I’ve been thinking a lot about Common Core lately, as I suspect you have. I found an excellent handout on Pinterest by Jen Jones at Hello Literacy that sums up Common Core keenly for parents. The third educational shift explained to parents on this poster is that Common Core requires students to show how they know something. As a middle school teacher, I only had my students in my classroom for 48 minutes a day. So I kept wondering, in the course of those 48 minutes, how am I going to get a chance to hear from every single one of my students so I know whether they are able to explain how they know what they know?
Enter Explain Everything.
The name of this app, Explain Everything, is self-explanatory. Explain Everything allows the user to do just that— explain anything and everything! This is one of my favorite apps and I am always promoting it. Students will mention other apps that have similar functionality, and I always tell them, “Sure. You could use *whatever* to do that. Or better yet, try Explain Everything.” They are always glad they did.
What is Explain Everything, you ask? It’s basically a screencasting app that starts as a blank slate. You can write directly on the blank page (think: digital white board) but there is so much more. You can import PDF files, images from your camera roll, Keynote presentations, a web browser, and so much more. Once you’ve determined which of these items will be the background for each of your slides, the magic begins. Hit the record button and start explaining your thinking. I appreciate that students have the ability to create a Keynote Presentation, import it into Explain Everything, and narrate their presentation as they would if they were giving a live presentation. The students can practice their presentations this way and get immediate feedback about what it might sound like when they present in person. Other apps do this, too. The difference between the other apps and Explain Everything, and the reason why I believe the $2.99 cost is completely worth it, is this: you and/or your students, as the creators of the content, have total control over the sharing and storage of the videos.
Common Core Connection
One of the most obvious Common Core Connections is with the Speaking and Listening Standards, specifically CCSS Anchor Standard SL 5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations; and CCSS Anchor Standard SL 6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the technology is just a tool. Neither the app Explain Everything nor the device itself can teach these standards. That’s our job as teachers (duh!). This tool, however, can greatly enhance students’ ability to meet these standards.
What are some ways that you have used Explain Everything with your students?