4 Ways to Engage Your Students Using Video

February 8, 2016 / By

Capturing the attention of a young and energetic crowd can be challenging, so is finding new and engaging ways to teach the same curriculum year after year. 

If you’ve considered using video in your classroom to help your students achieve their goals, you’re halfway to an incredible teaching opportunity! 

Overwhelmed by all the possibilities, or not sure where to begin? Here are four simple ways to engage your students with video:

1) Provide students with pre-selected video clips and let them be the narrator

You need:

  • Images or video clips to use
  • Script – if you want the students to follow an existing story
  • Microphone – have students provide their voice to the story

Use images from a book or short clips that add up to a longer story, and divide the class into smaller teams. WeVideo for Education makes it easy to share media with students. You can choose if you want the students to work individually or collaborate in groups. Let them create sound effects, character voices, and other audio elements to add more to the story. They can either read from a book or pre-written script or create their script based on the images or clips you provide. 

Lead the way and create the first part of the story or, if you choose to give all of your students the same images or clips to work from (and you have the time!), you could create an example to show your students. Adding a video voiceover and sound effects are simple with WeVideo.

2) Create short video assignments, and connect the learnings to real-life situations 

You need:

  • A camera/phone
  • A situation related to the class (e.g., a math assignment at a grocery store or a history assignment at a museum)

Think back to the way you learned math in school. You had a word problem, such as “John bought 9 watermelons. He gave 4 to Sarah and 2 to Chris. How many watermelons did John have left?”. For a lot of young students, it is essential to be able to connect what they learn to situations in which they find themselves. Instead of asking your students to help fictional John to sort out his watermelon issues, why don’t you take them with you next time you go grocery shopping? All you need is a camera—even your smartphone will do. Show them everything you put in your cart and how much it costs. Take a small break between products and ask the students to calculate your total so far. This exercise will challenge your students’ mathematical skills while connecting the lesson to a real-life situation. You can adapt this exercise to other subjects and situations, depending on your class and the age group.

3) Summarize today’s class

You need:

  • A camera

According to Wyzowl, the human attention span is now 8.25 seconds, which for comparison is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (9 seconds). Depending on the age of your students, you may find it seems even shorter than that! In other words, wouldn’t it be nice if you could travel back in time so you would remember what you learned Monday morning? Unfortunately, we can’t tell you how to go back in time—but here’s an activity that may help your students remember what happened earlier in the week. Have a few students present their critical learnings in front of a camera after every class, and edit them into a weekly summary students can watch at the end of the week. This exercise reminds students of what was discussed throughout the week (and, since they’re the stars of the video, may keep their attention for a lot longer!). At the same time, this exercise tells you what students remembered from the week’s activities, which may give you some insight as to what’s working best in your classroom.

4) Historical Hollywood day 

You need:

  • A camera
  • Computer/tablet to edit the movie
  • Props

There have been countless movies made about historical figures and events, and many of them can be found in your students’ textbooks. However, many (if not most) of these movies aren’t classroom-appropriate! How about making your own, while engaging your students in collaborative creative learning about historical events? Divide your class into smaller groups and list a few events and people, and let them create and act out a play based on the events they chose. Examples of projects could be in-depth presentations on past presidents, historical moments such as the signing of the Constitution, or even recent events. Although they are an important part of your curriculum, you may choose to discourage your students from acting out historical war scenes or other potentially frightening events. Give the class time to do research and create the props needed to create the right atmosphere. Pro-tip: Use the green screen option on the WeVideo editor to make the scenes look even more realistic! As you can see, completing these exercises does not require a lot of expensive or complicated equipment. 

WeVideo runs smoothly on Chromebooks as well as tablets, and adding video to your class makes the learning experience more exciting. The study we mentioned earlier from Wyzowl confirms that video is a great way to capture attention, and letting students be a part of the video can give boost their motivational!  

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