Sunday, February 28, 2016

Summary of Learning

I have finally arrived at my last assignment and this has been a whirlwind of a course to say the least! This was my first fully-online course and my first 6-week course (other than summer classes in undergrad). It has definitely taught me a lot about time management since I am teaching full-time and also taking another class this semester.

My biggest take-aways from the topics of this class were:

  • The importance of incorporating technology into the classroom.
  • Social media in the classroom, more specifically, the power of blogging in the classroom.
  • The benefits of having students create eBooks to create texts of any genre.

My biggest take-aways from #UAtnpcl were:
  • The ability to connect with others from all over.
  • The ability to connect with classmates and share ideas and resources.
  • The ability to post assignments and share them with not only the professor, but with classmates and other followers.
  • The benefits of using hashtags.

During this course, I already started using transliterate practices in my classroom and hope to do so more and more as I become more comfortable with this skill and learn more resources to use. I have already started having my students blog and connect with each other through their blogs. I plan to have students learn how to research topics using the Internet and create technology presentations on their learning, rather than always creating reports. I am also working on getting the correct cords to be able to connect my iPad to my projector to teach students how to use Book Creator. I only have a personal iPad, so it may take a while for every student to get a turn, but I am looking forward to having students create eBooks. I may start with a class book where every student gets an opportunity to create at least page  independently or with a partner. However, I'd like to get to the place where they also have the opportunity to create their own texts.

This course has truly opened me up to a whole new world of teaching that I know can only improve my teaching abilities and increase student learning. I look forward to continue learning more about TPACK, educational technology, and transliterate practices. I also look forward to continue connecting with other educators through Twitter and Blogger.

Finally, for my Summary of Learning digital artifact, I really wanted the chance to try-out a new tool that I was not already exposed to during this course. When looking at the cool tool options, I came across Visme in the infographic section, which was also a category I had not yet worked with for the Cool Tool Reviews. During this course I loved finding infographics that went along with our weekly topics to include in my blog posts. The reason I chose Visme over the other infographic tools listed was because Visme offered a presentation option that the other tools did not, which really appealed to me for the purpose of this last assignment. You can read about my thoughts on Visme in my Visme creation below!

One thing worth noting that I did not mention in my Visme presentation is that the only negative experience I had while using this tool was that even though I have music selected to play, the music won't play. I played around with the music function for more than a half an hour and also tried to find information from the help page and Google. Every time I would finally get the background music to play, I would publish it and the music would be gone again. Therefore, if you don't hear music, that is why! (Super frustrating!) Any feedback/help would be greatly appreciated!

Below you will find the presentation I created using Visme to display my Summary of Learning. The presentation works best in full-screen mode and you can use the arrows to move through the slides at your own pace!

Here is also the link due to the large file size if your computer is slow to load the presentation above!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cool Tool 4: Book Creator

As promised in my "Cool Tool 3: Explain Everything" post, I have finally finished creating an eBook using Book Creator. After our week 3 videos on eBooks, I was very intrigued and wanted to find out more about having students create eBooks in the classroom. I had a chance to connect with Jon Smith via email and asked him a few questions. One of my questions was if he recommended using iBooks Author over Book Creator or vice versa. His response was:

"I like book creator because it is so simple to use. I also like it because you could make a very good book only using the iPad. Anything that can be put into the camera roll can be added to book creator. I'm a huge fan of app smashing. 
iBooks Author is a little harder to use (slightly). It also offers up a more robust experience. However, book creator can make some really good books and it's much easier for young kids to use. I work with a KDG teacher and her kids have gotten to a pint where they will make their own books without help from the teacher."

With that, I decided to try out Book Creator, but was wondering, "What is app smashing?" So I checked it out and decided that I do that all the time and it would make sense that students would do that, too, when creating projects to help them make the best book possible. One example I was already thinking of was from the main video when Explain Everything was discussed to incorporate videos showing students thinking. Therefore, I included my Explain Everything creation on the water cycle in the eBook I created.

Anyways, back to Book Creator! I decided to download the $4.99 version of the app instead of the free version because I know this is something that I want to use with my students. I decided to create a book about water and the water cycle so that I could incorporate my Explain Everything video, as mentioned above.

