Edpuzzle Blog

Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff

We’re kicking off our #remotelearningdiaries series strong! We asked high school Social Studies teacher and edtech guru, Bethany Petty, author of the book Illuminate, to talk about how she’s using Edpuzzle and other tools for remote learning. Discover her expert tips below!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind! What started as a fairly normal Spring semester for me (complete with a few snow days and conferences sprinkled in), turned into the most abnormal few months I’ve ever experienced.

As unsettling and stressful as this time is for teachers and students all around the world, I’m thankful for familiar tools and resources that I can continue to use during remote learning. Check out the five tools or sites I’m using to make the most of our new and temporary normal classroom routine.

Record with Screencastify

Screencastify has been a staple in my edtech toolbox for many years, and for good reason. When I decided to flip my classroom, I needed an easy-to-use tool that would let me capture my screen and embed myself in instructional content.

Originally, I didn’t think that last feature was a big deal. When I created my first instructional video for my students, I used a screen recording app on my iPad that had an option to include my face in the video, but I chose not to. I thought it would be strange.

My students, on the other hand, thought not seeing my face in the video was weird! One student even remarked that it was “like the voice of Mrs. Petty was coming to them from somewhere” because they couldn’t see me.

Screencastify is my go-to screen recording tool not only because it’s user-friendly, but also because of the seamless integration with GSuite for Education, specifically Google Drive and Google Classroom. I also appreciate the fact that I can easily upload my recording directly to my YouTube channel or quickly download it to my laptop.

Note: Now you can screen record with Edpuzzle!

Organize with Google Classroom

When Google unveiled Classroom over 5 years ago, I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially a fan. It seemed clunky and I was already heavily invested in my other learning management system. Fast forward to 2020 and my class completely runs on Google Classroom.

My students know that their assignments, task lists and resources will be shared with them through Classroom. Students and their guardians get daily email summaries of assignments and announcements made not only in our Classroom section, but in all of their other courses as well.

I invite my students to live lectures and office hours that I hold using Google Meet using announcements on the Stream. Then I share recordings of those live meetings in the same spot. When completing discussion board assignments, my students know to go to Classroom to view the assignment resource, share their thoughts, and respond to their classmates’ posts all from within the post on Classroom.

Get creative with Bitmoji

Okay, I’ll admit that Bitmoji may not be absolutely vital to designing lessons for our students in a remote or traditional learning environment. But, come on! Adding a cartoon/emoji version of yourself in lessons, presentations, announcements, and other forms of communication is FUN!

Inserting your Bitmoji as comments on student work or using your Bitmoji as a button for students to click and take them to more information, extension activities, or remediation on a concept or assignment is fantastic. Doing so provides a great way for teachers to connect with their students.

When I started adding my Bitmoji to our daily agenda at the beginning of the year, my students got a good laugh when they saw the cartoon version of Mrs. Petty soaking in a coffee pot (I tend to drink an impressive amount of coffee on a daily basis!) or riding a unicorn into the weekend. During quarantine, teachers are getting very creative with their Bitmojis and designing digital classroom scenes that look like works of art! Have you gotten on the Bitmoji bandwagon?

Go live with Quizlet

In our classroom, my students love playing Quizlet Live to review for a test and practice vocabulary words. It’s great to watch them working together to win the game while talking about course content using academic vocabulary.

As a teacher, I love that Quizlet Live requires my students to master the content before they can win the game - if you miss one, back to zero you go! I recently presented a digital seminar to Social Studies teachers from the New England region, and when I described how Quizlet Live looks in our classroom, one remarked that it’s probably a “fairly loud activity.” My response - Yes! Quizlet Live days are loud and rambunctious, and engaged in our content.

Earlier this month, while I was brainstorming enrichment activities that I could design for my students, I kept circling back to Quizlet Live. I wanted to make sure that the lessons I was designing included familiar tools and elements for my students to make things feel normal.

However, I couldn’t quite get beyond the how of setting this up. Yes, my students could text their group or use some other form of social media in order to answer the question. As I was preparing a deck to play with my students, Quizlet shared the wonderful news that they had launched an “individual” mode for Quizlet Live due to the remote learning environment and the circumstances that surround it. I was elated to say the least!

When launching Live games, teachers can select team or individual mode. When students join with the provided code, you can watch as they answer questions and zoom across the screen. Teachers can still use the wonderful data to drive instruction, just as they would in the classroom, while students continue to benefit from the perks of Quizlet Live.

Engage with Edpuzzle

I’ve been an Edpuzzle user since 2015. Needless to say, I’m hooked! When I initially decided to flip my classroom, I uploaded my instructional videos to YouTube, provided my students with a note-taking document, and said, “Okay, watch the videos!” As you can imagine, that simple request, with no monitoring or opportunity to reflect on what they had learned, didn’t work very well. A small handful of students watched the videos at home, took notes, and were ready to go the next day, while others did not for a variety of reasons.

One of my favorite features in Edpuzzle is the ability to embed formative assessment questions within the video lesson and provide feedback on student submissions in real time. While my students are viewing their instructional videos in class, I’m walking around the classroom, refreshing Edpuzzle on my iPad, viewing student responses, having individual conversations with students about what they’re learning, and offering support and intervention as needed.

The ability to quickly sync your Google Classroom roster with Edpuzzle makes this wonderful tool a fantastic addition to any classroom. When teachers sign in with their Google account, they can easily import their Google Classroom rosters right into Edpuzzle. No need to give your students yet another join code or username and password combination!

Another great feature is the ability to reuse lessons that have been created by other educators. Don’t reinvent the wheel during these stressful times! When you create an Edpuzzle account, you’ll immediately be able to view lessons created by educators all over the world. Even though these lessons have been created by another teacher, once you make a copy, you’ll be able to edit the questions to meet the needs of your students.

Overall, using Edpuzzle in my classroom has helped me provide my students with more individualized instruction. The formative assessment data I receive while my students view instructional content helps me have better conversations with them about their learning.

I’m so thankful that my students are able to use these and other great learning tools even though we’re not in our classroom at this time. Whether it’s traditional or remote learning, we’re still able to learn, share, and connect with each other!

Did you enjoy this post? Make sure to check out #remotelearningdiaries next week for more teacher bloggers’ tips!

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Bethany Petty

High School Social Studies Teacher and Edtech Author

Bethany is a full-time high school Social Studies teacher and adjunct instructor of educational technology. Bethany regularly blogs at Teaching with Technology where she shares resources, ideas, edtech tools, tips and tricks, as well as reflections from her blended/flipped/gamified high school Social Studies classroom. Her blog was recently listed as one of EdTech Magazine’s 50 K-12 IT Blogs to Read. She has published posts on Edutopia, Fractus Learning, Sophia Learning, and Whooo’s Reading, and has presented at multiple technology conferences. Bethany conducts professional development sessions in her school district and the surrounding area.

Bethany’s book, Illuminate: Technology Enhanced Learning is available for purchase on Amazon. Her new book, Create: Illuminate Student Voice through Student Choice, will be published in 2020.