Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest ones. When teaching, I often told my students about having those “no duh” moments – when the answer is so obvious, you might actually miss it! This same principle applies to two of my favorite tools: Croak.It and Screenchomp. Both of these tools are shockingly simple but have enormous potential.
1 Button, 30 Seconds, 100s of Uses
With the push (or tap) of ONE button, Croak.It allows for up to 30 seconds of audio recording from any device. While the option exists to create an account in order to curate all croaks in one place, it works just as well without the login. 30 seconds may not seem like a long time, but try recording yourself – it’s amazing how much you can actually say!
- Students practice their reading fluency for 30 seconds. They can record as many times as they link before publishing their croak.
- Students create radio advertisements for a book that they read.
- Students who aren’t yet writing (think early elementary) post audio blogs with their reflections, responses to pictures, or ideas.
- Students record themselves describing a painting, diorama, sculpture, or some other project.
- Students reflect on their learning and described the steps or processes that they used for problem solving.
- Teachers post audio recordings of directions on their blogs or class websites to support diverse readers.
- Teachers give audio feedback on student work via a link.
- Teachers record guided reading activities for fluency assessments.
Show & Tell & Record & Share
My other favorite tool these days is the screencasting app, Screenchomp. I know that there are more robust screencasting apps, but the beauty of this one is again in the simplicity. It doesn’t require a login, makes it difficult to accidentally delete a project, and shares via email or a link. Unlike most other screencasting apps, Screenchomp also allows you to scroll up and down a full page length.
- Students record themselves drawing a picture, solving a problem, or annotating a diagram so that teachers can see and hear their thinking.
- Students take pictures of their drawings, sculptures, or even math manipulatives and then create a video explanation.
- Students take a picture of a page in a reading book and then record their fluency.
- Students import a PDF of a graphic organizer, worksheet, lab procedure, map, etc., and record their thinking as they draw on the “page”.
- Teachers demonstrate how to solve a problem or work through a process and then posted the link to a class blog or web site to share with students for homework.
- Teachers keep running reading records to assess fluency.
- Teachers provide recorded feedback on students’ writing.
KISS – Keep It Shockingly Simple
I know that other audio recording tools and apps have more features, the ability to do editing, longer record times, and dozens of other benefits. I also know that other screencasting apps and programs can save, insert multiple pictures, include typed text, and offer more tools. The beauty of these two, though, is that they DON’T have the features.
For the start of the school year, what if the focus is small, meaningful activities with enormous value and potential? Sometimes, the simplest solution may be the most effective.