Saturday, June 20, 2015

ISTE 2015 - Don't Flip your Class - Fortify it

ISTE 2015 - Philadelphia

Don't Flip your Class - Fortify it
Leslee Francis Pelton,
Tim Pelton,
University of Victoria

In our experience, only a few keen students regularly prepare by reviewing flipped content outside of class. To improve efficiency, we recast the process – fortifying our classes with concise video content (lectures, demonstrations), integrated questions, discussions and explorations 

What are the Benefits of Video?

  • Capture and share canned (but good) explanations
  • View anywhere – in school/resource room/home
  • Ability to replay – again and again…
  • Ability to stop and start to support lessons 
  • Meet individual needs 
  • Support parents who are trying to help

What Makes a Good Video?

  • Succinct/focused/short
  • Clear and correct
  • Presents a hook, context, or engaging explanation
  • Authentic

What are the Intended Benefits of Flipping? 

  • Free up time for activities and personal attention in class
  • Reduce instructions/support needed to accomplish homework
  • Give students control – inquiry focused
  • Capture your ‘best’ content and share (do it once)

What are the limitations of flipping?

  • What if they don’t watch anything outside of class?
  • Do they understand the content in the video?
  • Is learned helplessness an issue?
  • Do they have access to video outside of school?

What does it mean to Fortify?

The addition of essential/desirable elements to improve the utility or value of a product or service

Fortification in the classroom means – in part – creating/finding and incorporating short videos that:
  • Capture student attention
  • Present concepts efficiently (20 min -> 5 min)
  • Set the context for a discussion
  • Model procedures/processes
  • Support student understanding
  • Support students outside of class

Why should the Teacher Create Videos?
  • You have something useful to say
  • You have a unique way of expressing ideas
  • Share once and it can be used again
  • Get the message right 
  • To instill confidence – you know the content
  • Share and share alike
The Production Process
  • Identify your objectives (understand the problem)
  • Make a Plan
  • Efficiently cover your content
  • Edit the pauses
  • Avoid distracting yourself
  • Think through the possible questions
  • Manage tangential discussions

Where can I find videos? (yes use these gifts!)
  • When you find one & you will often find more
  • Vet the videos to make sure they are effective and plan your classroom questions/activities

Thoughts on Using Videos
  • Identify the break points and insert questions– to support discussion
  • Ask students to paraphrase or apply what they have just learned
  • Find an app that lets you cache videos
  • Show students how to use playback speed (1.25 x)
  • Break up longer videos to avoid learned helplessness
  • Set up a website for your classes and share the links
  • Invite students to generate videos

What are we doing in our classrooms?
Our teaching area is mathematics education, and we find that it is relatively easy to create a short video clip to explain/demonstrate a concept that many students struggle with.  The videos don’t have a high production value - they just have to help students make sense (remember you can adjust the playback speed)

See our youtube channel:

Also check out another website we have created to encourage folks to create and share their understandings on video:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CSSE:TATE (Technology and Teacher Education)

Roundtable 15: Teaching and Learning Mathematics by Explaining Everything.

Leslee Francis Pelton & Tim Pelton
University of Victoria

As mathematics teacher educators, we are keen to engage students in processes that support them in making sense of concepts and procedures that they are learning.  We are trying to provide them with an understanding of the mathematics ideas; an understanding of how students’ understandings of these ideas develop; and some tools to support the instructional process.

One of those tools that we have found to be particularly promising is an app called Explain Everything (EE).  EE is a screencasting or interactive whiteboard app for tablets (e.g., iPads) that allows the user (teachers or students) to create or download projects that may contain one or more pages of interactive objects, resources or templates.  The ‘user’ may use these ‘materials’ to explore or demonstrate mathematical concepts and processes and may record their performance/activity/demonstration to share with others (directly, via email, via youtube, etc.). 

