ShowMe and Google Forms

Last week, I wrote on this blog about the advantages of using Google Forms with your ShowMe videos. Well, I must say that Google Forms is a powerful intuitive tool for the classroom. Even if you are not in a 1:1 school (with iPads or computers), Google Forms presents an opportunity to get real time information from students not delayed through exit slips or problem sets. The common question that I think that lingers is how are the students responding if you are not using iPads or computers; the answer is smartphones (and it doesn’t matter the operating system or carrier of the phone.) If you have a class website, links can be set up so that students can respond to questions or you can send students emails with the link of the form so that students can respond at the end of the class period or complete questions for homework while watching their ShowMe or simply completing their reading of various materials.

The reason that I mentioned these applications two weeks in a row, even though most people may already be using Google Forms, is that it is important that teachers receive data (which is an important part of the Common Core) and use it to meet the learning needs of their students. On a recent episode of 60 minutes, Kahn Academy was highlighted for the use of formative data to help teachers create a customized learning experience for each student, but what was at the heart of Kahn Academy was a program that allowed teachers to see precisely where the students were in their learning and the teacher could then direct the classroom based on the needs of students instead of creating a one size fits all curriculum approach. Why wait for Kahn, when the program already exists with Google Forms, especially since cash-strapped districts are not going to purchase expensive software, teachers need to plan what they want their students to know, understand and be able to do with the content of their ShowMe or their classroom and develop a form to help collect the data so that every student learns. Then with the data tailor lessons that meet the needs of every student in the classroom and the best part is the fact that it does not add any more planning time. By creating ShowMe lessons and assessing students knowledge with Google Forms, you are creating a truly enriching experience that benefits every student in the classroom.


Flipping The Classroom

Since Sal Khan started to record his lecture videos on his computer, the world has gotten excited about the potential to flip the classroom. To flip, teachers can use an application like ShowMe or screen record from their SmartBoard but as Khan has pointed out the analytics need to be attached so that teachers can gauge what students know and don’t know. So he has, with the help of his team of developers, put together software to help teachers create a more personalized educational experience. The software, as referenced by the 60 Minutes episode, would allow teachers to create different problems on different levels of difficulty and allow teachers to focus on the individual needs of students. For now, I guess it is in the beta testing and in some schools on the West Coast but with the ShowMe app, teachers can begin to flip their classrooms and utilizing Socrative and Google Forms develop the analytics to help you determine what your students know and are able to do well. So what is preventing people from flipping their classroom? Here are some of the reasons: (This is my own reflection, not scientific)
1. Resources: some people may not have access to iPads or SmartBoards to begin the process of flipping their classroom. As we read about various budget restraints such as the property tax cap, districts are attempting to figure out how to do more with less which may mean delaying the purchase of iPads or other technology for their teachers. Besides money and access, time is other factor. Teacher schedules are booked solid and may not afford them with the time to develop these types of lessons. Besides the schedule aspect, it takes a lot of time to develop lessons and assessments, time that teachers do not have so experimenting with technology may be difficult. Further with Common Core, most districts are rewriting and realigning curriculum to meet the demands of the Common Core.
2. Experience: I know that it is a paradigm change and without some manual that walks teachers through it or without Education courses in universities, teaching the flipping model some people may not be comfortable with the model especially since you would have to plan backwards and utilize programs like Socrative or Google Forms to collect formative data. The data then can allow for differentiation and creating an enriching experience for students. Also research for the model may not yet exist, which may in turn keep people from using the model.
3. It is math and science centric. I have heard from different people that say that flipping can only be done in skill-based courses. This remains to be seen as more of Khan’s videos and the ShowMe community are developed about various topics that are not skilled-based.
4. What do I do in class if I am recording my lectures the night before? The answer, anytime that I am asked this question, is whatever you want. You can use simulations, problem-solving or seminars or whatever else that maybe interactive but somehow connected to the lecture videos. This is where the experience of the teacher comes into play and the analytics come into play; you may determine that a good percentage of your students already know the material so rather than simply reteach maybe you explore a topic in a deeper or meaningful way. I have struggled with this question and have had to think about ways to integrate the app and develop a day-to-day lesson plan for courses that are not problem-based.
5. Where do I find the technology? I know that some people have asked me, “well I have an iPad but which app do I use or how do I do this once I have the app or can I do this with a computer?” There are several options in the app store, which I will not review here but I think the applications that are intuitive and simple to use gain the most traction because most people do not want to deal with app crashes, or computer crashes. Most people want to use the application and upload their video and be done; if applications crash then users lose confidence and decide “Oh, well I have been doing it before the iPad arrived” or turn to other applications that maybe more intuitive. To the second part of the statement, I think that is where a blog like this one helps with the professional development aspect of using applications like ShowMe and having varying skill levels of users explain the various methods being used to teach a lesson and assess the lesson. To the third part of the statement, I know some applications offer the opportunity to develop your own lesson videos, for instance SmartBoard. If you have a SmartBoard in your classroom, you can develop these same videos in your classroom, but you have to upload them to YouTube or some video sharing site that maybe blocked by your network. And for your students this means that they are watching your lesson at home rather than on their smartphone on their way home on the school bus or on their way to a sporting event or in the library during a free period. Not to mention you need a microphone attached to the SmartBoard to develop the video. This is why apps, like ShowMe, make recording your lessons simple, easy and students can watch them anywhere.
I know from my experience students are more willing to participate and tend to perform better in the classroom. Also, by the flipping the classroom, I noticed that my students came into class with prior knowledge that could not have been obtained by reading chapters of a textbook and they came into class with more confidence knowing that we would be digging deeper and exploring various concepts. This in turn made learning visible allowing to wrestle with concepts and gain a deeper understanding of the material.


