Do you remember how exciting it was in elementary school when your teacher announced your class would be watching a video that day? I remember (and I realize I’m revealing my age here…) my teacher leaving the class to go to another part of the school and then wheeling a huge, multi-tiered cart through the hallway and into the classroom. We watched with eager anticipation as the VHS was slipped into the slot and the 25-inch, cubed TV came to life. We didn’t even know we were learning as we watched that grainy image.
What was once a special occasion tool for learning is now second nature for today’s students. Kids turn to videos, usually before a parent or teacher, to learn everything from how to make a friendship bracelet to how to pull off a popular dance move. And it’s not only kids who are using videos for learning. You can practically build a house with instructional videos on YouTube.
Video was a powerful tool for instruction before this pandemic, but it is now more than ever one of the sole methods many teachers have to engage with students face to face (i.e., camera to camera), and a primary way educational content is delivered and received. We can all agree that most children (and adults) today are getting too much screen time. But quality video content has a valuable place in education. Multiple studies have shown that technology can enhance learning, and video can be a highly effective educational tool.
The benefits of teaching with video are many. For students, it provides a more engaging sensory experience compared with only using printed materials, and it can increase retention of information as the videos can be stopped and replayed. For teachers, videos enable content delivery to students across a variety of settings and devices, which is absolutely necessary in today’s educational climate.
How Learning Without Tears Supports Using Video During Your Instruction
There are three main ways to use video during instruction:
1. Externally produced videos
This is the classic use of video and perhaps the easiest of all of the choices. The options for sourcing quality educational videos are plentiful. Add Learning Without Tears (www.lwtears.com) to your short list when searching for educational content for your teaching plans.
You can find dozens of videos and digital applications within the Interactive Digital Teaching Tool (transitional kindergarten through fifth grade) and the Pre-K Interactive Teaching Tool. Both are one-stop digital platforms for teaching handwriting and Pre-K school readiness skills. In addition to lesson planning, teachers use these grade-appropriate platforms to access a multitude of options for demonstrating capital, lowercase, and cursive letter formations and other handwriting skills like grip, letter sizing, and spacing. By the way, you can currently get a FREE 30-day trial to test out all the features with your students!
Here are a few examples of how video is used throughout these teaching tools:
- Show a video of a teacher teaching grip to a Pre-K student to instruct your student in how to hold their crayon and to educate parents about how to help their children at home.
- Show engaging animations with beloved Learning Without Tears characters like Magic C Bunny to highlight the proper formation of letters. Capital letter animations feature our Wood Pieces for demonstrating each letter formation sequence in a developmentally appropriate way.
- Use the Letter and Number Formations application to show step-by-step instructions of the formation for the letter, number, or cursive connection your students are working on. Bonus: After the demonstration, you or your students can use the included drawing feature to write the letter on the screen using a touchscreen, mouse, or trackpad!
- Let your students watch another educator teach some of the handwriting lessons to prepare students for their current handwriting book page. Yes, you can sit some lessons out!
- Get the wiggles out by having your students dance along with one of our music videos like the Wood Piece Pokey.
Here's an example of just one of the award-winning videos you'll find within our Interactive Digital Teaching Tool:
If that’s not exciting enough, wait until you learn about this: Handwriting Without Tears is getting an Integrated Solution in September! This addition makes it even easier for educators to assign lessons, interact with students, collaborate with parents, and track progress in a hybrid or virtual setting! The Integrated Solution includes all the same great features of the Handwriting Interactive Teaching Tool with some additions, such as EVEN MORE teaching videos to instruct students in how to complete specific activities in their handwriting book while they are learning at home. Students will also be able to print teacher-assigned practice pages and submit assignments to their teacher through the student dashboard. See a video of how it works.
2. Live Video Conference
There's nothing like face-to-face interaction, but live video is the next best thing. This year has pushed all ages to become more comfortable interacting virtually. Showing a pre-recorded video of yourself is effective (see #3 below). However, students are more engaged when they are participating live with YOU. There is something powerful when they see and hear you in real time, especially when they can also see and hear their classmates. They tend to sit a little straighter in their chair and pay attention just a bit closer, because you are talking to them right then and there! Use those moments for social connection and to teach in a more interactive fashion than you can with other video options.
