The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 17


Jennifer Gonzalez, host

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Jennifer Gonzalez: This is Jennifer Gonzalez welcoming you to episode 17 of the Cult of Pedagogy Podcast. In this episode I’m going to share with you some fantastic tools that let students fully develop their passions.


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Gonzalez: About a month ago, I wrote a book called The Teacher’s Guide to Tech. And in that book, I explore a whole bunch of different technology tools. We look at classroom management tools, social media, things that you can do to get parents engaged, ways that you can give students feedback online. And when I was writing that book, one of the types of tools that really fascinated me were these tools that allowed students — or anybody really — to take whatever it is that they do or whatever they’re interested in and really go far with it, really take it to the next level in the same way that someone who is a professional would do.

So for example, if someone is a musician, there are ways that they can actually get their music out there into the public on their own instead of having to wait for a record company to recognize them the way that they used to. Or if someone is a writer, there are tools out there now that allow them to write their own book and publish it and sell it on their own without having to find a publisher. So this collection of tools that I’m going to talk about in this episode is just something that has so much possibility, because if you find a student — which you’re probably going to be able to ultimately find most of your students have interests or passions or things that really could be shared with the world — If you can point them to these tools and give them a little time to learn them or even just point them to these tools, make them aware of them, then you will really be giving them such a gift, because you’re letting them follow the path that maybe they’re intended to be going on for the rest of their lives. And for some kids this really is the key to motivating them, when they find the thing that they’re really into.

There is a teaching approach that’s very popular right now. It’s basically known by two different names. It’s either Genius Hour or 20 Percent Time. Basically the practice is where teachers set aside regular time during class or during the week for students to just work on independent projects that are things that they’re just interested in. So it’s learning a new language or studying printmaking or learning chess or whatever it is that they’re really interested in doing. The time is set aside for those kids to just keep doing that.

So the tools in this episode would be perfect for Genius Hour or 20 Percent Time because they give them the tools to actually do something with them, to make things with their talents and with their interests. And all you have to do as the teacher is point them to the tools and also just let them know that if they go online and look for instructional videos they can basically find video tutorials to teach them how to use any of these. So you don’t really need to learn how to use any of them yourself. As their teacher, you just need to be aware of them so you can steer your students toward them.

So the kinds of tools that I’m going to be talking about today are book publishing tools, image making tools, photo editing, video production and sharing, blogging and website building, podcasting and screencasting. And if you’re not sure what screencasting is I’m going to explain it in a little bit. So I’m going to put links to all the tools I talk about in the show notes; if you just go to, click “Podcasts,” and then click on Episode 17, you will go to the page that has all the links to everything that I mention here. I will probably mention the links also while I’m talking, but if I forget they’ll all be there. So don’t feel the need to write everything down while you’re listening.

Book Publishing Tools

So the first set of tools are book publishing tools. I’m going to talk about something called Lulu, Mixbook and Storybird. The first one is Lulu. Lulu is a self publishing, print-on-demand service. Here is how it works: Somebody writes a book. They upload it to Lulu. It’s a little more complicated than I’m sounding, but I’m going to really oversimplify it so you just get the basic idea. And then Lulu helps you to distribute it through sellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or whatever distributor you want to use. But here’s the thing: You don’t pay any money. You create this product, and then if people buy it through Amazon–Suppose it’s a ten dollar book, then you get some of that money and then Lulu takes a cut for their part of it, for the production. These can be print books or they can be e-books. And so there are regular writers out there now who are publishing their books through services like Lulu. Kids could do this too. You know, if you have a student–I can remember I had a seventh grade student who was writing a novel. Back then there were no print-on-demand services like Lulu, so I couldn’t have. But now, I think I would have steered him towards this. I would have said “Do you know you can actually publish a book and try to sell it?” I think that would be a really important opportunity for a student. So that is Lulu.

