Instructional Videos in an English Classroom

It’s all the rage, and I’m a sucker for fashion, so I’ve been making some instructional videos. I’ve made a few “flipped classroom” style videos that are basically short lectures, introducing a new concept, for example. However, that seems like a waste for my classroom, best for absent students or for those who wish to brush up on a concept down the line. However, what makes the most sense to me is to record myself writing a model essay or planning a response to a prompt in such a way that basic skills, covered repeatedly throughout the year, can be reinforced. Additionally, I’m a big believer in modeling and in exposing my thinking as I do, making explicit the internal conversation and experience as I write or do¬†something. ¬†Often, I find myself believing that experts at something must just act or react in perfect confidence, without doubt, exuding the awesome. But, in reality, I think we all question ourselves or maybe even just revise as we go, refining for a better product. By making that conversation explicit, kids learn.

Youtube is great for learning little things, likely those things that we already know something about. I’m a fly-fisherman, but when I’m doubting myself, I go check out a video on roll casting, for instance, and refresh my memory. I’ve learned knots, the disc golf jump putt, and how to behave during a Chinese tea ceremony which used to throw me off whenever I tried to buy tea in Chengdu. In all of these cases, I watched somebody do and narrate their actions in order to learn. I’m considering videos on using and citing source material, doing research, writing a poem, reading and annotating a text, and revising a piece of writing. These are actions, skills, active behaviors that may translate to video. So far, the feedback is positive, but I doubt how much students are really using these videos because the play counts are low. In fact, the only video that has taken off is my tutorial on making a podcast, which other teachers have used. Maybe if I include a cat falling off a TV or a clip from “Friday” my numbers will jump. Maybe if I do a better job of conceptualizing and producing the videos, they’ll be more popular with the kids. Yeah, I’m going with the latter.