As you know, I am working on my masters in Educational Technology. As part of my cohort’s Capstone requirement, we have to contribute to the education community in a way that uses technology. I’ve offered my blog space to anyone interested in doing a tech review or sharing any topic they’d like. My classmate Gillian Keller took me up on my offer! Please find her review of YouTube below… please, give her some love!
By Gillian Keller, candidate, M.Ed, Educational Technology, American College of Education
I get to school an hour before the school day is expected to start. I am glancing over my plans to review what we are doing for the day. I look at my reading block and see the book we are supposed to focus on for our reading lesson. I check my classroom shelf and even the library but can’t find the book. So what do I do now? I go to YouTube. I type in the title of the book I am looking for and 8 out of 10 times I can find a digital version of the book I need. Sometimes it is someone reading the book and other times it is a screenshot of each page while someone narrates the pages. I make sure to skip the ads, check for any advertisements, make sure the book is appropriate (no surprises will pop up during the story) and then I am set for my morning read aloud.
YouTube reaches a variety of audiences and is used for a wide range of reasons. It can be used for education, entertainment and even tutorials. My kindergarten students are even familiar with YouTube because of how frequently I use it as well as their exposure to YouTube at home. My question is this: Is YouTube a classroom friend or foe?
Let’s start with the friendly side of YouTube. I probably use YouTube at least 3 of 4 times a day. I use YouTube for all of the subjects I teach. In reading, I use it for foundational skills (adjectives, nouns, verbs, phonics, sight words). I also use YouTube to find the read aloud that I am supposed to be using for my reading lessons. Many of the books required by the curriculum I do not have or my team only has one copy that we all have to share. I can go to YouTube and have pretty good luck finding the book for my students. There are so many fun and engaging songs for my students that support both their reading and language skills. I have found sight word songs for each of our kindergarten sight words. I can put on one or two songs in the morning for the students to sing and listen to while they are unpacking and getting ready for the day. In math I use it to introduce a topic or for counting. I have different counting songs that are upbeat, display the numbers and keep my students engaged. We practice counting by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. We even practice counting backwards from 20. I love finding 2-3 minute clips that introduce my students to a new math topic. We are getting ready to talk about 3-d shapes and I have little videos saved to my favorites that we will use as a quick review before we start our small group lessons. I even use YouTube to provide my kindergartners with brain breaks. They love doing the Just Dance videos and I have found a wide range of different Just Dance songs that they can dance along to. YouTube even comes in handy for our learning skills. I recently found a Sesame Street video that teaches students about motivation and effort.
It’s time to take a look at the foe side of a relationship with YouTube. One of the biggest drawbacks of YouTube, in my opinion, is that it can easily become a teachers go to. I found that I was using YouTube so often that I was disconnected with my students. In particular, I felt that I wasn’t getting that special time to read to my students. There is nothing better than reading to my students. It calms them and they get so peaceful while I am reading a story. They love nothing more than being read to. I felt like I was using YouTube so often because it was easier and it gave me a few minutes to get materials ready. Once I started feeling like this I decided to make a change. I still use YouTube if I cannot access a particular book, but every afternoon, right after lunch, we all gather together and I sit in my rocking chair and read my students a story. I cherish that time with them and I am glad that I have committed myself to bringing back our read aloud time. Another drawback is the advertisements; both before the videos and on the sides of the videos (when they are not in full screen size). Students are very perceptive and they quickly see things on the website even if you are quick to make the video full screen. Not all of the videos have advertisements, but you have to be very careful before playing something. I have learned that lesson and now make sure to take precautions before playing a video. Some of the ads aren’t bad but I have had one or two Victoria Secret ads play and I was sure glad I was not displaying that on the promethean board. I either have the video already loaded and the advertisements skipped or I blank out my promethean board, get the video ready, skip the ads and then display the video for my students.
There are so many beneficial and educational videos on YouTube but there also are a lot of not appropriate and non-educational videos. It’s great when I can present new information or review information in different ways using YouTube. All of the videos I have found I have saved to my favorites and I continue to add videos to my list each week. Even with the drawbacks, I think YouTube is a classroom friend. It can give teachers another way of presenting information. It can be used to engage/inform students and can also be used to get students up and moving. I think as teachers, we need to be careful not to have YouTube take over our teaching or take over our classrooms, but when used to enhance learning, YouTube can be a useful technology. And so I ask you: Is YouTube a classroom friend or foe for you?
From Gillian Keller…