Monday, November 17, 2014

Showbie - The Little App That Could

One of my favorite parts of my job is helping teachers use technology to solve problems.  Our school went 1:1 with iPads a few years ago, and it has been great getting to use them.  However, the iPads stay in the classroom with the teacher and never go home with the students.  Lately, some of our students are getting iPads funded by the local county school systems, and teachers came to me asking how they can put homework on the iPad.  In my opinion, this is a great problem to have:)

After a little research, I found a gem called Showbie:

Showbie is an app that allows the teacher to create classes within the app, and upload assignments into the app.  Uploading an assignment could be as simple as taking a picture of the worksheet you want your student to do.  You could also link to a plethora of different apps (Book Creator, Educreations, Geogebra, HaikuDeck, PicCollage).

Once you create your classes, students can join the classes using the unique code generated by Showbie.  When it is time to add assignments, simply create a folder by tapping New Assignment.

Then name the assignment, select a due date, and click Save.  There is a great feature that allows you to lock assignments, so you are able to load several at a time, but locking them prevents students from accessing them.  This is a great feature, especially when you are putting together a large project and don't want students to access it until it is ready.  

Now you are ready to add assignments.  As you can see, you can pick something from your library, add a comment (specific directions), add a voice note, or link from another app.  My favorite part is that you can take a picture right in the app using the camera. 

Here is a very rough picture, but you can edit.  The app allows you to crop, rotate, brighten, and increase the sharpness. 
With all of those changes, you end up with an assignment that looks like this:

Students are able to use the zoom feature to blow up the assignment really big like this:

Which is great for our students, who usually need extra room to show their work:)

Here is an example of a finished assignment.  The student was able to use different colors of ink to solve different problems (I could see this being great when doing the order of operations, combining like terms, the distributive property - can't you just feel the math teacher in me oozing out?!?  I think it would also be good for younger grades to use one color to identify the main idea and a different color for the supporting details.  Or it could be a map and students could identify different countries that are ruled by different kingdoms.  Or it could be the periodic table and the different types of elements could be colored different colors.  See - I love all subjects, not just math:))

I also like how the comment feature is available on the students side too.  These comments are kept confidential between student and teacher.  So students who may be too shy to ask for help in class can do it here without worrying about what their classmates might think.  I also love the voice comment for non-readers or non-writers.  Students could hear the directions on a voice note, and complete the activity independently (i.e. color the things that start with 'c' orange).

Overall, I think this is a terrific app and I highly recommend it to anyone who is going 1:1 with iPads.  It is very user-friendly, and can be used with anyone from the youngest elementary students to the oldest high school kids.  Plus, it makes grading easier, since you only have to have your iPad and not a stack of papers to drag home with you:)

Have you ever used Showbie?

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