Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Explain Everything – It’s Not Just for Math

January28

In my last post, I highlighted another example of how Explain Everthing can make student thinking visible in math. I realized that so far I’ve only shown math integration. Yet, like its name implies, Explain Everything is not just for math. I wanted to take a moment this week to share how the app was used during an English Language Arts lesson with some third graders.

A teacher wanted students to respond to their reading so she asked them to pick their favorite fable and explain why as well as go on to talk about their favorite character. This most certainly could have been a short essay on paper or a group discussion. Instead the teacher chose for the students to complete the task in Explain Everything.

Below is the teacher’s simple example. Please double click.

Why use the app? The tool assisted those students who would have been hindered by the multi-step process of writing. For many students, thinking of what to answer and then trying to figure out the spelling of the words and mechanics of the sentences to express those thoughts can be very challenging. The result often is students losing the original ideas altogether or editing the answer to only something that s/he feels confident in how to write which may not answer the original questions adequately. Therefore, the teacher may not receive a true picture of the student’s comprehension. While it is important for students to learn how to articulate their thoughts in writing, a screencasting app can help students learn valuable verbal communication skills. Of course, one can point out that communication skills can be encouraged and fostered through a group discussion. However, that brings up another issue: for many students attending to each other and staying focused in a group also can be challenging, making it difficult for a teacher to assess individual student comprehension. If students struggle with putting thoughts on paper and attending to group discussions, the recording of a book response in Explain Everything may be a triumph. Further more, the end result is a video (or data) that can be archived, shared and used for future instruction.

I can think of another application for this app in ELA. Students often are asked to answer questions and supply evidence from text. This articulation and evidence collection easily could be documented with the iPad’s camera and Explain Everything app.

Do you have any more ELA ideas? Please share.

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