Another tool is called Mixbook. Mixbook is more geared toward images, and with Mixbook you are actually creating either an online book or a print book, like a hardcover or paperback book and sort of combining pictures with words. It could be all words, but this is really more visual and these are more expensive. You actually have to pay to print these off for yourself. This is not designed for people to sell their books to others, but this is something that you would do to create something for your own use. So one way to use it would be to create sort of like a memory book for the year or something like that and have a copy sent to yourself. But another really good use of it is to create just online books that combine images and words. If students are more into thinking that they’d like to create children’s books or that sort of thing, something like Mixbook could be a really great tool for that because they could practice without, again, ever having to spend any money on it. They could build a whole gallery of books where they sort of upload images. It could be their own photography. It could be their own pictures of their own artwork with just descriptions. There’s a lot of possibilities for these types of things. But when you’re finished, if you don’t order a print book, you could just have a link to this online book where you just sort of turn the pages and everything looks really good. It’s another medium for students who are interested in the idea of creating books. They have this sort of blank template to use to do whatever they want to do with it. So that’s

The third book publishing tool is called Storybird. This is a really interesting concept. It would be really good for much younger kids. What Storybird does is they get art from professional artists. It is all different kinds of art, but a lot of it is geared towards younger kids. And so what a person will do is they will go and select–You can go through all these galleries of art. You select some artwork and then you write a story that goes with it. What you end up with is again another sort of online, like a digital book. And what’s neat is because the artwork is professionally done and students will be sort of inspired by what they see in the pictures, you end up with a product that looks really good, that looks really like a professionally written book. So even a young child can write what looks like a professionally produced digital storybook because Storybird will lay it out really nicely and make it look really good. So if you have students who are really into writing poetry or short stories, or even drama, even plays, they can package it very nicely with the Storybird stories. So that’s Okay so those are the book publishing tools.

Image Making Tools

The next category I’m going to talk about are image making tools. The first one is called Canva. Canva’s focus is really on just graphic design type of artwork. So it would be the kind of stuff that you see on Pinterest or banner ads or posters. They give you–You can choose whatever size canvas you want, it’s all on the screen. Then they give you a whole library of all different kinds of images that you can just drag over onto this blank canvas and you can write text on it and rearrange the images however you want. And you can end up with a pretty interesting piece of artwork. So when you have some students who are really good at things like making posters or they like the idea of making online advertisements for things, steer them toward Canva because they can really play around with stuff and the nice thing is, you’re not using up a lot of paper. You can just change things and erase things as you want and you don’t have to throw them in the actual trash can, you can just keep experimenting. That type of a skill is something that’s going to become more and more in demand as the students we get right now get older, because so much of what happens in the world happens online. Everything that happens online needs images to go with it. It needs graphic design to go with it.

So even a student who’s not necessarily good at drawing can use Canva to really create some interesting visual art that could be used for other things, that could be used as a book cover for the book publishing thing that they’re doing, if that’s something they want to be doing. It can be used as images for some of the other projects that I’m going to talk about a little later in this podcast. So just being able to design things graphically is a skill that is going to be constantly in demand, so if you find a student who’s into that, show them what Canva can do and that will help them to be able to keep growing.

If they are good illustrators, you may want to steer them towards this tool: It is called Inkscape. Now all of the tools that I’ve talked about so far are things that are — they “live” online. You go to the website, you do the thing and then you have a product that is also online. Inkscape is a little bit different because it is a software that you actually have to download, but it’s free. And people who are practicing to become illustrators, they have a very high opinion of Inkscape because even though it’s a free product, it’s actually pretty good. It’s just a digital illustration software. So people who are good with illustrating with just a pencil and paper can take those same skills and actually do it on a computer screen and end up with a digital image that they can then use in a lot of different ways. It can be used as graphic design for other things or they can start to build a portfolio of their drawings. They could share a collection of their illustrations on their website. They could put them in a video portfolio. There are a lot of different ways that you can sort of share your images. So if you’ve got students who are adept at drawing, show them Inkscape or have them download it, maybe even onto a school computer if that’s allowed. Or you might want to send a quick note home to parents saying that your daughter is a great illustrator and you think she might enjoy this digital illustration tool. That’s it, just let them know about it.

Photo Editing Tools

Okay, the next collection of tools I’m going to talk about are photo editing tools. If you have students who are really into photography and they would like to learn some more things that they would like to do with their photos, they may not be aware that they can take photos and do other stuff to them, put filters on them, and make changes to them basically to really turn them into works of art. So there are two that are available. One of them is called PicMonkey. Actually, I shouldn’t say there are two. There are two that I’m going to talk about. There are others. In this whole podcast I’m just going to be talking about examples, but there are also others. In the Teacher’s Guide to Tech, I list other similar products. This just gives you an idea.

