Explain Yourself!


Today, we were on a shortened schedule due to bad weather approaching.  Living in Charleston, we barely see freezing temperatures, let alone ice, sleet, and/or snow.  Today was a perfect day for trying something new!  We already could feel the excitement of pending snow and many of our friends were absent today. We had many questions about why we were leaving early, which led to questions like “What is sleet?”.  Whatever we did yesterday and were going to continue today moved to the back burner.  We quickly went to our friends Annie and Moby (Brainpop Jr) to learn more.

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After learning about winter, temperature, and the water cycle, we discovered our questions still weren’t completely answered.  We discussed what other “friends” we had that could help us answer our questions.  We use Pebble Go Animals a lot in our class – which led to it being our next stop on the quest for answers.  We used Pebble Go Earth and Space to find our answers.

After all of our researching, we had about an hour before our lunch time. Earlier, I was in my friend’s class and she was using today as an opportunity to experiment with the app Explain Everything.

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Taking her lead, I also took advantage of having a smaller group.  Explain Everything is a wonderful app to demonstrate knowledge after a unit is over.  And if you have those two (or three or seven) that LOVE to talk about all that they know – this app is a life saver!  A student iPad was connected to the Smartboard so I could model using the app.  My mini lesson began by asking what is means to explain something and what types of things needed to be explained.  The students suggested tying shoes, riding a bike, playing a game, doing a flip, etc. I chose to explain making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  As a group, we talked through what is needed and the steps you take.  After talking it out with them, I recorded how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Today was just a practice, so it was not content specific.  Perhaps we could have explained what sleet is or how snow is made because of our earlier research, but I wanted them to feel more comfortable with the app first.  All 14 of my lovelies went off to their own spaces and started thinking.  Before beginning to record, they needed to practice talking through what they were going to explain with me or with my assistant.  They then found a quiet place to begin recording.

Here is a couple of their explanations:

Emma Explains Donuts


Marc Explains Backflips


Now – to tie this in with literacy – it is doubly beneficial.  Students can write a script out of what they want to say, being sure to include all important details.  Or, Explain Everything becomes like a “rough draft” to help them get their ideas out before writing.  I encourage you to use the app in both ways.  Many reluctant writers can talk their way through a story or text but struggle to write the words down.  Explain Everything costs 2.99 in the app store, but Educreations and ShowMe are similar apps that are free.

Happy Explaining!

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