We have such inspired tools at our fingertips now. I’ve been really enthused about an app by the name of, ‘Explain Everything’ this year. Our year 5 ‘one-to-the-world’ students with iPads have this app in their arsenal, as one of the core “can’t-do-without” apps. And if you start using it, you’ll see why. There are many apps that do this sort of thing, but we have been introduced to Explain Everything and like it’s functionality.
My 7 year old daughter is starting to explore different strategies to add up big numbers (2 digit plus 2 digit). Until recently, she would have been seen this task as a little intimidating. We explored the method by which you use a number line and start with the larger of the two numbers. We broke up the second number into it’s parts (tens and ones). We jumped by tens, because its easy to count by tens and then we jumped the corresponding number of ones. She liked this method because it breaks a big task into smaller easier tasks.
Exploring strategies like this is one thing, but retaining it is another. “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand” never gets old on me. I invited my daughter to the ‘Explain Everything’ app on the iPad. Well of course, as soon as I mention the iPad, she’s all ears. I put it to her that she could make an instructional video of her new strategy. Well, making a video really gets her attention! Then I put it to her that if the video is any good at explaining her number line method, that we could upload it to YouTube, so that the world could learn from it. Well, now we have a very excited little girl!!
When a student knows there is an audience, especially an authentic audience, they seem to rise to the occasion. Writing this number line strategy into a workbook that is seen by the classroom teacher, and possibly seen by mum or dad when it’s parent/teacher interview time, is not a large audience. When my daughter saw the potential of how many people could benefit from her instructional video on YouTube, instantly she has real purpose and enthusiasm. I said that some people from my school might want to watch it, to see how to add up 2x 2 digit numbers. Authentic audience.
The learning around this particular number line activity didn’t stop there. The next day, I observed my older daughter watching the same YouTube video with her younger sister, the ‘author and director’. They were watching it again and this was reinforcing the concepts that she had explained in her video.
How does the app work?
On the surface it looks like another way of putting a PowerPoint presentation together. But when you start to use the record button to narrate, and the laser pointer tool to highlight the parts of your presentation, now you have a video that really brings your audience in. You can draw, narrate and highlight all in real time, so that your presentation comes to life as it progresses. Here is another one of my favourite application types that start with a blank canvas, and is only limited by your imagination.