Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Making a Flipped Classroom Lecture Using PowerPoint 2010 and a Microphone

There are many suggestions when it comes to making lectures for your flipped classroom -- many people recommend expensive, complicated software to make screencasts. This can be a major obstacle for teachers that just want to dip their toes into the flipped classroom waters to see how their students respond.

In this post, you will learn how to take a presentation in PowerPoint and convert it into a video without any extra special software.

One major benefit of using PowerPoint to make your video lessons is that you can use it in multiple formats -- in class as a regular presentation or online as a video (or as a slideshow). It is also very easy to go back and edit the PowerPoint content or your narration of a single slide, whereas regular screencasting software would make you go back and record the whole thing again or use complicated video-editing software to splice together multiple takes.

1. Make your PowerPoint presentation.

  • You won't be able to move objects around during the presentation and recording phase, so you will need to set up animations for any movement that you want to happen.

Scroll to the end of the animations choices to get movement animations.

You can change the order that things move in the "Animations" tab.
  • You can use PowerPoint's themes to quickly make your presentation look much more professional.
2. Check your microphone and recording settings.
Right click on the little speaker and then click on "Recording devices"
Talk into your preferred microphone, click on the one that shows green bars on the right, and then choose "Set Default". Click "OK"

3. Record your PowerPoint with narration.
Make sure both of these are selected.

You can remove timings or narration from individual slides or the whole show if you want.
This is the symbol representing the narration that you recorded.

4. Save your presentation often. You don't want to loose your hard work to a computer meltdown.
5. When you are happy with your slides, narration, and timing, it is time to save as a video.
Choose File > Save As > Save as type: Windows Media Video (*.wmv)
This can take a LONG time. On my fairly powerfule computer, it took about 30 minutes.
6. Upload your video to Youtube, your school site, or other video service.

Sign into Youtube and click "Upload".
Drag your new video file into Youtube.

Choose your advanced settings if you want comments or if you want to add more data about your video.

Give your video a title and description. Tags are categories that will help people find your video.
7. Share the link with your students and colleagues.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Educreations in the App Store
In my search for independent reading activities for low-literacy level students, I tried many canned (apps with only premade content) reading apps and found them lacking in high-interest, low-level material for adult ESL students. My brother-in-law, who happens to teach remedial math at the college level, showed me a great app for creating your own lessons on the iPad. Teachers have generally used Educreations to create short lectures for hybrid classes, but the potential of this app does not stop there.

Educreations is a free app for iPads to create short, audiovisual lessons on a virtual whiteboard and easily share them across a set of iPads. The app starts with a blank slate with tools for writing with your fingers (or a stylus), typing text, and adding pictures from the web, a linked Dropbox account, or the local camera and photo roll.

Adding pictures and text is easy
Teachers can add content before they hit record or add content on the fly while they are recording. The downside is that you cannot change a lesson after you click Done and save the lesson. The lessons are automatically synced to the website for easy sharing. Teachers can choose to share lessons with the general public, the whole school, or a teacher-managed class.

Saving the lesson -- automatic syncing

Choose how widely you share your work

This tool is ideal for creating "audio books" for LEA stories that students can use to practice independently. The teacher can narrate the story at a pace that is appropriate for their level, and each student can practice the story as many times as they need. The teacher can check in with individual students to check comprehension and help with pronunciation problems.
Watching lessons from a desktop computer's web browser.

The killer feature of this app is that it is easy to create lessons and share them as widely as you please. Students can watch lessons on iPads or through a web browser. Teachers can easily create a whole library of lessons to scaffold independent reading time to give students the support and choice that they need.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Using Google Voice for Oral Language Homework

I have been searching for a safe way to encourage my adult newcomer ESL students practice English outside of the classroom. Although there are some great apps for practicing oral communication, they are generally too high-level and most of my students don't have iPhones, Androids, or anything beyond a "dumb" phone. This idea comes from one of my colleagues who did this before the internet was around -- thank you, Teacher Rich!


Use Google Voice to practice simple questions and answers over the phone.


  • Usable across the digital divide -- you don't need a computer for this one.
  • This is a safe way to practice communication skills outside of the classroom, especially for older, isolated ESL students.
  • Easy to collaborate with your less tech-savvy peers -- all they need to learn is how to call the number and change the voice-mail greeting.
  • The teacher can download the recorded messages from students and have students listen to themselves and their peers. Depending on how cohesive your classroom is, students (and/or the teacher) could give feedback to each other on how easy or hard it was to understand the person.
  • Multiple teachers can share a Google Voice number and divide up the work of making new messages.


  1. Setting up a Google Voice number is as easy as setting up a Gmail account. Google Voice YouTube Video and add participating teachers' phone numbers under Settings > Phones
  2. Check "Do Not Disturb" Settings > Calls so that all calls go straight to Voicemail.

  3. a) Record the voicemail greeting under Settings > Voicemail and Text > "Record New Greeting" OR b) Record the voicemail by calling your new Google Voice number from one of the participating teachers' phones.
  4. Give the number out to students. Demonstrate calling in class from a non-participating phone on speakerphone.
  5. You can be notified by email of messages. From the main Google Voice page, you can download an MP3 of students' messages by clicking More > Download.

Some possible questions to start using with your newcomer students:

  • Hello, what is your name? / My name is …
  • What language do you speak? / I speak …
  • What is your phone number? / My phone number is …
  • What is your address? / My address is …
  • What is your city? / My city is …
  • Where are you from? / I come from …
  • Where do you live? / I live in …
  • Hello _______, I can't come to school. My name is .... My teacher is .... I am sick.
  • Where do you go to school? I go to ....
  • When does school start? School starts at ___________.
  • What do you do? I am a (student) …
  • What is the school address? The school address is ....
  • What is the school phone number? The school phone number is ....
If you have some helpful suggestions or questions, leave a comment below.

-Teacher Tim