So PicMonkey is a very, very simple online service where you just basically go to their website, you upload a photo and then you can just start doing stuff to it. You can apply filters to it to change the coloring or change the focus. Or change the mood even, change the lighting of it. It’s kind of interesting, you have to go and take a look at it. You can add little stickers to the front of it. You can add frames around it and then download a new copy of your altered photo. So again, if you’ve got students who are into photography, they can start playing around with these tools and stretch the potential for their photography, start seeing more possibilities for what they could be doing with their photography.

Another tool is called Pixlr. Pixlr is another free, online tool. The reputation that it has is that it’s a really good, free alternative to Photoshop, which is what professionals would use to edit their photos. Pixlr does a lot of what PicMonkey does, but then it also does some more advanced things. So again if a student is really interested in photography and is starting to really learn the vocabulary of photography, they’re going to be able to take that into Pixlr and start to really learn even more about it and start being able to apply those concepts to their photos in terms of the way that they change the photos. So with both of these, if you have a budding photographer in your class, just point them to either one of these sites. And especially if they’re older, and you really get the sense that they want to start taking their photography more seriously, my understanding is that Pixlr is good practice for Photoshop. If they’re not willing to throw down a couple of hundred dollars for Photoshop, they can practice with Pixlr and that will start to build the skills that they would need for Photoshop later on. If a student is not necessarily interested in taking photos, but they really like manipulating them, they’re just visual people, then either of these programs would be good for them because you don’t necessarily have to have photography skills to turn photos into a work of art. So you may have some kids who do things visually with art where they start to do it and you just think, How did they even think to do that? That’s so beautiful or That’s so creative or interesting or grotesque or whatever it is. Let them take those skills and play with them even more with one of these tools.

Video Production Tools

Okay the next category I’m going to talk about are video production and sharing tools. We’ll start by talking about video production. Before we even talk about these, let me just explain. There are so many things that a person can do with video nowadays. First of all, if you have a student who is really into something like filmmaking, if you notice that they like taking videos all the time of people or of–Whenever you give them options for a project they always want to pick the like “Oh, let’s film a little skit,” or something like that. That’s somebody who could potentially become a filmmaker someday. So that’s one thing that can be done with video: They can actually start trying to create little mini movies. Whether they are sort of cinematic or storytelling types of movies, or documentaries where they’re actually trying to film things that are real, or if you have someone who is really into animation; they like to make sort of more creative, not necessarily reality-based, but animated types of films. That’s another thing that can be done with video. Video production would also be great for a student who is a musician of any type, or a singer. They can simply record themselves, and then start to produce a series of videos that showcase those abilities.

And then there’s this whole other area of video, which is getting very popular, which is that if someone has a talent or an interest, they could make instructional or how-to videos where they are demonstrating how to do something. These are very popular. People who do this, some of them make a lot of money for simple things. Things like decorating things or other household– How to fix this thing in your house. How to fix this thing in your car. But then there’s also anything that is sort of physical or athletic. There are lots of sort of workout videos or fitness videos. If someone is a certain type of artist and they’d like to demonstrate certain techniques, they can make instructional videos on that. So the possibilities are really just huge for video. Pretty much any interest that a student has, it can probably be channelled in some way into creating a video. Even if it’s someone who is a photographer or a visual artist of still things. They could make a video montage of their work. So tons of possibilities for video in general.

I will share with you a couple of really good sites where they can make these videos. One of them is called Animoto, which is a really, really simple idea. It’s really got a lot of instant gratification for people who don’t want to mess around a lot with editing but want to have a video done quickly. You basically just load a bunch of photos, so this would be good for somebody who does, you know, would like the video montage that I just talked about. You load a bunch of photos into Animoto’s program. You choose music to go with it. You can add captions and then what you end up with is a thirty second video montage, with music in the background and captions that come up. You can time everything the way you want it to come up. You can make longer ones, but the free program of Animoto only allows you to do thirty seconds. So if somebody really wanted to do a longer project, they could do a series of thirty second video clips. But this could also be, if you imagine if somebody thinks that they like to make commercials or something like that, they could do a thirty second commercial.