The Book Creator app can create landscape, portrait, and square eBooks. With the app you can include text, photos, sound, and videos. The app has functions to change the font, font color, font size, background color, picture size, and video size. You can also make the background color on the left and right side of the book different. The app has a feature that you can turn on guides and snap items to the guides which makes aligning items on a page very easy, however, this function can be turned off if you do not want the app to automatically align items for you. Another feature that is noteworthy is the pen tool. The pen allows you to draw and annotate your book. The app also has comic book templates you can use when creating eBooks. Finally, when books are finished, you can upload them as PDFs, videos, or ePubs. They can also be shared to a variety of apps.

Below are three screen shots of most of the options you will come across when creating a book.

This tool could be used in the classroom in so many different ways. Students could collaborate to make eBooks or create them independently. Students could use the app to create informative eBooks on topics they have researched or learned about or they could create fiction and nonfiction narratives, among other things. I also like the idea of app smashing discussed above and having students use other apps, like Explain Everything, to add to their book. I would use this in my classroom because it is a way to incorporate technology into the classroom that teaches students 21st century skills. The app also engages students more than if they were to just write or type a research report, biography, story, etc. It gives them more options when creating them and gives them more room to be creative. I also really like Jon Smith's idea of having students publish their eBooks on iTunes. Publishing these books gives students a greater purpose for creating them and they will most likely put more effort into them since they know they will have a huge audience instead of just the teacher, class, or their family. I also loved how by adding them to iTunes students can incorporate math and geography skills by tracking where the downloads are, graphing how many downloads they get, and analyzing the data.

Students of all ages could definitely use this app to create eBooks because it is very user-friendly. Jon Smith's website also has eBooks created by students of all ages that are a testament that students can definitely use the app. Younger students would definitely need support while learning the app, but I'm sure they would pick it up fast. Older students, however, would not require much support at all if they already are pretty tech-savvy. I did not come across an aspects of the app that I thought would be challenging for students.

Here is my eBook creation that I saved and uploaded as a video.

I'm interested in knowing if anyone has used this app with their students. What have you done with it? Have there been any challenges? Even if you haven't used this app yet, what are some ideas you have for using it? I highly recommend trying out Book Creator if you haven't yet. I can't wait to start using it with my class!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Week 5 PLN: Blended Learning

My Philosophy on Blended Learning

To be completely honest with you, before this week I have previously heard of blended learning, but I probably wouldn't have been able to give someone an accurate definition of what blended learning is. I probably would have given a very basic response saying it's when you incorporate online learning, but in all actually I don't even know if I would have been able to give that response. At this point, I don't really know what I thought it was before. However, now that I have been watching video discussions and reading articles about it all week, I can definitely say I am interested.

Throughout this past 5 weeks I have truly began to see the positives of using technology to support classroom instruction. Blended learning takes the technology aspect a step farther by not only using technology to support instruction and learning, but by allowing students to take their own responsibility for their learning. It allows them to take control over the time, place, path, and pace of their learning to meet their learning needs best. I really like the idea of the blended learning models that give students time for face-to-face instruction. I do not think that I truly support a completely online program because I believe that students benefit from in-person interactions with teachers and students for a variety of reasons, one of them being to learn social skills and learn how to work in person with other people. Many jobs require that employees can collaborate online and can collaborate in-person in the work place. However, I do see many benefits of blended learning for both teachers and students.

Below is an infographic I found from Gogh Van Go showing benefits of blended learning for teachers and students that I agree with. Check out the site to read a more detailed statement about each benefit.
"Collaborative learning is enhanced by allowing students to exchange and contribute resources in the online environment" (the fourth benefit on the list) really stood out to me because not all students feel comfortable exchanging and contributing in class. By providing different forums for students to do this, such as online discussion boards, it gives every student a voice that may not realize they have or feel comfortable using in face-to-face discussions. This was one of the discussion points that Stacy Hawthorne spoke about in one of our weekly readings, When Does Blended Learning Work Best?, when discussing how her own daughter did not participate in class because she did not have enough confidence, even though she did well in school. However, she contributed in her discussion forums for her online class and even felt comfortable asking questions. I feel that this is a huge benefit for many students as there are many factors why students do not like to participate in class, such as confidence issues or being shy. In my own class, I have recently started using Kidblog and have already began getting so much more information and participation from my students in a few short weeks from their blogs than I do in class discussions.

Another benefit of blended learning that I took from this week's readings and videos was how blended learning helps prepare students for college and career-readiness because it exposes students to technological tools and skills that they will be required to use in the future.

