Using ShowMe App for iPad in the Classroom

“Technology is not a new tool for learning. It’s a whole new way of learning.” Dan Roberts

Recently at an iPad chat, I discussed along with other educators, the benefits of certain apps for the iPad in the classroom. The app I discussed was ShowMe, which allows you to create whiteboard tutorials and share them online. I was surprised how many educators did not know about this app so I decided it needed to be my blog topic this week.

Why is this app ShowMe amazing? Here are 10 reasons!

1. It is a free app, as educators we need that

2. Once you create an account there are numerous already created tutorials’ in the ShowMe community

3. You can create videos for your “flipped classroom”

4. It is so easy to use; 1st graders I worked with were able to use it

5. Great way for teachers to assess student’s knowledge

6. You can change the background from the whiteboard to a map (or any background) and use it to enhance your lesson

7. Can be used for any subject (Ex. Math-how to add fractions)

8. Receive information through visuals as well as audio

9. Can be shared easily by embedding it into your website or sending a link to email, Facebook or Twitter

10. Videos can be as long or as short as you want them to be. I taught the students how to use the application in just a few minutes.

Below is a fifth grader using the ShowMe app as a way I assessed his knowledge. I gave him the task, “Using this app, describe the water cycle.” I walked away and worked with other students. When I came back, I taught him how to save the video with his name and topic. I then was able to go back later and view his water cycle video. I was able to see that he understood the water cycle and the key vocabulary.

Some of you may be saying, but he could of just drawn the water cycle on a piece of paper and handed it in. True, but having him complete it on the ShowMe app he has able to take it a step further and explain how it works verse just drawing it. This shows true comprehension of the topic.

Flipped Classroom in Elementary School

‘It is today we must create the world of the future.’ Eleanor Roosevelt

The new buzz word in education is the ‘Flipped Classroom’. I have used the flipped classroom and have found it quite successful. Many people say to me, ‘I am intrigued by the flipped instruction, what is the best way to implement this in my classrooms?’ I decided to blog what I have found works best for me in my classroom.

For those of you not familiar with flipped classroom also known as flipped instruction;  the basic ideas is that as educators we flip
our instruction so that students watch and listen to lessons for homework, and then use our class-time for tackling difficult problems, working in groups, collaborating, and creating. Students are expected to watch the vodcast, take notes, and understand the concept being taught. During class time you would do a quick review then work on an activity where the students can collaborate with their classmates on more challenging real world problems.

The first time I tried the flipped classroom, I tried it with my fifth grade math class. I was lucky that all my students had computer access. The students watched a Khan Academy video on how to multiply fractions. The expectations given to them were to take notes as if I played this video in class (I modeled my expectations many times with also guided practice before assigning a video for homework).

I considered it a success as all the students had mastered the concept based on my quick assessment.  They loved the hands-on multiplication activity we did in groups. The students also had great feedback to make it better! As part of my closure I had students fill out an exit slips answering this question, ‘What is one thing you like and disliked about the flipped classroom experience?’ One thing they didn’t like about it was they couldn’t ask questions. One way to solve this problem was to use Edmodo, a wiki or a wall wisher so the students could post questions and I or another classmate could answer them. Many students loved that they could watch it multiple times and stop it when they needed to. They also liked that if they didn’t understand something shown in the video, there was videos on the side that could also help them understand or they “googled” it.

I think educators should try the flipped classroom.  My advice (I am noexpert) for those that want to try this in their elementary classroom is:

1. Model your expectations in the classroom. Show a video and stop often to show students how to take notes. Then move to guided practice before assigning it for homework.

2. Remember not all students have computer access at home so have a “back up plan” such as having students stay after school to use your computers or see if your technology teacher would let you borrow the computer lab.

3. Think about what your goal is. Ask yourself exactly what do you want your students to master.

4. Start small. Try one subject and see how it goes for your students. Make adjustments as necessary.

5. Use videos that are already made
from sites such as,
or to start you off.

6. Try making your own videos once you get the hang of it. The kids love seeing and hearing you!

7. Use it as a way to differentiate!

8. Read up on it! There are lots of great articles out there and if you are on twitter follow #flipclass and see what educators are doing and saying all around the world

Using the flipped classroom will help your students take ownership of their learning, a great 21st century skill we want all students to master! It will also help them become independent problem solvers along with collaborators.

My favorite component of the flipped classroom is it changes the role of you, the teacher! You become more of a facilitator and guide their learning. The classroom becomes an inquiry and/or problem based learning zone verse lecture.

The flipped classroom is not for every student, but it puts forth the best way educators can increase in-class learning. If a student or small group of students needs more instruction that still can be done without holding others back. You won’t know unless you try, so take a risk and see what happens! If you have used the flipped classroom and have other tips or insight please sure by commenting below!

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell

Core of teaching and learning…Inquiry-based learning!

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb

I believe inquiry-based learning is the key to developing students understanding along with assessing their knowledge. Inquiry based learning is involving the learner and leading them to understand by asking good questions. I believe it is the core of teaching and learning. Questioning along with finding answers is an exceptionally important aspect of inquiry based learning as it helps the teacher facilitate students to effectively generate knowledge.

I’m often surprised how many teachers want to always be right with their student’s, which leads them to not ask good questions. I think one of the reasons why I am successful in the classroom is because I pretend I don’t know the answer to problems to help probe the students to ask more questions. For example, when we do our inquiry-based experiment-Does it sink or float? students always ask, “Why does the diet coke float and coke sink?” I could answer this two ways; I could tell the student the answer or I could simply say, “I don’t know, what do you think?”

Good questions always lead to more good questions. This question now opens the student up to start thinking why and leads them to ask more questions such as; how would the cans react in salt water? Or does it matter if the soda is room temperature or cold?

