Saturday, November 16, 2013

App-Smashing: A Revolutionary Way to Learn About Revolutions

App-smashing, according to Greg Kulowiec, is:


I'm just starting to venture into app smashing as my high school students become more familiar with a variety of iPad apps.  I don't think app-smashing is something that I could have feasibly done much before this point in the year because I needed to familiarize my students with a foundational list of the apps that we will use all year long. Once they have that knowledge base and experience, they can create all kinds of products!

The Topic
This past week my sophomores created videos about the European Revolutions of 1830 and 1848.  I wanted to do more than teach them the history; I wanted them to investigate a complex question.
We talked about what makes a revolution a success or a failure.  As a class, we agreed on how to design a scale of success and failure for political revolution.  You'll see these scales later in their final products.

Getting Started
First, they accessed the event summaries and primary source excerpts compiled for them on our class website using QR Reader.
Then, as they're analyzing the text and primary sources, they took notes and copied quotes into Evernote.  They sent their notes and analysis to me so I could check and approve them before they started scripting and story-boarding their videos.
I asked them to use the scale of success and failure we had decided on as a class to rate their specific revolution.  This meant students had to take a picture of the scale with the camera app and then edit to image to show where their revolution fit using an image editing app like Skitch.

Flipped Classroom
Next they searched for primary source artwork to provide visual elements for their movie.  In an effort to flip my classroom a bit, I asked them to split up the script and image research between them and assign portions for homework to one another.
I also asked to watch this tutorial from YouTube at home so that they knew how to use the Educreations app when they arrived in class the next day. Educreations allows teachers and students to create video lessons using the iPad.


Making Something New
The next day, they came in with images (some of which were cropped or edited to fit their needs), drafts of scripts, and a decent understanding of the app they would use to shoot their video on Educreations.
Script in Evernote + Edited Images in Skitch (exported to Camera Roll) = App-Smash in Educreations

Publishing to Each Other and the Web
Once their work was created, filmed, and saved, they sent the link to their final video to me via Socrative.  Once all the groups had shared  their links with me, I exported the links to my email in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  Then students were able to present their Educreations videos to one another big as life on the classroom SmartBoard and teach one another about their assigned revolution.
As groups presented to the class, students in the audience again took notes using their Evernote apps.  This way, their notes about their assigned revolution can be in the same electronic document as their notes about the other revolutions.
Finally, to check for understanding, I asked students to blog about the success or failure of 3 out of the six revolutions covered during the presentations.  Their blog post could include their own revolution, but also had to discuss two others.  Of course, they had to include a link to their Educreations and at least one image that helps explain the concepts.  My students use a variety of blog platforms since I decided to let them make the choice for themselves at the start of the school year.

The Results
Here are some of the results of their efforts!
Click here to watch their final video presentation.

Click here to watch their final video presentation.
A Reflection
After carrying out this project with my students I was reflecting on just how many apps we had used throughout the process.  It really boggled my mind and I started wading through some of my favorite edtech blogs to find out how other people had combined apps.  Coincidentally, Greg Kulowiec's blog, the History 2.0 Classroom popped up in my Feedly with a post on his presentation at Boston's EdTech Teacher iPad Summit and I finally had a name for what we had done!  Unfortunately, I missed the summit by a day or two.  But, now that I know there are resources out there to give me new ideas, I'm looking forward to exploring more app-smashing projects throughout the year.

Oh, by the way, the entire project was completely and utterly paperless, too.