Teachers got a crash course in creating video content when schools shifted online. They relied on videos out of necessity to explain concepts and model strategies while students learned from home. As teachers transitioned back into classrooms, many abandoned video in favor of live instruction. However, if teachers are going to say the same thing the same way for all students, I encourage them to make a video. That way, they can use their synchronous time for more engaging and differentiated learning experiences.

“Why should I spend time making a video when I can use our class time for instruction?”

I get this question a lot, so I want to start by highlighting a few of the benefits of flipped instruction and flipped modeling.

  • The video puts the student in control of the pace at which they consume and process new information. They can pause, rewind, and rewatch a video.
  • Students have more control over the way information is presented in a video. They can adjust the speed of a YouTube video, adjust the volume, and add closed captioning.
  • Students enjoy on-demand instruction and models as they work instead of being given that information in class and asked to apply it in isolation at home without support.
  • Teachers do not lose precious class time repeating instruction, models, and directions. Instead, students have a repository of on-demand videos they can access anytime from anywhere.
  • Teachers are freed from feeling trapped at the front of the room in their role as experts. Instead, they can spend more time facilitating learning and working directly with small groups of students.

“But, I don’t want to send videos home with students.”

You don’t have to send videos home with students. Even though the flipped classroom encouraged teachers to record lectures and mini-lessons to send home with students for homework, video can be woven into the class period to shift control from teacher to learner. It can be an online station in a station rotation, on-demand video content in a playlist, or a self-paced online activity in a whole group rotation.

“What if students do not watch the video?”

This concern highlights the importance of building an engagement activity around the video content to maximize its effectiveness and create accountability. If you engage students as they watch the video, they are more likely to 1) think deeply about the content and 2) produce something that shows they watched the video.

Engagement Strategy #1 Pair the Video with Questions

You can use Screencastify (a new feature) or Edpuzzle to insert questions into the video itself. Screencastify allows you to insert multiple-choice questions to check for understanding and collective formative assessment. Edpuzzle has both multiple-choice and short-answer questions. The short answer questions make it possible to encourage deeper thinking about the concepts presented in the video, which may provide more meaningful insight into your students’ level of understanding.

Engagement Strategy #2 Pair the Video with a Guided Note Template, Concept Map, or Graphic Organizer

Regardless of whether the instruction is recorded or live, students may struggle to identify and take note of the essential pieces of information. Providing them with a guided note template, concept map, or graphic organizer can help them more effectively capture and organize the information presented in the video.

Engagement Strategy #3 Pair the Video with Sketch Notes or Sketch Art

Taking traditional notes may not yield the best results for all students. Instead, give them opportunities to document their thinking with drawings and art. Ask them to capture the big ideas with drawings or symbols and visually show how these ideas relate to one another.

Engagement Strategy #4 Pair the Video with an Online Discussion Prompt

Pairing a video with a discussion prompt in your learning management system is another way to drive higher-order thinking around topics, concepts, issues, and processes presented in a video. An online discussion allows students to learn with and from each other. Unlike a whole group discussion in class, an online discussion makes it possible for every student to participate.

You can ask questions that encourage students to evaluate, analyze, compare, contrast, debate, or reflect. Below are some tips for designing discussion questions that are more likely to yield high levels of participation.

Engagement Strategy #5 Pair the Video with a Thinking Routine

Challenge students to complete a thinking routine after watching the video to encourage them to think about their thinking and reflect on what they learned from the video. The collection of thinking routines created by Project Zero is an excellent way to encourage students to reflect on their learning in an intentional way.

I’ve taken 10 of my favorite thinking routines and formatted them on Google Slide decks to make them easier to use online and create a more manageable workflow for teachers. You can access those thinking routines in these two blog posts: Support Powerful Thinking Routines Part 1 and Part 2.

Ultimately, the goal of using video strategically both inside and outside of the classroom should be to free the teacher from feeling trapped at the front of the room talking and spend more time working with students. If you pair video with a meaningful activity designed to keep them actively engaged, you can maximize the effectiveness of that video, collect useful formative assessment data, and create a higher level of accountability.

You can learn more about universally designing blended learning to give students more agency in my book UDL and Blended Learning or by taking my online, self-paced courses.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for making a post about flipped classrooms! I am on my second year of running my math classes this way and it has been so beneficial! I love your idea about pairing the video with thinking routine. I typically take a grade for taking notes but this would be a way to have the students think more richly about the content instead of just copying things down from the video. I also like the idea of the students sketching out the notes. This would help reach the visual learners! I get stuck in “my” ways and think my students learn the way I do. Thank you for that suggestion!

    • You’re welcome, Kayla! If it makes you feel better, I did the same thing in my early years as a teacher. Annotating texts worked well for me in high school and college, so I required my students to do it. They hated it. When I finally decided to give them agency over the process, inviting them to select a strategy from 6 different options on an active reading choice board, I never heard another complaint, and their notes were so much more thoughtful!


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