How to send your ShowMes without using email or the website?

The last few weeks I have been thinking about and playing around with several different ways to send out my ShowMe videos without book marking the website or sending them out via email. I came up with what I think may be an effective way to connect your handouts to a particular video lesson that you have recorded. All it takes is a QR code. QR codes, for those of you who do not know, are matrix barcodes that can be used to send a person to particular website. Most QR codes appear in magazines, websites, flyers and other assorted materials that companies have used to attract customers to their websites for promotions or to purchase particular goods that they are selling. You may be asking how do I use QR codes? Here are the steps:
1. I develop my Google Form or ShowMe video.
2. I go to any of the websites that allow me to input the website of the link into the QR code generator on the website.This will generate the QR code, which will be unique to your website or the website that you want the students to have access to. Once it is generated you can copy and paste the QR code to any word processing application, PowerPoint or Keynote, and or PDF file that you have created.
3. I ask my students to go to the app store of their particular phone (it doesn’t matter whether it iOS, Android, Windows or Blackberry) and download a free QR reader (it doesn’t matter which one because they all typically are free.) You can place the QR code on a handout or in a PowerPoint and ask students to scan the QR code once they have the reader on their smartphone.
4. Now students can get to your ShowMe or Google Forms faster than before.


How to use ShowMe to record app tutorials?

Just the other day I was thinking about how I could use the ShowMe app to walk students through an app demonstration so that I could show them to my students or other teachers that may want to use an iOS app. What I came up with is a very simple process that I think will work if you are trying to add images to your lesson video.

  1. Tap the power button and the home button at the same time on your iOS device to take a screen shot. The Camera Roll has powerful tools to crop and resize the image. You may want to crop the unwanted parts of the images.
  2. Import the image from your camera roll into the ShowMe application and begin layering the images as you go through the lesson video.
  3. Set the Accessibility feature in the Settings app on the iPad so that you can zoom in on the features that you want to highlight, just remember that you may have to take several screenshots for this to be effective, which will require more layering.
  4. Using the pen settings in the ShowMe application highlight the important features of the application.
  5. Upload your video or send out an email so that everyone can see it or use it.

ShowMe and Formative Assessment

Once you have created your lecture video, it is important to understand whether your students understand the information that you want them to know. So what I have done in the past is setup a worksheet to guide the students through the work that I am showing them in my videos. In the past, I have sent the lecture video link with the handout, which has allowed me to differentiate the work that I have given my students in the classroom. What I have noticed is that more than a majority of students will and prefer to watch the video rather than outline a textbook. But the problem still is whether the students truly get what is in the video. Most times I find that it is important to use some sort of entry slip where the students, at the beginning of the class, can work out a problem before the lesson begins to determine whether they truly understand what I what them to understand. This gives me great formative data, which allows me to create a learning environment that raises the bar for the entire class. Those students that might struggle will be able to get specific help from me while the rest of the class is working on other problems. By the end of the period, I notice that all students will be able to work on the most complex examples related to the video.

