Ames Middle School 6th grade literacy teacher Drew DeJong is using the idea of “app smashing” to increase student engagement. App smashing is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks. It is a great way to provide students with creative and inspired ways to showcase their learning, and it allows teachers a great way to assess their understanding and skills.
A recent project in DeJong’s class had students write descriptive papers about their favorite place in the world. The quick 300-400 word piece was looking for sensory writing from the students. “I wanted them to really describe their favorite place,” said DeJong. “What does it look like? Smell like? My goal was that the students would show us where they were at.”
Once the writing portion was composed in Google Docs, the students took the project a step further. The students created a video where they read their descriptive paper using Screencastify against a green screen backdrop. They then used a combination of Google Earth and images and dropped those assets into the background through iMovie.
DeJong said, “In my mind, I was thinking what could I do to get the kids excited about writing? So integrating this technology piece was a big part of that.” He wanted to implement real-world expectations where students present their work rather than just write a paper and turn it in. “The neat thing is that I think they were a little more excited to get into it.”