Grade 4/5 students at Harry Hooge Elementary and Blue Mountain Elementary in Maple Ridge found multiple uses for the app Explain Everything. Teachers Amanda Terris (Blue Mountain) and Gianna Holmes (Harry Hooge) chose iPads and a few apps to introduce to their students this year for their Tier 2 Classroom-based Solution. Amanda’s students used iWordQ and Explain Everything and Gianna’s students used Inspiration and Explain Everything. iwordQ is an app to assist students in reading and writing. In writing mode, students get support in word prediction, abbreviation-expansion and speech feedback features. In reading mode, the current sentence is shown in black text, the surrounding paragraphs in lighter gray. This helps students focus attention on current sentences. Reading controls are along a left margin and have three levels of support. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard for students to show knowledge and understanding using the tools in the app: uploading images, video, drawing, narrating, collaborating, recording, animating, brainstorming, importing content for instruction etc.
The students enjoyed taking action photos of themselves and inserting themselves into different background images. “I like that we get to be creative and add photos and voice recordings,” said one student. Another said, “I like that we can make things move.” Explain Everything is perfect for digital storytelling, explaining work and recording a student’s voice while doing an activity. Students can capture content easily, narrate, record, publish and share their work.
Inspiration is a visual mapping and diagramming program. Students can add images, music, text and use templates that are already designed to help them plan their mindmap. Teacher Gianna Holmes commented that ‘Explain Everything and Inspiration are great applications which students can use to organize and present their learning.’
Before students started using the iPads, Merrill Gray, a SET-BC Tier 2 consultant, met with both teachers for a planning day, trained on the apps, and arranged for follow-up visits to both classrooms. Merrill shared information on:
- Classroom management of iPads and grouping of students
- Features of the various apps
- Curriculum content and outcomes for learning
- Lesson plans and activities using the apps
Due to the similar app choices, grade level and proximity of classrooms; sharing lessons and activities between the two teachers was a perfect fit.
Some of the projects the students completed were:
- Passport: Students designed their Coat of Arms and took a photo for their main page of the passport. The second page was a selfie along with their personal information. Third page was a family tree (students could draw or copy an image) and fill in family information, the fourth page was the identity page. Some students made a collage of photos, others uploaded videos of themselves doing an activity. The Passports became a digital portfolio of their work.
- Research projects: Students used Inspiration to mindmap their ideas and research on Body Systems and uploaded their information to Explain Everything. They recorded themselves presenting their information and shared it with the class.
- Classroom Improvement Project: In groups, students brainstormed and drew a storyboard to make some school improvements. The students used the built in tools (text, animations and voice, rotation tool and lasso tool) to introduce their ideas and describe their slides. They then presented to the class.
Gianna summarized her experience, “Students in my class used Explain Everything to create passports for our immigration unit. Children were able to create wonderful projects which included video segments, photos of themselves and their Coat of Arms, images/ facts from the internet. In Science, students used Inspiration to organize and web research information on a body system. The children were always engaged when using these technologies and they walked away having learned a lot. I plan to continue using these applications in my teaching for years to come and I thank SET-BC for this great experience!”