Thursday, May 6, 2021

Readers Theater with Remote Collaborator using WeVideo

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm always looking for creative collaborators.  Creating with others has always the way I MAKE.   The pandemic has certainly changed the way we collaborate, but thankfully some technology tools create the conditions for collaborations. Google tools such as Google Apps / Workplace are certainly a prime example of this.   

This year, one of my other favorite technology tools added some new collaboration features that I was eager to try.  When WeVideo announced its REAL TIME collaboration features, I knew it would be a game changer.   I immediately started to look for ways to these newly announced REAL TIME Collaboration features to the test.  Would it really be possible to work with video projects with remote collaborators in real time in the same manner that I was use to doing with Google Apps?

I'm now on my third major project using WeVideo with remote collaborators and I must say,  WeVideo did not disappoint.   As a matter of fact, this afternoon I'm co-presenting our recent Readers Theater Project with Kate Davie and Emily Young.   Today will be part 2 of our Dynamic Landscape presentation where we focus on the assembling our project in WeVideo. 

Here is a glimpse of the Readers Theater Performance that came out of this collaboration with several Vermont School Librarians.     Enjoy ! 

The creation of this project lead to the following workflow for
Creating a Video Project with Remote Collaborators

If you attended Dynamic Landscape 2021, you will find a recording of 
both Part 1 and Part 2 of our Sessions with these slides

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Playful Learning Lounge at Dynamic Landscapes conference

One of the ways I'm finding joy this month is to connect and play with my playful colleagues as we prepare for the Playful Learning Lounge at Dynamic Landscape conference  starting next week.

 I so missed engaging with my colleagues and friends at the Innovation Lounge of our f2f conferences each year, that I just had  to bring a  group of them together to play at Dynamic Landscape.  We hope you'll join us and stop by the Playful Learning Lounge every Monday and Thursday during the 3 weeks of Dynamic Landscape starting May 3 where you can roll up your sleeves and create and make as you  pick up some new tips and tricks for designing playful learning experiences with kids.  Come by to play with 

  • the cardboard queen - Caty Wolfe from Center for Tech at Essex)
  • Patricia Aigner from Rutland City Schools for some paper engineering
  • Darcie Rankin from St. Albans City School and some LOOSE Parts
  • Kristen Wilson from River Valley Tech Center and her MicroBits 
  • Tony Galle from St. Albans Town School and his 3D printing genius 
  • and ME as I get you started with SVG graphics on a Chromebook that you can use on your 3D printer, Cricut Cutter, Laser Cutter, Large Scale Printer, Embroidery Machine and more

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Playful Learning - SVG


Excited to announce that I've been able to organize a group of my maker educator friends to create a Playful Learning Lounge at Dynamic Landscapes 2021.   Come play with Caty Wolfe, Patricia Aigner, Darcie Rankins, Kristen Wilson, Tony Galle and myself at the Dynamic Landscapes Playful Learning Lounge 2021.   Come play with us!  Here's a sneak preview of my session where we create an SVG graphic than can be turned into something that brings you joy. 

Finding Joy - SVG Project
for Dynamic Landscape 2021
Playful Learning Lounge

Learn a New Skill, Tips, and Tricks for creating using SVG Graphic

If I sent you to find joy, where would you go?  Where would you look? 

Let's create a simple object that reminds you of something that brings you joy. 
This object could be a keychain, a sun-catcher, an ornament,  a laptop sticker, window decal, or even a piece of jewelry,   Here is an example of what we will make. 
Cardboard prototype & acrylic earrings

The first thing you'll need to do is to design a scalable vector graphic file or an SVG file. 

We'll use  - a free cloud-based design application that can be used to design SVG files. 
Start by creating an account on  I use my Google Account.  Then use the short video tutorials  below to create your SVG graphic file. 

Getting started with Gravit

Designing using Basic Shapes

Creating Compound Shapes from Simple Shapes

Integrating Pre-made SVG designs 

Saving and Exporting your SVG design

Create and Make Time with your New Skill and Share a Picture or Video here! Select the appropriate column on our Padlet.

