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.


Reevaluation: a characteristic found in great teachers

I read an article recently titled What Makes a Great Teacher, orignally published in The Atlantic about a year ago. It dives deep into the research Teach for America has completed over the past several years in an attempt to highlight the qualities and skills needed to be a great teacher. I highly suggest you read it, not only to think about education but also because I think the characteristics of great teachers are necessary for many other things in life.

The characteristic that stands out the most to me is the one of reevaluation, one where teachers constantly assess their own performance and make an effort to improve. To me this is the umbrella which every other excellent quality falls under. If you don’t believe me, take a look at #edchat on Tuesday and notice how many educators are discussing changing a part of their practice or asking a question about how to improve their pedagogy. So many excellent teachers constantly reevaluate and change their teaching practices not only to stay relevant to the new generation of students they are teaching but also to continue being engaged in their jobs and make them more meaningful.

I’d like to think about what the catalysts for change in the classroom are. There are a few things I’ve been wondering and hoping that our readers can share their knowledge about,

  • Teachers, do you need to wait to get a result on a class quiz or to grade a paper before seeing that a student might not have mastered material?
  • How fast are you able to diagnose the comprehension of a whole classroom full of students?
  • What tools do you use to track student comprehension and diagnose the issue?
  • Parents, how do you keep on top of what your child is learning and making sure he or she is digesting knowledge to the best of his or her ability? What actions do you take when you think help is needed?
Your thoughts are extremely valuable and helpful to us as we are constantly reevaluating ShowMe to ensure that it is an excellent and essential tool for learning. Reply here or send us an @ reply on twitter to @showmeapp.




How-to: Create ShowMes to help your students with homework

I’ve been talking to teachers around the globe about how they use ShowMe in their class. What I’ve discovered is that there are so many awesome and effective ways to use ShowMe as a tool in education. Today I wanted to highlight the way Ryan Halverson, a middle school math and science teacher at Notre Dame Academy Elementary in Los Angeles, CA, is using ShowMe.

Ryan creates his ShowMe lessons normally in his prep time before class and the whole process takes him about 10 minutes, 15 minutes max. Then, he uploads his lesson to his ShowMe page for all of his classes to see. The goal is for students to have a reference when completing homework at home and to digest the concept at their own pace.

I think it is an excellent way for parents to stay up on what is being taught in class and provide support for their children too!

Follow these steps to use ShowMe the same way Ryan does. We’d love to know how it affects your students’ learning!

  1. Think about what your big idea is. What is the one thing you want your students to take away and remember when it is time to apply the lesson to work? As we learned from JR, the best ShowMes are short digestable nuggets of knowledge
  2. Mentally walk through how you would teach your concept. Jot down some notes on key items you want to mention to create a guide of what your lesson will look like
  3. Get started! Hit record and let the magic begin. We’ve found that successful ShowMes are created in one sitting without hitting the pause button. Teach exactly like you would with a whiteboard in your class!
  4. When you are done, tap stop then title and save your ShowMe. When thinking about a title, try something open that can be useful to the whole community, just like Ryan has done. If you are ready to upload right away, make sure you include a short description of your ShowMe and add tags to it can be easily searched by the ShowMe community. Browse our topics so you can get an idea of how to categorize it!
The added bonus of creating your ShowMes before each lesson? Extra practice to make sure you’re all set for the class period that is about to begin!

Something about the NYTimes doesn’t compute

There has been much uproar over the recent series of education articles published by the New York Times, Grading the Digital School. At first I didn’t think much of the articles because I was unaware that it was part of a series aiming to access the benefits of technology in education. However, after this last Sunday’s article, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute, it became very clear that the NYT has an anti-edtech agenda and the conclusions that it draws are inaccurate, and misinformed. As someone who feels passionately about closing the achievement gap in education, however it should be measured, I firmly believe that technology can help us get there.

To deny public schools the opportunity to have technology in their schools is continuing to exert the existing power dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. The article further drives this issue home by holding schools with underserved student populations to higher testing standards while schools with liberal educated parent populations are apparently free from such restraints of assessment. This is the thing that does not compute. For higher-ups, often over educated with sustainable income, to pass judgement on schools that need to increase their engagement and ignite passion for learning is just not right. That’s like me telling someone who lives halfway across the world what he should eat for breakfast.

While I don’t believe that technology has all of the answers for fixing education, I do think it can solve some problems. When it is used correctly, with proper interest and support. What I am a big supporter of is meeting kids where they are and giving them all the resources they need to be awesome. The question shouldn’t be “do we have technology or not?” but rather what tools and effective teaching practices are going to get us where we need. Whatever students’ interests, learning differences, or background, school should be the place where children learn who they are, how they can change the world and the skills they need to accomplish their goals.

For further reading on this subject, please check out Ira Socol’s blog and Jonathan Martin’s post. 


