New tools

Back into the thick of it at school and I am trying to get some lessons planned.  In the course of planning, talking to colleagues and exploring the internet for ideas, I came across a couple of useful tools that I think I could use effectively with my classes.  The first is Team Shake, which is available on Android and Apple.  My PE colleague put me onto this one and it is great for sorting out groups for activities.  However, as a language teacher I think it will be really useful for those random conversations you need the kids to do for their interactions. Team Shake allows you to import names from classlists in various formats;  ODT, Excel, CSVor you can manually type in the names. It does only seem to allow one name per line and so if you have more than one “Fred” in the group you may need to add their surname initial onto the end of it to distinguish which is which.  Once you have created your list, you can choose how many groups you want, you can colour code the groups and, if you really want to, you can email the list out to the students.  I haven’t bothered to do that as, for me, it just seems to be a great way to randomly select students as you need them to be in the lesson. NZ PE Teacher has written a great blog about using Team Shake

The second is Screenr, which I already knew about but have not actually explored until today.  I have been looking at creating ebooks for my Spanish classes and also Khan Academy type mini videos to explain grammar points etc.  I would also like the students to make their own videos, which they already, do but in a variety of formats depending on their device which creates problems for sharing. I am all for allowing choice of format but it would be good to have something that I can recommend that works across platforms. Screenr looks promising apart from the need to have Java installed.  I also found that even once I had installed Java, it blocked Screenr so I had to go into the settings and add it as an exception.  Not quite as simple as I had hoped!  However, once I got over that hurdle I set to creating a video.  Since the free version has a 5 minute limit for recordings, I decided to record the Ignite presentation I had done at the recent L@TS Unconference.

The ability to pause, restart, delete and start over is good as I needed to do all of those things several times!  It then gives you an opportunity to preview it, add a short description and then publish.  Publishing took about 5 minutes.  It looks like you can embed the videos into web pages so, let’s see!  Screenr gave me the choice of their new embed code which is an i-frame which I know doesn’t work in WordPress, but you can also use the old embed code format, which I am hoping will work! Here goes….

OK – the embed code doesn’t seem to work…. let’s try something else!  I can add a link, which is fine but I really like things to play in the page, especially for my students.  I can also publish to my Youtube Channel and then use the “Add Media” option.  Let’s try it…

So, I had some problems publishing directly to my YouTube Channel – I pressed the “Publish to YouTube” button, then clicked on the “Go to Youtube” button that appeared next.  Nothing queued, nothing uploaded despite sitting waiting for a while.  Maybe I am too impatient?  Not to be defeated ….  I tried downloading the MP4 file, then uploaded that into YouTube – that seems to be working!

Yayy! I am looking forward to creating some more videos!

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