One of the greatest benefits I think blended learning offers is the ability for students to receive such differentiated and personalized instruction that also allows them to work at their pace. This is something that I truly struggle with in my classroom due to things outside of my control, such as lack of resources and technology. Also, in typical face-to-face classrooms, there is a pace you typically have to follow because there are so many standards that you need to address. Many times teachers move on before everyone is truly ready to move on or students sit through lessons that they already know. One of the big reasons teachers move on is because they need to make sure they cover all the standards before high-stakes testing. Blended learning offers opportunities for students to work on the skills that they need to work on at a pace that works for them while still receiving teacher support and feedback and while learning 21st century skills. Students can work quickly through topics they do not need much support with and take extra time to explore, practice, and learn topics that are more challenging for them. Finally, by incorporating the technology aspect, students can be assessed using technology resources and websites that can track and grade students' work. The teacher now has to spend less time on grading and has more time on intervention, feedback, and lesson planning for each student.

Ready to Blend shared the following infographic displaying three key elements to blended learning.

Mugan's Biology Page posted another infographic displaying benefits of blended learning.
I recommend checking out his page on blended learning. Make sure to navigate through his 4 stages at the top that offer:

  • videos about blended learning
  • benefits
  • advantages
  • his own journey with blended learning
  • how to start your own blended learning platform. He also addresses TPACK!
  • resources

To end this blog post, I wanted to share that iNACOL's Blended Learning Teacher Competency, or the qualities that make a person a good blended learning teacher, was one of the most striking things I took from Stacy's presentation. When she was addressing most of the qualities, I really felt that I met the majority of the qualities needed, which hit home with me because until now I never really thought of teaching online or semi-online classes. I also never have really had a great impression of online schooling, but it is important to note that my only impressions of online learning were based off of stereotypes and hear-say so they were probably not very accurate impressions. This week my eyes have really been opened up to blended learning. Also, when I was listening to this presentation I really did not know if I had the capabilities of teaching to a blended learning model. However, when she discussed the qualities of a good blended learning teacher I feel that I could make one. I still don't know if I would actually be able to do this successfully, but I have more confidence that I could, and feel that eventually, with much practice and research, I probably could do it.

Below is a great infographic from iNACOL that shows the competencies that make a good blended learning teacher.

I'm interested to hear any information about how you use blended learning in your classroom. Does anyone have any ideas or resources to help me move to a more blended learning approach in my second grade classroom with limited technology (computer lab two days a week and four classroom computers)?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week 4 PLN: Assessment

My Philosophy on Assessment

At this point in education, assessment seems to be one of the current buzzwords, more specifically formative and summative assessment. Everyone is talking about it. In my eyes there are positives and negatives to assessment. I believe that when used correctly, assessments are a great tool for teachers and give teachers very valuable information about their students. However, they can be used incorrectly and due to this it tends to give assessments a negative stigma by teachers, parents, and students. I also think that there are too-many high stakes tests taking place, which puts unnecessary pressure on students and teachers. This pressure can cause poor results because of teachers and students being stressed about the tests.

However, in regards to my own use of assessments for true instructional purposes, I personally believe in using assessments, especially formative assessments, in my teaching to help ensure that my students are learning and that they're learning the material correctly. In a way, assessments keep me on the right track and inform me what my next steps need to be.

In my classroom I use formative assessments daily. Many times they are quick checks like having the students give me a thumbs up or thumbs down. I also have students write answers/thoughts on their whiteboards, especially in math, although I do use them for all subjects. Other formative assessments are pencil/paper. I really like the idea of using technology for formative assessments; however, I have not used it much due to a lack of technology resources in my school. I could create some to be done while students are in the computer lab, but we do not have iPads or clickers students could use to complete them during lessons.

In regards to Pear Deck and eduCanon (the two formative assessment technologies shared by Scott Kinkopht in our weekly video), I would love to use these with my students. I think they are great because they are engaging, quick, and easy formative assessments for both the teacher and the student. One benefit of using these tools is that it cuts down time wasted on grading since it does it for you, unless it is an answer that students had to write a response to in which case the teacher needs to view those. I like that a teacher can create an assignment for the students and the students can login and answer the questions while they are working on the assignment. I also like that it can be used during a lesson the teacher is giving and the teacher can give immediate feedback. These types of assessments are also more engaging and interactive for students to use.