ShowMe on the Tightwad Teacher podcast!

Last week I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with John Mikulski, a teacher who uses ShowMe in his classroom, and Shawn Kibel, a technology integrator in a Texas school. I am very grateful to have been included and given the opportunity to share what ShowMe is all about! I’m happy to announce that you can now listen to the podcast over at Element Opie, the interview starts at around 11 minutes. Its really invigorating to discuss our philosophy and mission for the future, it fuels my fire for being passionate about changing education. Thanks again John and Shawn!

Listen to: The Tightwad Teacher podcast, Episode #15  featuring ShowMe

As mentioned in the podcast, we’re looking for evangelists to help us decide what the best version of ShowMe could be so don’t hesitate to get in contact with your ideas. Shawn suggested that we would be a great addition to any career day chat, which of course we would love to contribute to. Send me an email at if you are interested in either of these!


Featured User #6 – Meet Ixchell

Featured User - IxchellMeet Ixchell, an outstanding ESL teacher hailing from southern California. Her English tutorials are inspired by her ESL students and we are proud to have her work showcased here at ShowMe.

Visit Ixchell’s awesome ShowMe portfolio:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently teach English as a second language for students getting their master’s degree. Both my parents were university professors so I was constantly surrounded by academia. Having studied several languages as a child, I was always interested in how words played a part in sentences and wanted to teach a language when I grew up.

How has ShowMe played a role in your classroom?
The ShowMes I create are based on a certain English textbook, so anyone using that textbook can following along. Since a lot of fellow teachers don’t have iPads, I try to set a certain standard for my ShowMes so other teachers can use them as well. It’s especially exciting when I realize that my students are watching my ShowMes without me even having to assign them for homework!

What are some things your students have taught you?
Definitely cultural awareness, especially since these students come from all around the world. For example, body language is very important to students from Saudi Arabia.

What are your future plans for ShowMe?
I definitely plan on using ShowMe more in the classroom and creating more grammar tutorials. Students constantly ask if I will continue making them. The lessons are especially helpful since ESL learners need concrete, physical examples and they eliminate the need for me to repeat lectures.


App Store Volume Purchase Program Tips

Education Apps

Are you an educator looking to buy apps for your school’s new iPads? With all the awesome education apps out there, prices can quickly add up in your shopping cart. We learned some great tips from Gina at #EdCampNYC on how to best utilize the App Store Volume Purchase Program (ASVPP) to get special pricing on bulk purchases and maximize your school’s tech budget!

App Store Volume VoucherIn order to participate in the purchase program, you or someone else from your school should enroll as a Program Manager. The Program Manager can use the management tools provided by Apple to buy app codes and distribute them to the end users. End users can be students, teachers, or administrators, anyone who will be using the iPads. Program Managers can also set up Program Facilitator accounts to help distribute apps to the end user.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you purchase 20 or more of the same app, the app becomes discounted (50% of the original purchase price!). It actually costs the same to buy 20 copies of the app as it does to buy 10. Don’t have that many iPads for the apps right now? We recommend saving the extra codes for future expansion. There’s no expiration on Volume Vouchers!
  • Apps can be purchased with voucher credits or directly with a credit card or PCard. Volume Vouchers are physical cards in denominations of $100, $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000 that are shipped to your school. They must be used at the ASVPP portal and cannot be used to buy apps directly from the App Store.
  • Once you are set up as a Program Manager, you can establish your list of Program Facilitators. Facilitators need to provide Apple with valid email addresses that aren’t currently used as Apple IDs.
  • You will not be charged sales tax if your institution is tax exempt

For additional details on the program, check out Apple’s education section, program FAQ, and App Store Volume Purchase Program webinar. Happy app shopping!


Skype + ShowMe in the classroom!

Today I had the great pleasure of Skyping with Josh Rosenberg’s classroom in Shelby, NC. It was totally awesome! To give you some background, Josh is a High School Biology teacher and blogs on his site StudyDesigned. We met via the interwebs when he wrote a great post about how his 10th graders are using ShowMe!

Talking to educators like Josh and his students is what really fires me up as the Community Manager at ShowMe because it reminds me of the real reason ShowMe is here: to make a difference in education every day. Talking to the class today reminded me that there is still TONS I can learn from classrooms and about what drives student inquiry. However, one thing that is constantly emphasized to me is that learning something new from another person is inspiring and it drives change. I’ve travelled to North Carolina once in my life so I admittedly don’t know much, however through the magic of Skype I was able to connect briefly with a classroom of great people and gain an understanding of life somewhere else. Hopefully, the students at Shelby High School feel the same way! Having an experience like I did today definitely influences our ideas as we continue to build ShowMe.

