Breaking down and understanding informational text features is crucial to a reader’s and writer’s understanding. So, this past year as we dug deeper and deeper into informational texts, we used Explain Everything to help us remember what each feature was, why it might be included in a book, and how it could help us as readers and writers.
Modeling & Guided Practice –
Here is our class product. We created this together as we encountered different text features as we read about a variety of topics. I would have something picked out to read for read aloud, but also have a stack of other informational books for students to explore as well.
After we would investigate the text feature together, everyone spread out with other informational texts and looked for features and information. We shared examples and non-examples and added pictures, text, and voice to our collaborative Explain Everything (always mirrored on the big screen as we created it).
*A collaborative project is always a wonderful way for students to continue exploring features of a favorite app or tool! Plus, I really think it promotes a community of helpers and patience.
Collaborative Practice –
Later in small groups, with stacks of interesting and accessible informational texts, students collaborated to find text features. They created their own approximations of our text features video, adding images, voice, animations and annotations.
Here’s one example. It’s a bit long, but shows exactly what they understood!
If you want to watch more click here to visit a Symbaloo with each group’s video. If you choose to watch more you’ll notice that just about every group has a few (or more) misconceptions. I loved watching these because I got an accurate picture of their grasp at the time. As a result, we were able to go back and revisit our video, and many more texts to help everyone.
We made the class screencast as a tool to use later. However, we didn’t make these collaborative screencasts to share with the world, or to be perfect. They were made to show understanding and help us know what we needed next as a group.
Formative Assessment –
Reshan Richards, who created Explain Everything, has an awesome name for using screencasting, pictures and video for assessment. It’s called “The Qualitative Formative Assessment Toolkit” and you need to check out the hastag (#QFAT), and read more about it from Reshan himself here.
Karen Lirenman recently wrote an excellent post on formative assessment. She shares her thoughts on focusing more on the formative assessment than the tool. It’s really thought provoking! Check it out here.