Using YouTube in the Classroom

As technology becomes more integrated into education methods, utilizing YouTube in the classroom is a trend on the rise. Early studies testing its effectiveness are proving promising.

In high school classrooms in Detroit, a video-enabled flipped classroom program helped reduce the fail rate for freshmen English and math classes by more than half. Additionally, semester to semester, discipline cases dropped from 736 to 249.

Used well, it’s clear that video can be a powerful educational tool. And it’s gaining traction, too—Education-oriented video channel TedEd has over a million subscribers.

How can you tap into this trend and enhance your students’ learning experience with YouTube? Here are some tips.

  • Create YouTube playlists as resources for the lessons.
  • Record class lessons and post them on YouTube for to access for on-demand review.
  • Keep videos short—no more than 10 minutes long—and opt for high-energy videos that will engage.
  • Use videos to bring a lesson to life: Watch a poet recite her own work, pull a segment of a play based on a book you’re reading, or show a reenactment of a moment in history.
  • Bring in a guest lecturer by showing filmed addresses from experts in fields you’re studying in class.
  • Every student’s learning pace is a little different. For students who take more time, sharing relevant videos for review can help students get the extra support they need. For students who are ahead of the pack, look for videos that can take lessons to the next level, keeping advanced students engaged.
  • Take advantage of education-oriented video tools like TeacherTube, TedEd, and YouTube for Schools to ensure quality educational content.
  • Don’t use video to replace lessons, only to supplement them.
  • The Internet, YouTube included, is full of all kinds of content, some extremely questionable for a classroom. Always watch videos all the way to the end before showing them to students, and never let students surf video content on their own.

A Powerful Educational Tool

When used wisely, YouTube can be a powerful tool to enhance students’ learning process. Early studies indicate significant improvements in performance and even in-class behavior when videos are used to enhance lessons. With some mindful application, you can tap into this potential to enrich your students’ education.

Using Devices in Elementary Years

When you think of children in the classroom, it is likely that your mind turns to studious heads bent low over notebooks, textbooks and worksheet handouts. It is likely you think of children turning in handwritten assignments, and if they are very young, learning to read and write like you did as a child. It is unlikely, however, that you think of those same children leaning over tablets and computers, playing educational games and sending in assignments that are typed, but this very picture is becoming a reality in a lot of classrooms around the country. Tablets and computers in the classroom offer some very distinct advantages to the elementary school student beyond just the novelty of using a computer in class. Electronic devices such as computers and tablets really are the way forward. Keep reading to learn why this is.



Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom are quite interactive. They allow students to write, publish and edit which are important workforce skills. Students are also encouraged to collaborate with other learners who may have different learning styles. This builds teamwork skills, as well as helping students become effective communicators with a wide variety of other students in classrooms across the country. This exercise also encourages problem-solving as students may have to work around such issues as language barriers and accessibility needs of others they come into contact with. Furthermore, this increased interactivity allows students to have an authentic learning experience in a way that is difficult to reproduce in physical space.


Accommodating Differentiated Learning

Not all students learn in the same manner. Computers and tablets in the classroom can help every student, based on learning style. Education no longer has to be simply a matter of writing and memorizing facts. Students can be shown how things happen, and in some cases they can actually have a chance to do things hands-on, even virtually. Also, for those students who have English as a second language, or those with learning disabilities there are podcasts and vodcasts, which allow students to have the content read aloud to them, and also to go back and study content which they have previously had difficulty with at any time.


The STEM Subjects and Digital Literacy

STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These skills are all very important if a student plans on entering the job market later in life. It is important to start teaching children these necessary tasks even in the early elementary years. Furthermore, an increase in digital literacy early on means that children, by the time they are ready to find a job, will already be  familiar with computers and tablets, and will not have to take classes on basic computer use before seeking that first job or college education, as many college classes also have a computer component.


Learning early use of computers is overall an important skillset for students, and what better place to learn than in the classroom? Computer-aided curricula allow students to become better problem solvers. They also learn to more effectively manage as team players, to anticipate and work with the needs of others, and to positively collaborate with children who may be quite different than themselves. Further, technology in the classroom allows for the lesson materials to be tailored to a child’s individual learning style. Computer-aided lessons also allow for a hands-on experience and incorporation of the STEM subjects into the curriculum. Therefore, having computers in the classroom really is the way to proceed.

Identifying Different Types of Learners

There are many different ways that people learn, and in any classroom, you are bound to encounter several students from each learning category.  While one method of teaching may work very well for a certain type of learner, another type may not respond at all to what you try.  As a new teacher, it is very important to learn how to identify the different types of learners in your classroom, and then to make sure that each one of your lessons takes into account every style of learning that your students may need.  To become an effective teacher, you must anticipate the needs of your students and tailor your lesson plans to best benefit each type of learning your classroom.



Auditory Learners

In the past, most styles of education relied on the belief that all students were auditory learners.  This has, of course, since been proven incorrect, so you should never rely solely on auditory teaching methods to reach your class.

