Recorded Classes with Explain Everything

This post has been on my list of things to do for so long. I was inspired to write it after our Algebra 1 midterm this year. I teach mostly Math 8 classes with one accelerated group of 8th grade Algebra students. As part of our year we had a midterm review followed by a midterm. The midterm grade was a small portion of their grade. The focus for them was to learn to study for a cumulative test and to manage the pressure as well as possible.

After the midterm we went over the test in class. I record most classes so that students can watch if they are absent. This allows the kids to come back to school caught up or close to caught up. Sometimes I don’t record if everyone is present. The day we went over the midterm Jordan was absent. I recorded the class as we went through the most missed questions.

Ms. Dawson I was talking to you!

Jordan came back to school the next day and he eagerly told me he was talking to me while he watched the class video. He said, “I was saying that I got that one right?” and “I understand what I did wrong with that one.” etc. I realized in this moment that I should seek out a few other student comments and write this up.

Last year I had a student out for a week due to the flu. She is a student much like my son and I know that it takes a lot to keep him from missing school. When he does miss he’s really stressed about making work up. Her mom reached out to say she was really upset about having to stay home and her sister popped in each day to pick up work. When Lyndsey returned to school it was like she had never been gone. She had all of her work done (including work her sister hadn’t picked up – she had hand written material that I posted online), she had watched all the class videos and she didn’t even need to see me for questions. I remember telling my family at dinner that night that if even one student used these videos it was totally worth it.

I also knew even before this experience that other students had used the videos on their own. And, I found them helpful when a student came in for help in study hall. I would ask them to watch the video to fill in the notes and then ask me questions. It saved me from reteaching as much, while also allowing the students to own their own learning. Additionally, suddenly students were able to catch up on the video portion in their own study hall or their own house and then use their time with me for focused practice and clarifying questions instead of base level learning.

Tips for recording a class

  • Always tell the students you are turning on the record button. In Explain Everything you will see a red button, so they will see it turn on too. That also helps when you forget to push record – typically a student will tell you!
  • Keep the lessons password protected and/or in Google Classroom.
  • You don’t have to record every period. I teach 4 sections of the same class. I alternate periods to record and I post one of them in Google Classroom. I try to remember to say “recorded during period 3” for example so the students know. Kid like it when their class is recorded.
  • Never sacrifice the quality of the actual class for the recorded class. My set-up is interesting. My iPad is toward the back of the room and the SmartBoard that I’m displaying on is in the front. There are many times that I have to run up to the board to clarify. I know this leads to weak audio, but the quality of the real time class is my primary focus.

Fringe teaching benefits of recording class

  • It helps you shorten your lectures. When I started this I talked for 2x as long as I do now. Recording has helped me tighten my instruction.
  • It somewhat changes behavior. At first your lessons may feel a little stifled as they are afraid of their voices being picked up on the audio. At first they may behave a little more perfectly. Ultimately though you and the kids will settle into your normal, though I find it to be an elevated version of normal. We all seem to hold ourselves to a slightly higher standard. I try to speak more clearly and feel a little more thoughtful and the kids take the lesson more seriously.
  • It does help with stage fright for things like observations, at home recordings etc. I used to do so many takes when I tried filming at home and now I just start and go with it. Practice makes better.

What the kids think

I asked these 3 students to tell me what they think of the videos because I know they use them when they are absent. One thing that Jordan reminded me about in person is that sometimes the video will pause and then the answers just appear. This is one thing that can easily happen – you pause the video to do something else in class that doesn’t involve the platform and then come back to it and forget to record. I seem to do this more regularly in Algebra than Math 8 for some reason. He’s a good sport and just reminds me.

The videos that you post are helpful. They are good for when you are absent and when you may need it again because you include all of the things we are learning. Your videos have a really good explanation on your lessons. Some people can understand what we are learning with that one video. When I am absent I know that I can go straight to classroom and see the video to catch up.


Here is my perspective of the videos Mrs.Dawson shares on Google Classroom. I believe that the videos are very helpful to me because when I am sick, I just go to google classroom and look at the videos and copy down the notes. It is also helpful when she puts a picture of the assignment board on google classroom, so I see what we did today.


Mrs.Dawson’s math videos are a real help. I watch them all the time and every chance I get. They are really helped me understand the material more special if I didn’t quite understand something from class. Also I’ve been absent quite a few times and those videos are a lifesaver. Sometimes it feels like I’m in class and I sometimes occasionally raise my hand to answer or shout out “Hey that’s what I got!”. I find the videos extra helpful and I’m really happy that my teacher posts them because they really help. My mom said that she never got the chance to have a class video so she says “I’m lucky” and I do agree.


In the next post I’ll talk about how the experience of recording class is helping me to transition to virtual instruction in the wake of the Coronavirus.