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Creating for understanding

Vandana Parashar, PYP educator at Pathways School, Noida, India

Vandana Parashar, PYP educator at Pathways School, Noida, India

This blog post talks about exploring different forms of technology as part of the transdisciplinary theme How we express ourselves.

During a unit under the transdisciplinary theme How we express ourselves, we explored how technology can be a modern language of human expression. We began working around the tool or app of the day to assist the students in moving further in their inquiry process.

Students learned to install educational apps on the iPad and then use to gain understanding on the different forms of technology. Everyday’s tool went up on the “tool-wall” with a review from a child – describing how it is used and what are the advantages and the flaws of that particular tool. Over the next 5 weeks, we explored and used around 22 new apps and our “tool-wall” became a real asset to the class (and to the school)!

Image11_Math tutorial

One of our learning engagements was to create a tool to teach various concepts of fractions through using  “educreations” and “show me” apps to students in Year 4. They met with their friends in Year 4 and asked them what about fractions they find most difficult to understand. Their list included the concepts of number line, simplification, addition of mixed fractions and equivalence.

Year 5 students began thinking about simplifying these concepts for the Year 4 students. They realized, of course, that it is not as simple as it appears! They need to use manipulative in order to make it interesting for their audience otherwise they would lose interest; they need to have a script ready before they record because they cannot pause in between; they need to be audible and their voice needs to be crystal clear; their hand writing has to be legible; and they cannot go too fast with either writing or speaking, and both need to be in sync.

Image2_Math tutorialOnce students had this check-list to guide everyone, the real work began! It was a pleasure to see the students trying to break down their instructions for more clarity; taking several pictures, from various angles, before choosing one for the final piece; convincing each other about the method; cooperating with great ease and taking turns to give voice-overs for different part of the tutorial; delegating work depending upon better handwriting, clearer voice and ease with the tool; troubleshooting without any fuss; finding a quieter place for recording; and, celebrating after recording their last words: “Thank you for watching this tutorial. We hope you will never go wrong with this concept again!”

These tutorials were shared with the Year 4 students who actually gave feedback to their friends about their creation. As a facilitator, I watched them taking control of the tool to create something which could help many students in the time to come.

This unit of inquiry has provided the students with the opportunity to develop the following attributes of the IB learner profile, attitudes and skills: curiosity, cooperation, tolerance, respect, risk-taking, communication, thinking and self-management skills!


Vandana has been a primary educator for the last 11 years in international schools from New Delhi to Tokyo and believes in good pedagogical practices and keeping her children happy and excited about every single moment of the day.

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15 Responses to Creating for understanding

  1. Maru 31 July 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Loooooooove this idea!!!! 🙂

  2. Naini Singh 1 August 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    it would be great if you could share what they did with fractions.

  3. juhi 8 August 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Dear Ms Vandana
    So glad to see your work here
    Felt confident that I could also pull through this unit with my fifth graders
    Though feeling quite nervous to handle this topic
    Do you think you can help me pkan the unit??
    Some assistance from you would be a favour for sure.

  4. vandana 25 August 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Thanks Maru for liking this exercise! it left the students asking for more …

  5. vandana 25 August 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Hey Naini! They created tutorials on additions of mixed fractions; comparing fractions and simplification of fractions. using an ipad app- “educreations” .

    one sample can be viewed here:

  6. vandana 25 August 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Hey Juhi! Thats really sweet of you to say this. I would love to offer assistance to regarding planning and execution. Lets collaborate via emails: [email protected] .. you can reach me here! Hope to connect with you soon. 🙂

  7. Donna Daniels 25 November 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    I thought this was interesting seeing technology has the modern form of expression.. How the students reviewed the apps and then year 5 students helped year 4 students. Something to think about with how could this be adapted to kindergarten.

  8. Kirsten Loza 25 November 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Thanks, Donna, I’d be interested to hear how you adapt this practice to your kindergarten class. Perhaps write an article for SharingPYP blog?

  9. Vandana 25 November 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    Thanks Donna for liking the idea… we tried it this year as well and you won’t imagine, students created such wonderful tutorials on a variety of topics that interest them. One group created one on “how to use the interactive smart board” sou can that the new students/teachers can use it without any training…

    For Kindergarten, you can explore ‘show me’ app .. where they click picture and record a question .. it can be a short picture quiz created for their fellow friends on a topic they are currently inquiring into.

    Hope it helps!

  10. Kallie 16 December 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I love the use of technology as a modern day means to expressing ourselves. So often we think of it as a tool for different things. I used ‘educreations’ often when I was in the classroom, but I never thought of using it in this way. What a great idea to have year 4 and year 5 collaborating and creating criteria for the final product!

  11. vandana 16 December 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    Hey Kallie! Thanks for appreciating this action. This year we used explain everything app and that was far better than educreation in terms of use as well as technical support. Hope to see your kids’ creations up here as well!

  12. Elizabeth Delanoy 16 December 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Great blog! Love the use of technology for the young kids. They get so much out of their learning when they are driving it.

  13. vandana 16 December 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    Yes indeed! Learning is maximum when its put in a context.

  14. Anjali Akware 27 March 2015 at 4:36 am #

    Hi Vandana, I loved the idea creating for understanding, utilising technology has made it made it very appealing.

  15. Vandana 27 March 2015 at 4:53 am #

    Thanks a lot Anjali! I am glad the idea clicked with you. This one engagement helped them use and develop a number of skills and attitudes at the same time. Try it out and let me know if you require any assistance, I will be happy to help. 🙂

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