If a student is really into more animated stuff, there is a website called PowToon. PowToon is pretty interesting because you–They sort of give you kind of characters. You can kind of move them around, you do like a voice-over presentation almost. The end product of PowToon is really, looks almost like a commercial, you know you’d see a guy pop up and a voice over would talk to you about, “Do you have blah blah blah…?” Then the scene switches and PowToon allows you to manipulate all that pretty easily. And again, the end product is this really neat looking video. It’s kind of hard to explain here but it helps you animate your ideas.

Now for someone who wants to actually film things, you know, use video that they would record of themselves or of other people, they would need a more serious video editor. And if they are working with a Mac-based system, they would use a tool called iMovie, which is something that probably a lot of people are familiar with because you load your own video clips in and then you edit them. You shorten things and you can move them around and you can fade in and fade out, add background music and titles and that sort of thing. If you’re working in a Windows-based environment, then the equivalent to that would be Windows Movie Maker. Those would be something for a more serious filmmaker, somebody who’s interested in actually making movies with people in it, not something that’s just animated or like a video slideshow.

There are a lot of other types of video creation and actually in a little bit I’m going to be talking about screencasting. So that ultimately is also a video production tool, but I will get to that in just a sec.

Video Sharing Tools

So once a person has created a video, then they can move to sharing it with the rest of the world, or with a limited audience if they want to set up their privacy that way. Most people are familiar with YouTube. What maybe you don’t know is that anybody can set up a YouTube account. It’s free and it’s fast and once you’ve set up a YouTube account, you can just start loading your own videos and people can see them. What you also may not know and what could benefit your students is that if you have a video that you think might actually get a lot of views, you can actually earn money from advertising. This may be interesting to some of your students. If you have a student who thinks that they’re creating something that’s going to have a lot of popularity, they could start their own YouTube channel. Now there may be age limitations, which might mean that their parent has to set up the account for them instead. But I have been pretty amazed by some of the things out there that I’ve seen that are making a lot of money. My daughter watches this thing called Seven… I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s a bunch of preteen girls, basically and they just show their bedrooms. It’s not like creepy — I shouldn’t have made it sound like that–it’s just, “Oh look this is the comforter that I just got,” and “Here’s a poster that I just got.” Or they’ll do stuff like “This is my morning routine. First I have cereal. Then I brush my teeth.” It’s completely ordinary stuff, but of course these girls have cute rooms and cute clothes and stuff like that. But, they have millions, and millions and millions of views. It’s ridiculous. But they also have ads running on the bottom. Those girls probably have their colleges funded through these videos. So it can turn into a serious business. If you have a student — Suppose you have a student who’s really into bikes. You know they know how to fix them and they know great bike trails or whatever it is. They could do a series of videos that are showing people how to do these things. Put them up on YouTube, attach an ad to it. They could actually start making an income from them. If somebody just wants to share and not make any money, they don’t have to have ads, but it is an option on YouTube.

Now there are two other video sharing sites that are also growing in popularity and have–Both have a slightly different twist to them. One that you have probably heard of is Vimeo, which is very similar to YouTube in that anybody can start an account and they can load it up. Then you can share the videos, but for the most part Vimeo does not do advertising. My understanding is that they’re starting to work something like that in, but Vimeo is really interesting because it has a whole community of people who are much more serious aspiring filmmakers. It’s a more artistic place, and I think a lot of people who put their stuff on Vimeo are not necessarily doing it to advertise something or to earn money. They’re doing it to showcase their talents and there are communities of filmmakers on Vimeo–this is something I just learned recently–who watch each other’s stuff and comment and give feedback. So if you’ve got a kid who’s an aspiring filmmaker, if they learn about this on Vimeo and can become a part of a sort of young filmmaker’s group. They can grow so much faster than they would had they not known about it. The tools to create these videos are not even that expensive. They could do it with a smart phone. Well, not that a smart phone isn’t expensive, but you get what I’m saying. They don’t necessarily have to have the equipment of a movie studio in order to start becoming filmmakers.

