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Tips for Using Video in the Classroom
Creating the appropriate environment for viewing video can make the use of media a valuable and engaging experience for the learner and a powerful and productive experience for the teacher. These ideas may provide insight or ideas for making the most effective and appropriate use of video in your classroom.

  • Preview the video(s) to review the specific segments that connect to lesson objectives. Use the Explore More video jacket information as a brief summary of the program segments.
  • When possible, use segmented viewing–use predetermined, short clips from the longer program. The Explore More video clips are approximately 3 — 10 minutes in length. Take control of the way media is delivered to your students and leverage the rich content in the video.
  • Leave the classroom lights on and place the TV/VCR in plain view. Let the students know this is active rather than passive and that the TV/VCR is an important part of this activity. Let them also know that the video will be discussed, paused, and/or stopped frequently.
  • A well-planned activity prior to the viewing can provide the proper context for the video, help to establish a reason for watching, and direct the students toward meeting the desired learning outcomes. The pre-viewing questions for each segment of the Explore More video may help students make real-world connections, provide them necessary vocabulary to review, or introduce a particular topic. The Explore More Video Discussion Guides are great sources of pre- and post-viewing questions. Check out other features of these guides for key words and viewpoint extras.
  • To set the stage for "active viewing," always provide a focus for viewing–specific things students should look for or listen for in the program segment. Use the pause button to promote greater interactivity and reinforce their initial reasons for viewing.
  • Be sure to visit the DVD Resources overview for tips on leveraging this exciting and versatile technology in your classroom.
When preparing your students for viewing media, try these ideas:
  • listen for how this term is used
  • think of ways the idea you’re about to see is true in your life
  • watch how this idea works
  • list all the examples of this concept
  • list all the things in the video that you already know
  • list all the things in the video that are new to you
When pausing the video with your students, try these ideas:
  • what did you hear/see–tell class, tell neighbor, write it down, every time you hear ____ raise your hand (or make a tally mark)
  • check for understanding
  • underscore a point
  • allow for immediate student feedback
  • predict an outcome
  • connect to real-world applications
  • allow journal writing
  • infer meaning
  • Use the paused image on the television screen as an electronic blackboard, encouraging students to look closely for details, information, or comparison. Put plastic wrap on the television monitor in order to mark on the screen with overhead projector pens.
  • Display the picture with no sound–allow students to narrate concepts displayed.
  • Play the sound with no picture–allow students to hypothesize what is being shown.
  • Integrate the video into the overall learning experience by adding a "hands-on" component to the lesson. No matter what the grade level or subject, try to provide the opportunity for the student to apply something from the video to his/her own experience in or outside the classroom.

In summary, to make the viewing experience rewarding for both learner and teacher, follow these steps:

  • ask pre-viewing questions to get your students thinking about concepts
  • provide students a reason or goal for viewing the media
  • discuss post-viewing questions following the media segment
  • use the students’ new learning as an integral component of the lesson


* Use a 4-head VCR for a clear picture on pause.

  • Sources:
    "Instructional Television in the Classroom: The Principal’s Agenda," KQED, San Francisco, CA KQED Center for Education and Lifelong Learning
  • "7 Steps for Teachers Using Television in the Classroom" by Elizabeth Reeves, KQED-TV
  • WNET’s National Teacher Training Institute
  • "Effective Schooling Practices: A Research Synthesis, 1998 Update by Kathleen Cotton, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
  • "Complex Reasoning Processes" Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning