Downtime over the holidays but still want to learn?

The holidays are a great time to relax and curl up on the couch. However, if you’re like me you’ll still want to keep practicing new skills and hungry to keep your brain stimulated.

Luckily, we’ve recently filled the ShowMe library with awesome featured lessons, all easily viewable and organized right in the Discovery section of your app! Learning something new is easy as pie…or pi [snort :)]! Some of my favorites are Energy Transformation by Rich Pepperell, Expansion of Islam by Mr. Sallee and Introduction to the Mole and Molar Mass by Natalie Rosin

I propose a plan to keep up the knowledge quest: Watching 3 ShowMes a day to stay fresh as a whip for when the New Year rolls around. I’ll also be publishing a series of top tens so stay tuned for those too!

To find the Discovery section of the app,

  1. Tap on Menu in the sidebar of the whiteboard. You’ll be taken to the screen that is home to all of the ShowMes that you’ve created.
  2. At the bottom of the page, select Discover
  3. Browse, Watch, Learn. Enjoy.
  4. Repeat as many times as you’d like!
If you’ve created or discovered a ShowMe, let us know! Also, we’d love to hear your stories about how ShowMe has helped your brain stay sharp!



How-to: Use ShowMe as a center in the classroom

On one of the school visits that San and I have been taking lately we visited a 9th grade Algebra classroom to learn more about the types of learning taking place on a daily basis. Our wonderful hosts at FDR High School were Brian Halling and Arisa King, who welcomed us enthusiastically to watch how they used ShowMe with their students.

Like many schools out there, FDR only has one iPad in each math classroom. However, Brian and Anita didn’t let the scarcity of iPads limit them, instead they showed us how they use ShowMe as part of centers and group work. How cool! Here are instructions for you to adapt to use ShowMe as part of center time in your classroom!

  1. Create or find a ShowMe on your iPad about a short concept that you want your students to learn about in class. Don’t forget to upload it to the site or send them the link so they can watch it at home after class!
  2. When its time for centers or group work, break up your class into small groups. Depending on the size of your class you could have more, but groups of about 3-5 students should work
  3. At the ShowMe center, have students watch the lesson you created. Allow time for them to watch it a few times, and answer questions about what they are learning as they go along.
  4. Once they’ve completed watching the lesson you’ve assigned, have them create their own ShowMe of what they just learned and save it for e-portfolios, to aid in future assignments or for them to show off to their friends and family!
Has anyone tried using ShowMe in centers for their class?

ShowMe gets a mention for reinventing education!

Last week Google Hangouts hosted a discussion tited “Reinventing Education with Khan Academy and AI Class” with none other than Sal Khan, Sebastian Thrun and and Peter Norvig fielding questions from eager participants from around the world. When asked about apps like ShowMe that put teaching tools in the hands of anyone who as a tablet, all three agreed that it was an awesome step forward. Something that Sebastian said when ShowMe was brought up really stuck with me and really gets to the core of what we’re working on at ShowMe.

“So few of us are teachers and so many of us should be teachers, and have an inspiration to be teachers…I think every one of us has a story to tell, has something to do in that space and wants to give on to others”

If you’ve got a piece of knowledge and want to give on to others–we want to help spread your lessons to the world!


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?