In regards to grading formative assessments or not, I have mixed feelings about it. Many of my formative assessments are unable to be graded because students are not turning in work. For example, the quick checks I have students complete on white boards are unable to be turned in. However, many times the pencil/paper formative assessments end up being graded. This is due to the fact that my district is transitioning to standards-based grading and currently K-5 has implemented standards-based grading/report cards. We were advised to have at least three "dips" or assignments per standard. Therefore, if I only graded summative assignments, I wouldn't have enough data to give grades on report cards. However, I'm okay with grading my formative assessments for the following reason: The grades are not averaged together to get a final grade. At the end of each quarter I have to manually give each student a grade for each standard. When I do this, the formative assessments help me see the progress students have made, where they started, and where they ended for each standard. I also do not put as much weight into the formative assessments when deciding their final grade because I know they occurred when students were still learning.

Therefore, I do not agree with using formative assessments as grades if they are being averaged into their final grade. I do agree with using them for grades, if they are used the way I use them, to show student progress through out the quarter on a certain standard or skill.

I believe that students should get a chance to revise and edit formative assessments because they are the assessments directing student learning and teacher feedback. The purpose of formative assessments is to show what the students know and what the student still needs work on. Much of a students learning will occur when they are given the opportunity to see what their mistakes were and go through the process of fixing them. Before students are given the opportunity to fix a formative assessment or take a similar one, teachers need to make sure they give the student feedback and instruction on the areas they are struggling with. If there isn't feedback, there is no instructional value in formative assessments. These assessments should be used to guide students in their learning. If there isn't meaningful feedback, students won't understand the areas they are still struggling with. I believe that feedback is one of the most important parts of formative assessments. When watching the Rick Wormeli video where he discusses formative and summative assessments, many things stood out to me and were points that I agree with in regards to formative assessment.

Rick stated that formative assessment, not summative, is the most important aspect of the two. He went on to talk about formative assessments saying, "It has the greatest impact on student achievement, on feedback to the teacher. The whole enterprise of teaching and learning really boils down to that formative assessment. Can kids learn without grades? Yeah. Can they learn without formative assessment and the feedback that comes with it? Not at all." He then suggested that teachers should spend at least the same amount of time, if not more, designing formative assessments instead of summative assessments. Lastly, he stated that the best formative assessments include descriptive feedback. He noted that there are many people that talk about the following three aspects of descriptive feedback:

You helped the kid discover or you pointed out yourself...
1. What is the goal (objective)?
2. Where are you in relation to it?
3. What are we going to do to close that gap?

Also in the Rick Wormeli video, he noted that summative assessments can turn into formative assessments if need be. I agree with this because our job as teachers is to ensure that students learn and master the material. If students have not mastered it on the summative assessment, more teaching and learning needs to happen. A teacher can't just say, "Too bad!" and move on. Instead, they need to figure out what went wrong on the summative assessment, reteach, and give a new summative assessment.

I think it's important to note that there is no set number of formative assessments that need to occur before a summative assessment. A teacher may need to add more formative assessments than planned based on student progress. Finally, formative assessments should be short. According to Scott Kinkopht, they should only check one or two learning goals and each learning goal should have no more than 3 questions.

Cool Tool 3: Emaze

For this week's cool tool review, I was planning on finishing my eBook I started making last week with Book Creator, but I decided to take a break from that and try out a new tool! This week I created an Emaze presentation on synonyms and antonyms, a topic my second graders are currently learning.

Emaze is a tool that enables you to create presentations. It can be used on iPads, laptops, computers, tablets, and phones that are connected to Wi-Fi. The presentations can also be easily shared on many different social media sites. This tool has many different presentation themes you can use, and many more if you decide to buy one of the paid versions. Also, if you buy a paid version, you can collaborate on presentations. However, I decided to try out the free version for the time being and used the chalkboard theme. I really liked using this tool and thought it was very simple to use. I like the flow of the presentation and the transition between the slides. There are many options when creating your presentation. You can include text, numbers, images, media, shapes, and charts into your presentations. Another cool feature is that you can important PowerPoint projects that you have already created into Emaze.

When working with slides you can duplicate them or change the settings, such as: auto play, duration, and page scroll. When working with text, there are many features such as: style, size, alignment, bold, text color, background color, effect, opacity, list, indent, text direction, hyperlink, target, audio, arrange, lock, rotate, 3D, line spacing, letter spacing, and font.

Below you will find a screenshot of what you will see when you are creating a presentation.

