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Teaching Strategies

Advice from Master Teachers

As you plan for video–based lessons, here are some helpful ideas and tips from expert teachers.

  • Start small! Don't try to accomplish too much too fast. It's better to use one or two videos very effectively in a semester than to try to use videos all the time when you begin. As you learn, add to your repertoire.
  • Expect problems. You're bound to run into technical difficulty. Always test equipment ahead of time, and for those times when it fails, be sure to have a back–up plan.

Video Utilization Strategies

Television can be a powerful educational tool, but only when it's used as a means to achieving thoughtfully selected educational objectives. Video should not be used for television–to–student instruction. Rather, it should be considered a tool for teacher–to–student instruction. Ideally, video is a catalyst for discovery. Explore these teaching strategies to help take advantage of the power of video.

Before Class

  • Preview the program to make sure it is appropriate and useful, and to assess the value of the program's support materials.
  • Select segments that are most relevant to the curricular focus of the day. A brief video clip can spark student interest or demonstrate a concept. Showing a particular segment conserves valuable classroom time and can focus the lesson for students.
  • Prepare the classroom for viewing by checking equipment, arranging seating and lighting, and cueing the program ahead of time. Lights should be left on as much as possible to reinforce the fact that the video is not passive entertainment.

During The Video–Based Lesson

  • Begin with an introductory activity that draws students into the lesson, activates their background knowledge and lets them know what to expect in the video. You might introduce new vocabulary or a new idea, or conduct a related hands–on activity.
  • Give students a Focus for Media Interaction: a specific task or responsibility to keep in mind while the video is on. This keeps students on–task and directs the learning experience to the lesson's objectives.
  • Use the Pause button – your greatest ally in using video effectively. You might pause to:
    1. Control the pace and amount of information.
    2. Check for comprehension.
    3. Solicit inferences and predictions.
    4. Define a word in context.
    5. Highlight a point.
    6. Ask students to make connections to other topics or real–world events.
    7. Change the pace by asking students to come up and point to something on the screen, or write in journals or replicate what they have seen.

Ideally, teachers will encourage students to determine pause points on their own. Students should be able to request a pause for clarification or analysis. Teachers can give instruction ahead of time so that students ask for a pause each time they see a particular image or get a new piece of information. For example, a teacher might say, "Raise your hands each time you hear one of the characteristics that makes an animal a mammal."

  • Eliminate the sound or the picture from a video segment. When you eliminate sound, you can use any video to instruct almost any grade level, using your own age–appropriate narration. You can also ask students to describe and comment on what they see, an excellent technique for assessing students' prior knowledge or reviewing and evaluating what they have learned. When you eliminate the picture (by turning down the brightness), you can highlight the role of music and narration or ask students to imagine what the picture looks like, or to draw what they hear described.
  • Encourage media literacy by helping students recognize elements of video production, such as camera angles, music, shot composition and the role of the actors. Students can analyze a video's effectiveness, and discuss the ways that audiences might be manipulated or influenced by choices made during production.

After The Lesson

Students should feel that the video is an integral part of their learning experience, so teachers need to follow up the video with culminating hands–on–activities, student–centered projects, and student or teacher–designed investigations. Ideally video will be used in conjunction with field trips, guest speakers, letter–writing projects, and journal writing – the variety of activities that make up an expansive hands–on learning experience.