Monday, September 15, 2014

Utilizing videos effectively in your classroom

Videos can be a great way to explore and demonstrate aspects and intricacies to your students you wouldn't normally be able to because of expense or danger (i.e. blowing up a building, touring Jupiter's Giant Red Spot, etc.). Therefore, the value of videos is huge is used properly as they can provide a visual context which is immensely important for learners especially those who need to see it to understand.

I utilize videos in four different ways.

1) To provide that context I mentioned which allows my students to see something they otherwise couldn't. There's only so much a student can get from a picture, often it's the animation or video which brings to life the material in a meaningful way.  Some of my favourite include: Images of the UniverseRussian 2013 Meteor Explosion and turning DNA to Protein through animation.

2) Relate the content from a different perspective - in this case the perspective is that of the performer or narrator. My favourite growing up was always Bill Nye the Science Guy. His take on science was simple, to the point and related in an engaging and meaningful way. His humor brought science to life. A few examples include: Bill Nye - BiodiversityBill Nye - Food Webs and Bill Nye - The Water Cycle

3) To provide a break in the action as a mid lesson breather. If your lesson is dragging, break it up with some entertainment. This doesn't have to be content specific but in my opinion, should be subject specific or relevance to current circumstances (winter colds, movie releases, etc.). I show a lot of ASAP Science videos on things like Does Being Cold Make You Sick?The Poop CycleThe Moon Illusion.  

4) Lastly I use to review or introduce a topic.  There is a series of videos where the creator introduces a variety of biology topics (i.e. Introduction to Biology) and I like to use them to engage my students from the start.

How to use them: However, teachers often become complacent and presumptuous and assume that just because there is a video on, their kids are paying attention.  Kids hate boring videos people, they also dislike long videos so keep them short, to the point and fun.  Please don't show hour long documentaries on ecosystems, even if that interests you, they just don't care enough.  It's not their fault, they're young and it's just not that important to them.  Lastly, even if you have a class full of kids who stay awake, they aren't benefiting from the video nearly as much as they could.  This is because despite their good intentions, unless what you are watching is of significant interest to you, your mind has a tendency to drift, mine does.

You need to keep them focused and the best way to do that is to provide them with something to keep them thinking and paying attention. Since moving around the classroom usually isn't conducive to watching a video, my solution is a worksheet.  I hardly ever show a video over 10 minutes long that doesn't include a worksheet. Worksheets force them to listen so they can fill in the spaces/answer the questions which also allows them to move around a little through writing but most importantly, it keeps them focussed. As I mentioned above, I love Bill Nye.  I use his videos in my class every year and they are great.  In order to follow my own guidelines I've created a set of worksheets that go along with many of his more popular videos including Food Webs and The Water Cycle.  Each worksheet contains a link that will take you to the video as well as an answer key. I've created a compilation collection of 18 video worksheets as well as five other smaller, subject-specific bundles. Please have a look.
Looking for more great science videos?  Click here to search my data base of engaging, non-boring, student approved videos - Bill Nye All Vertical

Teach With Fergy

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