Flipping your Classroom with the Dynamic Duo: Showbie & ShowMe

Take a moment and think back to when you were in school. Picture your teacher standing at the front of the room teaching you a concept up on the board. You’re following along, maybe taking a note or two, and then your mind starts to drift. You start thinking about the soccer game you had the night before, or something that a friend said. You zone back in and realize that you’ve missed a chunk of the lesson.

 

Student Conferences – made easy with ShowMe

With a new school year already here, you may find yourself already reflecting on how to grow as an educator over the next 9 months.  Maybe you’ll try using a new classroom management style, that cool new tech tool, or just keep your “To Grade” stack shorter than your coffee cup. Or maybe loftier, year long goals, such as having consistent meaningful assessment that will drive instruction.  Conferencing with students is one of the greatest assessment strategies in every teacher’s tool belt.  A few test answers can show what a student knows, but not how a student thinks.   Hearing a student describe how they got the answer in a one on one conference allows for targeted instruction based on what students actually need, or how to build upon what they already know.  How can you put up the scaffolding if you don’t know what the foundation is?

 

Knowing a student’s thought process is only half the battle.  Even after using that authentic assessment, how can the understanding be related that into a letter grade or one word ranking on a rubric.  Each student’s thinking was deep, meaningful, and communicated to you in all the glory that is uniquely in their own words and ideas.  You can’t translate that into a simple letter grade or boil it down to a one word ranking on a rubric.  But you also can’t go home with every student and sit down with their families about how he or she solved a math problem.  

 

ShowMe allows for you to sit at every child’s kitchen table and have that conference.  As students work through problems on their iPads, they can also explain their thinking.  All can be captured and ready to send home to parents.  


“With ShowMe the learning that takes place in the classroom goes home with the students.  I enjoy ShowMe and the interactivity it brings to my teaching” – Frank Briganti, 4th Grade Teacher

 

Here is how to easily email a ShowMe to parents:

Tutorial: How to email a ShowMe

 

Make the most out of the year by saving time, communicating to parents effectively, and have less tests to grade (yay!) with one on one conferences created with ShowMe.

 

 

Featured Application: Homework Help & Home Extensions

 

“When teachers design homework to meet specific purposes and goals, more students complete their homework and benefit from the results” – Epstein & Van Voorhis

 

Effective educators are always looking for ways to bridge the gap between school and home.  However there can always be challenges for extending learning beyond the school day.  Whether students need extra support or parents don’t understand the content being taught, meaningfully learning outside the classroom can prove difficult at home, when the teacher is nowhere to be found.

Until ShowMe!  Now every student and their families can have access to their teacher anytime, anywhere.  Using technology to enhance learning isn’t just for the flipped classroom or advanced tech-happy teachers.  One of my favorite ShowMe applications can be used in any classroom by any teacher, no matter how tech savvy you are.  

“Teachers cannot follow students home, so it is important that parents are provided with the tools to successfully be involved with their children’s homework.” – Nicole Schrat Carr

 

Common Core can leave parents wondering, “Whaaaaat”, struggling to understand new ways to solve problems without the traditional algorithm.  It can also leave students frustrated, saying, “But that’s not how Mrs. Smith taught us!”  If you are a parent, I’m sure you’ve felt this frustration too, thinking Mrs. Smith might be a little crazy.  Here is an example of a ShowMe made just for parents, explaining the importance and strategies of CCSS in a division problem.  

Including parents in student learning is one way to effectively bridge the home-school gap, but taking personal responsibility and feeling the ping of succeeding on their own is also important for student growth.  ShowMes provide extra support and home extensions, giving every student the opportunity to have a teacher available at any time.


“Homework that students can’t do without help is not good homework; students are discouraged when they are unable to complete homework on their own” – Cathy Vatterott, ASCD author

Every student needs extra help at times, or even differentiated support.  ShowMe provides extensions and aid, or even just to see Mrs. Smith show one more example.  Here is a ShowMe created for students to work side by side with the teacher on a difficult math problem.  The teacher completes an example, then encourages students to try the next one on their own.  This helpful, yet independent support, allows students to take control of their own learning, get help when they need it, and apply it on their own.

There are many strategies to use Homework Help with ShowMe; here are 2 simple and easy ways.  Click on each link to watch a ShowMe tutorial about each tool:

  1. Create a QR code to put directly on the homework page
  2. Link the ShowMe to your teacher website

Resources:

References:

  • Carr, N. S. (2013). Increasing the Effectiveness of Homework for All Learners in the Inclusive Classroom. School Community Journal, 23(1), 169-182.
  • Epstein, M. H., Polloway, E. A., Foley, R. M., & Patton, J. R. (1993). Homework: A comparison of teachers’ and parents’ perception of the problems experienced by students identified as having behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, or no disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 14(5), 40–50.
  • Vatterott, C. (2010). Five hallmarks of good homework. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 10–15.
 

