Monday, November 30, 2015

Students Explain Everything and Increase Test Scores

Each year fifth graders in Minnetonka Schools study the science of catapults as one of their units. Excelsior Elementary teacher Jennifer Kitt explained to me recently that the assessment for this unit is typically a more difficult test for many of her students. She explained that in the past, students have not had as high of scores on their final test compared to their scores on other science units. So she was eager to try something new.
Image Source: Explain Everything

This year with iPads in our 1:1 Program, all fifth grade students now have access to the app Explain Everything. Jennifer had her students use this tool to document their learning and explain what they had learned about catapults. She said that her goal was to have her class use a higher level of Bloom's taxonomy, and knew that Explain Everything would be a great way to do it. 

When I was in her classroom, students showed me their products. Emma gave me permission to share her product and you can see it in this video. She combined photos, text, and handwriting in her explanation about catapults.

As a result of this project, Jennifer was very pleased that her students recorded the highest scores on this test that she had ever seen in her years of teaching, including students with various academic needs. The students certainly seemed to benefit from the added technology component this year to the catapult unit. Compiling a summary of their learning in a format that could be used to teach others as well as for review of the concepts they learned paid off.

Explain Everything is just one of the many apps our students have available in our 1:1 iPad Program for grades 5-12. It's a great screencasting app, allowing students to include all sorts of media in their presentation and edit the audio, text, and images with precision and ease. I've heard the app's inventor, Reshan Richards, speak a few times and know he is eager to continually improve his product. He has incorporated many suggestions from both students and teachers into this tool. As more and more of our students in Minnetonka Public Schools continue to use it, it will be fun to see what they create! 

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