Resources we are using to support this process: 

While there are many uses for iPads (tablets) in the classroom (content access, exploration, data collection, communication, representation, creation, presentation, etc.), EE is particularly useful for supporting exploration, representation, communication and presentation.   Specifically we will discuss:

  • Teacher created interactive learning objects in EE (virtual manipulatives, discovery learning, puzzles, etc.).
  • Teacher created video demonstrations/presentations/exemplars in EE (procedural, conceptual, or engagement).
  • Student created artifacts using existing EE projects (screen capture, video capture) – for immediate feedback or semi-permanent inclusion in their portfolios.
  • Student created learning objects - as demonstrations of their understanding and that might be used by others to support learning.
  • Student created video demonstrations/presentations in EE as a performance assessment or project based learning


Monday, May 12, 2014

ISTE Mobile Learning Network Webinar 

Learning by Explaining your Understanding

Tim Pelton
May 15, 2014 

Welcome to - a website we have created to support the sharing of our growing collection of projects and videos created with Explain Everything (EE).

What is this tool? 

Explain Everything is a whiteboard app that allows teachers to create and share interactive resources (project files) and video explanations. We can then use these projects and videos as part of our lessons (or flipped lessons) to support students as they explore, organize, compare, identify, annotate, reflect, discuss, consolidate, and demonstrate. In addition, we can use these interactive resources and videos as exemplars to support students in using EE to build their capacities to solve problems, represent concepts, make connections, share reasonings, and communicate understandings.

An EE project may consist of one or more virtual whiteboards (slides) that can include drawings, text, imported images, video clips, webpages, etc.. Users (teachers or students) can interact with the slides can then manipulate/animate the objects on the screen (like virtual manipulatives), and/or record the screen activity along with audio commentary to create a video explanation/performance.

Projects may be stored in your EE app and retrieved at any time, or shared with others through email or the web, and then opened and used on other iPads running the EE app. Similarly EE generated video clips can be stored on your iPad for ready access later, or shared via email or the web.

For further information on EE – check out the app developer's website and watch their video on Explain Everything

Why Explaining Understanding? 

iPads and other tablets have huge potentials for the future of education. These include:

  • Accessing prescribed content (e.g., web pages, books, videos, etc.)
  • Searching for data or information through search engines (e.g., historical records, definitions, images, videos, etc.)
  • Exploring concepts with interactive resources (MathTappers:CarbonChoices,, EE projects, etc.) 
  • Consolidating understandings with apps and games (e.g., MathTappers:FindSums, Multiples, Clockmaster, Equivalents, EstimateFractions, Numberline, etc.) 
  • Creating interactive projects confirm mastery of concepts and allow others to explore  
  • Creating video explanations to share understandings of concepts, and presentations demonstrating mastery of information and techniques. 

EE is an app that supports most of these activities by allowing both teachers and students to generate interactive projects and video presentations.  Just as we expand our understanding when we strive to explain concepts to our students - so to do our students when we challenge them to engage in a process of explaining their  understanding through a project or video.

Some examples please? 

We have created a website ( for sharing the projects and videos we have generated using EE to support learning math and science in elementary and middle school - and we encourage folks to borrow what we have and expand upon it!

Below I share some videos I created to share ideas with students (and to provide students with exemplars they may use for inspiration), and some video presentations created with EE to demonstrate a few of our interactive projects.  With many of the resources  I also share the actual EE projects, but to access the projects you will need to have EE installed on your iPad.  (Note that most of  the EE .xpl files can be found in the previous blog entry - see NCTM - April 10th)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Explore, Understand, Represent and Communicate


Tim Pelton & Leslee Francis Pelton  
University of Victoria

NCTM – New Orleans – April 11, 2014

Expand the educational potential of iPads with a creative app like ‘Explain Everything’. In this presentation we explain and share our free collection of teacher created interactive projects and video demonstrations designed to support discovery and sense-making in math.  We encourage participants to adopt this tool in their practice. Take it to the next level by challenging students to demonstrate their mastery by creating similar resources.

