Originally posted on the Secondary C&I website on 3/1/2018
Finding a video on YouTube and inserting it into a lesson often feels like a no-brainer.
Want to introduce a concept in 10 minutes or fewer? Find a video!
Want an activity any substitute teacher could easily facilitate? Have her show a video!
Want a way for students to review an idea outside of class? Link a video to class website!
Unfortunately, although videos are often easy to find and play, they’re not always what is best for student learning. Time and time again, educational best practices show us that if students are really learning the material it’s because they are reading, writing, and/or speaking about their thinking.
Does that mean video has no place in the classroom? That’s not at all what I’m saying. Rather, we need to be intentional about why and how we use video as an instructional tool. We need to ensure that our students are thinking about what they are watching.
With each video you show in your classroom, there are some key things to consider (1) before, (2) during, and (3) after you hit play.
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Before the Video
Establish its purpose
Students are more engaged with a video’s content when they know why they’re watching it.
The first year I showed the first fifteen minutes of the video Grand Isle (the film version of the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin), my students who had already thoroughly read the opening chapters of the book tuned out: feeling as if they were getting the same material in video form as they had just read, they disconnected from the video. Whereas the next year, I took a few moments to explain that the Creole culture of Louisiana is hard to understand on the page, but hearing the way the characters shift from speaking in French to English and then back again is critical to understanding why the main character—who only speaks English—feels isolated. Suddenly, with just a sudden explanation of why the video mattered, almost all students leaned in, took notes, and stayed engaged.
Many students need to know the purpose of an activity before they will devote their full attention to it.
Use an Anchor Activity
Grounding students in the topic of the video before you begin will often increase student understanding of and engagement in the video’s content.
Consider trying the following anchor activities with your own students:
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During the Video
Use Closed Captioning
When a narrator or character talks too fast, in an accent, or uses words that are new to the viewers, Closed Captioning can be a lifesaver. Especially for our EL and DHH students, Closed Captioning is a must for any video watched in class.
Stop, Rewind, and Re-watch
Some videos are fast-paced, introduce complex ideas, or have a lot going on visually. As adults, we know we can always pause, backup, and watch a section over again; however, this is not intuitive to many of our students. This is a skill we must model and teach.
In all of my English classes, I commonly used various Crash Course Literature videos. The students found John Green, the narrator of this YouTube Channel, to be funny and enduring; but, his delivery is so fast that students often missed key pieces of what he was saying. For this reason, we often stopped the video, skipped back to each of those key moments, and re-watched them. Sometimes, we even watched an entire video twice. Knowing this would be my approach, I would always tell students ahead of time that we would stop, rewind, and re-watch as needed: this helped reduce students’ anxiety levels, because knowing that all key ideas would come around again, they did not panic whenever they missed pieces the first time around.
Monitor Student Understanding
It is critical to stop a video from time to time to ensure student understanding, especially with videos that are longer than a few minutes, quickly narrated, or that contain new information. If students do not understand the information, they most certainly will not retain it.
Consider trying the following activities with your own students to ensure understanding during video viewing:
To see the above example of PlayPosIt:you may need to create a free PlayPosIt account or select a class (choose IA Institute).
The video in not optimized for playing on a small device, such as a cellphone.
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After the Video
Provide a way to re-watch
It’s a simple thing, but when a video is available online why not link it somewhere so students can re-watch it later? Linking videos used in class to your class website or Google Classroom, means that students then have a way to re-watch the material if they are still struggling with the content, to watch it if they were absent, or to review the material later prior to an end-of-unit assessment.
Connect to future learning
Just because the video is over, does not mean the learning is. As you teach future lessons, connect them back to the material watched in the video. This increases the importance of the material learned, which will not only help students build connections but will also help them pay closer attention to future videos, as they will now understand what an important role each video plays in your classroom.
So, while video commonly seems like an easy lesson enhancer, remember that while a video used well is wonderful, a video used without purpose and planning can end up being a waste of class time. For each video used, there are things to consider before, during, and after we share it with our students.
If you would like to tweak how you use video in your classroom, consider reaching out to your instructional coach or one of us on the C&I team; we would love to help you enrich your lessons with video. Or, consider diving in to some of the additional reading suggestions noted below.
This post brought to you by Heather Lyke, Secondary Implementation Associate
Suggestions for future reading on this topic:
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