Monday, May 18, 2015

Show Me the CCSS Part IV: Explain (Almost) Everything

Riddle me this, Batman:

Why is it that I can give an"explanation" but I cannot "explan" my reasoning?  Or vice versa?

Okay, so perhaps you cannot explain everything to your students.

But with an amazing app called Explain Everything, you can have your students come as close as possible to explaining what they know about any given topic.

Those of you who have 1:1 or a classroom set of tablets can certainly take advantage of the app that is in every way worthy of the $2.99 price tag.

With EE, students have the capacity to create high quality slideshows complete with videos, pictures, and annotation tools including text, drawing, and scribble features. What's more, your students can create, edit, and upload their finished video products directly to the device picture roll or any number of cloud storage sites including Google Drive. It is even compatible with YouTube and features easy uploading to a public or private channel.

EE also allows students to record themselves talking about any kind of classroom content, from describing the literary elements of "The Most Dangerous Game" to explaining (there's that word again) why the area of this irregular object is approximately ___ cm.

The best part of Explain Everything?

Unlike several other whiteboard apps, EE lets students record, edit, and save presentations for use from day to day, or even week to week. Such a feature makes the app perfect for quick formative assessment or for formal summative presentations. EE can either augment or take the place of classroom speeches.

It is widely accepted that having students talk their way through solutions and reasoning yields higher achievement. Additionally, many kids find it much easier to explain their thinking verbally than they do trying to make sense of it in writing. (Nationally-renowned educator and speaker Dr. Wesley Fryer said it this way: How much more could students accomplish if writing skills were not holding them back?)

Indeed, do a quick Web search of business presentations. You will be inundated with sites touting "10 Tips for a Killer Presentation" but would be hard-pressed to find the same advice for writing a top business essay. While quality writing skills are and always will be an integral part of success, the truth is most of what is defined as victory in the world of business centers around the ability to master the spoken word.
Finally, one of the biggest advantages of EE is that it saves valuable grading time. Instead of dragging an entire ream of papers to your son's soccer practice, you can simply open up YouTube on your phone and assess an entire class set of presentations while also working on your tan. Try catching some rays with 50 or so loose sheets of paper flying around.

Need more evidence? Consider these hints and ideas:
+ Use EE to flip your classroom - in conjunction with a YouTube channel or Google Drive account
+ Do a YouTube search for Explain Everything videos - see what other schools are doing with it
+ For those students with device access outside of school, make homework come alive with EE assignments
+ Use looped EE presentations to showcase student work at parent/teacher conferences or school open houses
+ Download a free e-book with several lesson ideas for students through junior high school
+ This website offers an informative tutorial along with some teaching ideas
+ EE offers the capacity to annotate videos (John Madden, anyone?)

How have you used EE in your classrooms? Please comment below. Or better yet, share your creations with us on Twitter: @EdTechManiacs @coachdarin22 @blaireinfeldt

Go ahead. Pony up the $2.99 and download Explain Everything. You will not be sorry.

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