The kids are alright

Mind/Shift published an article the other day about a school district in Cincinnati that has been turning over the responsibility of tech integrators to students with great success. How awesome! I wonder why more school districts are not creating programs like this because most teachers will readily agree that when tech problems arise, its always the younger generation who have the answers. In fact, when I was attending EdCampNYC a few months ago, several teachers offered up solutions to getting to sites blocked by school districts: Ask a student to get around it! Hopefully more schools jump on this band wagon and realize that one way to get students excited about learning, is to empower them with tools they want to use.

Yesterday we had a visit with a group of students from MicroInterns who are lucky enough to be taking charge of their technology education and learning how to maximize all of the tech tools around. As part of a workshop on iPhone app User Interaction, the MicroInterns created a tutorial using ShowMe about what they had learned. Afterwards, they graciously made themselves available so we pick their brains and ask for their feedback on the app. As with the 4th graders at UNIS, these amazing students had great ideas and thought about design and technology in an extremely astute way. Their fluency in technology and ideas for how it can help us ensured me that the future is in good hands!


Our first school visit!

On Thursday morning San and I had the pleasure of visiting the 4th grade Town Hall meeting at United Nations International School. The room was filled with 100 students and their teachers who listened closely as we talked about how ShowMe got started, our plans for the future and how to use it. Everyone had great questions and feedback, they were all clearly very critical design conscious app users!

The best part of the morning was when we started talking about how we built ShowMe and how applications get designed. The discussion opened up a can of worms! All of the students were excitedly declaring that they wanted to build apps and sharing their ideas with each other. We’re happy to have inspired the next generation of entrepreneurs!

Visiting UNIS was a completely eye opening experience for us. We were able to gain some first hand experience on how classrooms function and that knowledge is completely invaluable as we think about how to build the best possible tools to serve them. We also learned that students are the best user testers and full of refreshing imagination!

If your class is free for a visit, we’d love to come by!


The value of failing

I just watched a great video of Eric Ries, well known entrepreneur and author of The Lean Startup, discussing how failure is an essential tool of success and how schools are missing the mark on concept. While I think this is mostly true, I think schools actually do a good job of letting students fail. The flaw is that schools do not teach kids what to do with failure and they let them fail for all the wrong reasons. How do you think we should teach failure?



The Future of Education

I’m pretty sure I’ve written a post about this before, it’s something lots of people are thinking about: What is the future of education? When will change start to happen? Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s started. Yes, it’s true!

On Monday I attended a Meetup titled “The Future of Education“. The event turned into a larger discussion about the current education system: what is working and what needs to change. Pretty much everyone agreed technology is not the only answer but that schools should be focused on more hybrid learning opportunities, online and offline. There was also a large focus of the talk about how schools are not preparing students with the adequate skills to be successful once they graduate. We all thought about what could make school more real-life and reflective of what skills students actually need to know . At the end of the night, many people sat at the table wondering if it teachers and students even thought this change could be possible. Is the education world yearning for a shift in values? My answer, based on many conversations with teachers, was decidedly “Yes!”

The following night, I attended another interesting event hosted by YouPD about Competency Based Learning and Assessments. The room was dominated by teachers who are all looking for ways to shift discussions away from letter grades and test prep towards valuable insight on skills that students need to be successful. At the beginning of the evening the presenter, Leah McConaughey from iZone 360, proposed the question: what does a 66% average in testing and a 66% in effort communicate to a struggling student? Everyone in the room agreed that, without knowing the student, the two messages for the student would be “Study harder for your tests and try harder.” However, we all agreed that those two things had nothing to do with real life.

So, how do we make schools more like real life? The big word here is transferring. Transferring is the activity of taking a skill or knowledge that has been acquired and applying it to something completely new and unknown. Its what people do every day at work or in their daily lives. When a problem occurs, you think about how to solve it: What are similarities to issues that have come up before? What knowledge is needed to solve the problem? How much time will this take? Who can help me? In most schools transferring only happens at the end of a unit with one single project and takes up a large percentage of a grade. However everyone agreed to make schools more real life, that transferring should actually be happening everyday.

We should be providing students copious amounts of opportunities to apply their skills, challenge themselves, collaborate with each other and engage with their education. Many teachers in the room are already using this method to successful results! The discussion solidified for me that the future is already here and change is happening!


Monday reading list

We had a long and restful weekend here at ShowMe HQ which means, it’s the perfect time to get caught up on education news from the past week. Here are some of the articles from our reading list:

iPad in Education: Here to stay or passing fad? 

Building off of our discussion last week, here is some great research showing the short term benefits to iPads in the classroom. How do we continue to assess these?

Questions about Virtual School’s Effectiveness

Many virtual schools already face an uphill battle in ensuring students succeed because many attendees turn to virtual schooling as a last resort when traditional schooling is not working for them. Should we judge them by the same standards?

Principals Protest Role of Testing in Evaluations

The new standards required for Race to the Top funding have caused many educators around New York State to protest and call out for change. How do you think principals should evaluate faculty?

How About Better Parents?

It is very clear that that teachers are extremely important and have a large impact on student success. However a statistic that is constantly overlooked in the news is parent involvement in a student’s education. Feeling supported at home goes a long way to making a difference at school.

The Other Student Loan Problem: Too Little Debt

Is there such thing as too little debt? Will even the slightest amount of support in the form of students loan have an impact on graduation rates? Huffington Post investigates.






What does the research say?

