Screencasting is a useful assessment tool. While I use it for my video tutorials, I also have my students make their own screencasts to help me assess their progress. In this blog post, I’ll share how I use screencasting to assess student work. I’ll also give some suggestions for using screencasting in formative assessment. Specifically, I’ll mention features of Screencastify, the tool I recommend for students to use for Google Chrome or Chromebooks.
(If you’re unfamiliar with screencasting, see the “Getting Started” section at the end of this post.)
Why Screencasting Is a Useful Formative Assessment Tool
For their assessments this week in my class, my students are demonstrating the process they use to code their video games. They’re explaining their code and how it works. They’re also running their video game and letting me see how that works.
What I Learn When I Can Look “Under the Hood” of Student Projects
When students are showing me their code, I sometimes realize that they don’t understand what they’ve done, or that they haven't actually set up their code correctly. Therefore, by seeing how students are displaying their code, I can actually determine whether they understand coding at all. I make a note so that I’ll have a list of things to discuss with each student.
I’ve also noticed when students aren’t doing the assignment correctly. As we program in Scratch, the video game is supposed to start and the commands are supposed to run. However, some students will just pick up the mouse and move it manually. That's not really a program, just something that they're doing on the screen. When students are screencasting, I can very rapidly catch these types of things that I might otherwise miss in the busy noise of my classroom.
Bandwidth Savings when Uploading to Google Drive
Also, saving screencasts to Google Drive is an advantage because I don't have to download those large video files. I can just go to the link and see what the students have done.
So, when you're teaching programming, a tool like Screencastify is so useful because you can understand exactly what students are learning. Therefore, it's pretty much my daily formative assessment tool when teaching programming of any kind.
Screencastify is to Chromebooks what Explain Everything has been to iPads all these years — a formative assessment tool well-suited to any device running Google Chrome. So, in addition to being able to capture screencasts, Screencastify can also let you write on the screen and do a variety of other things with the toolbar.
10 Classroom Uses for Screencasting for Formative Assessment
1. Assessing code
Students explain how their code works and show what happens when they run it. (We've already discussed this one above.)
2. Demonstrating a skill
This practice fits with the old adage:
“If you want to understand something, teach it.”
For example, you might want to make sure that students understand how the advanced Google search works. Have them demonstrate it in a 20- to 30-second video. You’ll notice that when you give students a time limit, they may have to record and re-record. (The Screencastify restart button helps with this.) Working through the steps and explaining them out loud will cement their knowledge.
3. Explain a math problem
Often in math, the right answers aren’t enough. We need to know that students understand the process. To help with this, you can bring up a white screen and then use the screencasting tools to write on it while giving an audio explanation of a math problem. This is great for math teachers and can turn your Chromebook into a very simple way of ensuring that you understand how students are working problems.
4. Peer review for writing or other online work
Students often prefer verbal feedback, but it can require quite a bit of your time as a teacher. Now you can use this technology for peer feedback. Have students bring up another student’s Google Doc and record a screencast about what they find as they're going through it. Now, admittedly, sometimes Google commenting is best for small snippets of feedback.
However for longer verbal peer review feedback in a blended or online classroom, this technique can be useful.
Give students specific things to look for. For example, if you're focusing on comma use, then have them find three issues. Or have them talk about three things that they like about the piece and perhaps explain three places where it's unclear.
When they’re finished, students can just attach the link from their Google Drive and the other students can listen and understand exactly what the issues are and where in the document to find them. This has advantages over the even face-to-face conversation the specific problems are easy to spot in the screencast.
Remember that this is a useful tool for evaluating both the student receiving feedback and the student giving it.
5. Reading and translating languages
If a student in your class learning a new language, they could go to a website that uses their new language and translate some of the content. They could also read the different language aloud and then translate it for their teacher. This is an authentic way of assessing whether students are able to comprehend and translate another language.
6. Explanation of student work
With the webcam enabled, students can display an artifact in their screencast. Or if they’ve created a website, a portfolio, or something else that a teacher uses to assess their learning, they can record a video as they're looking at their artifact and explain what they've done and their thinking process. So instead of the teacher looking for things, students can show you. It saves time!
7. Virtual exit slips
Class Tech Tips blogger Monica Burns uses screencasts as virtual exit slips. You can do this by setting aside the last three to four minutes of class for students to explain how to do what they learned in class. Then they turn in the link to their short screencast on Google Classroom. This is a quick way to make sure that they understand the concepts of class without just repeating what another student has said, which can be the case with class conversations instead of exit slips.
8. Book reviews, journals, or opinions
Screencasts are fantastic way to have students speak their opinions. This is particularly helpful if a student struggles with the mechanics keyboarding or handwriting. So, for example, they can display a book cover on the screen and explain about the book or give their review. They can also bring up an artifact, a piece of art, or another item on the internet and share a journal entry or their opinion about that object.
This is a great way to see if students can express their thoughts and summarize their thoughts without requiring them to write. Speaking on a screencast lets them analyze and share what they know while meeting some of the standards without struggling with the mechanics of writing. This is very helpful for students and teachers.
9. History artifacts
Students can bring up a historical document on their screen and analyze the artifact. As they show it on the screen, they can narrate and write on the screen. The teacher can understand if they’ve effectively analyzed the nonfiction text. You can also make a gallery where students can share their analysis with others in the class.
10. Fluency in reading assignments
Sometimes, you may just want the student to read a book excerpt or a part of an article. Maybe you want him or her to identify and explain vocabulary words in context. Or you might want to verify that a student is able to find a word and look it up. So whatever aspect of literacy you’d like to see the student demonstrate, screencasts are a fantastic way to assess for this fluency.
Screencastify: A Valuable Addition to a Teacher’s Toolbox
As a teacher, you always need a quick way to create and share a video when you're using Google apps or G Suite in your classroom. Now it’s easy to upload a screencast to Google Drive, copy the link for sharing — and you’re done!
Screencastify is an easy-to-use tool saves many steps, and if you’re using the pro version of Screencastify, you can get unlimited recordings, more editing features, and even more capabilities.
(If you want a quote, let them know that Cool Cat Teacher sent you for a discount.)
If you currently have Chromebooks or use Google Chrome in your classroom, I highly recommend Screencastify Lite, but really suggest that you consider Screencastify Pro for your classroom.
You'll be glad you did.
Getting Started With Screencasting
Step 1: Install Screencastify
Students need to install the Screencastify Google Chrome plug-in.
Step 2: Set Up Screencastify
Once a student starts to record, Screencastify will give three options: save to youTube or Save to Google Drive. (You can also download the video.)
I like my students save into their Google Drive. This means that they’ll be able to access their Screencastify videos from whichever computer they use. Also, when a student clicks “link,” it will copy the link to the video so they can give it to me in our Learning Management System (LMS).
A Note about Publishing: Remember that students could publish directly to YouTube if it’s enabled on the device they’re using. While my students have YouTube channels, I typically don’t want these screencasts posted to YouTube, so I just have them post to their Google Drive. If you’re an IT Director, however, and you’re often posting tutorials, this could be a handy feature for you.
Also, remember that a screencast is unedited video. This means that my students will just be explaining their work and their process to me without editing. I like this because it’s as if the student is sitting at my desk, and I can hear everything in their voice and how they're feeling about this project.
Screencastify is an excellent tool for formative assessment in the classroom. Get your students started today.
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