Some context:

iPads (or Tablets) have many different powerful potentials (for both learners and educators)
  • Content Conveyors (text, video, etc)
  • Exploration Environments (manipulatives, widgets, challenges)
  •  Data Collectors (camera, video, audio, sensors, notes, assessment)
  • Consolidation Tutors (games, practice tutorials)
  • Communication Devices (mail, social media, synchronous)
  •  Creation Studios (images, videos, podcasts, learning objects)
  • Presentation Tools (pdf, web, document camera)

Screencast apps on tablets support all of these potentials:

More specifically you can:
  • Access examples of virtual manipulatives generated by others (educators, etc.) to support exploration 
  • Generate virtual manipulatives to support explorations by your students
  • Capture performances for sharing, review and assessment
  • Generate interactive projects/contexts/challenges to guide student discovery
  •  Publish links to resources for home based review/exploration/discussion
  • Access demonstration videos – generated by others (educators, etc.) to support understanding
  •  Generate educational videos to efficiently share your best ideas/demonstrations with your class (you do it once or twice and your class and others repeatedly benefit)
  • Encourage students to master topics as they create, generate and communicate new concepts, models and manipulatives.
  • Support collaboration as educators work together to create, evaluate and refine resources
  • Contribute to a wider collection of free learning resources by sharing your manipulatives, projects, videos etc.

The Explain Everything tool:

The features of this tool allow you to:
  • Create – lines, text, objects, slides
  •  Import – images, videos, webpages
  • Manipulate – duplicate, rotate, scale, layer, lock,
  • Record – animation, voice, together or separate
  • Share – projects, images, videos

Examples to Share:

 Note that although we selected Grades 6-8 as the focus grade range for this presentation, we believe that this type of tool is useful in a broader range of classrooms and share some resources with this in mind. 

Some Manipulatives:
·      Draw-it
·      Pattern Blocks
·      Triangle Sorter
·      Aqua Glyph
·      Mystery Number
·      Function Machine

Use these and the recording function to capture and assess student mastery:
·      Can you make $3.67 (3 ways)?
·      Show me 1/4 + 2/3 = ? (with fraction strips)

Demonstrating how might you create/modify/expand and export a manipulative (in live presentation):
·      Expand fraction strips  (3x and tape)

Some videos:
·      Divisible by 3
·      Add Fractions
·      Proportion

Demonstrating how you might create a video (in live presentation)
·      Triangle sum

Questions?   Thoughts?   Suggestions? 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ratios and mean, median and mode - learning with the children

These two projects employ a wide range of children's faces in order to teach about various different qualities of proportion. Mean, median, mode, ratios, fractions and percent excersizes can all be constructed using the images of the children. Simply change the text in the excersize and a new challenge can quickly be constructed, either by a teacher or a student.

Ratio Kids -
Designed to help students explore the relationships between fractions, ratios and percentages, a few slides have already been created featuring problems that can be solved, or adjusted as seen fit. In total, there are 24 different faces available, but whoever is designing a new excersize can easily simplify the excersize to fewer students. Or possibly replicate a few faces and insist there are identical twins in the sample. The final few slides provide an image of simply the faces, one with names and one without. These can be copied between new Explain Everything projects as can images in any of the other projects. This can be useful for creating new projects without needing to start from scratch all over again. The slide with names can also be used like a "guess who" game, where students secretly select one of the children's faces and then try to guess, based on a series of yes/no questions which face their opponent has selected,

Averages -
This project involves a few different excersizes in determining mean, median and mode. The first is based on hair length, the second test scores and the last bouquets of flowers. The flower slide in particular can be changed so that the numbers of bouquets varies and new excersizes can be constructed.

Telling Time

This post has just one project on it, but within it are a few different slides for helping students learn how to tell time, both on analog and digital clocks!

Clock Timeline -
The basic principle with all the slides is that students are challenged to arrange a series of clocks from "earliest" to "latest." In the first slide, accompanying images are given in order to help the student deduce what time of day the clocks are depicting. Later slides simply have pictures of either analog clock faces or digital clocks. These can lead to discussions about what is meant by "earliest" and "latest." Possible questions of discussion include:
How do you know which clocks are showing earlier or later times?
Why is knowing if the time is a.m. or p.m. important?
What happens when it changes to a new day? How many possible right answers might there be then?
Finally, the last slide includes copies of the digits used for the digital clocks so that teachers may easily construct additional excersizes. Simply add the digits by triple tapping them to the clock to get them to stay in place, then shrink the clock to the appropriate size.