So I would say if you have somebody who’s into the sort of “how-to” types of films, where they’re really trying to teach stuff to people, YouTube is a good direction to go for that. But if they really are kind of artistic with their filmmaking, you may want to have them explore Vimeo a little bit more.

The third video sharing site is called Vine. Here’s the deal with Vine: Vine, I believe, is connected to Twitter in some way. Vine videos can only be six seconds long. Six seconds, which to some people may sound just ridiculous. But it actually, if you sit and watch it for a little while, it really becomes its own art form because that type of a limitation, it challenges people to do some pretty interesting things. And so again, if you have a student who’s kind of clever with the way that they do visual things, you may want to have them take a look around Vine because it’s just — Again, I’ve seen people on Vine who have a big following now. They’ll put out a brand new six-second video every day of something just really quick and either really funny or really creative and interesting visually. But it’s just another place for somebody to start to really develop their talents.

Blogging and Website-Building Tools

So, so far we have talked about book publishing tools, image making tools, photo editing and video production and sharing. I’ve got three more categories to talk about. The next one is blogging and website building tools. I think these could apply to any person’s interest or talents, no matter what, because if they are as I’d said before if they’re into the arts, then they could just create a website to sort of build a portfolio of their stuff. If they’re a writer, they could start a blog. If they are really, really interested in a certain subject like soccer, they could also have a blog that is not so much personal, but is more into exploring this topic. Students could even form collaborative blogs or websites where a group of them together create something. It’s really, it’s such a blank slate for whatever a person is interested in. It’s a way of documenting that, reaching out to other people to have them engage with you about topics. So I think everybody, most people have a good idea of all the possibilities for blogs. So I would just like to share with you a couple of the tools that allow even the most kind of tech-unskilled person to set up a website very quickly and easily, and free.

So the first one is Blogger, and Blogger has been around quite a while. It’s run by Google. You basically, with a few clicks, can sort of open up a website and have it up and running. It’s sort of limited in terms of design. Some of the designs on Blogger look a little bit dated, but it’s functioning and with a little bit of work you can actually get a website to look pretty good. But a person does not need to know really any sort of special computer coding or anything like that to start a website on Blogger.

Another one is called Weebly. This is another one that’s fairly simple and easy to use to get a website up and running. With a lot of these, a student will need to go to video tutorials to learn how to really set them up. But they have–the thing that’s really nice about a lot of these is that they have themes set up for you. In other words, what you do is type in the title of your website, and what words you want to appear in certain sections and then you click, you know, “OK,” and then you open up your website and everything looks really nice and professional. It’s– That’s the thing that’s really kind of satisfying about these types of tools. You’re not– You’re not designing it from top to bottom. You’re not saying “Put a red bar across here” and then “Make these words white” and then “Do this over here.” That stuff is already kind of set up when you choose your theme. You choose a collection of designs that look good together and then you say “Okay, I want it to look like that.” Then if you change your mind, you can switch to another one until you get a theme that really fits how you like it. So a lot of these are kind of fill in the blank. If you can type, you can create a website.

So Blogger is one, Weebly is one. Another is Wix. Wix is probably the easiest of all of them in terms of just typing a few things in and clicking a button and there you have a website. The only problem with Wix is that it’s hard to change things once you’ve gotten started. So Wix would be a really good program for someone who wanted to do just a temporary, short-term type of a website or something that’s not going to change a lot, just to advertise. You know if you had a, like a hair salon and you just wanted to advertise your hair salon and you weren’t going to be going in and making a lot of changes all the time. Wix would be a good place for doing something like that. For blogging, it’s possible to do, to use Wix, but it– From what I’m understanding it may be frustrating to use it if you ever wanted to make changes down the line. So I would recommend Weebly for a blog as opposed to Wix. The nice thing about Wix, though, is that it’s really pretty. So if somebody only wanted to use it to showcase videos or upload a bunch of photos or something, that may be a good option to explore. But really, I think that anybody who wants to start a website should take a look at all of these until they figure out which one is going to work out best for them.

