Thursday, April 24, 2014

Promoting inquiry in the Classroom - Using Explain Everything


Students can use annotation apps such as Explain Everything to capture images and video.  They can record their thoughts and findings, or add annotations, to highlight and share their work.  For instance, in Math students can be asked to create patterns and use Explain Everything to annotate and extend the pattern, add audio to explain their reasoning and share with others.  Another use would be to give students the opportunity to record video or take a picture of their experiment, project or observations.  The media files can be imported into a number of apps or programs.  Students can then add a recording explaining their findings and annotate the images to point out the areas they are focusing on in their observations.  The results are recorded and can be exported.

Important findings can be noted, highlighted and shared with others.  This promotes collaboration and the ability to teach others.

The key to success is finding the right Inquiry Questions.  They can be as simple as:

•  What can you tell me about your observations?
•  What did you expect to find and why?
•  What evidence do you have to support this?

The only necessary criteria is that they be open-ended.  I use the benchmark - can you find that answer with Google?  If you can, then the question is not about creating an opportunity for inquiry.  Smarter Science has created a question matrix to help frame inquiry questions.

One way I have used this in class to to have students identify the earth's layers.

This type of activity helps students develop their communication skills and the ability to share their observations and results with others.  It ties directly into the threads of all  curriculum and helps incorporate literacy into the Math, Science and Social Studies curriculum.

This eBook, written as a guide for teachers is a great resource for anyone trying the app Explain Everything in their classroom.  It will answer your questions on how to use the app features and options. 

This lesson is one of 5 included in my iBook - 5 Inquiry Activities.  The iBook can be downloaded for free from iTunes.