Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Power of Video In the Classroom

When I first started teaching, I didn't have positive feelings about using video in the classroom. I thought they could too easily be used in place of good teaching and they took up too much instructional time. Thankfully, those feelings didn't last long as I came across different types of meaningful media for classroom use. I use video in the classroom for a variety of reasons. In addition to being fun and engaging, video can breathe life and meaning into almost any lesson. I have found video to be particularly effective in inspiring students, introducing new content, and creating content.

I use video to inspire students throughout the school year to achieve, to do their best both behaviorally and academically, and to be an example of learning and doing for others. On the first day of school I show Kid President's video "A Pep Talk from Kid President". If you haven't seen it, check it out below. Now, I teach first graders, so they obviously didn't understand the references to Robert Frost and the band Journey in this video, but they did understand the central message. I asked my students what they learned from this short video and they said, "to be awesome!" "Be Awesome" is now our class motto. My students aim to be awesome when they walk in the school hallways to show others what to do. My students aim to be awesome in their behavior so they can feel proud of themselves. My students aim to be awesome by putting effort into everything they do in the classroom. They dream big, set goals for themselves, and strive to accomplish them. I feel it's my job to inspire my students, but it turns out they inspire me more than I ever imagined.
Video may also be used to introduce or reinforce content. For example, not only has great phonics games, but this website also contains short, animated videos which can be used to introduce or reinforce phonics rules. is another website that has short video segments, full videos, and interactive activities available. Simply search by subject, grade level, media type, and so on to find what you need. You can also save your content under your username to retrieve it easily year after year. I have content saved for every subject. Discovery Education does require a school or system wide membership, so check with your administrator if you don't have a subscription. Finally, YouTube of course has a plethora of videos available for classroom use. My favorites are made my The Electric Company. My students love learning their phonics songs to help them remember short and long vowels as well as vowel combinations. 

My students and I use video to create as well. We have used the Vine app for iPhone to record our learning and then share it on our classroom Twitter page. By recording our experiences in this way, we are taking learning beyond the four walls of our classroom. This gives parents a glimpse into our day and peek into what we are learning and doing. We are also sharing our learning with students from around the world. My first graders are becoming expert videographers by using the video capability on their iPads too. We record presentations, skits, and so on. Videos are something many consume, but it's important to us that we create them as well. 

If used appropriately, video can be a powerful tool in the classroom. It's always important to preview videos to check for appropriate content. During longer segments or full videos, pause frequently to allow time to identify and clarify what the students are watching. Stop to hypothesize and predict answers whenever a question is asked. After the video, allow time for activities such as a quick write, compare and contrast, or ask a follow up question for think-pair-share. Finally, let students create video. Videos can be an effective tool for students to demonstrate their knowledge and share their learning with others.