Category Archives: Data

Video Lesson: The Tech Guide

I had a few people ask how I make the video lessons, so I thought I might do an extra post to answer that question.  First, I have just completed my Master’s in Educational Technology, and that was a great idea to really learn to use the technology out there and to really see the benefits of students using technology EFFECTIVELY.  But in order to see the students using technology effectively to produce academic gains, there are a few steps the teacher must take.  The most important, however, is intentionally planning for growth instead of edutainment.  The second is management and ensuring the students are doing what they are supposed to be doing while on the device.  I know… But I have a strategy for that.

MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE: No one likes a dirty belly button.

  1. Clean the belly button.  We use iPads, and class starts by taking the device off airplane mode (quicker charging and holds battery longer as the power cell in the device begins to die) and cleaning the belly button. What this means is that the students double-click the home key to reveal all open apps and windows.  Students must then close everything except what I tell them to use.
  2. At any point in the lesson, randomly double-click the belly button to see what is opened.  If anything other than what I have instructed is opened, I screen shot and email it to myself. If it is just off task, I give one warning and then contact the parent the second time. I ask for parent email, and then for any additional offenses, I include the parent.  The third time, I involve administration because clearly I’m not good enough to make the behavioral change in the student.  If it violates school policy, I send the screen shot directly to administration and enter a disciplinary referral.  If the only thing open is what I have directed, students sometimes get a piece of candy or just a positive phone call home.

MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE: Use apps that monitor student activity for you.

  1. Try Nearpod.  There is a free version that allows for LIVE implementation of the lesson.  This means that the students must progress in the lesson as you push them through the slides.  Student assessment can be built into the presentation, making it totally awesome. Finally, you can actually show student responses (with or without giving student names) to the class for feedback.  All data is tracked, and you get a PDF analysis of student work individually and as a class. If you use the purchased version, Nearpod lessons can be launched in HOMEWORK so students progress at their own rates.  This is great for leading PLE instruction.  Join Nearpod by visiting
  2. Try Zaption. This has a cost, but I think it is totally worth it.   Basically, you create videos and post them.  Then, you build a Zaption lesson with assessment built into the video you have created. Or, you can use a video someone else has created.  I’m convinced this is worth the cost, but you can get a free two month trial by visiting



  1.  Have the lesson.  To make instruction clear, I still use PowerPoint to start everything. In each PowerPoint, I include the notes of what I want to be sure to say.  Instead of adding animations that advance on my click, I add a new slide for each part.  For example, if the slide has 4 bullets, I make four slides so the first has the first bullet, the second has the first and second bullet, and so on.  This helps with the video elements.
  2. Buy the “ExplainEverything” app.  I cannot put to words how valuable this has been.  There are others out there, and I’ve used several.  But this is the best five bucks you can spend. Promise.
  3. Transfer the PPT into a PDF and email it to yourself. (Trust me, easiest this way.)


USING NEARPOD FROM THIS POINT: While you can import videos into Nearpod, you can’t stop the video to add the assessments.  So, for implementing this tool, you would combine the lesson with videos through the interactions menu in Nearpod. Sounds confusion, but I promise that playing around with the program will be helpful.

  1. Open Nearpod and click to create a new Nearpod.  When open, click to import your Powerpoint or JPG files. Each slide will import as its own page. (Note, importing from jpg will reduce file size and keep fonts and spacings.  With PPT, sometimes that gets messed up.)
  2. With the slides imported, begin adding activities and assessments for the students.
  3. Save the file and publish it for students to begin learning.
  4. Once published, you will want to share it when you are ready to use it.  For LIVE mode, you are in control.  For HOMEWORK, just give the students the pin or send them an email for them to use at the appropriate time.
  5. As a part of my degree, I had to create instructional guides.  One of the guides I created was Nearpod, and you can find it by visiting



  1. Open the email on the device with Explain Everything.  When it is open, click to open in “ExplainEverything” app. Each slide will import as its own video page.
  2. Begin recording your speech for each of the slides.  I recommend allowing record to run for one second BEFORE you start talking and 2 seconds AFTER you stop.  This helps with signaling for revisions if you need to record over what you have and for giving time to import the activity in Zaption.
  3. Once you have recorded everything, hold down the play button until the big yellow play button appears.  Push the big play button and verify you like the video.
  4. Save the file and export it to your youtube channel. (Don’t have one? Just visit youtube and create one.  This is also free and easy.)
  5. Once the video has exported, ExplainEverything will ask if you want to share. Click yes and select to share by email. This is great for giving a backup link to the video.  Once in your email, copy the link.
  6. In Zaption, click New Lesson.  From here, paste the link to your video.  Alas, you’re now ready to add the assessment parts.

