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Dec 22, 2021

How Teachers Can Maximize Tech Stacks, Improve Engagement

Screencastify Squad

Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching others; it also involves learning, adopting new skills, upgrading your teaching methods, and adapting to different circumstances. But nothing can meet its potential if you can't engage with students.

Therefore, before you start preparing for the next class, ask yourself, "What can I do to engage students with this material? How can I enhance their learning experience so they not only learn but also enjoy the lessons?"

In this bonus episode of EdTech Heroes, host Nef Dukes chats with four amazing members of the Screencastify Squad — Rebecca, Katie, Olivia, and Laura. In this episode, they share their thoughts on student engagement and how leveraging the technology can increase it. 


👋Name: Rebecca Ok

💻What she does: Rebecca is a UX Designer at Screencastify

👉Name: Katie Callahan

🙌 What she does: Katie is a Customer Experience Associate at Screencastify

🎙Name: Olivia Nelson

👩‍🏫What she does: Olivia is a Professional Development Specialist at Screencastify

✏️Name: Laura Litton

💯What she does: Laura is a Director of Success at Screencastify

🎬 Company: Screencastify

✍️ Noteworthy: Each guest has been a teacher and knows how critical student engagement is. That's one reason they dedicate their time to this issue while working at Screencastify!

📱Where to find them: LinkedIn, Rebecca's LinkedIn, Katie's LinkedIn, Olivia's LinkedIn, Laura's LinkedIn

Key Insights

EdTech tools allow for more collaboration and interaction between students. Educational systems around the globe have gone through significant change due to the pandemic.

As a result, technology has taken an important place in every physical or virtual classroom. In addition, digital tools not only help students, but they also allow professors to upgrade their teaching methods.

''I used GoNoodle and Kahoot a lot in the classroom. They are just ways students can use technology to review material. Kids love games, so there's always a good level of engagement there. If I promise them, 'Hey if we get through this lesson, I promise we'll have a review game,' they're suddenly engaged. So gamification for sure,'' says Rebecca. 

Teachers have always been striving for engagement. Regardless of your professional experience and the material, tools, and resources you use, if students are not engaged, it's difficult to maximize learning outcomes.

That's why engagement has been such a burning topic within educational circles, especially since the pandemic began. ''What we've seen a lot in the last 20 months is more options for [teachers] to be able to achieve that engagement with their students. The trend — especially with the people that I talk to — is to preload all of that direct instruction for your students in asynchronous ways.

So that the engagement comes in these small settings, in these quick one-on-one chats or  collaborative conversations, while you have them in front of you, whether that's because they're in person or because they're joining in some hybrid world," says Laura. 

Make the most of different digital tools to capture significant moments within your classroom. Learning is more accessible today because students can revisit different materials in the format most suitable to their needs.

So it is a teacher's job to determine the most effective digital form. ''What do you traditionally turn towards as an educator or coach? What are the actual moments you're trying to set up? And then, how can those moments best be facilitated?

There are some real quick wins around how you can capture those moments, with video being a great one. If you set up collaborative conversations in your classroom, you want to capture them. [...] And then, because we're asking teachers to do this often in these hybrid opportunities, how can I keep that engagement flowing if I have students in different physical locations?'' concludes Laura.

Episode Highlights

The Success of Each Class Depends on Student Engagement 🙋

''I think, especially as a teacher, student engagement was always at the back of my mind. For example, when I was lesson planning or preparing for the day. Even the moment students came into the classroom, I was immediately thinking, 'Oh, what can I do? How can I greet them to make sure they engage and are happy to be in the classroom?'

I think it starts there. Even aside from just the academic part of it. So even when I was planning lessons, I was always asking myself, 'What can I do to make this lesson more engaging for Brian or Alison?' [...] A lot of students have different levels of engagement,'' says Rebecca, the UX designer at Screencastify.

Prioritizing Student Voice and Choice in the Classroom 🤔

''When students were able to make choices based on their strengths or interests, they were more likely to be engaged. So I would do things like using choice boards, where students got to choose how they were assessed. Some might choose to make a Google Slides presentation. Some might create a video. Some might draw a comic strip if they like drawing.

And giving students that choice and that ownership over their learning, I think, is important, and showing students that you value their voice also keeps them engaged. So I would do things like Socratic seminars, which are pretty much entirely student-led discussions where they're helping each other gain a deeper understanding of a text,'' explains Katie, a customer experience associate. 

Screencastify's Student Engagement Ebook 📚

''There are a ton of things that I would have and could have made an ebook about. There are so many things that folks are doing in their classrooms with Screencastify. However, I went with engagement as the topic for a couple of different reasons. 

First, I heard from folks that this is what they were struggling with this year across the board. I think we're in this unique moment where some people are teaching kids in person, some are teaching kids on the computer, and some are doing some crazy combination of both. And regardless of the context that people were operating in, student engagement was a big issue that folks were having to tackle.

Another reason that engagement felt like a priority to me [was] acknowledging the changing environment we're in [...]. I know a ton of schools are back in person. [Still], I think there's this added layer of technology that folks are layering into their instruction, regardless of whether they're in person or at home,'' says Olivia, a product development specialist.

Our Job Is to Keep Students Safe While Giving Them Choice💡

''The people that are the most masterful at doing this have recognized that in what they're putting out there. So they have choice boards for their students to talk about broader school-level initiatives or to plan events in the future.

There's one option where you've got teachers going out and selling as much wrapping paper (or whatever) to raise funds versus if you have students going out and talking to other peers or adults in their community about something that they're reading or how they're all moving towards this goal of writing a certain amount of words or whatever the overall goal might be. 

There's an opportunity for school-level leaders to open up about what is happening in the same way that people are starting to rethink staff meetings and how they need to be more collaborative with the other adults at the school,'' explains Laura, the director of success at Screencastify. 

Highly quotable

[04:58] ''When I'm making design decisions, I'm always trying to think about how this feature or experience will help the teacher to engage students [...] because it always goes back to the student at the end of the day.'' – Rebecca

[15:48] ''By prioritizing student voice and choice, you're showing students that you value their opinions, their ideas and their interests, and that shows them that they're valued and appreciated, which again, helps to build self-esteem.'' – Katie

[20:29] ''So all of the other conversations we're having about the incredible different models we can use and the amazing ways that we can tailor the content, that's all well and good. But if kids are not engaged in their learning, then how much of that is really going to stick?'' – Olivia

[33:25] ''For the districts that are doing it well, you get both teachers and students who are appreciative of a breakaway, hungry for what comes next, and wanting to jump in and try new things while iterating on the ones they've already put in place.'' – Laura

Our engagement ebook has tips for any classroom!

Screencastify Squad

Helping educators accomplish more, create visible success and inspire new ways of teaching.