Connect and Discuss ideas for designing playful learning using SVG graphics Share your ideas during our Dynamic Landscape Playful Learning Lounge or add them to the comments of the prompt found on our Playful Learning Padlet

Enter the No Tech - Low Tech - High Tech  Playful Learning Challenge

More tutorials working with GlowForge Laser Cutter 

1) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Designs for the Glowforge - Getting Started
2) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Design for the Glowforge - Next Steps

3) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit for the Glow Forge -- a Cloud based Vector App -

Getting Started with Gravit using Primitive Shapes
Getting Started - Finding Joy Project
Getting Started with Gravit Importing SVG graphics

4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit Next Steps -- Working with Text

And for a wonderful set of short intro video tutorials to Gravit, check out John Umekubo's series here starting with his BASICS tutorial below

5) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Getting Started

6) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Next Steps

Inkscape Tutorial for Laser Cutter from Washco Utah Library Makerspace


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Steps for Assembling Your WeVideo Project with Remote Collaborators

 So far in this series on Making Media with Remote Collaborators we have covered  

Steps for Organizing a project with remote collaborators
Step 1 for Organizers - Build Community & Select Script
Step  2 & 3  for Organizers  (Create Rehearsal Material and Setup Collection Process for Recording)
Step 4 for Organizers  - Communicate with other Remote Collaborators

Steps for Performers, Singers, Artists, Actors

and now it's time to pull it all together into a Final Production (Performance) which include 
Steps for the Video Producer and related collaborators

I like to use WeVideo  for these steps for several reasons.

1) It is accessible and affordable

The fact that so many of our schools  now provide a WeVideo EDU account to their students and staff in our state is a testimony to their commitment to Equity, UDL, and Creativity.  School's made a big step towards digital equity when they moved to a one-to-one model providing one computer per student.  The price of Chromebooks made this possible for many school districts.  However, the Chromebook does not come with creativity tools that students who use laptops have access to.  ALL students need access to video creation tools.  So many schools have used $ on the savings from purchasing a Chromebook to add a WEVIDEO  EDU license to the device, making it possible for ALL students to be able to create video projects and podcast projects ANYWHERE, ANYTIME!.  That is definitely a sign towards Walking the Walk of Digital Equity. 

Of course this also speaks to Universal Design for Learning - as students now have tools that can provide "Multiple Means of Expression" and "Multiple Means of Engagement" 

And for those who only have access to the Free Version- you can upgrade your access to the Pro Version for a month to complete this step. 

2) It is collaborative

The options for Project Collaboration has been part of WeVideo for a long time.

The key to collaborating is to make sure you choose the Collaboration Option when creating your PROJECT at the BEGINNING of the project.  At this time, WeVideo does not allow you to change the Personal Project types to Collaborative Project types after they are created.  If you just assume that you MIGHT be collaborating during your project from the GET go, you'll be able to invite collaborators later. 


If the Video you are creating or editing is part of a Collaboration Project, you can invite  others to edit the video in one of three ways.  My favorite way is to use INVITE with a LINK and send the link to others when i'm ready to invite them.   This works great if you can trust your collaborators to NOT share the link with others.   If that trust is not there, then I would suggest selecting individual members from your organization.   I rarely have need for EVERYONE in my organization to have access to a project. 

Who Can Collaborate?

That's up to your WeVideo Administrator.  I recommend that they turn this feature on for Students AND Teachers.  Since Collaboration is one of the dispositions or habits of minds we are working towards in all of our students,  why not use video projects as a vehicle to grow this skill in our students. 

You also have to be in the same ORGANIZATION to collaborate. Currently there is no feature to allow for collaboration between schools/orgs.  One tip for inviting others  from outside your school to become collaborators  (i.e. author, mentor, etc)  is to ask your admin to save a couple WeVideo licenses for outside collaborators.  You can invite them for a "short period of time" then  reclaim the license and reuse the license for a different outside guest to  collaborate with your students. 

Breaking News:  Collaboration with WeVideo just got even sweeter with the new REAL TIME COLLABORATION feature.

3) It's easy to learn 

WeVideo Academy is filled with effective short tutorials that teach you what you need when you need it in the matter of minutes. 

The Podd Brothers have a great 15 minute tutorial that walks you through creating a virtual choir video with WeVideo available on  the free stuff section of their website.   These steps can be used with most any collaborative video project. 

Let's Walk through the Process of Producing the Video of your Readers Theater Project. 

Of course - Log into 

(You can get started with a free account, but will need to upgrade to access certain features) 

1. Click on PROJECTS. 

If you are starting a new project, Select Create a New Project by hovering in the upper right hand corner.

If you are trying to access a project that you created earlier or one that someone else invited you to simply click on PROJECT in the side menu and select MY Projects or Projects Shared with Me. 

You can create as many videos as you want inside a collaborative project and all members of the project will be able to edit any of these videos.  Everyone who is a member will also be able to access ANY media located in the PROJECT Media folder. 

To invite remote collaborators to a project, you can RIGHT CLICK on the project name and click INVITE Collaborators. 

2.  ADD  and Organize Media

As we saw back in earlier post, there are several ways that collaborators can contribute to the project as actors, artists, singers, etc without being invited to EDIT the Video. 