If it doesn’t lead them to more questions then it leads them to at least wanting to know the answer. This is when it is important for the teacher to say, ‘Why don’t you see if you can find the answer,’ verse telling the student the answer. When students discover the answer on their own it impacts them more and helps them understand the process of learning. Within a few minutes at the computer the student found this great video that explains why diet floats. . This leads to a great opportunity to ask the next question; “When would you see this happening in the real world?” This brings students to make a connection to the inquiry-based experiment and the real world.

Inquiry-based learning is not just for science but for all subjects. When teachers ask good questions, it can motivate students to want to learn new things, investigate why things work or how to solve a problem. Students need to be involved in the learning process. Asking the right questions in the right way, and you’ll engage students!

Never Underestimate Students

“Never underestimate the power of passion.” Eve Sawyer

This week I was in a fourth grade classroom teaching while a teacher was absent. The saying, ‘Things happen for a reason’ came into effect for me. I re-learned an important lesson that has made me rethink some of the ‘programs/projects’ I wanted to implement in my school, as a math/science facilitator this year. It all started with a 4th grade boy.

To get to know the students better, along with having the students learn about each other, we did acrostic poems that describe ourselves. The students used their last names and for each letter they wrote a word or phrase that best portrayed who they are. I was blown away at the great word choices the students came up with but one student’s word choice has made me think for days! This little boy had a U in his name and wrote underestimated. When I read it, my first thought was, does he know what it means. I quickly found out not only did he know what it meant but he could tell me that he could do a lot more then what people think. He said he loved to learn new things but is taugh the same things. I found this motivating.

I instantly was determined to challenge this little boy. Then it got me considering how many other students might be thinking that they are underestimated too. No one should feel underestimated. I want students to know they are smart and can do anything. If they are feeling underrated then they feel no one believes they can do it when in fact I do believe any student can achieve.

This brings me back to my quote I started with, “Never underestimate the power of passion.” These students, along with many other students, have the passion to learn and we as educators can not let students down. How do we do that?

I know the key is to set high expectations but we also need to challenge the students and let them problem solve. We must facilitate in the classroom, posing high order thinking questions. It is essential to pretend we don’t know the answer to questions the students pose to us, so in turn the students find the answer.

Not underestimating students will be what I will be thinking about when I implement these new ideas. I hope this blog inspires others to not underestimate their students!

Passionate About Science Notebooking

“The teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil to learn is hammering on cold iron.” Horace Mann

This week I taught a science Professional Development for elementary teachers in my district on incorporating Science Notebooking within the science curriculum. It got me thinking about why I started embracing Science Notebooking a few years ago.

It wasn’t until I decided to get my masters in Curriculum and Instruction at Winthrop University that I started to have passion for science. Professor Dr. Linda Pickett inspired me beyond words. She was so passionate about science. She made every class fun and engaging. I realized that I need to do a better job of teaching science. I wanted my kids to love coming into my classroom as much as I loved going to Dr. Pickett’s class. I taught all the other subject with enthusiasm, why hadn’t I with science.

That year, as I had taken her course over the summer, I decided I was going to implement Science Notebooking. I researched Science Notebooking and at that time there wasn’t a whole lot out there about it. I made up what expectations I felt were best and what rubric would best meet my high expectations and I launched Science Notebooking. I am not going to lie, I hit many bumps that year but I could see the difference in the student’s interest in science and summative test scores.

That summer, I tweaked my expectations, rubric and launching process and got the rest of my fifth grade team on board. That year our kids loved science! We started doing a lab every week, we were having fun and learning! Then I met Wayne Fisher, who also inspired me to be a better science teacher. (Wayne is our district level science coordinator.) His workshops and professional developments made me stronger. He introduced me to the 5E learning cycle and much more. He helped me to realize that what I was doing in my classroom not just with Science Notebooking was important. He got me started in teach professional developments across the district on many science topics which then turned into also doing other types of professional developments such as “Using Data to Drive Instruction.’

Now when we are at recess the students are ‘talking science’ by describing clouds, rocks and Newton’s Laws. They are always wondering, exploring and asking questions. What more could you ask for! This brings me back to the quote that I started off with. We need to inspire in order to get results and I believe Science Notebooking inspires the students because it is something real scientists do! On my blog scroll is a link to my website where I have resources for starting Science Notebooking. My hope for this blog post is someone will read it start Science Notebooking in their classroom and motivate more students to embrace science!

New School Year = New Beginings

“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.” Dave Weinbaum

This is the week when a lot of things are swirling around in my head- lesson plans, curriculum maps and common assessments. I still get the butterflies days before I start back! This year is no different. There are always new challenges no matter how many years I have been in education. But with the start of school brings new beginnings.

New beginnings encourage you to focus on what’s really important to you in your life. That being said, a new beginning for me is to find balance between work and home. It will be a challenge as I have always thrown myself into work because I truly enjoy it but if I have learned anything this summer; I have learned I need time for me so I can relax and do things I love besides work. In return I can then be a more effective educator.

In the midst of new beginnings also brings adventures and time to make improvements possible. This year I welcome failure as it is a sign of learning. I will be open-minded to all ideas shared and I will also voice my ideas without being nervous that no one
will like them.

Good luck to all my fellow educators, may you figure out what your new beginning encourages within you!


“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making positive difference” Joel Baker

I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I want this blog to be. A great educator told me to make sure you set a vision so you can accomplish what you want. I took this advice to heart and took days to really think about what I wanted to accomplish. My current vision is below. I am sure it will change as all great visions do over time but for right now, I am happy to be on the right path to bettering myself and my profession.

Vision: To collaborate with educators to make a difference in education through improving methods and reflecting. I want to seek new perspectives, take risks and continue to pursue my passions of curriculum and instruction, technology and 21st century learning.