Professional Development via Screencasting


Our Technology Integration Team recently led its first Nursery – Grade 5 professional development event of the school year. To provide some context, that is two Tech Integrators leading 110 teachers and specialists through an hour and fifteen minute learning experience. I say learning experience intentionally, as our goal is to avoid a stand and deliver or workshop model- not that there aren’t appropriate times for both formats. However, we aspire to model innovative practices, risk taking, failing with reflection, and focusing on the learning process. This recent learning experience did some of each of those.

We tried something that we had never done before, led an event completely digitally- from the facilitation end. With a “Mission Impossible-esque theme,” at 3:00 teachers received an email from Tech Integration that contained directions for the afternoon via video in a YouTube playlist (accompanied by a checklist). The playlist also contained 2 screencast tutorials with instructions for creating a screencast using Quicktime or Screencastify. You can you view the video(s) and message below. Teachers had from 3:15-4:00 to complete the following:


Teachers were provided autonomy over location, tools, and whom they worked with during this time. At 4:00 they arrived to the classroom of their grade level/specialist Digital Teacher (DT). The DT then led teachers through a 30 minute activity around their personal passion project for the school year. Thus, during the entire afternoon, the only time teachers saw the people facilitating the experience was via video. And there were reasons for this.

Experiential. We wanted teachers to experience how it felt to learn from a digital tool, in order to create a digital product. Often students are asked to complete a similar task- what better way to build empathy for students than being able to share a similar experience. Teachers stated in a feedback form, that they often had to rewind videos, start over, delete sections of video- and often asked a fellow teacher for help. In other words, they were a student again. The time expectation was also a factor. There was pressure to complete a task in a short amount of time. We heard scattered comments about teachers feeling rushed and anxious. Again, this might have one considering the time limits of lessons and how long students have to complete projects. Imagine how some students in your class might feel when being rushed to complete an assignment by a particular deadline- especially if it something they are learning for the first time.

Exposure. Nearly all the teachers on our campus have videos hosted on their Learning Management System pages. Very few teachers have their own videos shared with students. And while some teachers have personal videos, they are not screencast recordings. Tech Integration creates screencasts weekly, adding them to our Tech Trick Tuesday playlist– so they have been seen multiple times by our teachers- but not necessarily a skill that’s been intentionally developed itself. Therefore, we wanted to expose teachers to a skill they can add to their instructional strategies bank. A screencast provides students with more personalized learning- along with the opportunity to watch the video anywhere at anytime. (The benefits of personalized screencasting could be its own blog post) Not only were teachers exposed to the QuickTime and Screencastify for recording- but to AutoDraw from and Sketchpad, two free online creation applications.

Creation. We often hear teachers and leaders in education saying that students need to not just consume content with technology, but create with it too. Our Tech Integration team believes the same- however we extend that ideology to teachers as well. Rather than sharing the YouTube video that “works” with students, why not create your own? Now, I am guilty of this as well. It is not feasible to create a video for every tutorial I need to send, so I borrow. However, there are some skills that are more important than others- and I want to be sure the process is explained with the correct scaffolding and vocabulary for my intended audience. The same goes for teachers and their knowledge of content and the needs of their students. So, for those few tricky skills that stump students every year, consider if it might be worth the time invested to go ahead and create that screencast or recording for your students to access. Lastly, it’s not a bad idea for students to see their teachers creating with technology and modeling how it can be used for learning.

By the end of the day 95 teachers successfully created their screencasts, uploaded them to YouTube, and shared the link to their video in a Google Form to the Tech Integration team. While there are varying levels of products created- as there should be- our team is thrilled with the completion rate. Teachers approached the challenge and provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about the experience, as well as their intentions for creating screencasts for future lessons or units.

Icons retrieved from smashicons at


“Quickfire” Newsletter

This quickfire challange gave us the chance to reflect on our classroom and school community. I appreciated this experience, as my communication with parents is an area of opportunity. I update our class website weekly, yet parents rarely look to it. Using the online program Smore, we had 30 minutes to become familiar with the program and create a newsletter based on any interest. I chose digital citizenship for my topic, as a classmate and I had just completed an assignment on creating a special interest group for digital citizens in a 1:1 environment, SIG1to1DC. Click on the image below, to take you to the actual interactive newsletter.


Day Ten: “Quickfire Challenge” Learning Spaces

Today’s quickfire challenge involved (re)creating a learning space. I chose my classroom as the space to redesign, as being surrounded by educational theories and practices lately, it seemed only natural to do so.