Check out this post in the Steps for Organizer to learn how to set up a Drop Box Request or a Google Drive to collect media from many remote collaborators. 

It is important to note that the MEDIA DOES NOT become accessible to the whole project until the project organizer follows BOTH of these two steps. 

 --- Import  MEDIA into his/her WEVIDEO account from Drop Box or Google Drive
---  Right Click on the media and SHARE TO PROJECt 

Once both of these steps are complete, all members of the project can access it.  Here is a short video that demonstrates these two steps. 

Keeping media organized in FOLDERS is most helpful.  
Use the New Folder icon in the newWeVideo interface to create a new folder 
You can also Right Click in the My Media interface.

2.  Getting Oriented to WeVIDEO Layout 

4.  Add the Script or Instruction via Google Doc as a Linked Resource 

An often overlooked feature of WeVideo is the ability to add Google Docs to linked resources. 

4.  Adding the Actors to their own Video Tracks

Drag each actor's video to its own track. 
Rename the Track

Add a Video Track called ALL ACTORS

Resize and Reposition the Individual Actor Videos as you add them to the track 
Note:  Important to do this BEFORE you start splitting and trimming the videos.
Crop as necessary using WeVideo's new Crop Video tool. 
Double click on the video to get the following controls.

If desired you can add a Background slide with Green Screen Cutouts on its own Track.
This track needs to be above all the Actor Track. 

I created the above background slide in Google Slides.
While in Google Slides -
Add Shapes
Remove the border of each shape and fill it with a green to use the green screen effect in WeVideo. 
Download the background slide as a PNG and import it to WeVideo Media /  Project Media folder. 

Use the Color to remove the Green so color and allow the actors videos to show.
Adjust the actor position and size until you are pleased with the effect.

5.  Splitting and Sequencing the Actor's contributions

Split and Trim each Actor's video into sections
Zoom in and use the sound waves to make this easier.
Delete the scraps (or dead air)

Drag each actor to the ALL READERS Track in the correct sequence
Test as you go muting and unmuting as necessary 

6. Adding aa Title and Credits

Use the Title features to add Titles and Credit

Add Animation, Graphics, as desired
Use WeVideo Essential or make your own

7. Add Music and Sound Effects

Use WeVideo Essential or make your own

8. Finish and Export your Video

Decide on privacy setting and where you would like to export to live

Your Readers Theatre Performance of Video Project is Ready to SHARE with your Audience! 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Steps for Performers as Remote Collaborators


This post  is part of a series on Making Video Projects with Remote Collaborators. 

We recent post we discussed 

Building Community and Engagement in the project
    Preparing Scripts and Materials
    Setting up a collection method for recordings and other assets

This post will shift the focus to the Remote Artists/ Singers/ Dancer/ or Performer

Step 1:  Learn Your Part 

Of course the first step is to  use any rehearsal slide decks or guide videos that your organizer or director provided you.   Whether you use a rehearsal slide deck such as the ones we shared for our Readers Theater Project or a virtual choir guide video such as the the ones found in the these virtual choir kits, or whether you create your own, make sure you set aside time to become comfortable with the material. 

Having a buddy system  between the remote artists can help everyone feel connected to the community and to the whole project.  It is important to also honor the preference of those who  prefer solitude when learning their part. 

Step 2:  Set Up Your Shot

If you are reading from printed material, you will only need ONE recording device.
Most smartphones have great microphones and decent video cameras.

If you are reading from online material, you'll want a playback device and a recording device.
I would use my laptop or a chromebook as the playback device and a phone as a recording device.

If you are recording, while listening to a guide video you'll need headphones set up to your playback device. 

If you have one handy, grab a tripod for your recording device to keep it steady as you record.
You can also create a DIY tripod from a cracker or cereal box.  

Position your phone in the landscape mode.
Think of the orientation of your TV and position your recording device so that it also captures this landscape orientation. 

Position the guide script you are reading from or watching at eye level as close to the recording device as possible so it looks like you are looking into the CAMERA, not glancing away.

Select where you will be recording. 

You'll want to avoid places where cats, pets, family members might be making unexpected appearances or background noise. You'd be surprise how loud dishes clanking in the background can sound, no matter how quiet your family members are.   

Don't forget to turn off fans, air conditioners, or noise machines.  Sometimes even a fluorescent light can create background noise. 

Beware of wind noises that come from recording outside.

Take a second to clean up the background from clutter or distracting items.
Keep your background simple, cheerful,  and inviting.

Play with the lighting

Avoid having a window or bright light BEHIND you.  This will make you look like a silhouette.

