location as needed, still having the ability to collaborate digitally.
Google Photos is so incredibly easy to use for capturing videos and images in my classroom. The tool crosses platforms, being user friendly with iPad, Android tablet or an old burner phone no longer used. Just download the Google Photos app, link to my school GAFE account and you are ready to record the magic of learning.
The feature I just love is creating short movie highlights using photos or videos that I have in my photo library. The only downside is this feature doesn’t work on the Chrome browser for a Mac, PC or Chromebook. I have used both iPad and Nexus 7 Android tablets.
Here how I create and use this amazing tool.
Parents tell me they appreciate the movies I share. Many say it's a nice classroom conversation starter with their child. In addition, Google Photos Movies give parent(s), guardian(s) and important adults in a child’s life, a window into the classroom. Yes, this tool is a must for any teacher!
With YouTube Editor sadly due to sunset, I needed a reliable and efficient replace for my classroom videos. I was struggling to find anything that I could transfer files from Google Photos/Drive to an editor like the former YouTube product. Then I remembered listening to All About Android 292 last November. They highlighted PowerDirector Android App, speaking highly of its ease of use and solid video editing tools. It was time to test it!
I downloaded the app on a Nexus 7 running Marshmallow, that I use in my classroom mostly for photos and videos. For an older, inexpensive device purchase in 2014, it's still extremely reliable. The app loaded as planned and linked to my GAFE school account with ease. I found my Google Photos content in Drive right away and I was ready to make my first video production attempt.
Moving the media files from Drive to my device was very easy, with the preview icons large enough to see, but not overwhelming. The editing choices were simple, yet supplied me with the basic options I was looking for, much like YouTube Editor. From auto transitions to titles and even the basic elevator music, all tools were very intuitive. The only part that took my mind longer to get used to was sliding the video location for modifying instead of moving the cursor.
From start to finish I spent just under 30 minutes to produce and publish my beginning of the year 4 ½ minute video to my channel. I thought that was reasonable for the very first time. I know the next attempt will easily be half of that, getting down to my 10 minute production time. I love how seamless the upload went to YouTube, then to my students and families.
Other than the water mark in the lower right corner, the video turned out very well. Granted, my productions are extremely basic in editing needs. Of course the PowerDirector app is FREE. The full version is only $5.99, which I will probably invest in. Best of all, it’s easier than iMovie, but only available in the Play Store. I love when a tool hits a home-run on the first attempt.
Seems like June 1st, the last day of school, was yesterday. With major remodeling in our building I changed classrooms for the first time since 1999. The move made me more than a bit uncomfortable and anxious. What was isn’t anymore, though the remodel is needed and will be pretty amazing when completed. I left school back in June, not to return for nearly 3 months. This was a also a first for me.
Fast forward to last week’s return. Like any construction project, most went as planned and other things didn’t. I had 2 days to prepare my different classroom, dodging an army of hard hat worker that were attempting to wrap this remodel phase up. By the end of the week my classroom looked ready, but I knew what was missing to my normal beginning of the school year comfort. Student arrived despite my feeling less than completely prepared.
What happen on the 1st day was pure beauty. The student flowed down the hallway and into their advisory classrooms. Their excitement was much the same as past years, not noticing what I didn’t prepare. The focus was on the students, not the construction, empty walls or things not being just right. Huge smiles everywhere.
The internet was down and it was time for “Plan B” as I met my students for the first impressions. Those that know me know I like my technology, as my plan changed. From there the detour was bumpy, but perfect. All of my energy was solely on my classes and meeting each child. I was initially disappointed in myself, as this should always be the teacher’s path. My self disappointment shifted to a huge smile.
There was much change everywhere I looked and moved. I had a classroom of eyes observing how I would maneuver my self imposed troubled waters. I was living the change, with the focus on my class and building our foundation for the school year. The students fed off me staying calm and being genuinely excited for our 9 month journey.
I have said how change is happening and it's mostly good, especially in education. This talk is much easier than the walk. However, this year’s unusual school start up shed light back on what’s really important and our students are watching how the adults in their lives deal with change. So I intend to “Be the Change” and model it everyday, with whatever that change is.
When asked what my best, most reliable classroom tech tool is, the answer with out hesitation is Google Photo. In an earlier blog entry “Google Photos - Powerful Classroom Tool” I wrote about setup and the ease of using it to share the learning. Students love to share and parents get to see what happens in their child’s classroom.
As great as the photo sync and sharing is within Google Photos, video is equally effective. Using my Nexus 7 tablets I take videos of activities often. These videos sync to my Google Photos school account the same way as images. Video uploads take a bit longer than images. From there I have found mutiple ways to produce and share.
Sharing a raw video is the same as an image, just copy the link that Google Photos creates within my chrome browser or the tablet. I’ve had students capture and create science lab tutorial videos on how to replicate their experiment. In addition, they demonstrate their learning by explaining and modeling their lab. Many times a student struggles to write their findings, yet this individual can explain their learning using video.
I launched my classroom YouTube channel this year, Mr. Dean Dahl. Capturing video is easy, then upload for editing in your YouTube channel. The excitement a video often creates and reinforces what I’m trying to teach my classes. Whether photos or videos, I have so much content each week for my channel updates. Its a chance for me to tell my story of learning along with student reflection.
The next move was a student created video newsletter using my channel to share. Students sign-up to create the newsletter in a special 40 minute session. After our first edition we always start by reviewing and critiquing our previous episode. Then students create a list of academic and school events on the white board. They put themselves in groups of 2-3, moving where they need to be for recording their selected subject or event.
All videos are uploaded to my Gphotos account after they finish. When they are done recording we come back to the classroom to review the raw footage, selecting the clip(s) for our newsletter. I create a “Raw Video” shared folder for the group and a second “Final Clips” folder for the videos selected. There are so many fun bloopers to pick from as they try again and again to get it right.
I can now easily upload the videos in the “Final Clips” folder to YouTube. I upload in private mode so the clips don’t go public right away. The process is seamless and ready to make the final product using the YouTube Video Editor. This is the most time consuming part of the process, but worth every minute. It doesn’t take long to find efficient steps making the start to end time manageable.
The final product is a powerful example of student excitement of their video newsletter demonstrating that learning is fun. The group takes great pride in their production and parents love it. I so enjoy watching their interviews and creativity. I share the episode link with families, but many get notified from subscribing to my channel.
These are a few examples of how I use video in my classroom, with the assistance of Google Photos. The learning curve is low and the excitement is always high. I get dozens of parent “Thank You” comments for sharing these videos and letting students create their video newsletter. Again, video makes sharing the learning fun!