Using YouTube in the Classroom

I loved movie days in school just as much as the next person. It was interesting and engaging to me to hear someone else speak (which says a lot about the teaching style I grew up with), and the novelty was exciting.

As a teacher to a fast-paced media-based generation, I’ve noticed that many students don’t even like movie days anymore. There’s usually at least one student I have to redirect away from other technology during the film, and if I’m subbing for someone else’s class, I have no idea if that teacher tries to use the video as a teaching point or a time filler (although I’ll assert to the end of class that the teacher had some purpose in showing the film).

I like using YouTube for short clips as part of my motivation/intro. activity at the beginning of class because it helps students focus in on our class topic. However, videos really aren’t very instructive unless, like books, you frame the context and direct your students to what they should be looking for.

For instance, I used this clip for the television show, Glee, and asked students to identify the stereotypes portrayed in this 2 minute video (note: know your audience. The word “sucks” was okay in the district for the age group I was teaching at the time, but would not be acceptable at some other places). This activity segued into a journal on stereotypes and a discussion of the characters’ stereotypes in To Kill a Mockingbird and how they are eliminated as we get to know individuals on a deeper level.

What I would like to do is have students come up songs that go along with the reading they’ve done for a night or week and then (after previewing them), play them for the class to see if others agree or disagree with their interpretation of events or certain characters. I see some distinct possibilities for engaging students who love music and perhaps expanding ideas about experiencing and interpreting literature.

Do you use YouTube in your classroom? If so, how? If not, what other video sources do you like to use?


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