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Top 20 Ways to Use YouTube in the Classroom

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If you sieve through the endless cat videos and clips of people falling over, YouTube is a treasure trove of educational content that can turn a one-dimensional lesson into an interactive discussion that really taps into the imagination of students. YouTube allows teachers and students to search for videos on a wide range of academic subjects. Teachers and students can upload videos here or create playlists from those already available. Using YouTube in the classroom may seem like an uphill battle at some schools, but we’ll give you the tips you need to start using YouTube with your students now!

As one of the most used sites on the web, YouTube can seem a bit daunting if you’re contemplating using it in the classroom for the first time, so we’ve put together some pointers to help ease the transition.

1. Trigger interesting and unique discussion

Search for topical videos surrounding current affairs, such as clips from news stories, and ask the class what their thoughts or opinions are. News reports, especially the same story reported by two different news stations, can be a great way for students to deconstruct the motives and impact of competing broadcasters.

2. Use videos to inspire themed reflections in form time

Form time is often used to encourage students to reflect on topical issues, such as Remembrance Day or Red Nose Day. YouTube has lots of clips you could use to generate topical discussion.

3. Access high-quality educational instruction videos for free

There are hundreds of high-quality videos specifically made for a YouTube audience that are short, snappy, entertaining and educational. Teachers can check out the reviews of the more entertaining apps for kids that will have them playing and learning at the same time.

4. Play videos of poets reading their own works

An excellent resource for literature classes, a video of a writer reading their own work can breathe life into the lines and encourage those who are not so confident to give reading poetry aloud ago. Stress, intonation and tone are far more effective when performed by those who wrote the lines.

5. Use short clips from documentaries to provide context to a topic

The BBC, Channel 4 and many other large broadcasters upload small parts of documentaries to their own YouTube channel. These are great to use as part of your lesson planning, and help to bring a ‘real world’ element to the class.

6. Take advantage of YouTubeEdu

These videos are specifically created for educational purposes and are often concise and professional in their style.

7. Find clips to use as an archive resource

Great for contextualising historical context, there are plenty of clips on YouTube that feature archive footage from as early as the 1920s. There are also plenty of ‘local’ clips that may show your city or town from decades before, helping children to link their experiences with those who lived in the same area many years ago.

8. Create playlists to help with future lesson planning and share amongst your department

Once you have made an account, YouTube allows you to create and name playlists that videos can be added to in an ongoing fashion. This is a great way to archive your favourite videos and locate them easily in the future.

9. Engage visual learners with your lesson content

No one child learns the same way, and whereas one may experience the ‘penny drop’ moment from a textbook, another will get it from a visual explanation.

10. Extension opportunities

A video introducing a more complicated area of the current topic can be set to watch as homework for students who consistently overachieve in class.

11. Set an assignment that requires students to research and make their own videos to be later played in class

If your school has access to cameras or tablets, students can be set an extended assignment to write, produce and edit videos on a specific topic. For instance, if you were looking at advertisements, children could be set a task to create a video advertising a product in a fun and persuasive way. There are plenty of video editing apps that students could use to create their final video before uploading it to YouTube, with a ‘screening’ of these videos at the end of the task.

12. Use video infographics as a compelling way to introduce a lot of information in a short amount of time

13. Demonstrate experiments

If you don’t have the means to create large scale experiments, you can bet someone on YouTube has done it for you.

14. Set a ‘video watch’ homework to prepare students for new material in the classroom

With Ofcom’s 2014 report stating that ‘one in three children have a tablet at home’, the chance to set ‘video’ homework is ever increasing.

15. A step-by-step explanation of problematic equations

Companies like the Khan Academy upload step-by-step equation solution videos onto YouTube, which is great for those looking to find resources.

16. Use videos as a writing prompt

An emotive video can be an invaluable resource when planning a creative writing lesson.

17. Honing listening skills

An excellent idea to perk up a class and engage their listening, there are plenty of interview videos on YouTube that you can use, asking the class to note down key pieces of information in a ‘journalism’ style task.

18. Deconstruct adverts

Often included as part of the A-Level English Language curriculum, advertisements on YouTube can be used as a resource in practice ‘analysis’ tasks. Hint: The late 1970’s and 80’s provide fantastic archived materials.

19. Use YouTube as a reward

It’s no surprise that young people love browsing videos on the web, so a carefully selected video that’s fun, yet educational can be used as a treat but also as a learning resource.

20. Set a research assignment

During a computer or tablet-based lesson, students can use YouTube to increase their knowledge of a topic whilst making notes to share with the class.

YouTube is a fantastic tool to use, so we hope this article has given you some ideas about how to implement it in the classroom. Both for accessing videos and hosting your own, YouTube is free and highly accessible, which is hugely beneficial to the teaching community.

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If you’re interested in making your own videos for YouTube, read our list of video editing apps.

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