Friday, January 13, 2017

7 Super Screencasting Activities for School

Screencasting tools are a popular option for use in schools. At their most basic they allow you to record a video of what is on your computer screen, along with your voice, and depending on the program perhaps your webcam as well. Some may go further to provide you with annotation tools to write on or highlight portions of the screen while recording.

There are many tools and programs that can be used for screencasting, and better yet, there are many ways for students and educators to use such tools for teaching and learning.

In this blog post we are going to take a look at seven creative activities that can be done with screencasting. Although these activities can likely be done with many of the common screencasting tools available, for the demonstrations I have included here I will be using the free Screencastify Chrome web extension.

See below for a detailed tutorial video as well as seven examples of how your students and you can spice up learning with screencasting!

Session Resources

Tutorial Video (1 hour)

Below is the full 1-hour training video on "Super Screencastify Activities for Schools". You can watch the entire video below, or further down in this post you can watch shorter portions of the video explaining each of the seven ways to use screencasting in your classroom.

Session Slideshow

1) Instructional Videos

We will start off with what is probably the most common use of screencasting, which is to create videos to teach a concept. These could be videos to teach students subject content, how to solve a problem, introduce a new topic, or such. Or these could be videos for teachers instead, such as technology tutorials on how to use the latest features of Google Classroom. Whatever the case, there are several benefits to using screencasting to make instructional videos:
  • Flipping - Students can watch these instructional videos outside of traditional class time to prepare for the more hands-on application work they will do in class.
  • Remediation - Students the need extra help can watch videos to gain more instruction, with the option to rewind and rewatch as needed.
  • Enrichment - Students that are ready for additional content or challenges can use your recorded screencasts to extend their learning.
  • Differentiation - There is only one of you, but there can be loads of videos you have created, allowing students to explore different content as needed or desired.
  • Independence - With recorded screencasts students and teachers can get help on their own initiative and on their own time, without having to get face to face help for everything.
See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting for instructional videos:

2) Narrating Slideshows

One of the most common questions I get concerning Google Slides is if users can record their voice to add narration to the presentation. Unfortunately Slides does not currently offer an option to record and embed audio. However, screencasting can be used to record a video of the slideshow along with you speaking.

This could be used in several scenarios:
Whatever the purpose, here are a few tips to make the narration successful:
  • First, use the "Publish to the web" option to run the slideshow full-tab.
  • To do this, click "File" then "Publish to the web" then "Publish".
  • You will now get a link for the presentation.
  • Copy that link and then paste it into the URL bar in a new browser tab.
  • The slideshow will now display in presentation mode filling up the entire browser tab.
  • You can now record your screencast while speaking and clicking through the presentation.
See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting to narrate a slideshow:

3) Explain Student Understanding

When assessing student learning we try to discover what student understand and where their misconceptions are. Sometimes this can be a challenge when simply looking at a written answer on a worksheet. How much better to allow the student to explain what they know in their own words. Screencasting can be a great way for students to express their understanding.

A student can record themselves:
  • Sharing their thoughts on the latest chapter they read in the class novel.
  • Working out a math problem on a virtual whiteboard while talking through the steps.
  • Summarizing what they learning in today’s lesson.
  • Explaining the main points of the essay, story, or report that wrote.
In each case you will be able to get a much clearer picture of what the student understands, identify misunderstandings, and move into higher-level Bloom’s skills. This also can help address cheating concerns that are so common when working in a digital environment. It may be easy to copy the answers to a multiple-choice assessment, but it is more difficult to cheat if the assignment is to explain something on video in your own words. For more resources, see my post on "Addressing student cheating in Google Apps".

See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting for students to explain their understanding:

4) Dub a Video

A fun activity for screencasting is to take an existing video, mute the audio, and then re-record the video with your own narration. Dubbing a video can be used for many educational activities including:
  • Practice translation - Students can take a video in a foreign language and speak the dialog in their own language, or vice versa they can take a video in their native language and speak it in a language they are learning.
  • Interpret a story - Students could act out a scene from a movie or show verbatim. This would give them the opportunity to act out the text to express their understanding of the story.
  • Reinterpret a story - Or students could rewrite the original dialog in more modern language, or in simpler terms, or just in a new style. Again this would allow them to show their understanding of the purpose and themes of the original story. For example, they could write contemporary dialog for Hamlet.
  • Tell a whole new story - Or students could be totally creative and make up a completely new story, replacing the original dialog with a new narrative that fits the actions being shown on screen.
  • Create commentary - Finally students could make their own commentary track for a video. This could be them describing what is happening, or offering their critique, telling a historical backstory, or explaining a scientific concept that can be seen in the video
Whatever the reason, there are a few steps to consider when doing a dubbing activity for best results:
  • Pay the video full tab.
  • Set a start and stop time, if needed.
  • Mute the audio of the video, so only you will be heard.
For details on the technical steps needed to do all of that, see my earlier blog post on "Video Dubbing Learning Activities for Students"

See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting to dub a video:

5) Give a Speech or Performance

Standing up in front of a class or group of students to give a speech, sing a song, or play an instrument can be a very stressful situation for students. It is very easy for their nerves to get in the way so that the student’s performance is a poor representation of what they really know. One option to help with this is to allow students to record themselves with a screencast.