This would be a great tool to use in the classroom for instruction because, while there are many presentation apps to use, I really like the layout of this one and think it is very engaging for students. Teachers can teach the content with the presentation that incorporates technology and keeps students interested. I can see this being more appealing than a PowerPoint presentation for students of all ages. I love how the slides flow into each other and give the effect that they are all on the same background.

This would also fit even greater with TPACK if it were incorporated into an assignment for the students. For example, students could research a famous person and then show what they learned by creating an Emaze presentation. Emaze does not have so many options that it would overwhelm the students when trying to learn how to use the program, especially younger students. Part of me thinks that Emaze would even be easier for primary-aged students to use than PowerPoint.

I would definitely use this in the classroom to present material on a variety of topics from the weather cycle to character traits to arrays. As I mentioned above I would use this to present material because it presents material in an engaging way and you can also incorporate media and audio. Also, I was able to make it interactive by adding questions to the presentation. I would have students use this because it enables them to create presentations showing what they learned being as creative as they want. It is also easy to use and would not require much teacher support and instruction on how to use the tool. Students could also incorporate media, audio, and links in their presentation. Students can create presentations quickly using Automaze and "Smart" templates. Lastly, there is a template that looks like a newspaper. This would be a fun template for students to use for an assignment where they could create a newspaper to contain articles on a variety of topics. I could see students collaborating easily with the newspaper template, where each student is a journalist reporting on a different topic and they each put their information into the template. Students could also play the role of editor and edit each other's work. There are a variety of templates that I'm sure could open themselves up to many more different engaging and thought-provoking assignment ideas.

Below is an example Emaze that uses the newspaper template.
Powered by emaze

The one challenge I had with this tool was that I could not edit images, other than resizing objects, with this tool so I had to edit them in Microsoft Word and copy/paste them into my Emaze presentation. For example, I found a picture and wanted to crop it, but I was unable to find a way to crop it in the Emaze presentation.

Overall, I think this is an excellent tool for teachers to create engaging presentations and for students to create presentations that showcase their learning in an interactive, creative, engaging way instead of always using reports and tests. I highly recommend trying out this app for yourself and with your students!

Here's my finished Emaze presentation on synonyms and antonyms!

Powered by emaze

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Week 3 PLN: Global Publishing through Ebooks

This week was all about eBooks. I have not given much thought about eBook use in the classroom before because, as you may have read in some of my previous posts, I do not have a great resource of technology for my students to use. We have 4 computers in our room and twice a week we get to use the computer lab. However, I am seriously trying to figure out how I can incorporate them more into my classroom after watching the weekly topic video.

I can see eBooks impacting the writing process in a huge way. Some students love to write and you don't need fun, engaging ways to get them motivated. For others, however, that's just not the case. Most times when technology is integrated, students motivation level automatically increases by at least a little bit. They begin to get curious. Students love using the computers to find information, play videos, and play games. Students also like to write for an audience. Anytime I mention anything about who will see the work, students' performance always goes up. Incorporate the writing into the technology so that anyone can see and you've got something big. We recently started blogging in my classroom, and student motivation has already gone up. They love that the other students can see what they wrote, they love that they can comment on others posts, and they love typing on the computer. When I tell students we are going to create a book on the computer or iPad and we can put it on iTunes so that people from all over the world can download it, I can only imagine the motivation and effort that they will put into the book(s) they create. The more students write, the more their writing improves. When students write on paper, I'm lucky if I can get 3 or 4 sentences out of some students. As soon as I had students start blogging, the length of students writing has increased. I think that eBooks will have the same effect because they will be engaged in the process and they will want to write more.

It was interesting when Jon Smith was discussing the three reasons why students don't want to write.

1. The teacher (1 person) is not a big enough audience for these students. They put so much time and effort into their work for only YOU to see it and that's not enough for them anymore.
2. There is no sense of contribution or purpose for what they are doing.
3. They are not leaving behind anything (a legacy).

By having students create eBooks, it addresses all three of those reasons. It gives them a bigger audience, the purpose for writing is to persuade, entertain, or inform their audience, and they are leaving something behind (a book) to represent what they did during their time in school. They can also contribute to each others work and give feedback to help each other write great books.

This will effect student's during the writing process in a couple key ways. They will want to write better material with more substance because people from all over will be viewing it, and they will pay more attention to the mechanics of their writing because, again, people from all over will be viewing it. 