However, just recently I have been thinking about this process and have been wondering if there was a way to collect this data in some other way and what I came up with is pretty simple. What I have been doing is playing around with Google Forms. This web-based application gives the user the ability to develop open-ended questions (which would be great because you could give the students the ability to free write about their understanding of the content of the video) and multiple-choice questions (which could target specific learning for the students to understand). The great thing about Google Forms is that all of the information is collected in a spreadsheet, which gives the teacher ability to target the specific problems the students are having with the content. The next day’s lesson can be tailored to the individual needs of the students rather than the lesson being one size fits all.

The next time you develop your ShowMe video, consider using Google Forms to collect formative data on your students and remember this will get easier especially when you start your ShowMe with an essential question. Also remember it is important to design your video lesson with what you want your students to understand and be able to do. This way you have organized yourself to target a specific outcome.


A Second Timesaver for your ShowMe: Keynote

When developing your ShowMe, it is often time consuming to write a lot of text that can make your video longer and in the meantime lose your audience’s attention. What I have learned is that using the Keynote app ($9.99 in the App store) on the iPad can save you a lot of time in laying out your video. I use Keynote from the iPad to writing essential questions, headings for charts or just to organize the information that I don’t have to write but is important to the overall development of the lesson. What I do is type the information into a slide and then I take a screenshot (click the power button on the top right corner of your iPad, while holding down the home button of your iPad; you will know that it works because the screen of your iPad will flash) of the text on the slide and import into the video from the camera roll on the device. Now the image is ready to be used in the ShowMe.

I have used this method for a while now and I have found it is faster and more efficient because after all the shorter the video the more engaged you will find your audience. It also has saved time for my ShowMe by allowing me to focus on the lesson rather than wasting time by reading additional text that I am writing on the iPad.


A Timesaver for your ShowMe: OmniGraphSketcher

If you are looking to produce quality graphs without drawing them in your ShowMe, then OmniGraphSketcher is the perfect application for your iPad. The application is available in the app store for $14.99; OmniGraphSketcher gives you the ability to draw high quality graphs for your ShowMe presentations. In the application, you can draw line graphs and import data from Numbers on the iPad to create graphs. By simply touching the text boxes, you can add labels to the axes of your graph and the labels of your lines. Once you have drawn your graphs with the basic drawing system, you can export your graphs to the Photo library of your iPad and then import them into your ShowMe. Once in your Photo Library, you use the images in your PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. This application is intuitive. Despite its price tag, OmniGraphSketcher is a definite compliment to your ShowMes, especially if you are doing a lot of graphing and demonstrations based on your graphs.

I use ShowMe and OmniGraphSketcher together quite often, and I find that they work great together. I can point out the changes in the curves and not have to worry about my handwriting, having sloppy labels on each curve, or explain why they look the way they do in less time (which is always important when you are going to have students watch and take notes from the videos). As the developer mentions and I totally agree it really does take seconds to produce great looking graphs.

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ShowMe and E-pubs

Marko is a ShowMe Ambassador and totally awesome! He’ll be writing all about the tech he uses in the classroom and we’re super excited to have him!

As everyone knows by now, Apple announced last month their new free powerful tool for publishing called iBooks Author. This tool as everyone has already seen has the ability to incorporate videos, 3D images, multiple choice questions and PowerPoint and Keynote presentations right into the book. The software also allows you to take notes and convert the notes into flash cards for review once you are done reading the chapter.

The great thing about the software is that every file is drag and drop. The user agreement that you sign with Apple has some complications; for instance, the book goes to the iTunes account holder not the school district, so as advertised, most districts are not excited about the prospect of purchasing textbooks every year even though the textbooks are only $14.99. This may keep schools from adopting textbooks published in iBooks author.

So what does mean for the classroom, very little.  If you own a Mac and have Pages (Apple’s equivalent to Word), you can create your own epubs by downloading the template. Now you can create one file that incorporates your ShowMes and the text of the concept that you are teaching your students. So now students can watch the ShowMe in one place with the text of what you are teaching or notes from your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation in the same file.

The only downside is that your students will need an iOS device. You can then email the file to your students and then they can open the file in iBooks and you then have your very own textbook without the worries of the user agreement.

Download the Pages Template from Apple