So, students and teachers, ShowMe wants to hear from you. We want to Skype your classroom and get feedback one what kind of learning works for you. We’ve got tons of questions for you but also want to answer yours as well! They can be about anything– about us, NYC, startups or technology, we’re open to everything and here to help.



Featured user #5: Meet Mark Herring

Meet Mark Herring, one of our favourite educators from New Zealand! Mark has been a big fan of ShowMe from the start and is adding it to his tool box so he can continue doing innovative things in this classroom. Way to go Mark!

Visit Mark’s excellent ShowMe portfolio, complete with examples of student work!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m the Assistant Principal at Myross Bush School in Invercargill.  We’re a fantastic rural school with 170 students and an incredibly supportive community.  I’m also a classroom teacher of 27 10 and 11 year olds.  That’s Year 5/6 in New Zealand terms.  I’ve been teaching for 6 years and at the start of the year I was an ICT Facilitator for a local cluster of schools, here in Southland. 

I’m also a big outdoors fan.  I’m into running, mountain biking and have I’ve just reignited a love for skiing which is a bonus of living down here in the south.

How do you use ShowMe?

I’ve been using ShowMe to create videos by students and myself.  At the moment it’s mostly been to consolidate some learning that has occured or to help students grasp a concept when I’m not around.  I’ve been looking into ways I can encourage students to take more responsibility for their learning  – seeking the skills and answers they for themselves without relying on the learning being ‘spoon-fed’ to them.   ShowMe has allowed me to create a teachable moment for them whereever and whenever.  Even at home if they are that motivated and lots of them are.  I’m also looking into how I can use ShowMe to record student reflection on their learning, especially because the videos are so easy to embed into their student blogs.

What’s the coolest ShowMe you’ve seen (aside from your own)?

The best ShowMe I remember was one created by a student here in New Zealand in a classroom run by Stephen Baker (@palmyteacher).  He put me onto ShowMe.  I saw the power of student voice and using that tried and true method of having someone teach someone else something to make sure they have really understood the concept.

What advice do you for someone new to creating a ShowMe lesson?

Just have a go and don’t be embarrased to put yourself out there.  Teachers can be quite shy about having their colleagues see them teaching and a showme vid can be seen by lots of them.  Also, I’ve been amazed at how quick the students pick it up.  They’re a lot faster at mastering a new technology so I’d just let them at it!

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for teachers?

I’m concerned a the political meddleing that is happening world wide.  I think there are lots of politicians who are listening to some ‘experts’ about how schools should be run and, in the process, missing the rea; essence of what a rounded / holistic education is all about.  I hope that we, as a profession will continue to have the courage to stand up for our convictions and always put our students first in our decision making.

Where do you see education technology headed?

I’m excited where technology is taking us.  I’ve been passionate about personalised learning for sometime and have see the power and potential for our students.  It’s amazing to see them grow in confidence and enthusiasm for being in control of their learning.  I had a student tell me last week that our class doesn’t feel like school anymore!  That’s really encouraging to me cause when I was at school I was pretty bored most of the time.  Any technology that empowers us, inspires us and gives us the flexibility to create our own learning journey is a great thing – just like ShowMe.  I’m looking ahead to seeing what we know as traditional school continuing to break us out of the four walls mentality that we’ve had since the industrial revolution!  I think the change has only just started.  I hope we’re bracing ourselves!


#Edcampnyc and what I learned

This past weekend I attended my very first EdCamp right here in NYC. The event, held at The School at Columbia University, was put on as an alternative and innovative professional development unconference for educators. It was refreshing to attend an event organized by teachers, to help teachers, also, that there are no rules at an unconference except to learn as much as possible!

Photo by SpecialKRB via Flickr

I attended three sessions: iPads in elementary education; Facebook “friends” and face-to-face learning; and iPads, iPhones, and iPods in special education. Although the conversations in each of these sessions was very different, the same message came through in each discussion. To all of these innovative educators, if we are consistently meeting students where they are (mentally, socially, emotionally, physically) and continue to challenge them while thinking of their needs and capabilities, we can ensure that we are effectively teaching our students and preparing them for the world. This is also to say that we should be learning from our students as well! Teachers and students have the responsibility to play both roles.

I attended the conference as a passionate educator who hopes to make a difference and to investigate how ShowMe can play a role in the innovative classroom. Already there are so many ways it is helping students; from being used in assessments, to homework help exchanges on Edmodo, to being a tool to flip a classroom, to helping a student who was absent catch up in class. At EdCamp, I was exposed to even more ways ShowMe can be used as a tool and inspired to investigate more features we could implement as well as more possible ideas for us to be an effective learning opportunity.

EdCampNYC reinforced the idea that educators are well on their way to changing education and making a difference in students’ lives but there is still a long road ahead. It was an event that reinvigorated our spirits to go forth and make a difference where we can and commit to supporting educators 100% however possible.