Last month I overheard a conversation between two teachers looking through the DVD’s in the school library. Allow me to paraphrase the conversation.
“What do you think of this one?”
“Hmm. I think that’s okay. I might have used it last year.”
“Is it age appropriate for my kids?”
“It’s from <publisher name> so you should be okay.”
“Great. I need something to show this afternoon. This’ll work.”
I find it difficult to accept that in 2014, with all the media available to us, that many teachers still do not preview videos before showing them to their students. I know that teacher time is a valuable thing, but so is face to face lesson time with students. Why would anyone want to squander that time by with a video that may not even meet your content standards? Or worse yet, use a video as “filler”?
Going through my old files yesterday, I came across this classic Hall Davidson handout. I don’t know if it is even available online anymore, but I hope he won’t mind me sharing it.
Most of us have moved beyond VHS tapes, but consider the wealth of video resources we have available through YouTube, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, and subscription services like Discovery Education. There are so many options to create powerful learning experiences for our students. But as Uncle Ben said in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Let me point out some strategies for ACTIVE video watching that are still quite relevant today.
- Preview the video before you show it. This seems obvious but it’s easy to skip this important step. Even if another teacher has recommended a video WATCH IT YOURSELF first. You don’t want to be surprised by content. PLUS knowing the content ahead of time will help you plan activities that will help your students learn the most from the video.
- Use short segments rather than full videos. If the concept you want to teach can be demonstrated in a 90 second video clip, you don’t need to use up valuable face to face time with students showing a full 20-30 minute video.
- Use the PAUSE button. Want to make sure your students got that important concept? Pause. Ask questions. And if you need to, back up the video and show that part again. It’s just like re-reading an important passage of text. Besides, the fact that YOU are actively watching and making sure THEY are paying attention sends a message to the students that “This IS important.” You send the opposite message if you just let them passively watch while you sit at your desk and grade papers.
- Have a plan! Know what you want your students to know after watching a video clip. Have a pre-video activity (something that prepares them to watch) and a post video activity (something that you can use to assess whether or not they learned the concept).