Mixing Math and Explain Everything Makes a Difference

Mrs. Smeby (@coachsmeby) was recently teaching a lesson on multiplying fractions in her 1:1 iPad classroom, and I was there as her tech coach.  She started by giving her students some direct instruction on how to solve fractions with pictures, repeated addition, and multiplication. Then, they began guided practice, solving problems in groups while we walked around and helped them out. It was fun to watch each child work collaboratively to problem solve. This was just the beginning.
The most incredible thing happened next when the kids moved to the next activity.  She asked them to create a screencast using Explain Everything. They were to solve two problems using the three methods they just learned.  They eagerly spread out into the hallway and each student began creating.  As they started to work, we shifted to the guides on the side and individually conferenced with students.  They were able to ask us questions, record their work, listen to their projects, and revise.  
For several students, as they were talking through the steps to solve the problem, everything crystallized for them. Suddenly, the light came on and they got it, they understood!  As teachers, we know what that joy looks like as students take off and leave scorch marks.

As I step back and reflected on this afternoon, I still revel in the joy the students felt when they learned this concept.   What I witnessed was the collision of pedagogy and technology. What organically evolved was a wonderful way for each student to construct meaning using multiple modalities.  The kinesthetic piece was a game changer.  As they talked, they drew pictures, words and numbers and the concept became crystal clear to them.  All of these culminated as they created their own videos.

Screenshot of Student Explanation

Because every student was individually explaining the concept, they were all actively, personally involved in the learning process.  With our support as guides on the sides, we were available for just in time learning, clarification, and re-teaching.   This combination of experiences cemented the concept in their minds.  Essentially, when they were done, they had an assessment that demonstrated mastery of the curriculum objective.  Now, they can teach others and that is my definition of mastery learning!Take Aways

  1. Talking out the problem while simultaneously solving the problem helped students make connections.
  2. Teacher availability during work time was important.  Coaching each student individually helped them learn exactly what they needed to know.
  3. Individual screencasts creation used a number of learning modalities and tapped several of the multiple intelligences.
  4. Showing what they know increased the ownership of learning.
Written by Ann Feldmann