Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Teaching with Videos by Mike Siekkinen

As a history teacher, I regularly use video when teaching. I would love to be able to take my students to the places we study, to actually see and experience where history took place, but that is not really an option in most cases. Video can be the next best thing.

Some of my favorite sites are Discovery Channel and I also use GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting) frequently. YouTube can also be a great source for content, not just in history but all subjects.  And of course, I can’t forget!

As with any video used in the classroom, I always ensure I watch everything first. I learned this early on in my educational career when teaching biology. I found a great (I thought) frog dissection video on YouTube. On the surface, it was excellent, going over each step of the dissection process with the students doing the narration. That was, until several of the students started using cuss words. In hindsight, I am so glad I watched this video in its entirety as this could have been very embarrassing otherwise.

Hollywood has done a great job in a number of circumstances with historical period pieces. As with any video, I always have things for students to do as they are watching. Additionally, for videos of any length, I will often pause and we will discuss points I want to bring up, and/or have students respond to prompts I give them during parts of the video.

Please do look at your school systems policy regarding video use in the classroom. Some districts have very strict policies about video use, while others leave everything up to the discretion of the teacher. has great videos that can be streamed directly by students. This year, I started assigning students videos to watch and then having them take the online quizzes. Students can do these at their own pace from individual Chromebooks. These would be supplemental to instruction. Give them a try. 

mike_s_blogDr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.