Another point I found interesting from Jon's presentation was that many students are not very motivated to write because of the writing prompts. This will affect my teaching because I am going to need to step back and reanalyze the prompts I am giving to students. If I give a prompt, I need to make sure it is one students want to write about, or I need to give them several to choose from that meets their interests. Another thing is that I should give them time to write without prompts. Let them write about and create stories on topics they want to write about! It will also effect my teaching because instead of writing on paper and pencil all the time, I will now need to work with students and spend time on teaching them how to create eBooks. I will also need to find some resources that will enable them to create these eBooks.

The main benefits to using student created eBooks in the classroom are:
I would like to start using student-created eBooks in my classroom for students to create books of all genres connecting to what we are learning in all subject areas. For example, students can create a how-to book explaining how to solve math problems using a variety of strategies that we learn about in class. They can create an expository text about weather and the water cycle. Students could create a fiction story incorporating problem and solution or sequencing. Students could create a narrative nonfiction or biography on someone's life they researched, on their own life, a family members life, or on an event that happened in their life. Students could also collaborate with partners, small groups, or the entire class to create a book that each member contributes to every step of the way from pre-writing to drafting to editing and revising to publishing.

The main considerations to keep in mind in order to use them effectively:
  • What is the purpose of the eBook?
  • Why are students creating this eBook?
  • Does this eBook help them meet the learning standards?
  • How much support will students need to create the eBook?
  • Will they need other resources when creating the eBook?
  • How much time will students need to spend on them?
  • Since I only have one iPad, how will I ensure everyone gets a chance to work on an eBook in a timely manner. 
The most striking thing I took away from Jon's presentation was the fact that so many people are actually downloading these books and reading them. When he was first talking about it I was thinking who would download these student-created books? However, people did. In fact, many people did. The fact that people downloaded them enabled them to incorporate math skills (graphing) and social studies skills (mapping) into the lessons, and it gave the students even more motivation to write. This impacted my learning about eBooks because it got me thinking about a couple things. There really is a bigger audience and purpose for students when creating these books. Not only can students create their own eBooks, but they can also download other students books from around the state, country, and even world. These will be great examples to show students what other kids are working on and learning around the world. It will show them different ideas and techniques that they could possibly incorporate into their eBooks or topics they may want to explore and write about. It would also be fun for students to learn about new topics from student authors versus adult authors, teachers, and textbooks. One other thing that was really striking to me was that these students who were completely against writing were now so motivated to write and were seriously involved in the process every step of the way. That has also impacted my learning because it was a true, concrete example of how the topic I am learning about, eBooks, truly helps students grow.

You will notice that one of the benefits and one of the considerations I listed were linked to an article. After I finished this post, I didn't feel quite done so I went to Twitter and Google to do a little more research on student-created eBooks. I found that article and I recommend anyone interested in using student-created eBooks to check it. It addresses many things you might come across, such as: the purpose for creating eBooks, ideas on what to write about, copyright considerations and more. If you didn't already check it out above, check it out here!

If you have any ideas for how I can have my 24 students (25 on Tuesday--I'm getting a new one!) create eBooks in my classroom using only one iPad, please share!

Cool Tool 2: Explain Everything

This week I was really intrigued by the our weekly topic video and wanted to try to create an eBook so that I could learn the program and explore it before using it with my students. Jon Smith recommended the following three apps when creating eBooks with students.

1. iBooks Author
2. Book Creator
3. Explain Everything

I started to work with Book Creator making an eBook for the water cycle, but after I made the cover page, I thought it'd be cool to incorporate a video of the water cycle in my eBook. So that took me to Explain Everything. I downloaded Explain Everything for $3.99. I bought the paid version versus the free version because I know I want to use this in my classroom. I spent so much time creating my video, probably too much because I'm a perfectionist and wanted it to be just right. I had so much fun using this and learning how to work this tool. It was frustrating at times, but as I got the hang of it it became much easier and started making more sense. I didn't read about how to do it before I used the app (which probably could have been useful), instead I just started exploring on my own. At this point, I thought "I have just spent so much time using Explain Everything and haven't even touched my Book Creator book. The requirement for our class is one Cool Tool a week and I was now doing two at once. I began to get overwhelmed, as I always do, and came to the conclusion that I would use my Explain Everything creation for my Cool Tool 2 and incorporate it into my Book Creator project for my Cool Tool 3. So check back next week to see my thoughts on Book Creator and see how I incorporated my Explain Everything animation into my eBook!

Anyways, back to Explain Everything. Here is my finished product! It's not perfect, but I'm sure my second graders will love it!