A QR Code Grammar Activity for the ESL Classroom

Book drills can make class time boring and monotonous, especially when practicing grammar concepts. Creating fresh and engaging activities for English Learners helps students find meaningful connection to the concepts learned in class (Jensen, 2000). Thankfully, as technological advances bring about a myriad of educational web and mobile applications, teachers can incorporate these to enrich common classroom activities and to adapt the usual assignments for better student interaction.

One of these tools, the QR Code, has given me another strategy to implement in my ESL classroom.  Students of various levels have given me positive feedback, which encouraged me to share this idea with other teachers. For more information on using QR codes, check out Karen Mensing’s Ted-Ed video here.

It should be noted that as with all manipulative materials, apps should also be carefully introduced to students as not doing this properly might increase the likelihood of frustration and confusion. Give students some time to get to know their QR Reader app. For best results, have students download a free QR Reader a day before the assignment.

Adverbs of Time Grammar Activity

  1. Take 6-8 events with different times or dates for each. Make a QR code for eachPairs collect clues together until they've gathered all the clues needed. event. Print and cut out the codes (glue on index cards for future use).
  2. Make duplicate codes and mix them up.
  3. Tape the QR codes around the room and pair up students.
  4. Tell students that they are to walk around with their partner to gather clues about an incident that happened.
  5. Once they have gathered all the clues, they will narrate what happened using adverb clauses in a paragraph.
  6. Encourage pairs to collaborate to write a creative paragraph by saying the class will vote on the top 3.

Variations:

  • Assign paragraph for homework and ask pairs to read their paragraphs in small groups.
  • Ask students to type up their paragraphs and submit them the next day. Teacher can make editing assignments based on the paragraphs submitted.
  • Instead of adverb clauses of time, use cause and effect clauses, adjective clauses, or noun clauses.
  • Make QR codes out of the students’ final paragraphs and ask them to edit a paragraph of their choice as a group.

Free Online QR Code Generators:

Some Free Phone App QR Code Readers:
Apple: Red Laser
Google Play Store: Red Laser
Blackberry World: QR Code Scanner Pro Free

References
Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. Corwin Press.

Mensing, K. (2013, June 20). The Magic of QR Codes [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRgWRXFXLQs

*A version of this article was published in the CATESOL Quarterly News here: http://www.catesolnews.org/2014/03/qr-code-grammar-activity-esl-classroom/

 

Three Strategies for Teaching Grammar in ESL

Grammar can often be frustrating for ESL students, partly because many grammar texts contain exercises that use the “drill” method with sample sentences out of context. While the drilling method can be very helpful for students who are in beginning stages of learning English, it may become difficult for more advanced students to apply the structures in their own writing. To help students incorporate their newly learned grammar skills into their writing, teachers can ask students to practice specific skills in a paragraph. As students re-write drafts, the teacher can ask students to focus on another skill. This way, students will not feel overwhelmed or frustrated.

Showme has helped me to cut down on the time I spend lecturing on grammar structures in class. With the Showme tutorials, students can watch at home what they do not understand. In class, I can focus more on using the structures in context by asking students to write their own pieces. It is not completely “flipping” the class, but it has made a huge improvement in the way I structure my class sessions; they are no longer just grammar lectures with a bit of time to practice at the end.  I would like to share three strategies that I find successful in the ESL classroom.

First, it is important to collect errors unique to the cultural group(s) a teacher works with. For example, Chinese students tend to have trouble with articles because their language may not have a need for them, while Saudi and some Middle Eastern students tend to have difficulty with Subject-Verb-Object order. As teachers collect work samples, it is wise to also make a list of all the common errors. By using lists of these common errors, teachers can point them out to students so that they become aware that they are incorrect. I normally explain a grammar structure, and after the students have practiced it independently, I often make a list of errors made by previous students and ask them to correct them. Error-correction helps some students understand certain structures better. Creating Showme tutorials for common errors helps students to review them independently.

Second, use a lot of self-talks. This means that as I correct an error on the board, I talk out the steps: “First, I check that my subject and verb are correct; then, I see that the pronoun is “she” which is third person singular, and I see that this needs a third-person-singular‘s’”. I often ask students to do this at the board along with self-talks. Because they are ESL students, they have to internalize these steps. By speaking them out loud while they analyze, their brain has another chance to remember the steps. Of course, the structure of self-talks will depend on the students’ level. I have successfully done this with beginning, intermediate, and advanced English level students, both children and adults. I model self-talks in my Showme tutorials and have noticed that the students who watched them at home often use self-talks on their own in class.