I read a lot of studies and surveys. They are in the news everyday and I like to think that some data can be trustworthy. However, I am inundated with conflicting information (is chocolate healthy for me or not?!) and not sure if anything I read is accurate. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of iPads in the classroom and have a lot of questions. Do we know enough yet to start to draw conclusions to about their benefits or shortcomings? Most teachers I speak to excitedly declare that students are more engaged when using an iPad in class. I hear of results and understanding improving after students watch or create ShowMes, which is totally awesome!

Could using a new tool like a tablet be enough of a catalyst for students and teachers that it causes a transformation of thinking and doing? Do the capabilities of the iPad have enough to offer us that students can be consistently engaged after the magic has worn off and familiarity with the tool sets in?

Suggested reading as we ponder this topic:

Pros and Cons of iPads in the Classroom by Elizabeth Woyke

Study Results: Students Benefits from iPads in the Classroom in Notre Dame News

Educators Evaluate Learning Benefits of iPad in EdWeek

Shocker! College Kids Like Having iPads in the Classroom on Engadget

What do you think can be determined about iPads in the classroom?


How-to: Let your students take the lead

We’ve had loads of teachers creating ShowMes over the past several months and they are really awesome ones at that. Lately however, I have been hearing about more teachers putting iPads in the hands of their students which I think is an excellent idea. Teaching a concept or process is a great way to demonstrate understanding! Here are a few ways I’ve seen ShowMe being used by students:

  • Keeping it Simple: Students create lessons around concepts being learned in class and share publicly through the ShowMe website or a class blog. This is a great way to show your students that their teachings can have a global reach!
  • Interactive Test: During a test, sometimes it can be difficult to assess a students learning or the choices they made to solve a problem. Using iPads and ShowMe to have them answer a question can be a great way to hear and see all of their thinking.
  • Collaborative review: One school in Minnesota was using ShowMe to create study review lessons for an upcoming test. The students worked in pairs to teach sections of the review and then were responsible for watching and grading the other sections with a class designed rubric. Creative and reflective!
  • Parent-Teacher conferences: This one is just an added bonus that can used after any of the above. Watching a ShowMe in a parent-teacher conference can give great insight into where a student is at in his or her learning process.
Do you have more ways for students to use ShowMe in class?

November Roundup

Help make ShowMe better!

We’re always looking for ways to improve ShowMe and we’d love your help. As a valuable community member, your input and ideas can help ShowMe grow! We’ve put together a very short survey to gather your thoughts and learn a little bit more about how you are using ShowMe. Take the survey now and let us know what you think!

Filling the blog with resources

We’ve been sending our thoughts and ideas for how to use ShowMe straight to the blog. Its the best place to read about how to use ShowMe and get ideas from other classrooms! We’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on here at ShowMe HQ as well as share the best educational news and inspirational stories. Watch the blog as we feature the lessons we love from the best teachers, you could be next!

Highlights include How-to use ShowMe with your class blog and How-to use ShowMe to add another voice in the classroom. Head on over and check them out! If you have any burning questions you would like us to help solve, send an email to

Awesome classrooms using ShowMe!

  • Students in Zeeland, MI have been totally blown away that the lessons they created have been helping the greater ShowMe community. Teacher Anthony DiLaura reports that the sense of ownship and pride in their work took on a whole new meaning. Keep up the awesome work!
  • Justin Suran at San Domenico School in California used ShowMe with his students to create stellar presentations about Mesopotamia and Ancient civilizations. We were so impressed with these ShowMes and the hard work that the students put into them. Watch them now to get ideas about how to make a great lesson!
  • Kevin Cummins in Victoria, Austrailia is an e-learning coach and runs the excellent Edgalaxy website. It is chock-full of resources for using tech in the classroom, including some great ideas on how to use ShowMe. Head on over to his blog to learn more.
  • Kit Tisdale, Disabilities Studies Scholar, wrote about the value of repetition in watching a ShowMe for some students. She thinks that the best ShowMe lessons involve the learner. Great idea Kit!
Don’t forget to take the survey!

Calling all teachers! Nominations needed for TED 2012

It’s hard to escape the undeniable spell that TED videos cast over viewers. Hearing from the top minds is incredibly inspiring! If you haven’t seen any yet, I suggest you visit the site now or download one of the apps.

I consider myself lucky because in my job, I get to talk to extremely moving and motivating people everyday. Those people are teachers. Day in and day out, they stand-up in front of groups of young people and encourage them to go-forth and change the world. What’s more inspiring than that?

This year, worlds are coming together. TED has put out a call for “the world’s best teachers” to present at TED2012. Teachers who stand at the front of class every day now have the chance to share their message with the world! The description reads

We’re especially keen to include brilliant EXPLANATIONS, meaningful A-HA moments, powerful STORIES, indelible IMAGES.

If you think you’re ready, submit your name now  or nominate a friend. There are only so many hours in the day I can spend submitting names!


How-to: Use ShowMe with Edmodo!

Many teachers have asked how to use ShowMe in conjunction with their Edmodo page–what a great idea! Like I mentioned Ryan was doing, ShowMe is a great way to create a lesson that can help your students when you are not around. Through posting on Edmodo, you can easily communicate with your students. I spoke to one teacher, Sarah Burson, who says she likes to create ShowMes on the fly and submit them through the site whenever students ask for help after school. To do the same for your class or fellow students, follow these easy steps:

  1. Visit ShowMe and copy the embed code of the lesson you would like to share. You can find this by hovering over the video player until the word “embed” appears. Copying the url will also work too.
  2. Login to Edmodo.
  3. Click on “Library” at the top of the screen
  4. Click on “Add to library” in the top left of that screen.
  5. Select “links” and paste in the embed link or the original link for the ShowMe
  6. Title your link and you’re done!
Have questions about how you can use ShowMe? Send me an email at