Explain Everything is an amazing screencasting and interactive whiteboard tool. With this tool you can create a variety of things by animating, narrating, annotating, designing, importing and exporting, draw in any color, and add text and shapes. You can also create slides and use a laser pointer, but these were two features that I have not yet explored. When you start a new project, you have the choice of selecting landscape or portrait and there are a few color color templates to choose, as well. Once you selected the two options you'd like, your screen will look like the one below:

I was about to explain everything you see, but then I found this useful cheat sheet from Flipping the Elementary Music Classroom!

The one tool I wasn't sure what it was for a while was the inspector tool, but once I did it made my life much easier! It allows you to duplicate, arrange, copy, paste, rotate, group, and lock items. Until I found this tool I was using my fingers to rotate and resize items and it was very frustrating trying to match the sizing and rotation of multiple items so they looked the same. However, when using the duplicate option it does it all for me.

I think students would use this tool after they have been taught about or done research on a subject. I think of it as a way for students to show what they have learned. This tool fits perfectly with the TPACK method of teaching for many reasons. The first reason is because it can fit with any content area that I can think of and students are taking what they have learned and using the technology to show it, whether it be in a group or independently. Students could illustrate many things, from the water cycle to how to regroup in addition and subtraction. I think they could also illustrate events that happened in a book they read or create how-to animations on various topics. I also like this way of having students show what they have learned and would use it because some students are not good test takers or they struggle putting what they know into words in their writing. This is another way for them to show their knowledge on a topic. It allows them to be creative and gives them many different ways to share their thinking. Lastly, using this technology where they are annotating and recording is very engaging. When creating projects, many students probably won't even feel like they are working because they will be having such a good time.

This tool is definitely a tool students could use to create their own digital media artifacts. At my grade level, students would definitely need support, instruction, and modeling to get started, but they pick up on things so fast I know they'd be able to do it. It might also be a good idea for them to work in small groups or partners for the first couple projects so that they can help each other as they are all figuring out the tool. I think the easiest features for my students would be using the drawing, shapes, and color tools. I also think that once I teach them how to save images and add them in that would be very easy for them as well. Lastly, I think they would have an easy time moving images and objects while they are recording.

Thinking about my current second graders again, it may be challenging at first for them to learn how to record and how to edit it/delete things when they aren't happy with their first try. This was a process that even took me a while to get the hang of. It's kind of like a trial and error thing. Another thing that caused issues for me was every time you press record or add or delete something it adds a box on the recording strip. Many times the boxes would start piling up on top of each other and it was hard to get the one that you wanted to delete.

It was frustrating when I wanted to go back to a previous point I already worked on and change things. I would delete something and rerecord, but then when I would watch it back the object I deleted would still be there. This happened many times and I'm not sure why. At one point I deleted everything until the end of the recording and just started over because it wasn't changing what I was telling it to. I'm not sure if it was something I was doing wrong or not, but it was very frustrating. I consider myself pretty tech savvy and pick up on new technological things quickly, so if it was challenging for me I'm assuming it would be challenging for students as well, especially my young second graders. One other thing that was challenging was that I would watch the video and it would be just how I wanted, but when I exported it there would be little errors that didn't show up when I watched it in the app, but were showing when I played the video in another app on the computer. Lastly, another thing that could cause problems for students is when they want to change something, they either have to click "mix" or "overwrite" when they go to record again. Mix leaves everything they have but changes the part they are working on. Overwrite deletes everything past the point you are overwriting and you can't get it back. When I was still learning the difference, I clicked overwrite and lost a lot. That would be one area that students would definitely need a lesson in, because its very frustrating when you spend so much time on your project and then lose it just like that.

When teaching students to use this tool, I think a tip I would need to give them to avoid the problems I mentioned above would be: Don't move on to the next part of your animation until you have what you are working on exactly how you want it. This will help them because they won't have to go back and change things and worry about the app not doing what you want it to do. Now I know that sometimes you think that you have it just right and you don't think of a better way until later on when working on another part so you can't always follow that tip, but I think if they try to do that it will help avoid a lot of issues.

All in all, I know students would love this tool. At my grade level, however, students would need a lot of instruction and practice to learn how to use the tool. I cannot wait to see some of the creations students will come up with. Unfortunately, I only have my personal iPad for students to use. Wishing I had a class set or even just a couple more!

If anyone has used this tool before and has any ideas for projects students could create or tips and hints to help the students, I'd love for you to share them! Comment below!