Every teacher, every student, and every classroom has a story to share. Because of this, video has become an invaluable tool in teaching, learning, and digital literacy. It’s estimated that children from ages 8 to 18 spend nearly 7.5 hours each day consuming media of all types, often concurrently. Today’s students have never known a world without video, and it’s estimated that 91% regularly view content on YouTube, so it’s only natural that they would want to use video to support their own learning. Teachers using video in the classroom report that their students retain more information and are more enthusiastic about what they are learning.
As video has become a principal learning tool for the wired generation, it can lose its magic when it’s overused in the classroom or the purpose isn’t well-defined. However, a resourceful lesson can be invaluable. Just as you prepare to teach any lesson, preparing to use video assignments with your students is paramount to success. As you’re reviewing or developing the content, contemplate what concepts you want your students to learn and create a list of the key points. Typically, students view the video more than once. Of course, the length of the video should be considered for maximum engagement—too long can be tedious and counterproductive.
Creating Video Content for Your Classroom
When putting a lesson together, consider this study by grad students at the University of Rochester, which concluded that “The optimal video length is 6 minutes or shorter—students watched most of the way; but the average engagement time maxes at 6 minutes. Engagement times decrease as videos lengthen, citing that if a video was 12 minutes, students would begin to lose interest at 3 minutes.” Another best practice I recently read is one minute per grade level of video viewing.
So, now that you are convinced of the value of video use, what now? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Choose the right topic: Find your topic, then review for subject matter, length, and whether it’s grade appropriate, Be selective—there is plenty to pick from! If you find something that’s good, but maybe needs a bit more, there are multiple tools out there for quick and easy video editing, such as MimioMoovly. Be sure to provide goals for viewing so your students actively watch. For example, tell them certain areas where they should pay attention as those might appear in the discussion for the next class.
- Edit your content: Edit extra material in or out (as long as it’s open source/non-copyright) or slow it down. I really like the MimioMoovly tool because it offers the ability to present concepts or instructions in a thoughtful and engaging manner using over one million free and royalty-free media objects (images, footage, and sounds) with explainer video and templates. Plus, it’s easy to use if you want to design something yourself.
- Build background knowledge: This helps students build connections with the subject. Building background knowledge using video is a great method to reach ELL students, thanks to the ability to translate content, as well as using visuals to help draw conclusions as they acquire new language skills. An example of this might be to show a video about weather phenomena, have the students discuss the types that they saw, then write sentences to help with vocabulary and writing skills.
- Deepen the learning: Giving students video assignments can help deepen understanding and stimulate critical thinking. For example, students could read a book and then use video to produce a trailer for that book. It’s important to plan this out to get the best outcome and achieve learning. Showing students samples, having them pick a book (or assigning them one), creating a script and storyboard, generating the video, and then presenting the video accomplishes a great deal of learning on a variety of fronts. For storyboards, there are many sources from Storyboard That (which offers freebies and online templates!) that can be easily integrated.
- Assess the learning: Lastly, imagine a team of your students tackling a concept, such as animals and their habitats. The students could research the content (using video), then answer a list of questions via a video artifact for proof of learning.
There are many ways to integrate video usage into your day-to-day teaching, and these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. As we know, good teaching requires preparation, which is vital to effectively use video in the classroom and really advance student achievement.