When it comes to presenting content, YouTube is far more entertaining than a teacher at the front of the classroom, if less interactive. But can YouTube help build critical thinking beyond the “Knowledge” and “Comprehension” levels of Bloom’s taxonomy? Absolutely! Read on for some H.O.T.* ways to put your students to work using YouTube. If you’re not sure about the educational value of YouTube or want some YouTube management tips, be sure to check out Part 1 of this post, too!
*Higher Order Thinking … so hot right now.
In his book Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, edutech writer Marc Prensky cautions against letting nouns (technological tools) dictate our teaching. Instead, he asks teachers to focus on the verbs (what students will be doing) “to avoid letting technology for its own sake take over students’ learning.” So, while we talk about teaching with YouTube, (the noun,) inserting juicy video clips into our lessons isn’t the only goal here. (Not that we shouldn’t spice up our lessons with video.) There are plenty of ways we can put YouTube to use that goes beyond “reading” video and receiving content, and moves towards the higher-order thinking verbs. Here are just a few ideas.
Teach your students to be critical content consumers. Help them develop rubrics for what makes a good YouTube video. Lead discussions about whether their criteria change depending on the type of video/purpose, or whether there are certain constant demarcations of quality. Then put their rubrics to work. Invite the students to rate all of the YouTube content you present to the class. (A few counter examples — really terrible videos — are always helpful to clarify their thinking.)
I swear, my 3rd graders learned all the lyrics and dance moves to Psy’s "Gangnam Style" overnight, and one morning they spontaneously burst into giddy up prances in the cafeteria. Why do I mention this? Because I am certain that my students know how to navigate YouTube quite well on their own and they put it to good use staying one step ahead of us unsuspecting adults when it comes to monitoring fads. So, I figure why not turn the tables on the kiddos and ask them to find some videos for me? I’ll post the challenge: Find the best video that teaches about equivalent fractions and write a paragraph explaining why this is better than the other options. Yes, I’ll show the “winning” video finds to the class, complete with the students’ justifications.
Many of the comments littering the lower half of the YouTube pages are drivel. However, many of the more educational YouTube channels collect substantive comments — people adding extra information, asking questions, and providing outside links to learn more. Allow your students to join the discussion — for the little ones, you can begin by adding comments on behalf of the entire class. Since YouTube content is “user created,” your students might even be able to start a dialogue with the filmmaker. Writing their opinions to the filmmaker builds their connection with the real-world “writer” of the videos they watch. Videos don’t just exist — someone like you or me, made it! (And let’s face it, Hollywood movie makers aren’t nearly as accessible.)
The idea sharing gurus at TED have created a new platform to let gifted teachers (like you!) build interactive lessons around video content — they call this “flipping a video.” When you create a TEDEd lesson around a YouTube video, you can “annotate” the video with open-ended questions, add background info, articles, and links, create quizzes about the video content, and start online discussions for your students. Rather than starting from scratch, you can also fully customize any of the lessons already in their growing database. YouTube is still blocked at my school (grrr!), so TEDEd lessons are a great way to guide my students through a video viewing while they are at home, complete with a cyber discussion.
Animated whiteboard movies (also called “video scribing”) are one of the most popular animation styles on YouTube, both commercially and for educational video. It makes sense — they are relatively simple to create and whiteboard animations are perfect for visual learners. Whiteboard videos are perfect for explaining processes or telling a narrative. (Remember the first UPS whiteboard videos that caught everyone’s attention in 2008?)
Whiteboard animations are a safe way for our students to create YouTube content — their faces don’t need to be on camera at all! Rather than teaching your students how to create whiteboard videos, how about showing them some examples, and then letting them reverse engineer a process? Some of my students are currently working on creating their own Earth Month whiteboard animations to deliver their messages to our school community. I’ll share their videos when they are finished … I am excited about this process, no matter how the product comes out. Do I know how to make a whiteboard animation? Nope. But my students will!
Do you have a YouTube project that bumps video-watching to the next level? Please share your ideas with us in the comments section below. (If you have any suggestions about whiteboard animation, I’d love to hear that as well — this is still a work in progress!)