Last week in our classroom, we began using the app Explain Everything. At first, I hesitated about using the app because it had so many functions and I was worried about Year 1 students becoming confused. I had to give myself a lot of time to adjust to it. I'm glad I stuck with it, because the children are showcasing amazing ideas, understanding and learning through this app!
Before I began focussing on the learning I wanted to integrate using this app, I allowed the students exploration time (with some goals). They needed to find out how to record, draw something, type something and insert something. I gave them 5 minutes to have a go and see what they could discover.
At the end of the exploration time, the students and I discussed what we had discovered and how to do things. I asked students to share through Airplay to the SmartBoard and they taught the class how they had discovered different functions. Not only, did the class learn new ways to use the app, I did too! It is always interesting to see what the children can uncover and how their minds work.
So what on earth do you use this app for? Well, it is so diverse and there are many potential avenues you could go down. I decided to do a bit of app-smashing here (that's where you use multiple apps to create a piece of work)! I used an app called Number Pieces, where students built a two digit number with MAB blocks (tens and ones). I got students to take a screenshot of their number and insert it into the app, Explain Everything. After this, students created a recording and highlight/wrote the number, as well as explained how many tens and ones were in their two digit number.
This app is so great, because through a worksheet you can never grasp the exact thoughts a child is having when they answer question, you can assume, but never quite know what the root of understanding is. This app allows us, as teachers, to dig deeper and gauge whether the child has a true understanding of the concept, it also allows us to see if they have language to support their understanding.
Some other ideas of learning areas and activities you could use Explain Everything for?...
When you have finished in the app, you can convert the file type and save it as a video or export it. Students can easily submit their work to their Google Drive or even a dropbox account if you have one established.
In beginning my 1:1 iPad classroom, I experimented with my lesson planning formats, to find what works best to allow the students and myself to integrate them swiftly. So far, a project based approach has been the key to a successful learning program. What is a project based approach? I hear you ask...
If we are focussing on a concept, such as 'friends of ten' or 'addition' in Mathematics, using the iPads, our focus would be on constructing a project across the whole week. Usually in a paper based Year 1 classroom, I would use various activities, structures, and ways of teaching a concept. Using iPads is no different, I differentiate my teaching and try to access children's multiple intelligences through varying activities; however, in a project based approach the students construct a book, iMovie, or Explain Everything file using one app as their focus for the week.
Recently, we focussed on making a friends of ten boon through Book Creator. Students added to their book each day and wrote in a new 'friend of ten', as the week went along. Toward the end of the week, students showed their understanding in different ways, for example through adding a ten-frame, bundles of pop-sticks, or ones blocks to display their sum. They were also required to include a written sum, pictures of their example they found (eg: 5 sticks + 5 leaves = 10) and a voice recording of their explanation.
Generating a project, rather than separate learning experiences in multiple apps, allows the children to master the one app at a time and develop their skills. It also allows the student to show their understanding in multiple ways and keep their work in one place.
To complement the activity we are focussing on with the iPad, I would also ensure we had manipulatives for the children to work with (usually as a warm-up/mental math activity) and again, as a finisher, we'd end with a hands on activity too.
In addition, usually I would assess using other apps or ways to measure their understanding. At the end of our 'friends of ten' learning project I had the evidence of what they had produced in their books, as well as my own observations. I supported this formative assessment, with a summative test via another app called 'Socrative' students showed their understanding through answering pre-made questions. This app is fabulous, because it gives you a visual, colour co-ordinated piece of data that determines your ability groups in the classroom.
Old fashioned teaching and learning has a time and place still in the classroom. However, our students are growing up in a world immersed in technology. Not only do we need to provide them with skills to cope in this growing tech-filled environment, but we can also enhance their ability to learn content through creative, digital formats.