Third, guided note-taking can help students who don’t have the best note-taking habits or lack note-taking experience. How does one take notes for grammar? In addition to what I post on the board and students’ individual notes, I ask students to circle, underline, and draw arrows just as I draw them on the board in their independent homework assignment. I have, over the years, noticed that students who practice this will also do it on an exam, and those students tend to score higher because they caught an error they made and erased it (this also takes years of collecting samples). A teacher will also be able to easily see which students are struggling with a concept because they will often circle or underline incorrectly. Note-taking helps to reinforce students’ memories. The Showme tutorials often show my own underlining and circling which helps encourage students to try out sample exercises the same way.

 After all these strategies have been practiced by the students, I often show a video clip and ask students to write a summary using specific structures from a unit (i.e. parallel structure, adverbs of time, etc.). I like to use Mr. Bean clips or Wallace and Gromit. They are short, funny, and usually have no complicated dialogue, so they’re ideal for any level (writing activities should be tailored accordingly for beginning levels). Finally, this is what Showme has enabled me to do more! I used to never find the time to show a video clip, but now that students get to review common errors in my Showme tutorials, students look forward to writing those summaries! Who would’ve thought? Many of my students used to groan whenever I mentioned a summary. With a video clip, they have something concrete to write about and although the class writes about the same clip, I end up with very original samples that students are proud of!

 

Technology in Hong Kong Schools

We are happy to present today some insight from Iris Qiu on the state of education in Hong Kong and how technology is reshaping the way students are taught. Don’t forget to check out her awesome ShowMes on learning Chinese (like this one on making egg fried rice)!


Iris QiuI am currently working at 3D Avatar School (3DAS). 3DAS is an online education company that uses 3D gaming technology to run live classes. It is a school that is trying challenge the traditional classroom teaching model. Being a high-tech education company, we are willing to try any new tools which can help us to enhance our online offering. And guess what has inspired us so much lately? ShowMe! It is such a useful tool. We plan to use it in following ways:

1. A demo video on our website to show how our classes use our technology platform. It is up already: http://3davatarschool.com/mandarin/

2. Free ShowMe videos on our blog: http://3davatarschool.com/teamblog/

3. Produce some video lessons as a supplement to our classes. For example, there will be ShowMe videos about Chinese Characters, Pinyin Systems, Synonyms etc. (Under development.)

4. Post videos created by our teachers, so that our clients can choose teachers based on videos they like. (Under development.)

HK Schools Receive Funding

In fact, technology is transforming the way of traditional teaching and learning. In Hong Kong, we (as educators) are not the only fans of technology.

The Hong Kong Education Bureau has been promoted electronic teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools recently. There is a three- year project – School E- Learning Polite Project that has received government funding of HK$ 60 million. True Light Middle School of Hong Kong and its three affiliate schools received about HK$ 2 million from the project fund to buy 96 iPads for English teaching.

In the meantime, the City University of Hong Kong financed itself to buy 400 iPads and iPod Touches for the newly promoted “mobile- learning” scheme.

“Around 400 students from the departments of Asian and International Studies, Biology and Chemistry, Electronic Engineering and Information Systems have enrolled in the scheme. They have been given hundreds of iPad or the iPod Touch for learning. More departments are expected to join the scheme in the new academic year.” (CityU NewsCenter)

New "Mobile-Learning" Scheme

I would say using technology to enhance teaching and learning is a trend in this century. We found that both teachers and students love iPads. This is not only because iPad is portable and has a multi-touch screen, but also because there are so many innovative apps coming out. iPads , ShowMe and many other educational apps have great potential in teaching and learning. We are still on our way to maximize their potential. Finally, I hope under Hong Kong’s high pressure, exam-obsessed education system, technology would bring some fun to the students.

 

How-to ShowMe: a lesson in creating a great ShowMe!

We want to help you use ShowMe in your classroom so we’re adding something new to our blog, How-to ShowMe!

You can find our entire collection of How-To tutorials for using ShowMe here. 

Rafranz Davis

We have so many great teachers already who have been sharing how to create ShowMes like theirs so we thought it would be perfect to add it here as well for the whole community.

First up: an excellent post by Rafranz Davis, an exemplary high school math teacher in Dallas, Texas. Rafranz first posted this on her blog in May; make sure you check her out because her writing is a must-see for any educator! You can also follow her on twitter at @mathwhiz.

Today in Algebra 1, I had an opportunity to test out a few apps with my students. The one that we LOVE the most is the one that shows the most promise so far for sharing and creativity.

ShowMeApp gives students the opportunity to do a little whiteboard screencasting on the iPad and it’s pretty amazing. At first, I had issues with the app because there is no way to currently type out the initial equation…but we found a nifty workaround.

To get your equation in a “text” format:
1. Our workbooks/textbooks are in a digital format, so we saved the worksheets in ibook.
2. Zoom in to the equation that you want to solve and use the “screenshot” function of the Ipad take an image.
3. Download the Photoshop Express App(free) and Crop the image down so that the equation is clearly visible.
4. Open The ShowME app and insert image. Before hitting “ok”, resize and move the image to a location that you want.
5. Record

Below is a video of a showme created by one of my students…It’s her first one.