Here are a few tips to enhance your interactions with students virtually.
Gather a variety of materials you can use for demonstration.
- One or more large surfaces to write on, such as a whiteboard, easel, chart tablet, or paper taped to the wall.
- One or more smaller surfaces for demonstrations:
- Blackboard with Double Lines – for demonstrating print and cursive lowercase letters and words
- Show Me Magnetic Letters – for demonstrating the wood pieces on the blue mat (it comes with magnetic pieces and a magnetic blue mat!), but you can also use the whiteboard with markers
- Slate Chalkboard – for demonstrating capital letters and numbers
- Gray Block Paper – for demonstrating capital letters and numbers on paper
- Double-Line Paper – for demonstrating letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs
- A blank copy of the workbook or worksheet – You can complete the pages while you are instructing and demonstrating for students!
Consider options for your web camera type and placement.
- Internal vs. external web camera: Your internal web camera is absolutely sufficient, but if you are able to use an external web camera, there are definite advantages. Attach it to a small tripod so you can prop it up anywhere on your desk for the angle you need for your lesson. This is especially helpful when demonstrating on a large surface. Consider the benefit when writing on lined paper or showing the handwriting book. It’s like a document camera!
- Cell phone: You can use your cell phone to connect to a video conference, but you won’t be able to easily screen share websites or videos. It is still an option that might work in certain circumstances, however. Consider an inexpensive phone mount and small tripod to get the benefits of the external web camera mentioned above. These accessories are extremely helpful if you are using your phone to record teaching videos!
- Use the screenshare feature. Many of the interactive apps in the Handwriting Interactive Teaching Tool and Pre-K Interactive Teaching Tool can be demonstrated using screenshare. Check out the Wet-Dry-Try application for iPad!
- Require student participation. Students should have a way to respond and interact throughout your meeting. This could be a paper activity, a verbal response, or a way to interact on the screen.
3. Teacher-recorded videos
While it would be preferred by some to only hold live, web conferencing meetings to teach your students virtually, that isn’t always practical. Students who are learning from home need flexibility with the timing of when they complete their daily lessons due to varied family circumstances, and I know teachers need flexibility as they are juggling the many aspects of hybrid or virtual teaching. Pre-recorded videos of YOU teaching a lesson can sometimes be more effective than assigning a video lesson from a stranger, because of the personal connection students have with you. Your videos can look very different depending on the content you are delivering and the materials and methods you use. The above tips about demonstration tools and camera options apply here as well.
Here are some additional tips:
- Experiment with recording your computer screen. Many video conferencing platforms such as Zoom give the option to record a session. You can record a session without any participants in the meeting. Screenshare videos and interactive web tools (such as those on the LWT Interactive Teaching Tools), and then send that video out for students to watch on their own time. Another application that I have used successfully is Screencast-O-Matic. I like to use a combination of recording myself demonstrating a skill with my web camera and also teaching via screenshare with just my voice, depending on the age of the students and the content I am delivering.
- Keep videos short. Five minutes or less is typically sufficient with independent practice for students to complete after the lesson. More complex content can be broken up into several mini-lessons.
- Maintain an upbeat, conversational tone. Students notice these things, and using a positive tone helps keep your learners engaged!
Teach and Learn by Video Successfully with Learning Without Tears
Learning Without Tears has innovative solutions and strategies for using video to teach Handwriting and Keyboarding. Our Get Set for School Pre-K program also includes options for engaging video and digital learning opportunities to teach Pre-K Writing, Math, Literacy and more. Click here for your free trial of our Interactive Teaching Tools so you can start exploring the many options for teaching your students this school year.
Don’t forget that YOU can learn by video too!
All of our highly rated, engaging and interactive professional development workshops are now offered online by live webinars in addition to in-person options. Visit lwtears.com/professional-development to sign up for an upcoming workshop or to plan a custom training for your school or organization!