Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Letting the students Explain Everything

I have an app "crush" and its name is Explain Everything.  In a classroom, it can help you ... well ... Explain Everything.  In a world where students are obsessed with the visual, I have Explain Everything open almost all the time.  It is my ever-present virtual chalkboard.  You can save your work, record audio as you draw, and import/export in all sorts of ways.  Students can use it to perform a variety of tasks, and when combined with Apple TV, you can project that student work for everyone to see.

I use Explain Everything to project choral
warmups behind me in rehearsal.  
Lately, I have been using Explain Everything to assess if my 3rd grade students understand treble clef notation.  After a quick tutorial, I told students to record a presentation to demonstrate that they know how to read and write music.  Pick a word using the letters A-G of the musical alphabet and notate it while talking through your thought process using Explain Everything.  For the students, the strangest part seemed to be actually talking to the iPad so that it could record their voices.

And the results?  Amazing.  This year's 3rd grade students are completing notation worksheets (yes, there is a right time and place for worksheets) that have traditionally been difficult for my fourth grade students.  In the past, I'd never been able to assess every student's thought process, but now, with Explain Everything, I get a peak into their brains, not just their work.  And the GREATEST part?  It didn't take any extra class time to accomplish!  While students were working on another project, I could send them in groups of two per iPad to record their presentations.  Here are two of them, exported from Explain Everything directly to Youtube.

5K makes Rhythm using Explain Everything
My 5K students are also learning to read rhythm.  Instead of having one student at the Smartboard and making sure everyone gets a turn drawing rhythms for us to read, I can hand out three iPads and project work quickly.  Someday, I'll explain my simple rhythm reading system, but you might guess from the colors we use to write quarter notes and pairs of eighth notes.

I am looking forward to the upcoming version of Explain Everything.  And, just for the record, I did not receive anything from them for this blog post.  

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