After reading an excerpt from The Third Teacher (Cannon Design Inc., VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design., 2010), regarding the creation of learning spaces, this quote stuck with me in particular: “Consider a variety of learning spaces- spaces in diverse sizes, materials, and colors, as well as spaces with different transparency, connectivity, and agility. The one-size-fits-all idea really isn’t acceptable anymore.” This statement confirmed my feeling that my learning space isn’t too bad- considering the physical parameters and resources available.

ClassroomThe large carpet area serves several needs. It is used for whole group instruction, where students sit beside learning partners and collaborate on ideas. A large amount of independent work and reading is done in this area on bean bags- as is small group work. Morning meetings and class discussions also occur on the carpet. The U-shaped table is intended for small group instruction, and is also a favorite location for students to work  independently or with a partner, away from the crowd.

Throughout the classroom there are multiple independent desks, where students elect to work for a more formal environment and away from distractions. There are three rows of eight student desks, where they keep supplies, and often collaborate together on multi-disciplinary learning objectives. In addition to the desks, students also have a storage area, or cubby, to keep additional art, music, P.E., and school supplies.

Below I have created a design for how I feel the space may be improved. One large constraint that I cannot seem to get around, is the limited area for student work to be displayed. This is made difficult, as school policy prevents teachers from taping anything to the walls. Some student work is displayed on bulletin boards over the teacher storage area and above the writing/art supplies. However, other than those locations, space is limited due to the height of student storage areas and windows (which cannot be covered). There is a bulletin board outside our classroom, but it is not easily accessible for students to actually make use of it. I am still working on this issue. RedesignTherefore, the biggest change I would like to try to implement is the use of round tables for student work spaces. The round table promotes student equality and collaboration- both of which are important in a learning space. While students will be able to work and share ideas, it is also possible for them to face forward in their chair and work independently. In addition, my fourth grade classroom will be receiving a cart containing a class set of laptops this year. The location for the cart is already determined, however I feel this provides another need for using round tables. As students are sliding laptops and notebooks back and forth, working independently or collaboratively, there will be a smooth, open surface with plenty of space, as opposed to the constraints of their rectangular desk.

With the addition of these tables, I feel the classroom would be opened up a bit more, and provide multiple locations for any type of learning that will be happening in our fourth grade class.


Cannon Design Inc., VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). Minds at work. In The Third teacher. Retrieved from

Day Nine: “Quickfire Challenge” Infographics

Create an infographic that is appealing and enlightening, explaining a learning theory- that was the challenge we faced today. We were given a bit more time than normal, so we would have time to choose a learning theory, research, and synthesize at least two resources of content for the graphic. Suggestions for creating the infographic were: easelly or I used easelly, and came up with what you see below. Click on the image to view a larger version

(With more time, I would have liked to add some text beneath my subheadings, and straighten out the links attached on the bottom of the graphic.)

Day Seven: “Quickfire Challenge” Popcorn Remix

Today’s challenge involved remixing a video clip, but not just any video clip. We were to select a topic from a list of educational “buzz words,” to “create a one-minute or less remix that relays the essence of that buzzword to your audience.” I chose the idea of a “flipped classroom,” and searched for videos with creative commons via YouTube. Once I had a few videos I was interested in, it was time to piece together my remix.

We used Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker for editing the video. While there are some hang-ups with this online software, I do enjoy that it’s free. It also works best with Firefox, though you can access the site from any computer, with internet and a web browser. Throughout my video, I edited several pieces of information (the original was 3 minutes long, my finished product was 1 minute), added text, and added speech bubbles.  You can take a look at my finished product by clicking on the image below. (It helps if you allow the video to load for about 30 seconds prior to viewing- one of the hang-ups I mentioned.)

Day Six: “Quickfire Challenge” 6 Word Memoir

Today was by far the most challenging quickfire challenge, for me. We began by taking a look at 6 word memoirs, which I feel is a pretty great idea. Get to the point, and only include the most necessary items that represent you. It could be your whole life, it could be your weekend, it could be your walk to class. After reflecting for a brief period of time, I came up with my 6 word memoir, and it was time to put it into action with technology. This was the difficult part.

We used Mozilla Thimble to edit/dabble in coding a template that had been created. This was all completely new to me, as I am accustomed to dragging and dropping or searching for alternative ways for inserting or editing media. While there were directions to follow, the learning curve here was a steep one. Other than embedding video into blogs or webpages, the coding language was completely new to me.

