Heather Wolpert-Gawron

The Ultimate Screencasting Guide for Teachers and Students

By on November 11, 2016

Lately, I’ve been getting really deep into Screencasting, in particular for my English Language Learners and special ed students. I know it’s been around, and we’ve all heard about it, but finding resources out there that make it concrete can be hard.

So what is Screencasting?

Screencasting is a digital recording, also known as video screen capture, that also includes audio. According to Kathy Schrock, “Screencasting is the capture all of the action on a computer screen while you are narrating.”

Why Use Screencasting?

There are many reasons to use screencasts in your teaching and assessing. Screencasts…

  • Add a personal touch to your online lessons
  • Add a more visual approach to text-based assignments
  • Help to highlight text and illustrate topics
  • Provide 24/7 models
  • Encourage more independent learning
  • Differentiated Assessment of Content Knowledge
  • Help to Provide Quicker and Richer Feedback
  • Humanize the Teacher
  • Help a teacher to learn students quicker
  • Share skills/tools with other teachers
  • Provide Engaging Opportunities for Informal Assessment

In particular, screencasting helps to address some of the needs of our EL and SPED populations because it…

  • Provides more visual lesson delivery
  • Helps to model fluency
  • Incorporates Multi-modal elements into lessons
  • Focuses on engagement
  • Supports the standards of Listening and Speaking
  • Allows for some student control over the pacing of their learning

How Do You Use Screencasting in the Classroom?

  • Vehicles for Assignments/Flipped Model – Here’s a annotated screenshot of one of my flipped assignments:


  • How to Guides – Here’s one I whipped together to help my staff learn about Google Voice Typing.
  • Feedback for Student Work – I find that it’s far easier to give feedback verbally than with any color pen. Therefore, my feedback is richer and more individualized for each student.
  • Maintaining an Archive of Skills – I keep my videos embedded on my class agenda next to related bullet points on the syllabus. That way, students can review concepts about things such as “How To Use Easy Bib in Google Docs” or “How to Sign Into Tinkercad.”
  • Student> Student Feedback: I have students read a peer’s essay that was written on a Google Doc, then record a screencast walking through it step-by-step, sharing their thoughts – both positive and critical – as they go.  They then create a link to their recording and insert it into a comment box off the same Google Doc.
  • Informal Assessment about Your Content Area: Adelyn
  • Informal Assessments in Oral Fluency – Ivan teaching about the parts of a 3D printer
  • Brainstorming – For our EL learners, sometimes speaking their thoughts prior to writing them down is an easier first step. Have students talk about your content area and then have them transcribe and revise their thoughts into a more formal written assignment.

9 Norms of Screencasting

Although I’ve never found a definitive list, I thought I’d compile just some of the things I tell students and also remind myself prior to recording a screencast:

  1. Plan – Outline, Mindmap – It’s important to develop an outline or mindmap that might help you get down your basic thoughts together prior to recording. Although I’m not a huge fan of having kids read directly from a page, they also don’t want to wing it entirely. Sometimes chunking your ideas onto the pages of a slideshow helps. Some might want to use a visual tool like Storyboard That! to help develop a digital storyboard to help plan.
  2. Rehearse – Again, while I tend to like the informal tone in many screencasts, I also don’t believe in something that’s totally off the cuff.
  3. Look Out Behind You! – I’ve seen naked siblings run across the background of a room. I’ve seen parents walk in yelling to get in the shower. Know what’s going on in the house and prepare your area. Make your bed.
  4. Watch What You are Wearing – If you are recording something at home (or if we’re video conferencing with me during online office hours, for that matter), students have to be wearing appropriate clothes. Actually, my two rules are, “No pajamas and I never want you to show the camera your cat’s butt.” Students do weird things when they’re excited with something new.
  5. Set a Time Limit – In terms of how long, this depends on your purpose. Is it an exit card? :15-:30- seconds. Is it a book report? 3-5 minutes. Less is more. I’m looking for efficient responses as well as fluent ones.
  6. Warn Others That You are Recording – Inform others that there will be a camera on in the house for an assignment. Let them know the space that that camera can see or that you will need quiet for X-amount of time. I have a spinning “on air” light that I put just inside the door of the classroom that adjoins mine. It tells my colleague not to come in and grab her salad out of the fridge for a couple of minutes.
  7. Look at the camera – Make sure if you are reading cue cards that they are positioned such that your eyes are looking towards the camera. It’s more personable for your viewer. It’s just another reason to get in the habit of using bullet points, rather than a full script. You don’t want your eyes to get trapped to the page.
  8. Edit ums and ers – If you’re using a program like iMovie or WeVideo, you can easily edit out glitches and vocal slow-downs. It’s not always necessary, but there are programs out there to perfect your screencast if you want.
  9. Watch it in its entirety before posting – I tell my students that I cannot be the first one to watch their screencast. I’ve had kids turn in videos of only the view of their eyebrows moving. “Proofread” your work.

What are Different Screencasting Programs?

There are many screencast programs out there, and I’ve tried a lot of ‘em. Here are those I recommend for different reasons:

Screencast-o-matic – clunky but free.

Google Hangout – free and can you can include multiple people in on the fun

OneNote – Microsoft’s product

Screenflow – paid, but affordable, user-friendly, and sexier

Screencastify – this is free through the Chrome web store and it’s the one I use primarily with the students at school


Screencasting is an engaging strategy focused on communication that embraces both the student voice and technology.  We all know that if a student isn’t engaged, then that student will not be learning as deeply as they can be.  Screencasting has allowed me to encourage more independent learning and personalized assessment.

So how can you use screencasting in your own practice?

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