The last one is called WordPress. This is what I use for my blog. It’s all one word – WordPress. WordPress would be a good place to send students to start a blog. However, there’s a little bit more of a learning curve with it. It’s not quite as easy. But if this is a student who you think could handle learning some more complicated technology stuff, then it would be a good place to go. It’s extremely popular. A lot of well known websites use WordPress as their engine basically to run their websites. If you ever think they may have a future in, you know, more serious website building, then WordPress would be the place for them to start getting their feet wet anyway because if they can do that, they’ll be able to understand a lot of other things too. If you have a student who you think might just enjoy creating a website sort of quickly, then I would suggest using something like Weebly or Wix instead, because it will not be as difficult.

Podcasting Tools

Okay, two more types of tools left. We’ve got podcasting and screencasting. What you’re listening to right now is a podcast, so I’m assuming you already know what a podcast is if you’re listening to me. But there are so many different kinds of podcasts out there. There are opinion, politics kinds of podcasts. There are how-to kinds of podcasts. Some of them are only five minutes long. Some of them are close to two hours long per episode. So podcasting would be a really interesting way for some of your students, especially those who like to talk, to start getting their ideas out there. If you have somebody who has a lot of opinions and they like to share them, you may want to suggest to them that they try starting a podcast.

Probably the best way to get students interested in podcasting would be to have them start listening to some. You know you would need to find some that are appropriate for kids because there are a lot that are not. But to have them exploring what’s out there and have them realizing that they could actually–they could create a podcast and load it on to iTunes and start to have a following even, have their own subscribers. I think there would be an interest out there if a student, for example, wanted to do a weekly podcast where they just reviewed the latest music that was out there. Maybe played short clips and talked about what they think about what’s new and what’s going on and that. Or a sports podcast. Or a podcast about technology. A podcast about gaming. I know that so many people, so many kids out there are into video games. A student could just start to create a weekly ten minute podcast where they talk about a different video game each time. Or if they just stick to one specific…Suppose you have a Minecraft enthusiast. They could just give Minecraft tips each week. Five minute podcast. I mean it could be really anything at all. There are even photography podcasts, which you would think wouldn’t work in sound, but it, there really is just every topic under the sun. So for a student who is interested or comfortable with talking, have them consider podcasting.

So here are some tools that can help them to produce podcasts. What I’m using right now is something called Audacity. It is just an audio recording tool. You open it up and you set your microphone up. You press record and when you’re done you press stop. Then you can edit it or shorten it or whatever. When you’re done you can save it as an MP3 file that you can then share with others in a lot of different ways. Loading a podcast on to iTunes is kind of a complicated step, but if you have a student who is really interested in doing that, it’s not that difficult to find the information. You can basically just Google how to get your podcast on iTunes and there are lots and lots of articles out there that show you exactly how to do it.

But if they don’t necessarily need to go that far yet, if they just want to try it or if you want to give it as an assignment even, they can just turn in the MP3 file and you can just listen to it right there on their computer, or there is another site called audioBoom. What they do is they basically let people have their own sort of channel. You set it up sort of the same way you would set up a Facebook page. You have a profile page and a little bit of information about yourself and then on your profile page is just sort of box after box that people can click on and that’s a podcast recording. You can have a little image that goes with it and then below it is a little play button. And the person can, who’s listening, can just play it and listen to your podcast. For audioBoom, a free recording is limited to ten minutes long. But you can have as many ten-minute podcasts or recordings as you want to. These could be songs. They could be regular audio recordings or spoken word. But it’s a really neat little community. It’s a pretty cool place for somebody who doesn’t really want to mess around with something like–It’s pretty complicated to get a podcast onto iTunes, I will admit that, but this would be such a great place to get started because you just upload your recording to audioBoom and you can add an image to it if you’d like and then it’s there and that’s it. Then you can send people links to it. You can say go over and check out my audioBoom page and people can go and listen to all of your recordings. So I just discovered it not too long ago and I just think it’s the neatest website.

