Explain Everything + Google Drive = Awesome

I saw today via the Twitterverse that the whiteboard app Explain Everything  (iOS|Android) connects with Google Drive. I have primarily been a user of ShowMe when it comes to whiteboard apps but this might be the tipping point for me to move over to the EE side of the fence. Add in the fact that Explain Everything is also the only whiteboard app currently available on Android and it becomes even more attractive since I use devices on that platform as well.

When starting a new project, Explain Everything allows users to access photos from the device’s internal media storage but also makes materials and docs in iTunes, Dropbox, Box.com, Evernote, and OneDrive available in addition to what you have in your connected Google Drive account. With some of the other whiteboard apps, I would get frustrated because something I wanted to annotate in a video wasn’t in the camera roll on that one particular device.

Those multiple cloud-based options are also available when it comes to saving your project video with the additional benefit of exporting to Vimeo. On the iPad, there is even the option to open the project in other apps like iBooks as a .pdf or iMovie as a .mp4.

Here is a video I created from family pictures housed in Drive and then saved back to Drive. 

Here is a scenario where Explain Everything connected to Google Drive could be very handy for a teacher. A fourth grade teacher is trying to figure out why many of her students are struggling with long division so she has them each complete one long division problem on the tablet in the hallway while narrating their problem solving with Explain Everything. By having students save their videos to her Google Drive or a classroom Drive account, she can later watch those videos on her computer. She can analyze exactly where hangups are happening for each student and organize all of those pieces of formative assessment into one folder. She could conference the next day with each student as they watch the video together and address the specifics of the problem. She can also share that video with a child’s family very easily to help explain where the student needs work.

One drawback of Explain Everything is that the app does not provide users an online space to post their videos like ShowMe does. With all of these other options, that is quickly becoming a moot point.

The app costs $2.99 but is easily worth every cent.


Take your kids into the Shark Tank


Shark Tank isn’t just a TV show for entrepreneurs to get their big break. The same format of pitching to a panel of experts can be a great culminating event for any project.

Last week Ted Malefyt and Nate Alkire, teachers of the integrated math and science STREAM School class at Hamilton Middle School, took their students into the shark tank.

To add a level of awesome to the experience classes made the short trip to the world headquarters of Haworth Inc., an office furniture manufacturer in Holland, Michigan.

Students had to pitch their solutions to the driving question “How might we minimize the impact school groups have on the high school wetland?”. A diverse panel of sharks assembled and asked poignant questions of all thirteen  groups. Not only did the kids deliver a number of well researched and practical solutions, they also had an intelligent answer for anything thrown at them by the sharks.

This was a true display of deep learning and not just the recitation of facts from a study guide. Make your kids dig deeper, take them into their own shark tank experience.

Below are nine-and-a-half minutes that capture just a taste of the hard work and stellar presentations on display last Thursday.

Shark Tank STREAM School Edition – Hamilton Community Schools – YouTube.

Update: #FlippedClassroom Flop

Mako by Emma from Andy Losik on Vimeo.

So it has been three weeks since my attempt to get second graders making movies crashed and burned right before my principal’s eyes for my formal observation.

I can’t tell you how much support my sharing that experience generated from readers of my blog and friends on social media. I stated then that it was actually an experience I needed because I was bound to grow from it and see this project through to completion.

Now three weeks later I am proud to share that over half of the second graders have successfully completed their projects. Check out Emma’s above.

Along the way the kids began to express their frustration over the amount of background noise that kept interfering with their voiceover work. Others simply struggled with using that specific feature in iMovie. To assist in this step, I slowed down the process and worked one-on-one with them on this part. One kid would record at a time with me away from where the rest were working quietly. To provide help to those still just trying to reach this step, I set up a Genius Bar just like at the Apple store. Kids who had mastered the process set up shop to help other students. Those completely done or waiting to record voice could select from a handful of problem solving games like Tinkerball and Tumble Town.

Projects are getting done with quality. Kids are getting one-on-one time with me. Kids are helping kids while others build additional skills…and I got better as a teacher. It just took a few lumps getting to this point. As far as the observation goes, my principal came back yesterday and liked the progress. He even spent a little time working at the Genius Bar helping kids with their videos.

#FlippedClassroom Flop

Yesterday I had my announced teacher observation for my overall performance evaluation and….well, let’s just say the hour could have gone a lot better.

Second graders were beginning the process of creating their first iMovies, ones that will involve the reporting of animal facts in a voice-over with stunning images from Arkive.org. I had taught this lesson twice in the last week and it had been a great experience. I figured it would be a home run for the evaluation. I however, fell victim to a trap I was consciously avoiding…trying to put on a good show instead of just good teaching.

In retrospect, I was really just trying to do too much. I wanted to show my ability to screencast or “DVR my teaching” so I prerecorded the steps kids would need to follow in order to make the movie. We would focus mainly on Day 1’s task of collecting three images and organizing them in iPhoto. I have the video posted at MrLosik.Blogspot.com and now as they work on the project, they can review the steps instead of me repeating myself.

Things started to unravel when I fired up the screencast as the introduction. I have done this before in other lessons and it allows me to “co-teach” with my own instructions. The problem this time was that I had no sound coming from my speakers. All the kids could hear was the laptop and it was too faint, even as I tried to explain things along with the video.

That was the “I do it” portion. Next we did a “We do it” where the kids helped me go through the process. By the time we were ready to send them to the “You do it” independent portion they were squirrelly from me keeping them on the floor for too long.

In retrospect, the screencast should have been held back until next time. It still have a lot of merit and when we revisit this activity. Showing it off to have it included in the observation clouded the educational benefit of it and caused the kids to be on the floor too long. I am also questioning when the right age is to use principles of the flipped classroom is with students. Second Grade might be a little young. That is the learning I took away from it.

As for the rest of the period, it took some work and individualized attention but all students completed their Day 1 task of collecting the images and organizing them. A number of them began to research their animal facts as well. Next time will go better I promised them and told them that their hard work will pay off in the end.

My principal was understanding and commented that he liked my ability to make adjustments. He says that he is looking forward to coming back and seeing the finished product. That is fair. I trust the projects will be amazing.

Disclaimer: No, this is not a flipped classroom in the truest sense but uses principles of the flipped classroom. It was still a flop.

Take your teaching to the DVR World

Don’t leave your learners sitting like the mailbox by the side of the road. Find ways to record teaching and learning so you and your students can pause, rewind, fast-forward, and share content.

When I was a kid if I wasn’t in front of the TV at 8:00 PM on Friday Night, I missed “Dukes of Hazard”. Today’s kids have no concept of “It’s not on.” They have Tivo, Netflix, or an app for almost any network where they can access their favorite shows on demand.

Here is some insight on ways to record your teaching, check for understanding, and let them teach.

My presentation from the Zeeland Educational Technology Academy on August 13, 2013.