Screen Casting for Science

April 28, 2013 at 8:48 AM Leave a comment

I know kids (and all of us really) love to get information in short bursts when they want it, rather than being sat in class and talked at. I blogged about how much my niece LOVES the flipped class model in her history classes, and I’ve been struggling with how to make it real for my students in an inquiry-based science class at a lower grade level.

Here are the issues for me – I don’t want to pre-teach concepts that students will discover for themselves during a lab. I also know that not all students will view a short lecture, and that will then add to my work load catching them up, and take away from coaching time for kids who do do it. And then there’s the scariness of actually making a screen cast. I’ll get on to how to do that after the ‘why add to all the 1,000,000 things I already do.’


I was sort of forced into it by an IEP requirement that I provide lesson plans for a parent to re-teach concepts to her child. I started by writing out a ‘teacher’s notes’ section. Not that fun for the average kid, onerous for me.

I have lots of kids absent and there has been no easy way to catch students up because our text book is crap. That’s the technical term. Then there are students who just need to hear the explanation over a couple of times and are too shy to ask me to repeat it.  By the time 7th period rolls around, I’ve about run out of repeats anyway. Or kids who missed answers and then the onus is on them to check out the screen cast on their own time. How cool is that?

I checked out Kahn Academy and it’s great if it happens to hit your students where they are in the course, and at the right level. Some of them are too long and that’s a real motivation killer. Plus there is something relaxing about listening to a voice you know when you are trying to understand something hard. It’s nice for it to be really personalized to exactly what was done in their class with their own teacher. Or at least I like to think so…


I’m using Educreations free app on the iPad. It’s blank whiteboard with colored pens. (I use a special rubber-tipped pen for the iPad. Much quicker and easier than a finger.) You can import pictures,  type in headings, and write on the white board and photos as it records your voice. Then you save it as a link to the Educreations website and share the link on the class homework site. Here’s the one I use, if you want to lift more stuff, it’s uploaded by date on the calendar.

The downside is that you can’t edit after you save it. One oopsy and you have to do the whole thing over. But it does mean I don’t fret too much and waste time making it perfect.

I try to do the screen cast during my prep after teaching three classes. By then I have a clear idea of what the main point of the class is. I know, I should know before, and I do, in general terms, but I’m most creative and clear as I actually teach the lesson. (Important to recognize how you think and work best, I have to allow some freedom for change within the day. Over planning kills it for me.)

If I’m doing a lab, I often take a pic with the iPad of the apparatus/demo to use in the explanation later. I also take a pic of any sheets with answers.

I gather the student sheet and any notes I’ve made for the class that morning. Write the lesson title in text box, add in one or two pictures max.  Make sure there are no weird noises in the background. It’s middle school. What can I say? And speak science into the iPad. Often have to start over but am getting over perfectionism. I just don’t have time to over-do it.

I really, really try to keep each screen cast to UNDER 5 MINUTES. Think about YouTube clips on FB. I rarely commit to watching anything over that unless it’s like, otters holding hands or elephant babies tripping over their trunks. We are not talking anything like that cute. We are talking the fascination of SCIENCE. and with that, here’s an example for you to go ‘Oh, I could do that, and way better’.

Families of the Periodic Table screen cast example

If you want to access more screen casts for 8th grade atomic theory and chemistry, see my profile on Educreations. Share back your experiences with screen casting, and any epic ones for good or bad. Looking forward to hearing from you. Sue

Entry filed under: Atoms and Elements, Chemical Reactions, Chemistry topics, Reflections, Technology in class. Tags: , , , , , , .

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