Dr. Martha Mead Elementary
Explain Everything gives a teacher the tools to transform her educational model
Mead Elementary, located in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the most diverse elementaries in Northside Independent School District (NISD). NISD student enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year was 105,550 and it continues to grow. At Mead we have over 36 different languages represented on our campus. Our goal at Mead is to strive to cultivate students who are successful independent thinkers and lifelong learners. NISD believes that students learn best when they are active participants in their own learning, this is why student led instruction combined with Explain Everything has been a successful way of teaching in my classroom. My name is Cruz N. Ramirez, this is my first year of teaching as an advanced drawing middle school teacher. This is my fourth year teaching Art (K-5) at Mead Elementary. I have enjoyed teaching all levels of art, it keeps my brain active and I never stop creating. I tell my students, learning is like a new adventure every time. You don’t know where that new discovery can take you! My latest discovery has been Explain Everything, which has jetted me to another level of teaching.
Getting the students to focus for 15 minutes while I taught them the steps and instructions for the new lesson was a challenge. I constantly had to redirect their focus. I felt that the students were not engaged, they were not focused on my lessons. It seemed that they were not interested in the process, only the product. This led me to do some research on how I could capture the new generation of technology oriented students without losing any important learned art methods I had accumulated over the years as a teacher and as an artist. After much research, and many creative processes, I decided to decrease teacher direct instruction by increasing student led learning using the Explain Everything app.
Students as Leaders
When I first incorporated Explain Everything and student led lessons, it seemed chaotic, but it was just me changing my leadership role. Using Explain Everything, combined with student led techniques, the students are the leaders! The mirroring system on our iPad, while using Explain Everything, gives me the opportunity to move around my classroom without being stuck around my desk area. I let them know that I will no longer be teaching the lesson, that I will choose a “teacher” to teach the lesson for me. The students are attentive as they can be because everyone wants to be the teacher! I quickly go over the idea, a story, and then we start the lesson. As the student is leading the lesson, I stand beside him/her and guide him/her through the lesson. Once I get the “teacher” going on the project, I can walk around and continue to explain what he/she is doing while monitoring the class, and recording their comments and questions. Once the students start the lesson on their own, I go around and leave the screen down, Explain Everything video recording on, and go around the classroom recording the student’s processes. They love seeing their work (and themselves!) on the screen, and when I replay their work, comments or questions, they are so attentive! Seeing themselves on the screen being recorded and being in front of the class increases the students communication skills. When we review our lesson on the screen through Explain Everything it makes the students feel important, powerful, and confident. It is an amazing tool that keeps all my lessons together. The students are now part of my teaching process, they are the leaders, I am their guide.
Not only is it great for my student led art projects, Explain Everything is so teacher tech friendly! Included in each of my Explain Everything projects is a lesson plan that includes a video, particular artist or story connected to the lesson, my directions, my examples, students guided video, student example, and students comments, questions, and overall project. All of this in one project which you can print or share easily with your administration or other art teachers! Explain Everything is a tool that not only makes it easier for teachers to use it in the classroom, it makes student led lessons fun and exciting for our future leaders.
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