This week, I have continued to try some new things with my 8th graders and their iPads. It is a-m-a-z-i-n-g what one can get accomplished in a short amount of time when students each have one of these wonder tablets!

First, I used the Explain Everything app to update my “jigsaw” strategy for a quick test review. I preserved the last 20 minutes of class to try this little experiment, and am celebrating a small victory! As students entered the class, each randomly chose a slip of paper to determine which lesson from Chapter 1 would be featured in the EE “show” as well as who would be in each group of three students. After a comprehensive review of homework problems, I showed students my very first, unedited EE presentation, modeling my expectations for theirs. I recorded this very quick mini-lesson on lesson 1-1 Evaluating Expressions, and grouped students to make similar projects for the remaining lessons in the chapter.

My Very First “Explain Everything” Video

My requirements were quite simple:

* Presentation must be around 2 minutes in length and address at least one problem from the assigned lesson

* All three group members’ voices must be heard during the presentation in a meaningful way

* All presentations would be shown to the class, and all groups had 7 minutes to plan and execute their “shows”

Wow – did these students deliver! I set my timer for all students to see using an online stopwatch, and when time was up, we started the “shows”!

(Little did I know that at this very moment, my building principal AND our district superintendent would walk into my classroom!)

Students were eager and engaged, excited to hear what their peers had to say about each lesson. Presentations were simple but generally thorough, given the time constraints! Our superintendent couldn’t believe that we had accomplished these presentations within the current class period, and when I mentioned that I had only given a few minutes to put them together, all were impressed!

I had a de-briefing at the end of class – what did the students like? What didn’t they like? Positives boiled down to one common theme – the kids had fun! They were communicating about mathematics and the evidence was clear through the “shows” we all got to watch. Negative comments revealed that we just need to learn a little more about the app itself, to better utilize its features next time.