One other podcasting tool that I want to share with you is not specifically podcasting, but it’s related. It is a website called Jewelbeat. and what Jewelbeat is is a place where you can buy music. Because a lot of people who do sound recordings like to have a little intro music or a little exit music and you have to actually get that from somewhere. Now there are places that sell, or sorry, where you can get royalty free music, but it’s kind of complicated with the copyright. What I like about Jewelbeat is for a small amount of money, like ninety nine cents per recording, you can download like a thirty second clip of– This is where I got the intro and exit music for my podcast. A short clip of music that you are not obliged to give credit to the artist or anything. The person who created it is basically saying I’m going to sell this to Jewelbeat and anybody can use it for whatever they want. And so it’s a nice way of getting a little bit–And they have hundreds and hundreds of different recordings. So that’s a nice way if someone says “Hey, I want to have one of those little like introductory songs or something.” Because they’re not supposed to use, you know, professionally done music, they’re not supposed to like download their favorite song off of iTunes or whatever and use that. They can actually get in trouble for violating copyright for doing that. So you need to have music that was intended for things like podcasts and commercials and that sort of thing. That’s called royalty-free music. So one place that you can get that is a place called Jewelbeat.

Screencasting Tools

Okay, last set of tools. These are screencasting tools. Screencasting if you don’t know is, if you’ve ever gone on YouTube and watched a video where somebody shows you how to do something on their computer, what they’re using is a screencasting tool to do that. Screencasting basically records whatever is going on on your computer and you can talk into a microphone and do a voice-over at the same time. It’s a really, really helpful tool, not only–Like if you have kids who are really into tech and they find that they’re constantly showing other kids how to do stuff, encourage them to do screencast recordings of the things that they’re always teaching people how to do. If you’ve got other students who are always like “Well how do you do this thing?” They can just make a quick recording, you can store it somewhere on–in the classroom and then everybody can just go and check that. So it’s good for that. It’s good for demonstrating things online.

But screencasting is also really good for creating videos. I have a YouTube channel for my own website and I make a lot of videos that show people how to use different kinds of instructional strategies. A lot of them are animated. You know if I’ve got you arranging students in one area of the room and then have you move them, I actually have a picture of little dots that move across the room. I use PowerPoint for that. I just have little circles on the PowerPoint and then I–It’s kind of complicated how you do it on the PowerPoint, but it’s a PowerPoint. Or if I’ve got words that pop up on the screen. So what I do to create those is I make the PowerPoint. Then I set it in slideshow mode and I use a screencasting software to actually just record it while I talk. So there are a lot of possibilities for creating things with screencasting software.

There are a lot of them out there, but I’m going to tell you about two that are real simple ones. There are a lot of free, web-based ones where you just go to the website, you sort of sign up for free and you get this recorder where you can just record things right from the website, kind of. The one that I like the most is called Screencast-O-Matic and the reason I like it is because it’s really not that complicated. It would be a really great place for someone to start practicing doing screencasts.

The other tool that I’d like you to know about is called Explain Everything. This is just for tablets. It’s for–or even smartphones. It’s a way of basically recording while you’re on your iPad. Explain Everything is–I have not personally used it, but I am aware of it and I know a lot of people are working on tablets. It’s a way of basically creating a screen recording right on your iPad while you manipulate objects. So that was– I’m not going to really explain how it works, but that would be another one to look into, especially if you and your students have a lot of tablets in your classroom, as opposed to laptops or computers. So those are two that I would look into, Screencast-O-Matic or Explain Everything. Both of those allow you to basically record a video of your voice and the screen doing something and then you save it as an MP4 file. MP4 is what most video files are. A sound file is an MP3 and a video is an MP4. So then you can take that video and you can do anything with it. You can upload it to YouTube or put it on Vimeo or whatever it is.

These tools, I think, are so exciting because they really can take kids out of student mode and make them full participants and help them to really start to behave in the same way that someone who’s already pursuing their career is pursuing it. All of these tools, plus a lot more. Pretty much each one I’ve said has alternatives too. I describe these in a lot more detail in my book, The Teacher’s Guide to Tech. For each one, there’s also a link to a video that demonstrates the tool in use.


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Gonzalez: If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while and you’re enjoying it, please head over to iTunes and give me a rating. This will really help make the podcast more visible to new listeners. If you have any thoughts for the show for future episodes or for articles that you’d like to see on my website, please go to, click “About,” and “Contact,” and send me an e-mail right through there.

Thanks so much for listening and have a great day.


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