Sunday, February 7, 2016

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!

1 comment:

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