Posts Tagged tips

Tech Thursday – March 29th

I know it has been a little bit between posts, but with Google Apps testing and a wicked allergy season blogging moved to the end of my to do list.

Anyway – today I am looking at easy ways to create screencasts for your students.  Screencasts make excellent reviews or tutorials for students to access at home or on their on in class.  This is also an essential tool if you ever think about flipping your classroom.

Screenr – – Is a free service that is a web-based recorder.  You can record your voice as the screen is recorded to create up to a 5 minute video.  The size of the screen to be recorded can also be customized.  The screencasts can be shared via link or by embedding them on a webpage with the provided embed code.

ScreenCast-O-Matic – – Allows for up to 15 minute videos and also allows the recorder to pause the screen and  highlight the mouse.  The video can be downloaded in a variety of formats and then can be loaded into Youtube so it can be embedded on your webpage.

ScreenCastle – – Click the record button and set the size of your screen before you begin recording.  After recording the video is uploaded to their website and you are provided links to use or an embed code.  Free and easy to use, although a little basic for me.

Jing – – this is a great resource to create 5 minute videos based on what is happening on your screen and your voiceover.  The user can determine what part of the screen they want to capture in either screen shots or video.  Once done the video is in flash format and will need to be converted before loaded into Youtube.   This does require a download, but the software is free.


I must say I am partial to Jing as I have the most experience with it, but it does require a download and frequent updates which can be a pain if you don’t have that type of access to your computer.   What is your favorite?

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Idea #1 – Teach Students How to Read the Textbook

With the addition of document cameras and ceiling mounted projectors in the classroom, the challenge is learning to use this new technology to it’s fullest.   This is the first in a series to offer teachers ideas:

Idea #1:  Teach Students How to Read the Textbook

Students do not automatically know how to read any given  textbook.  Each book is different with it’s own structure and style.  Using a document camera and a projector, teachers can teach students to analyze the structure of their textbooks so that they can better comprehend what they are reading.

Students who have more knowledge of text structure learn more from expository material that students who are not aware of text structure.

The document camera makes it easy by allowing the teacher to project the textbook onto the screen for all to see, instead of having to hold up the book and hope students are looking at the same place they are.

The video walks you through the basics of teaching students to evaluate the structure of a textbook and to identify the resources provided.

For more information on teaching students how to read a textbook see:

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Interactive Excel – Conditional Formating

One thing I learned at TCEA was how to use conditional formatting in Excel.  This is probably something everyone else knows how to do, but I had always wondered how this was done, but had never asked.  Since this is new to me, I thought I would share.

Conditional Formatting:

I always wondered how people made excel sheets that seemed interactive.  It comes down to formatting.

If you type in a question:  What is the capital of Texas?

In the cell you want an answer for, you tell it  – “If the text types in = Austin, turn the cell green.  If the text typed in does not = Austin then turn the cell red.”

Here is a short tutorial video on how to do this in Excel 2003:


Excel – Conditional Formatting in 2003

Here is a short tutorial video for Excel 2007:


So how would you use this?

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New Year’s Resolutions: PowerPoint

With the New Year I thought I would focus on a few New Year’s Technology Resolutions.  The first one is: “I will learn to avoid the commons PowerPoint mistakes.”

PowerPoint is a great tool for getting information presented to a group of people, but too often we try to make PowerPoint do too much for us.

Here is a humorous look at the ways we go wrong with PowerPoint:

(If the video is not visible – you can also see it here: How NOT to use PowerPoint!)

Here are some guidelines to go by when making OR assigning powerpoints:

1. Keep it Simple!

  • No more than 6 lines of text per slide and each line should have no more than 6 words.
  • No paragraphs! (This is a presentation tool and not a research paper)
  • Limit graphics, animations and Wordart
  • Sound effects should enhance the presentation and should only be used sparingly.  Remember sound can slow things down and get old very quickly.
  • Your presentation should not be more entertaining than you are.  It is the background not the main attraction.

2. Make it Readable!

  • Font size should be at least 28 pt.
  • Backgrounds should be subtle colors and be consistent.
  • Font colors should stand out on the page.

3. Proof Your Presentation:

  • Spell check is your friend!
  • Stand back about 6 feet from the screen and make sure the slides and easy to read and that the colors work together.  Also check any charts or graphs to make sure they are legible.
  • Check for animation and sound errors.  If you get tired of waiting for the animations to run, chances are your audience will too.

Anything else you can add on making a good PowerPoint?

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New Look – New Efforts

I was looking over my blog tonight and realized how LONG my posts have gotten lately.  So along with a new appearance I want to try to get back to short and sweet tips on using technology in the classroom.  The ideas are there, but I need to slow down and break them into smaller chunks.  At least I think so.

Any comments or input?  :)

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