Auditory learners focus best on verbal, spoken language, but may struggle with the written word and with hands-on projects.  While listening to information over and over again can help an auditory learner remember much more easily, the same student may get nothing out of reading a chapter silently out of a book.  These students are easy to identify, even as a new teacher, because they tend to be the most outgoing students in the classroom.  They may be social butterflies who enjoy talking and hearing themselves talk, and they tend to be class clowns who always seem to be at the center of attention.



Visual Learners

Visual learning focuses on the interpretation and absorption of taught information by seeing and processing it.  Visual learners are slightly less common than auditory learners, but still may comprise the majority of your classroom.

A student who learns best visually does well at quiet reading time, and can learn material from watching movies as well.  The same student may struggle with directions that are given verbally, and may not do very well when trying to construct something by hand.  Visual learners can be identified by their strong attention to detail and need to be organized, even at a young age.  These students are good at one-on-one conversation, but may not be part of a larger group, and may be much quieter than their auditory counterparts.  Noise often distracts a visual learner, and these students may need you to physically perform a task before they can repeat it.



Kinesthetic Learners

Although kinesthetic learners are not quite as common as auditory and visual learners are, they are still common enough that you are sure to encounter a handful even in your first class.  They may be more challenging to teach, but if you are prepared you should not have any trouble.

Kinesthetic learners are best suited to learning by doing.  These students retain information when they are able to manipulate objects or understand information by interacting with parts of it.  They may not do well when given verbal direction or shown how to do something, but instead want to dive in and try it on their own.  You can identify a kinesthetic learner in your classroom by pinpointing the students who cannot seem to sit still while you are teaching them.  Gain their attention by providing lots of hands-on class experiences.


Identifying and teaching different learning types in your classroom does not have to be a difficult achievement.  Simply keep these tips and strategies in mind, and you will be well on your way to successful teaching in no time.

Traditional Education: Does ‘later’ always mean ‘greater’?

Traditional education is, at its core, the most commonly practised form of education throughout much of the world.  This term refers to a back-to-basics way of teaching, where a single instructor (or perhaps an instructor with an aide, for larger classes) speaks to a group of students who are seated at desks or tables.  This teacher-driven type of education has been called into question in recent years, with some groups hoping to reform the educational system and provide students with a task-oriented learning environment that is not so rigidly structured.  This means that teachers must rethink their strategies and try to determine where they and their methods fall in the world of new education reform.


“Old School” Educational Methods

For a long time, education has been centered around traditional “old school” methods of providing students with information.  To this day, several of these methods are still used in the classroom, but they are becoming much less commonplace.  For example, English and vocabulary lessons are no longer based on the study of root words and phonics, as they once were.  Students of the past learned new vocabulary words by identifying their roots and thinking about where they could have come from.  The word “questionable,” for example, has a root word of “question,” which can lead a student to make a good guess as to what the word means.

Math, too, was once taught much differently than it is today.  Students were required to memorize their times tables when they learned multiplication, and classrooms were filled with math pupils who recited, in unison, simple multiplication based on number families.  Some schools even went so far as to have students write their times tables by hand over and over again to ingrain the information into their minds.

Even handwriting has fallen to the wayside and is no longer explored in the classroom the way it used to be.  Students are no longer taught cursive writing at all, save for in certain private schools, and penmanship is not a subject that is graded by teachers any longer.  Students are allowed to write in whatever hand they develop, so long as it is somewhat legible by the teacher.


New Methods of Teaching

There are many ways in which teachers are moving from these traditional, teacher-centered ways of presenting students with information and into a more hands-on, student-driven educational environment.  Perhaps the largest of these new methods is student engagement.  This refers to a teacher giving students basic information and then engaging them in a conversation about the subject matter.  Students learn analytical skills by thinking about the facts they have been given and working toward understanding why things happen the way they do, and how the information pertains to them and their personal lives.

Engagement also refers to giving students hands-on experience in any given subject.  Field trips are much more common in an engagement-driven classroom, and students visit locations where they can watch real world applications of the subjects they learn in school.  Even a local business office can be a great field trip location for students who want to see how math, communication, or other subjects can affect their adult lives.

Some teachers are beginning to adopt a concept called spaced learning for information presentation in the classroom.  This works with the short attention spans of today’s students by combining a small amount of rote memorization with plenty of fun activities to keep the brain moving.  In a spaced learning classroom, a teacher sets aside about an hour to an hour and a half of class time to focus on a subject.  The information is taught to the students first for about fifteen minutes, in a condensed format.  Students then break for a physical activity that lasts ten minutes, before returning to hear the same information repeated in the same order for another fifteen minutes.  The ten-minute physical activity break is repeated, and finally, the fifteen minutes of information is repeated once more to solidify the learning experience.

Spaced learning may seem a little strange at first, but it is a great way to keep students interested in the topic at hand by providing them frequent mental breaks.  The repetition of the information helps keep the subject fresh in their minds, and the physical activity keeps them from getting bored and losing focus.


