This year, our School District loosened our Internet filter, so there are now many more options for tools we can use (though, of course, our antiquated tech does create some barriers).

Because of this new freedom of access without having to battle for individual sites to be unblocked, I’ve been pretty aggressive in experimenting with Web 2.0 tools to determine which ones provide the most benefit with the least “hassle” for all involved, especially with my English Language Learner students.

I’ve previously posted about some of them already this year:

Making Instagram Videos With English Language Learners

Using Freire & Fotobabble With English Language Learners

Terrific New Videos: Using English “Sister Classes” From Throughout The World In Our ELL Geography Class

Literably Is An Excellent Reading Site — If Used With Caution (I tried this out today, and I think it will work well as a formative assessment — check them out here).

The ones I’ve listed above have all gone very well — easy to use, free-of-charge, higher-order thinking, multiple language domains (reading,writing,speaking, listening), authentic audience, high levels of student engagement, minimal time commitment.

And, now, we’ve had another student success with with Screencast-o-matic.

I had previously posted about it, but hadn’t visited the site in quite awhile. Jose Rodriguez, one of the coordinators of the impressive K-12 Online Conference, recommended I try using it for the keynote address I gave for the conference in October on teacher leadership (you can see it here). I was quite impressed at the changes they had made since I had last tried it out.

All you do is register for the site, show a slideshow, and record audio — you don’t even have to upload your slides prior to recording. You only upload your entire slideshow and audio narration at the time it’s finished. You can publish it to the site and/or to YouTube, and you’re provided with an embed code.

I thought this would be perfect to my students — some knew PowerPoint and they could teach the rest quickly, so there wouldn’t really be much new to learn — I suspect, and I ended up being correct, that it would take less than a minute for students to learn how to use Screencast-o-matic.

We had just finished our Latin American unit in Geography by reading a Mexican folktale, so I thought it would be a good time to experiment. I had students create a simple storyboard (just a piece of paper divided into ten or so boxes) and asked them to tell a folktale from their own culture. They needed to end it with the “lesson” of the story. It took one class period for them to create the storyboard, about two periods to make the PowerPoint, and then they recorded on Screencast-o-matic today. We’ll watch them in class tomorrow.

Here are a few of them:

It’s been a positive experience, and we’ll definitely be using Screencast-o-matic again.

Have you had your students try it out?