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5 ways you can use Loom to create sweet remote learning activities

I love Loom.

Simple to use. Simple to share. It’s free for teachers and kids. And it works great for both face to face classrooms and remote learning environments.

If you’re already a Loommate and love using Loom too, you may be in the wrong place. This post is for Loom newbies and how we can use the tool as part of effective social studies instruction. So feel free to browse through a list of History Tech posts highlighting historical thinking resources and strategies. (But you’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you skip past the quick Loom introduction and scroll down for the tips.)

Loom is a free, ready to use screencast recording tool. What’s a screencast recording tool? Basically it’s a button you push that records your screen while at the same time recording your face and voice, saving them all together in a downloadable and shareable format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.

Need a quick example? Preview this video created by a Loom employee showing you how to create a recording of a Google Slides presentation.

The process is super simple. Click a button. Count down from three. Say what you want to say while you do what you want to do. Click stop. Loom uploads the recording to your account. Share the link. Download the file. Post it in lots of places. Easy peasy.

Seriously. Trust me. You got this. Especially with all of the support Loom provides.

Get started by creating a free account at Loom. Loom is providing a free Pro account to teachers and students so be sure to go to the Loom Education page and verify your email to get the upgrade. The Education front page has tons of examples and videos to help you get started.

The cool thing is that there are two different ways to use Loom. The desktop downloadable version which has some extra features like annotations and a Chrome browser extension. Both work basically the same. I like the extension version but your mileage may vary.  Watch this short video comparions and try them both to see which works best for you. There’s also a mobile iOS version.

Once you’ve got your video recorded, it automatically drops into your My Videos dashboard. You can trim the video right in the dashboard or download and edit in a different editing software. You can share the link to just certain people, apply a password, or post it out via social media tools.

You head should be spinning a bit right now. That’s okay. Start thinking about ways to post this into your Google Classroom as a link or a downloadable file hosted in your Google account. Twitter. Facebook. Lots of ways to get your video out to all sorts of people.

You brain should also be thinking about ways to use Loom as part of your social studies instruction. Here are five ways (and a few bonus ideas) for using Loom in a remote or hybrid learning environment:

Record Direct Instruction

The obvious way to use Loom is to record short, direct instruction clips. You’ve got a six or seven Google Slides or a Powerpoint presentation? Don’t use the “live” time that you have with students to lecture. Instead of lecturing in the face to face or Zoom classroom and then assigning homework, record your presentation and share it digitally with students so they can watch when they want. Be sure to also attach some sort of Cornell Notes template, History Frame, or your own favorite organizer to help kids make sense of the content.

The idea is that you’re building foundational knowledge that you can use the next time you meet with your kids – either face to face or on Zoom.

Use the Emojis

I also like the ability of students to interact with your direct instruction video. Ask students to use the emoji icons at the bottom of your video to react to your content. They can click the thumbs down icon if they have a question or something is confusing. Clicking an icon, inserts the icon at that point in the video. Maybe ask kids to insert a thumbs up on content that makes sense or that they agree with. You could even ask a question during the recording, pause a bit, and then go on with your presentation.

The pause allows them to respond to the question. In your dashboard, playing the video highlights each of the icon inserts by student name. You also can edit the settings of each video to get an alert when a student has inserted an icon.

Demo Your Think Aloud

We often ask kids to use their historical thinking skills to analysis evidence. We give them document analysis worksheets. We hand them sample questions to ask as part of their analysis. But we don’t often enough show them how to do it. As in . . . literally show them how to do it.

Use Loom to record a think aloud to model the use of an analysis worksheet or the questions on SHEG’s Historical Thinking Chart as you walk through a piece of evidence. Pull up a document or photograph and use the Pro version (That you can get for free, remember?) in desktop app mode to access a set of annotation tools. Highlight, circle, and underline things that you see in the document or image while you talk out loud through your thinking.

Not sure who the author is or the context or the date? Share your confusion as you struggle with finding the answers. It’s okay for your kids to know that it’s not always possible to have all the answers right away. Making a verbal note to self to find corroborating documents encourages your students to practice strong historical thinking and to ask questions.

Play a Video Within the Video

You can play a video in your Loom video. Start a Youtube or Vimeo video, stopping along the way to ask guiding questions or writing prompts just as you might in a face to face setting. Provide a graphic organizer to help students make sense of their thinking. The video could be a clip from the movie Selma or Gettysburg. Maybe something from a Ken Burns documentary. Or a clip from a news show. Perhaps a social media post of federal troops in Portland or other current event.

Share an activity

We often think that a flipped lesson has to be a recorded lecture. Record a “what do they have in common” or Visual DEI activity instead. Walk through the activity as if students are there, inserting intentional pauses to provide kids a chance to stop the video and do some thinking. You can ask them to share their thinking in a Google Doc or Padlet. When you get back together in a live setting, open these files documenting their thinking to jump start the conversation.

A few bonus ideas?

  • Make your own wannabe Twitch “live stream” of you playing a social studies related online video game while making your own snarky yet student friendly comments. (Maybe iCivics, the classic and still loved Oregon Trail, or City of Immigrants. Or even parts of console games like Assassin’s Creed.)
  • Demo what sketchnoting might look like by highlighting your note taking skills.
  • Record a whole series of short writing / thinking prompts back to back to back to back. Change your shirt each time and kids will think it’s a brand new day every video.
  • Show students how to use the new LMS your school is using.
  • Record a walkthrough of Google Classroom for parents and caregivers so they start off the year with a strong foundation. (And be sure to repeat the process every time you ask kids to use a new tech tool or website. Because in the blended, hybrid, remote, online, digital world that we’ll all probably be in eventually, your parents and caregivers are gonna need as much help as you can give them.)

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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I loved using Loom over the last few months teaching! It was super easy to use, navigate and post on my student’s LMS site. I never thought about recording a video though. That is a great idea, especially when I want to stop and explain/comment on a part of it. Thanks for the suggestion!

    July 31, 2020
    • glennw #


      There are other tools using videos with embedded questions but this seems like a much simple way to include a personalized experience for kids. Especially if we’re teaching remotely and may not have the chance to interact with kids face to face. Good luck – thanks for the comment!


      August 1, 2020

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