(By the way, I get nothing from having you use any of this. I’m just going with my personal favorites from my own practices and my own data of what seems to works best with my students.)


Hope this all helps! If you have any comments, questions, or ideas, please let me know!

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Week 2: What REALLY Happened

Between absences, delayed schedules, extended pacing, and surprise assemblies, class plans seem to always go astray.  So, here’s the way Week 2 really worked:

Monday went on as planned. Multiple choice Monday appears to be a great idea.  I used questions 15-24 on the 2007 released practice test.  I gave the students 15 minutes, but I secretly paused the timer to give 20 minutes.  Each question was worth 5 points, and they had the option of selecting only one answer for a shot at the full 5 or giving two answers for a shot at 3 points.  Students then were to reflect on how they decided to answer the questions and what scores they gained.  This strategy worked well because students do not lose points for incorrect answers, and narrowing it to two means they have tried and increased their odds.  They were told to use the “Letter of the Day” strategy for the final two minutes, but I noticed students didn’t do that.  Next week we are going to readdress “Letter of the Day” and focus on doing a preview of the questions to help provide a purpose for reading and annotating the passage.


Tuesday went decently well.  We used BAT the prompt, and students seemed to understand that if I’m scoring it and I am telling you to do this, then maybe you should do what I suggest.  Thesis statements and identifying the correct response or even what to write about was a struggle, and I’m going to need to focus on that moving forward.


Wednesday it went astray. Big time. If you don’t know your subject and verb, a sentence pattern is nearly impossible to get.  I ended up having to complete an impromptu lesson on subjects and verbs, scaling back to focus only on the base of pattern 1.  This took much more time than anticipated, and when student frustration ran high, I swapped to a very short focus on diction  in Lincoln’s address.  Analysis of diction went over much better than sentence patterns. First, students read and annotated for understanding. Next, they were to look over their notes and identify words or groups of words that stood out.  From here, they identified the words/phrases as positive, negative, or neutral.  Finally, they have to identify the overall perspective based on the diction they identified.


Thursday during tutorials, I had students take a quiz to match the figurative language term to the examples. I knew they had not studied the vocabulary from last week, so I prepared task cards giving the definition of the term in a complex manner.  This will appear in the TPT store as a growing bundle soon. Hopefully this weekend, but I have two kids and my (eegads!) Christmas stuff MUST come down now.


During class, I decided to bring sentence patterns back.  I wanted to do it through some other skill we needed to work on, so I scrapped my plans and did something completely different.  Thursday because the less-than-alliterative Visual Rhetoric Sentence Pattern Practice.  I found a few cartoons and had students apply guided questions to analyze them.  The answers were written, and then a final response had to be written to one of the four sentence patterns.  We repeated this with a total of five, one for a model and then a we do before independent practice.  Students were told to mark the subject and verb, including vertical bars between the sentence parts.  Mastery was much higher this time around, and I created a plan for tomorrow to make sure they have it.  For the last bit of class, we revisited Lincoln’s speech and identified and justified overall tone from looking at the diction that was chosen. This created a perfect opportunity to look at a shift in the passage and how that might affect the audience.


For Friday, I noticed I didn’t update the objective on the weekly plan, but that was okay because our day went astray again.  It was one of those days where something happened and the students were really struggling, so I had to scale back and revise. For pattern practice, I gave the students five sentences and instructed them to mark the sentence parts and then identify the pattern.  Once they did this, they were to create their own sentence of the given pattern.  This worked very well, and mastery of the creation was much higher than before. In reviewing student work, however, this is because they used the same sentence and changed names or simple details. In my mind, this is cheating, but I didn’t give any kind of direction that they could not do this.  Who knew that would be the result?  Next we moved into a discussion of an article they will be using for a guest lecture next week.  The students were to read and annotate the article.  Next, they got with a partner to discuss the article. For homework, they were to create the Toulmin Model of the text, identify specific examples of diction and overall tone, and then respond to, “Is this right?”


Not sticking to the intended plan was rather unavoidable this week, but I hope next week will be better. It is a short week as a result of the holiday, they will have the diagnostic placement testing for the semester, and we have the guest professor lecture of an overview of ethics.  This should give me time to post some of my resources on TPT.


Any suggestions to help me push students toward a higher level of academic achievement? I welcome your feedback.