Why Should Teachers Be Current?

It is very important for teachers to remain up to date with current trends in educational practices.  Prepared teachers who are willing to try new methods of helping students learn are some of the greatest teachers out there, and the results from their classrooms will surely prove that.  Continuing education courses as well as lectures from successful teachers can provide plenty of opportunity for educators to learn about new methods for their own classrooms.  As society and children change throughout the years, the needs of students and their ability to focus and pay attention also changes.  It is vital for teachers to be ready to combat these changes with a dynamic strategy for their lessons.

Tips For First Teachers

So you’ve graduated, and you’ve just landed your first teaching job – congratulations!

Being a first year teacher is hard going. You have new names to learn and a classroom of children and their parents to get to know, all while you are finding your feet in your new career. This list of tips will offer practical advice on ways to manage your students, work with parents, keep yourself organised and survive your first weeks in the classroom.

Just remember: experience is going to be the best way to establish your teaching career, so make sure you jump in, boots and all. You will learn more in your first month than you learnt in the years you went to college, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared!



It is crucial that you be as organised as possible before you start, and that you maintain that organisation throughout the school year. Ensure that you have established an organisational system that works for you before your first day. A few minutes spent shuffling through papers can lead to chaos among your students so make sure you know where everything is, and you know exactly what is in store each day. When you arrive, put the day’s plans up on the board before class begins. That way, everyone is clear about where you are heading as the day progresses.

It is also crucial that your students are organised, and this is going to require some assistance from you. Don’t assume that they will know how to organise themselves – be clear and concise about how their books and folders should be organised, and what you want their work to look like.

Lastly, expect the unexpected, and plan for it. No day as a teacher will ever be the same, so make sure your organisation allows for unforeseen circumstances, which will arise every now and then. That way…it won’t throw your entire system off when the unexpected happens.



As well as being organised, you are going to need to become a planner. When it comes to teaching a full classroom, over planning is going to be the name of the game. For every hour of teaching time, make sure you have enough for two hours. The day and the lessons will go faster than you expect, and there’s nothing worse than those dreaded moments where you are not sure what to do next.

While you will not always need to spend so much time planning, you will need to take extra time to do this in your first year. Think of your first year in the teaching world as a sacrificial year – you will spend much more time planning and preparing this year than you will any other, because you haven’t written any lesson plans yet. Just make sure you hold onto anything you create in your planning – you will want to add to this and use it again in years to come.


Take Charge

Teaching is the one place where it’s not only acceptable, but necessary, to be a little bossy. Make sure that you are clear about what behaviour is appropriate in the classroom, and what is not acceptable. You also need to be clear about what the rewards and consequences are for students, and then you need to use as much follow through as you can possibly muster – empty threats will be the death of you. It is far easier to start out strict and loosen the rules later, than it is to try and rein in out-of-control behaviour later. Learn your school’s policies and procedures so that you know what the usual process is to follow, and then draw up a disciplinary plan. Never, ever allow students to ‘get away with it’. Your students need a teacher, not another friend.

In addition, be sure to inform parents of what is expected, and of the rewards and consequences. Send home a copy of the discipline plan, and ask parents to read through it with their children, clarifying anything they do not understand. This way you know that both parents and students know what is expected.

Above all, model the attitude and behaviours that you desire from your students. Monkey see….Monkey do.


Involve Parents

In addition to involving parents in matters of classroom discipline, be sure to involve them as much as you can, in every area of your teaching. The learning process needs to involved everyone – parental communication can make a significant difference in the education of a child. Make sure you keep parents up to date with their child’s progress, and how they can help to develop your child’s abilities and education at home.

Make sure you also keep in mind parental support when you are trying to organise projects. If you need items for a celebration, send a note home asking for donations. Most parents love to contribute, and if you don’t ask for the things you need, then they don’t have the opportunity to.



Make Friends 

Get to know the other teachers and become good friends with them – they will be priceless! This is going to be invaluable for your first year’s journey and its success. Taking advice and bouncing ideas around with your colleagues who are more experienced in teaching, and in the mechanics of the school, is going to help you find your way that little bit faster. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – most teachers are more than happy to share their experiences and tips for managing the classroom.

Just make sure that you do not try to be another teacher. Be unique –you will soon learn what works for you, and can adapt their advice to suit your teaching style.


Keep a Stash

Find a drawer, a shelf or a box and keep some essentials in it. You should include:

  • An over-the-counter painkiller for headaches
  • An extra set of clothing (you never know with children: paint, glue or vomit are all distinct possibilities)
  • A couple of power bars for days where you just didn’t get time to eat



No matter how organised you are, some days the score board will read Students: 20, Teacher: 0. You will inevitably make mistakes (and learn from them) and there will always be ‘those days’. Just remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to get better at this. Do your best, keep your chin up and try to have fun.

And remember to play the ‘rookie card’. You will only be a new teacher for the first year, so cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself for making mistakes. And if all else fails…fake it till you make it!