Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creating and Publishing in 4th Grade

Over the summer, my school was able to purchase six iPad Minis for general student use. I'm thrilled to have the devices in my school and couldn't wait to get them in the hands of the kids. Of course, I would love to have a class set of iPads but, after getting 5 Smartboards in the building, finances were low. I truly appreciate that we at least have six and I know we're heading in the right direction.

One of my responsibilities as elementary tech coach is to manage the minis, install apps and facilitate use throughout the building. Slowly things have fallen into place and the iPads are seeing more action outside of the computer lab. You might be asking, "What can you do with only six devices?" My answer is creating and publishing!

Input and Output Tables using Explain Everything


One of the fourth grade teachers, Miss Sullivan, is excited about the potential of using technology with her students but didn't really know where to begin. After chatting about what she was currently teaching in class, we agreed I would visit during Math Workshop. I brought up the six iPad minis plus my own personal one and ran a technology station for an hour. Groups cycled through on Day 1 where I introduced them to the Explain Everything app. The students spent our 20 minutes together exploring the app and trying out the features and tools. Nothing was saved from this first session but students were instructed I would return the next day to help with creating math screencasts. Miss Sullivan commented on how engaged all of the students were during the process and was looking forward to the next day!

On day two, I found the students were prepared to demonstrate their knowledge of input/output tables. They had planned their tables, made design choices and immediately began to use the Explain Everything app. Most chose to take a photo of the table template and then imported it into the app. We talked briefly about how to record and save and they were off and running! Some students finished within 5 minutes and others took 20-30 minutes to complete. Some needed help and support with the tools in the app while others were offering help to their friends.

After about 90 minutes, all students had cycled through the tech station and had successfully completed and saved their screencasts. I actually had set up a computer lab Google Drive account prior to using the app & saving the movies. This made things super easy to just upload the movie (not the project) directly to Drive. I was then able to share the folder of screencasts with the classroom teacher. Here's an example created by DJ that we just loved:

All of the screencasts were great for their first attempts at it! Surely they weren't perfect but as a group, the teacher, students and myself spent another hour down in the computer lab watching the videos and discussing "Screencasting Tips" for next time. Here's the list generated by the students:

Things we did great:

  • Good explanations
  • Really neat writing
  • Right answers with humor
  • Speaking loudly and clearly but not yelling
  • Using regular voices

Things we need to improve:

  • Background noise
  • Spread out!
  • Others should whisper if not recording
  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Make sure we finish both the audio and video
  • Be respectful of others-don't interrupt
  • Practice
  • Be neat 
The students were really thoughtful about the great and not-so-great screencasts. No one was overly  critical but they were more concerned about how to do a better job for a larger audience next time. How awesome is that? I'm really excited to have the time in my schedule to work within classrooms to help teachers and students use technology! Looking forward to a year of fun-filled learning with tech!