–Jody Pereverzoff grade 7 Humanities
After reading Lisa Nelson’s blog on using ShowMe in the Math class, I thought it would be a successful tool for students to demonstrate their understanding of editorial cartoons. Students first read the short story “Back to our Roots” by Fernando Sorrentino (translated from Spanish by Iris Maria Mielonen) and brainstormed the main themes of the text.
Students, as a class, decided that the two major themes in this text were consumerism and the complexity of “simple” in the world. We provided students with a few exemplars and techniques and had them create an original cartoon that discussed their view of society today using these similar themes.
When I received the final cartoon, I sat down to mark them. However, I quickly realized that I could not just see what they had learned; I needed them to tell me. This is where the ShowMe app was extremely helpful.
I handed back the assignments and provided students with a few guiding questions. They were already familiar with ShowMe and those who weren’t received a quick tutorial from our class experts. Students then took a picture of their cartoon and described the process of designing their editorial cartoons. They explained the intentionality of each technique they used and the described how their original cartoon demonstrated theme and how it connected back to the text.
Dan, Lisa and I started our research by saying we did not want to talk about apps specifically, but talk instead about how iPads fit into our teaching practice. However, this app provided me with a stronger understanding of what each individual student learned during this unit. It made assessment easier for me and I was able to connect with students that could not clearly explain their cartoon choices and connections to the short story. I really feel like I developed a sense of what they know because they were able to tell me themselves.
What I also appreciate about this app is that it isn’t a tool that simply gives students an answer, like the many flashcard apps we see. It is a tool that helps students to express their understanding in a way that works for them. Students could create their cartoons any way that they liked (paper, Pages, comic apps), take a picture of it, and reflect on their choices using ShowMe. I had students who would not normally write more than a few sentences when asked to reflect on a project, spend over 5 minutes talking about each detail, image, shade, caricature, and symbol they used in the cartoon and explain how their cartoon connected to the theme of the short story and our world today.
I think that this app will have a huge impact on my ability to assess student understanding and it will allow students to reflect on their own understanding as well. While some students chose to answer the guiding questions in paragraph form, many students found it easier to draw and/or describe their assignment. I think students will make more intentional choices about the way they present their understanding knowing that there are tools like ShowMe, Dragon Dictation, or VoiceThread available to them.