4 Ways to Engage Your Students Using Video

February 8, 2016 / By

Capturing the attention of a young and energetic crowd can be very challenging, as can be finding new and engaging ways to teach the same curriculum from last semester or last year. If you’ve considered using video in your classroom to help your students achieve their learning goals, you’re halfway to an incredible new teaching opportunity! Overwhelmed by all the possibilities, or not sure where to begin? Here are four simple ways to engage your students using video:

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

  • Images/video clips to be used in the video
  • Script – if you want the students to follow an existing story
  • Microphone – You can also use the built-in mic on your computer, phone or tablet

Use images from a book or short clips that add up to a longer story, and divide the class into smaller teams. Sharing media with students is easy with WeVideo Education, and you can choose if you want the students to work individually or collaborate in groups. Let the students create sound effects, character voices, and other audio elements to create the atmosphere of the story. They can either read from a book or pre-written script, or create their own 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 is easy with WeVideo for Education: 

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 may have been given 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 important and encouraging to be able to connect what they learn to situations in which they can 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 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 travel back in time—but here’s an activitythat may help your students remember what happened earlier in the week.   Have a few students present their key learnings in front of a camera after every class, and edit them into a weekly summary the class can watch at the end of the week. This exercise gives the students a reminder of what has been 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 the key takeaways your students remember 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 people and events, and many of them can probably 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 historical events and/or people, and let them create and act out a roleplay based on the event of their choosing. Examples of projects could be in-depth presentations on past presidents, important historical moments such as the signing of the Constitution, or even recent events. Although they are an important part of your curriculum, for obvious reasons you may choose to avoid encouraging your students to act 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 feel more alive. In fact, the same study we mentioned earlier from Wyzowl confirms that video is a great way to catch people’s attention, and letting the students be a part of the video creation gives them an incredible motivation boost!