There are many tutorials online describing the function of each light in a 3 point lighting setup.  These can help you understand the impact of lighting, however you don't need a  fancy setup.  Just make sure your light source is NOT behind you making you look like a silhouette. 

If you are using a green screen, you also want to eliminate as many shadows as possible. 

Can you position yourself so you are facing a window or light source, placing the the camera between you with a light source or window behind the camera?  

Here is the very mobile setup I have using an inexpensive ring light and a wrinkle free green fleece fabric that I can tack up when I want a green screen.  

You can also use a an outside window or a  household lamp with an LED bulb to shine light on your face from behind the camera.

Step 3:  Submit Your Recording

Avoid emailing or texting your recording.  This will compress the video and the reduce the quality of the sound or video.  

The instructions from your director or organizer should include include directions on how to submit your recording. 

Using a DropBox or Google Drive upload will result in much better workflow for those assembling the video.  This recent post outlines 3 different ways that your organizer might use to collect your recording. 

Have fun and enjoy the process.  In the next post, we'll discuss other ways you can contribute to the project with extra sounds or art.


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Roles for Remote Collaborators

As we proceed through the process of another video project with remote collaborators,  my thoughts have evolved around the possible roles for collaborators.   Since the focus is on collaboration,  it feels to me that having two collaborators lead the project makes sense.  What if we created a two person team to lead the project made up of an Organizer who focuses on logistics and a Director who focuses on creative vision.  Of course both tasks are closely intertwined, thus creating a more collaborative opportunity and  providing a thought partner for the leaders of this project.

In the Readers Theatre project that we are currently working on,  I welcomed having Kate to think through and talk through the process.  Her experience with Readers Theater made her a natural for the role of director, while my experience with technical logistics kept me in the role of project organizer.  Having a two person team kept the project collaborative filling the need that the project would address the social isolation we have all been feeling this year. 

In the Reader's Theatre piece there were obvious roles for actors.  Similarly in  a Virtual Choir piece there there are various roles for singers (i.e.alto, tenor, soprano, bass).

However, there are lots of other roles that can be included in your project.  
Here are a few we came up with for our Readers Theater project.  I must admit that I did a quick online search to learn what a Foley Artist was when it was suggested as a role. 

As you create, assign, and select roles consider  your goals/purpose and age and skills of your students/team. Consider how you might  include each member of your team in a way that plays to their interest and strength. Also consider how you might provide opportunity for team members to grow confidence and skill in new areas. Perhaps create a buddy system what allows someone with more experience to mentor another team member who wants to grow their skills. Be sure to consider time constraints including available synchronous vs asynchronous time as well as remote vs. in real time limitations.

Throughout the project, the organizer and director will take lead in the communication process between various collaborators.

In our project, we eventually decided to complete the project without additional illustrations, art, or animation. You might decide to expand the project to include original art, graphics, and animation.

Since there was a high interest in adding additional sound to the project, we facilitated collaboration between various sound engineers or Foley Artist collaborators.

Cynthia became the creator of original sounds and recorded a stream soundscape as well as original drumming. Emily worked with finding just the right music and sound effects to add to the script.

We entered into a great discussion on the need to checkin with an Abenaki colleague on the inclusion of the drumming sound effects. This conversation really opened my eyes to the power of this Readers Theater project to become aa tool in culturally relevant teaching or in increasing awareness of implicit bias.

Even the wording of the query lead to increased knowledge and skill for me:

"We used an Abenaki story, as told by Dr. Joseph Bruchac, as our script, with his permission.  We put a sound track in with the nature sounds and footsteps, and etc.  There is a fifteen second scene in which some crayfish are doing a victory dance.  In order to avoid having to get more permissions, I just recorded Steve doing a little Irish drumming.  Then it occurred to me that it might be considered inappropriate not to at least try to do an Abenaki rhythm.  But, it seems like it would definitely be rude to assume that he could learn to do an authentic one properly from YouTube.  When I thought, "Oh, dancing--we'll need a little drumming," was I succumbing a stereotype?  Would it be better to leave the drumming out?  I suppose we substitute a little banjo or mandolin--if crayfish can dance, they can probably play stringed instruments too!"

This really drives home the benefit of collaboration between students and between educators and made me so grateful for the amazing librarians in my PLN who joined this project.

In the next post, we'll share examples and templates for communicating with the actors/singers/artist as well as with other collaborators.

Friday, March 26, 2021


 I'm so excited to be part of Spring Cue 2021 tonight.   My session Creating Virtual Video Projects with Remote Collaborators is framed around what we learned while making Video Projects with Remote Collaborators this year.  I'll share the top 10 things that will help anyone making media with remote collaborator.   

Here are the slides from tonight's session.