Although we often think of screencasting as recording your screen, most tools will also allow you to just record your webcam. Students can record themselves giving their speech or performing their music in the privacy of their own home. This can have several benefits:
  • The student will be much less nervous you will get a more accurate measure of what they know or can do.
  • The student will likely do the recording multiple times to get it perfect, encouraging lots of practice and repetition.
  • The student will likely gain confidence, as the screencast serves as a stepping stone to presenting live eventually.
See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting for a student to give a speech or performance:

6) Practice Fluency

Another useful way to use screencasting is for a student to practice their reading fluency. As a teacher you can provide your student with a Google Doc or a website that has the text they need to read. The student can then record the text on the screen, along with their voice as they practice reading the content. This could be useful for young students still learning to read, as well as ELL students or students learning a world language.

A great benefit of this is the ability of the teacher to listen and re-listen to the recording as much as needed to identify errors and needs. Additionally since the recording is digital, it will be easy to share it with other colleagues for their input, or to play for parents to show student progress.

For more resources on technology tools for world language fluency see my post "5 Fantastic Fluency Tools for Speaking World Languages".

See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting for a student to practice fluency:

7) Provide Feedback

A final example activity for screencasting is to provide more personalized feedback on student work. This can be a teacher giving feedback to a student, or it could be students giving peer feedback on student work. Feedback is such a critical part of the revision process, but often gets left out due to the amount of time it can take.

However, by using a screencast, you can simply record the screen with the student’s work displayed, and then talk as you explain the strengths of the work and what needs improvement, pointing things out with the mouse or by highlighting. When done, a link to the recording can be pasted into the student’s document so they can simply click the link to view your personal video feedback.

For more resources on feedback options for student work, see my post on "Four Fantastic Feedback Tools for Google Docs".

See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses using screencasting to provide feedback:


As mentioned before, there are many tools that can be used for screencasting. Chances are that the activities described above could be accomplished with many of these tools. However, one tool I would certainly recommend for students and teachers is Screencastify for several reasons:
  • Screencastify has a free version that will do everything you need.
  • With the free version you can record up to 10 minutes at a time.
  • You can record your entire desktop, a tab in your browser, and/or your webcam.
  • It includes annotation tools that can be used during the recording.
  • When done, the video can be saved automatically to your Google Drive, but can also be downloaded to your computer or uploaded to YouTube.
To use Screencastify do the following:

Begin by installing the Screencastify extension from the Chrome Web Store: Chrome Web Store link

Note: Because this is a Chrome Extensions, you need to be using Chrome on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook to be able to use this tool.

After installing the extension, click on its icon once to set up its one-time initial configuration. Screencastify will ask for three permissions to be set.
  • First, Screencastify will ask for permission to use your webcam and microphone, which you will need to allow.
  • Next, it will ask where to save your videos. I recommend having the videos saved to Google Drive since you have unlimited storage in Google Apps for Education and the videos are easy to share with others. When asked, you will need to give permission for Screencastify to save to your Drive.
  • For the last permission, it will ask to be able to record your browser tabs.
Screencastify is now setup and ready for use!

See below for the portion of my recorded webinar that specifically addresses how to install and configure Screencastify:


Screencasting is an easy tool that can have a powerful impact on learning. Although it can be used for instructional videos, it is much more versatile and can lend itself to a variety of student projects for creativity and communication.

How else have you and your students used screencasting tools in school? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at and on Google+ at


  1. So much to learn so little time. Great presentation, easy to understand, even for a 64 yr old educator.

  2. Thank you, Eric. I already have plans to share departmentally as an extension of our goal to individualize writing conferences with students, our TBT goal moving forward.

  3. Thank you so much for allowing people outside your district/state view your tutorial videos! I have learned so much about Screencastify. In your tutorial you had a Q&A Google Doc? going as you presented. How did you "go live" and how did you add the Q&A document or whatever it was so that people could watch live and comment/ask questions? Thanks for your time and knowledge!