Sunday, February 18, 2018

Making a Choose Your Own Adventure Story with Google Slides

Knight with choice of paths
As I mentioned last week, I'm teaching a class called Learning Through Gaming. In the survey I gave the class the first day, many students indicated they wanted to make games. To give them a taste of creating a game, I had them create a Choose Your Own Adventure story using Google Slides.

Here's a document based very closely on the directions we gave our students.

The document contains all directions and a link to this very basic sample story I made. I also included a link to Eric Curts' excellent example. (If you're not familiar with Eric's amazing site, Ctrl Alt Achieve, be sure to check it out. Like so many of his posts, he has the definitive guide on Choose Your Own Adventure stories for class.)

A few other things to note about this assignment:

  • I put a video tutorial in the later stages of the document that shows how to create the links. 
  • Students will probably want to get started on the links right away. As you'll see, I emphasize planning first.
  • As Eric says on his blog, his story was written and illustrated by middle school students. Like the Choose Your Own Adventure books many of us loved as children, the endings sometimes involve your death. Keep this in mind if assigning this to younger students.
  • The example stories I link to are published to the web. That means they open in full screen. I didn't include directions for that for the students. In their case, they start the story by clicking the Present button in Google Slides. 
  • Like many of our activities at the middle school level, I will be posting the students' stories on our school website. The school will vote on their favorites and the winning authors will get a prize.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Learning Through Gaming - One of our first assignments

I'm helping with a dream class at our middle school this marking period. It's called Learning Through Gaming. I'm showing the students a mix of digital and non-digital games and we are learning these skills:

  • Communication
  • Math
  • Problem Solving/Thinking
  • Success
I'm really excited about that last one. The idea is we can win in life using principles that help us win in games. For example, we have to know the objective, play by the rules, play to win and play so others can do their best.

I told the students from the start that they'd have to play, then do some written reflections. Here's one of our first assignments. In it, students had to 
  • Play three games that I programmed. I made them a number of years ago using Stencyl and I've written about them previously on this blog. You can see all four of my Stencyl games on this page. It's probably best to play the games on Chromebooks or laptops.
  • Answer questions about each one, including opinion questions about which they liked best and why.
The students had a lot of fun with the games. I'm glad to see they held up well. They didn't do such a great job on answering the questions. I quickly gave them feedback, asking many of them to try again. It was a good exercise to convince them I want to see meaningful reflection.

Click here to get the assignment document as a Google Doc. Feel free to make a copy and edit or share it as you like. I appreciate it if your copy keeps a link back to my blog.

If you're interested, see these blog posts about other ways to use two of those games:

Monday, January 29, 2018

Reflecting on our student video tutorial project so far

Brenda June and I sat down last week to talk about our Room 10 Learning Chats project. It's the grant funded project I posted about previously, where students and teachers are creating learning videos. We will report about it at MACUL in early March.

I recorded our conversation and uploaded an edited version to SoundCloud. You can listen to it all or just pick the separate sections below. Each section is about five minutes long.


  • Part 1 - Overview of the project and some initial insights
  • Part 2 - What we've learned as we continued working through the process
  • Part 3 - Putting more motivation into the project using Prodigy and our value of watching their videos
  • Part 4 - Our Learning Journey video series, thoughts on branding, growth mindset, our next steps and the positive difference it has made.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Free Resources and New Videos

This free digital poster for teachers is one of the resources on our Room 10 Learning Chats blog.
One of the free digital posters we created for our
MACUL grant project.
Brenda June and I have been working a lot on our Learning Chats project (funded by a MACUL grant). We posted some free resources and new videos on our site, so I would like to give some updates here. (And click here to listen to our conversation about the project.)

Please consider sharing these resources to encourage our students! I want them to know their work is being viewed. Also, your feedback will help us improve.

Free Resources

As Brenda and I work with students, we get many new ideas and we come across some from other thought leaders. We started making some classroom signs and I uploaded them as "digital posters" on our Room 10 Learning Chats site. You can find them on our Free Resources page.

Along with the signs, there are links to a Google Slides presentation and one editable version of a digital poster like the one shown above.


We added more videos that we created and some by the students. This one is the second part in the Learning Journey series that Brenda and I created. (Update: Here's the 3rd video too.)

And here is an example of a video I created with students. These girls did a good job. I added a few "questions to consider" within the video that are meant to explore some areas that weren't explained as clearly as I would have liked. 

Remember that if you access the videos from our Room 10 video page, you'll find questions to answer before viewing too.

We also have a link on that page where you can leave feedback about the videos you watch there.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Introduction to Video Editing Assignment Using WeVideo

I created a project last week for our middle school Computers class that introduces students to video editing. We use the education version of WeVideo in our district, so the project is based on that application. If you use another editor, you might still find the video clips and the assignment document to be useful.

For a final product, the students will create a 20-25 second commercial. This will require them to edit several short clips that I provide below and also make use of transitions, titles and music.

The Video Clips

To make sure this project only focuses on editing (leaving out all the work of recording), I compiled and trimmed out several short clips of free videos from Pixabay. Each clip shows rides and people at a carnival or amusement park. You can see those video clips in this Google Drive folder.

If you are using my directions exactly as I did, you'd want to make copies of those videos and upload them to a folder in your WeVideo Media. See this video for more information.

The Project Directions

Click here to get a copy of directions for the project as a Google Doc. It contains these things:

  • Step by step directions
  • Links to two videos that take students through the editing and finishing process
  • The list of requirements for their commercial
Note that two links are left out on the document because you would have to provide those to your students on your WeVideo account. Or you might use a different editor. In that case you'd have to modify those steps explaining how to get started.

If you do use WeVideo, you will want to set the project up similarly to what I did, including adding some links to the document. Here are the steps I used:
  • I copied the link from WeVideo that would allow students to add themselves as members to my account. That link needs to be pasted into in Step 4 of your document. There are several ways to add students to your account, but doing it this way worked best for this group I was working with. See this article from WeVideo for more information.
  • I created a project in WeVideo called Carnival Commercial and copied the link to it so students could add access the project. See this article from WeVideo to learn about project types. I chose the Shared option and I copied the link from the lower left of that Project screen (see the picture below). That link needs to be pasted into Step 5 of the directions. 
  • Finally, I shared those video clips I uploaded to my WeVideo media with anyone in that shared project.
After you do that to finish your version of the directions, share it with your students (possibly through Google Classroom) and they should be able to work through the project to completion.

A couple notes about WeVideo:
  • Students under the age of 13 should not use the free version of WeVideo. It is not COPPA compliant. If you don't use the educational version, you also won't have all the features referred to above.
  • We have had a lot of success with WeVideo at our middle school and high school. However, we do find the audio is sometimes too quiet on clips we record. It won't matter in this project if you use the clips I provided, since they have no audio. I have contacted tech support about this, but no satisfactory solution was offered.