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Jeremy Macdonald- ShowMe For All Occasions

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April 12, 2012 03:29 pm


The following post comes from Jeremy Macdonald, a 5th Grade & Instructional Technology teacher at Mills Elementary in the Klamath Falls City Schools district in Klamath Falls Oregon.

I’ll just come out and say it: I love  ShowMe.

Now I know that many of you don’t have an iPad in the classroom, let alone multiple iPads, but I feel the need to share ShowMe with you all this month. At this point, most of you are familiar with the “flipped classroom” model. If you’re not, it is essentially the creation of classroom content, lessons, and examples that are shared through videos accessible to students before, during, and after instruction. These videos are often used to facilitate independent learning or provide additional support to students. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of example on the web of teachers “flipping” their classrooms and using this model in an attempt to engage students in more interactive ways than before. I’d recommend Googling it (wait, never mind, I did it for you) if you want to learn more.

So essentially, for many, ShowMe is another tool that teachers and students are using to flip the classroom and share their learning with the rest of us. Take a look.


Here is one teacher’s video for long division. “How to Divide” by Jacob Leatherwood

All of that said, I haven’t actually used ShowMe to flip anything or provide students with prerecorded content. In my classroom, we like to use ShowMe to share our learning with our classmates. And while I have dozens of ideas and applications for ShowMe, I will share just a handful of ways you can get started with it in your own classroom.

Recording Reviewable/Repeatable Processes

A lot of times in math we get to a point where we need to remember a process or an order in which we should attempt to solve a problem. Similar to what Mr. Leatherwood did in the above ShowMe, students create quick reviewable videos that they can use at a later time. We’ve done this with the water cycle (try nitrogen cycle, too), and hope to do something similar with phases of matter.

Idea: In my fifth grade class we learn several methods to multiply. We learn the area model of multiplication, the partial product model, the lattice method and ultimately the standard algorithm of multiplication. Each method is a process, or has repeated steps, that help find the product of its two factors. I have students create a ShowMe for each method, where they describe the steps in detail with their words and with their drawings.

Brainstorming/Thinking Out Loud

I’m sure this isn’t unique to the fifth grade, but my students struggle to get their wonderfully creative minds to create anything that is wonderfully creative. Many, if not all, of my students have these great story ideas when I talk to them, but when they begin to flesh them out, somehow students lose those ideas as it travels from their brains to their papers. We use ShowMe to solve that.

Idea: Instead of requiring all of my student to follow a specific brainstorming routine or to use the same web-like template, I offer them ShowMe as an alternative. (Do not get me wrong here, a lot of my students till prefer the traditional web or outline and there are many great apps for that as well.) Student then use ShowMe to record their story ideas as if they were describing them to me or a friend. While they talk out loud about their story idea, they begin to write or draw some of the details that they are imagining. The end result is often a much more detailed and useful brainstorm that will be used to guide their story creation.

Quick Glimpse Formative Assessment

I know, I know. This one sounds like it has less to do with students sharing their learning, but it is a way to do a couple of things at once. We all are teaching in data driven schools and communities and we need to make sure that we are collecting and using the information we collect. I often find myself and my team overwhelmed by “indicators” and “data strands” or “data points” that we sadly do nothing with in the end. Using ShowMe to have students provide you with quick glimpses into their learning provides you with useful data to drive instruction, but also gives students another medium in which they can share and show their learning with anyone.

Idea: We talk a lot about formative assessments at my school, but all I see are summative “quizes” being given all the time. Let’s change that. Instead of a quiz, give students a prompt, a well-thought-out-response-required question, or an item to re-teach. Now if students are getting the gist of what’s going on, they should be able to create a brief yet adequately detailed clip.

For example. We just finished learning about forces, including friction and gravity. We’ve discussed it for a day (or two) and I want to see who “gets it”. The prompt, “In ShowMe, recreate a common daily occurrence that you’ve experienced or observed in which friction and/or gravity play a roll. Be sure to label the forces correctly, indicating the proper name and direction.”

Again, I realize that not everyone has an iPad (or iPads) in the classroom, however, the ShowMe site allows anyone to watch and learn from the hundreds of teacher and student created videos. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit their blog at the ShowMe voice. They have lots of teacher submitted how-tos, innovative ways to use the app, and discussions around learning and technology.

Lastly, I couldn’t let you go without watching Alessandro explain the water cycle. Enjoy.

“Alessandro explains the water cycle” posted by Jorge Briseno


Jeremy Macdonald is a fifth grade teacher and instructional technology coach at Mills Elementary in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mr. Macdonald’s blog posts appear on the second Thursday of every month. Read his previous posts here . Find more information on Mr. Macdonald on his website at You can also follow him on Twitter at @MrMacnology.

More information on digital learning and technology in the classroom is available at

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