This definitely made me reflect on the learning process for both my students and myself. I brought into this situation very little prior knowledge, which I’m not sure helped or hindered the challenge. I used my knowledge of Google and YouTube in search for how to upload an image, and while I had to take a photo with PhotoBooth, upload it to Flickr, copy the HTML code (with only specific text), and then paste it back into the Thimble code, the image did appear. Actually, writing this out does not make it sound too bad- but believe me, one added space or accidental quotation mark and that picture would not be there! I may now have more empathy for my students who enter some learning situations with no experience or background knowledge. They are just thrown into the learning environment and are expected to survive or succeed. There are times I allow students to become a tad frustrated before easing my way in to provide them with support, and there are moments I need to intervene before frustration arises. I noticed one of our professors did this today as well. He waited long enough for us to have a go independently (or asking neighbors), and then slowly made his way around to check on progress and guide us toward an answer.

Anyhow, I definitely have respect for the creators of the easy to use programs like Glogster, where the coding is done for you, and the user’s job is made much easier. Below, you may click on the image to get a larger version of my 6 Word Memoir.

Day Three: “Quickfire Challenge” Taboo

Have you played Taboo before? With cards in your hands, in someone’s home or apartment. Today’s quickfire challenge involved playing a virtual game of Taboo, using a word cloud generator. We could use any program we’d like to, to present the word to the rest of the class, without using the list of clues on our card of course. I chose Wordle to create mine. Can you guess the word?

View the Wordle Taboo Full Screen Here

Day Two: “Quickfire Challenge” PLN

Today we were asked to make a mind map of our Professional Learning Network. This is common language at ASFM, and something we discuss quite often- therefore the topic was nothing new to me. However, as I worked on creating my PLN visual, I became aware of how much I gain professionally, solely from ASFM.

At ASFM, we are up to date with research based lesson design and instructional strategies, leaders in the field of education visit and revisit our school quite frequently offering multiple professional development opportunities. Personally, I utilize principals, instructional coaches, and digital teachers. And my teammates and I are sharing ideas constantly. Last year, I attended the Principal’s Training Center for a course, at the recommendation of a few colleagues. Yet, creating this visual made me realize how “unconnected” I really am to other professional organizations, outside of the ASFM realm.

Of course, I added MSU, MAET. And while looking for other learning networks is a possibility, I also realized that I am part of another organization already. One that a fellow educator and I are in the midst of creating, the SIG1to1DC: A Special Interest Group for 1:1 Digital Citizenship. Together we are working to create an online location for professionals looking for (and looking to share) ideas on how to promote digital citizenship in a 1:1 program. Increasing my confidence and leadership in educational technology is one goal I have for myself throughout my time in MSU, MAET. The creation of this SIG, is something that will help me achieve that goal. I am sure that while conducting the research and list of resources for this special interest group, my senses will be heightened in search for organizations that may be added to my PLN.

At the beginning of this quickfire challenge, I had no idea how much I would come to realize after just 30 minutes. In addition to the appreciation of this activity for bringing me this new state of mind, I also experienced using a new (for me) tech tool.

The tools we explored were to act as a platform to host our PLN mind map. I have seen younger students, and even some of my own students use different mind mapping tools, including Popplet, which is what I ended up giving a try (there is also an app for this tool). I did not feel rushed at all during this 30 minute challenge, as Popplet is very simple to use. Pictures, video, and changing font colors are all easy to add and edit. Best of all, you can present your content in a clean, student friendly format. Again, overall a great learning experience- both with technology and reflecting on my PLN.

You can view my Professional Learning Network Mind Map full screen here.PLN Mind Map

Day One: “Quickfire Challenge” Introductions


Engineering Building at National University of Ireland, where MSU, MAET classes are being held.

Today was the first day of my journey through the MSU, MAET cohort, in Galway, Ireland. We began the day with a “quickfire” challenge, in which we had 30 minutes to introduce ourselves to our classmates using the tool “Glogster.” (There is a free educational version.) To be included or considered during our introductions were:

  1. What are your interests and/or hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
  2. What grade level do you teach?
  3. What subject matter do you teach?
  4. Where do you teach? (e.g., which state or country)
  5. What helps you learn best, both individually and with others?
  6. What brought you to where you are today as an educator?
  7. What are your personal goals for this course/semester?
  8. What is your current educational passion?

I had never used Glogster before, and found it to be quite user-friendly, being able to create my first “glog” just within the 30 minute parameter. Given the time constraint, the finished product may not be as “polished” or detailed as what I would have normally produced. However, I was lucky to have some useful material on hand to add into the glog to help me out.

I like the idea of using this tool with students, so they may share their knowledge or ideas with others- outside of the closed classroom. In addition, Glogster would lend itself well to touch on digital citizenship and creating a positive student online presence. These additional opportunities would not be met through a more traditional means. Therefore, in this case, technology is enhancing and broadening the learning experience while providing students with a wider, more authentic audience. Plus, it’s fun!

Click here to view my final interactive and full screen introduction.Finished Product