Second grade has spent some time tinkering with Educreations. Educreations is a screencasting tool for iPad as well as a limited web-based program for computers. Teachers can create an account and then have students join their class similar to Edmodo or Google Classroom. As students login and save their work, the teacher can easily see each student’s work in the admin panel. With Educreations, students can create a screencast about pretty much anything. They can draw or type, upload their own photographs as backgrounds, and search for existing photos for backgrounds. Each movement on the screen as well as the audio is recorded and saved as a flash video. Each video has a link to make it easy to share a student’s work online with the world.
Math is not one of the main areas that develops into collaborative projects in the library. I think we naturally gravitate to reading, language arts, science, and social studies. However, I would love to support math in the library! This year we made one of our school improvement plan goals centered on something that could potentially be a project for the library.
Students will utilize personal learning devices to create math instructional videos that demonstrate ways to solve math problems. These will be shared within and outside the school community.
A few teachers have been exploring this, but the 2nd grade team decided to take this on as a grade level project. After tinkering with the app in the library, I asked teachers to setup a class account and have students join their class. To help them, I made a screencast:
When students arrived for the 2nd lesson in the library, we quickly reviewed the many buttons in Educreations. The students did all of this review based on the tinkering that they did in lesson one. I reminded them that this 2nd work time was not about tinkering. It was about focusing on using Educreations to show our mathematical thinking. I reminded students that this would be very different than just solving a problem on a piece of paper or a computer. Showing our thinking means that we have to talk about what is going on inside our heads. During our mini lesson, I created a quick example to show them what I mean by sharing what is in our heads.
The teachers and I gave students 3 math problems to choose from for their first practice tutorial: 14 + 18, 26 + 13, and 57 + 39. I did this lesson with 2 classes at a time, so we paired students together on an iPad. One partner wrote one of the math problems down, created a tutorial, logged in to his/her account to save, and then logged out. The other partner was there for technical support. Then, the students switched roles. They did this back and forth until time ran out.
The main problem we ran into was when students would forget to logout of their account. The next student would record a video and then it would save that video into the other students account. When you press logout, the videos disappear from the iPad because they save into the individual student account. This became a great piece of learning that I built into lessons with other classes. I think it will just take some practice to remember these specific steps of saving. Also, if there are existing Educreations videos on the iPad when a student opens the app, those should be deleted before the student logs in. Otherwise, those practice videos get saved into the student’s account. It’s not a big deal, but it does cause their account to be a bit messy and it takes up storage.
Students were very productive and focused during the recording of the tutorials. There was almost no questions about how to use Educreations. I was able to see a big benefit from taking time to tinker in the first lesson, and it is something that I want to continue to experiment with.
Now, teachers are reserving iPads to use in their classrooms so that students can continue to create math tutorials. I sent a follow up email to teachers to let them know that I am happy to work with small groups, individual students, or even the whole class again if needed. Some of the teachers want to schedule another series of lessons using word problems instead of basic addition problems. When we do this, we will use the camera to take a picture of the word problem and make it the background.