Category Archives: Technology

Screencasts and Subtitles on YouTube

Thanks to a demo by teacher extraordinaire Diane Neubauer, I’ve just rediscovered some tools for creating videos for classes. QwikSlides makes screens out of individual sentences. It’s very basic, with no pictures, but it’s quick. Then, since I have a Mac, I use QuickTime screen recording to record my voice as I read through the slides, and then upload that result to YouTube. Here’s a sample of that process from my last class.

It’s also possible to go straight through YouTube to make a screen recording. Check out this video/article.

Finally, it’s possible to add automatic subtitles to personal videos on YouTube. Here’s a wiki page explaining how to do that; while things have moved around on YouTube, the directions work. The current changes are that you have to find your Video Manager, then go to Creator Studio, and edit your uploaded videos from there. But how cool! It will subtitle (in English) automatically for you, and you can then go in and make tweaks on whatever it didn’t understand. Try it in other languages for me. It used to do automatic subtitles in Russian, but on my latest attempt, I had to type them in as my video rolled. At least YouTube stops the video while you’re typing.


Using the phone

ACTFL part 2

At ACTFL 2015 last weekend, I tried to attend every session with Bill Van Patten (I missed one because I was presenting, and hope someone will share their notes.) One of those sessions was “In-class testing versus online testing.” A large test group of students across multiple classes resulted in almost no statistical difference between the grades that students got last year on paper and pencil tests and this year on the identical tests, offered on computer. There are some caveats but this post is not about that.

Instead, I got sidetracked by what was for me more interesting: the use of the Can-do statements for in-class assessments. Walter Hopkins (of TeaWithBVP) promised to share the complete list of Can-Do statements that MSU is using with their Spanish classes, and he also explained how they use Google Voice to collect assessments.

I told students that at the end of class, they would share something about Shostakovich. Walter had said that students practice in class on the day of the assessment, and then the prompt is slightly tweaked. I didn’t tweak it on this first time out. We spent the entire hour talking about musicians in general, and Shostakovich in particular, and then I put up the number and asked students to call and tell me three things about the man. It took less than five minutes for the entire class to call in and report, whether they used their own phone, my phone, or someone else’s. Some personalized their information; others included something about yesterday’s concert (our excellent UAA Faculty Trio played Shostakovich). The MSU rubric worked well for me: “2” means “completed task with ease,” “1” means “struggled a bit,” and “0” means “didn’t complete the task.”

I have a clear idea about how much my students can fluently say about Shostakovich, and I know what structures they are acquiring. I can label most students’ level of proficiency for this task. In short, I’m pretty happy with this new toy of mine. It didn’t take up a lot of class time, but it gave me an easy way to collect speech samples.

First MovieTalk screencast

Here’s my first screencast MT. There are three things I’d like to do to improve it. One is obviously to ask questions, another is to increase the mouse size (and maybe change the color), and the other is to have a list of vocabulary on the side. Next time!

I need to find out more about copyright issues now. I’m going to have to start asking YT, and maybe the original posters, whether I can use the videos.

QuickTime Screencast

I’m pretty pleased with myself. I used QT to make a screencast to explain to students and teachers how to add a recording to a Google website page.

That’s not the important part, really, because I don’t want the technology tail to be wagging the dog this year in my classroom.

What is cool is that QT is so easy to use now that I plan to record some stories on line for students. OOH. I could do a MovieTalk! Maybe I can record audio for them (a la Jim Tripp’s Garage Band plans) and let them play that over pictures that they find to represent the audio.

Update: I just tried the MovieTalk idea…and oh my…it WORKED! I played a short film, having silenced the sound, screencast over it, and (as my dearly departed father-in-law would say, “Bob’s your uncle!”) it took me only two minutes to do the entire thing. I will upload tomorrow from school, where it won’t take me three hours to put up three minutes. Watch this space!

Classroom Portfolio Creation

I mentioned earlier that I created a portfolio template for my students. Next weekend, I’m going to be teaching a workshop on the subject.

If you’d like to be a guinea pig for the directions, could you respond? I will send you a link to the workshop document, and you can try it and let me know whether it is comprehensible (for a person who already does Google Apps).

You’ll need to have a Google account, but you don’t need to have created websites. I’m hoping that I can talk some people through this, while those who are a little more savvy can plunge ahead on their own.

In this day of data collection, I’m trying to make something easy to control.

Portfolio Assessment

Our district has recently implemented SGO’s: Student Growth Objectives. I am planning to use a portfolio to help demonstrate student growth (and to help set baseline numbers). I’m kind of excited about this. At ACTFL, I will be sharing how to create a teacher website, but I have decided that I’ll show how to set up a class portfolio template instead and demonstrate that it’s really the same as setting up a class website.

Here’s what I’ve set up for students. You can open it and click on “Use this template,” make your changes, then go into Settings, Manage Site, General, and tell it to save as a template so your kids can try it too. There’s help from teacher Anthony Devine embedded on the site, and if you want to do something but can’t figure it out, just google “How do I …” and you’ll probably come up with the answer. Or ask me in the comments below. Over the next few days, while I’m traveling, I probably won’t answer, but I’m doing the same presentation at our state conference in EEK three weeks! so it will help to know anything you want to know but can’t figure out.

I don’t like technology pushing me but I’m going to keep it simple. Students did a fast write in class one day, typed it up for homework (with all the mistakes), and then opened this template from their google drive, and made their first post on the writing page. Just that easy, just that quick. Fifteen minutes’ worth of lab time. We’ll do a quick-time audio on a story next, and they’ll paste that into their speaking page with a picture. They get to seek out their own reading, as directed. I really like it when we don’t spend valuable class time learning the technology. They can tweak things at home, and my plan is to have one of each (reading, writing, speaking, and maybe listening) at the beginning of each quarter, and at the end of the year. That should show kids their progress.

MovieTalk twist

I tried a MovieTalk variation that I’ve mentioned. First my classes read some Russian anecdotes together. Then small groups had to storyboard a story with plans to make short wordless videos. I told them the video-making had to take less than fifteen minutes, once in the lab, because I don’t like it when bells and whistles take away from input time.


Each group had at least one kid who knew iMovie. The kids chose different ways of getting the movies made, but since they had planned the shots and (minimal) props in advance, they could get done quickly. I think they used built-in cameras on our lab computers. They tried to make the action slow enough so that I would be able to talk all the way through.


The first story is about a kid packing to go vacation with friends on a river shore. He takes what he thinks he needs, but when his mom says he has to take his toothbrush, he decides he doesn’t want to go after all.


The second story is about a girl who goes to buy gloves. A salesman tells her that the pair of brown gloves she wants costs a kiss. She tells him that’s fine. She’ll take three pairs, and her grandmother will come pay for them later.



Today I started MovieTalking the first story. The kids loved watching their classmates, and they loved retelling the story. They didn’t care that there wasn’t much in the way of high-tech editing.


Now I’m going to be able to use these stories over and over, but there’s not so much work in them that I’ll feel bad if we don’t use them more than a week or so. And I think that other classes are going to want to make videos too. Without requiring sound, it’s easy to have a bunch of kids making videos in the same room. If there are any techie kids out there, they might be inspired to make better videos on their own.