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Video: a powerful teaching tool

New York Teacher
Video: A Powerful Teaching Tool

Students can use video to interview, give verbal book reviews, document labs or experiments and make classroom newscasts.

Video today is everywhere. Most of us carry around a video camera (in our smartphones). Many of our students not only watch online videos as their main source of entertainment, but many of them create and share videos on social media. Creating video projects with students is a way to bring the impact and allure of video into the classroom while modeling for them how the medium can be used in other ways.

Videos can be great teaching tools. Think of all the times you have used a YouTube video to learn how to do something. Your students can create their own how-to videos.

A short list of other video project ideas for students to demonstrate their knowledge include: interviewing classmates (as an ice breaker or a role-playing exercise), giving verbal book reviews, retelling stories, visualizing a concept, documenting labs or experiments, creating digital stories and making a classroom newscast.

Teachers can also create video versions of classroom newsletters for parents, teacher tutorials for students and messages for families.

As classroom projects, video work is well suited for differentiation. The planning, rehearsing and recording process can be great practice for multilingual learners and students with disabilities. You can reinforce any content area subject when making a video, as well as all four components of English Language Arts. Video projects often require students to take an active speaking role and demonstrate higher-order thinking skills like evaluation and synthesis.

Luckily, making a video has become easy. Simply press a button on your phone or classroom iPad and you can record whatever you wish. You can even edit your video directly from your device. See this Apple tutorial to learn how.

Alternatively, you can use one of the following apps to build a video using images. Most of these apps are easy to use, and all are free at a basic level.

  • Vimeo Creator has education-based video templates. You can use images from Vimeo’s stock library or your own images and graphics. Vimeo’s built-in editing system provides custom options, and you can download the finished product or share it online.
  • Animoto has a free classroom video maker that is built on a drag-and-drop template so it’s great for beginners. You can customize features by adding images, graphics and text.
  • Explain Everything videos, which can be fully integrated with Google Classroom, can be used by teachers to record tutorials or make interactive presentations. Students can also create their own explainer video for their classmates to demonstrate what they understand about a topic.
  • Chatterpix Kids is a great Apple app for young elementary students because it’s so easy to use. Just take any image or photo, draw a line to make a mouth and record your voice to create a video.

It’s understandable to be wary of platforms like TikTok and YouTube, and their undue influence over children may justifiably concern us as educators. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid working with video in the classroom since it can be such a powerful medium for education and learning.

Sandy Scragg is an instructional technology specialist with more than 15 years of experience in New York City public schools.