Thursday, 22 March 2012

Visualising Thinking with ShowMe! Economics and Geography

One of the most powerful tools for helping students demonstrate their understanding is a new app called ShowMe! available on the iPad. ShowMe is a simple tool, which allows students to annotate what looks like an electronic whiteboard, whilst also recording their voice. The interactive whiteboard concept is really neat and intuitive for all students.
Recently I worked with Gary Smith and his Economics class and also Paul Brogden and his Geography class, using ShowMe app as a revision tool. We asked them to explain one of several ideas that they have covered in class. In Economics each of the questions were very abstract and covered the concepts of revenue and costs for firms. The students were encouraged to visualise the concept and tell a story of an example.

As you can see from the student example above, the tool really allows the teacher to see the student’s thinking and metacognition as they explain a concept. In a 35 min class each student produced an explanation and the teacher could later look at the list of presentations linked from a Google Doc. Students could also peer review and look at each others work. Previously the teacher would attempt to conference with each student during the class to see how they understood a concept.
ShowMe is a great example of how you can see the levels of student conceptual understanding very quickly and at the same time students are learning in a powerful way when they are forced to teach and verbalise a concept to others. It is also one of the nicest tools I have seen that shifts students away from the text-rich tasks and encourages creativity.

In Geography students where encouraged to use visuals as part of their presentation. See an example below from Jessica on Foreign Direct Investment. They also collected their work in a Google Doc and completed some excellent feedback on each others work. This activity was a little like an expert jigsaw activity where kids become experts and then teach the other students.

For a nice explanation of using this technique in Mathematics, have a read of these excellent blog post by a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, Jennie Magiera – Show Me More Maths Metacognition