How-to ShowMe: A guest post by Nishi Kumar

This How-to ShowMe was originally published on TFAnet, the internal network for all Teach For America corps members and alumni. This past fall, after a successful partnership with Apple, each of the 9000+ corps members received an iPad for classroom use. Nishi Kumar, a valuable TFA educator and ShowMe community member wrote up her experiences with ShowMe and how it is assisting her in the classroom. Thanks Nishi!

I’m sure every teacher would embrace the ability to clone themselves. How else can you teach a lesson, redirect wayward students, hold high behavior expectations, support strugglers, and push high achievers all at the same time?

Although technology hasn’t come that far (yet), there is an iPad app I have started to use that has vastly increased my effectiveness in the classroom. Others have mentioned it, but I wanted to share how I use ShowMe to run a tighter, cleaner lesson.

ShowMe is a free application that works like an interactive whiteboard—you can record yourself speaking while explaining examples, solving equations, showing pictures or text, or doing a model/think-aloud. I know other teachers have been using ShowMe to record lessons for students to use at home on their own computers, but I have actually been using ShowMe to teach my classes the daily lesson. Every night, I record my intro to new material using ShowMe (I teach math so this usually involves problem-solving, procedures, or examples) and then upload it to the ShowMe website. Then in class, I can play the video I created for my students on the projector while they complete their guided notes tailored to the video.

The cool part is that while I am teaching (via ShowMe), I am also able to walk around the classroom, correct behavior, help some of my lower-level leaners, and monitor class progress. Voila! It’s like having two of me! And if students miss part of the lesson or the class, they can easily access the video on their own and catch-up.

A couple other benefits of ShowMe: since I can record my lessons the night before with my lesson plans in front of me, I never make mistakes or have to correct myself. My lessons aren’t perfect, but they are much better than they used to be. By 6th period, my voice used to be raspy, my brain fuzzy, and I would often forget to say something or have to back-track. ShowMe has made my instruction consistent and error-free.

A couple things to watch out for—you can’t rewind in ShowMe yet, although you can pause, so if you make a mistake while recording you have to delete the video and start over. Also, while my students were initially engaged by the idea that I somehow made the “video person” sound just like me, after a few weeks of ShowMes the initial novelty is beginning to fade. I’ve been trying out new engagement techniques (this week’s was counting how many times they spotted Casper the friendly ghost on the screen during the lesson), but I would be interested to see what creative ideas others have!

I challenge anyone reading this to try doing a lesson using ShowMe and see how they can use it in their own classrooms. Especially for those of us with large classes and many different periods, technology like this really can be the saving grace. At least until personal cloning machines come on the market.