Instructional Use of Video

MovieIn an age of multimedia and the need to provide multiple means of representation for students, video can be a powerful tool for increasing student engagement and achievement.  Video can help students to visualize an abstract concept, introduce an idea, reinforce skills, or review concepts that have been taught.  The instructional use of video can bring real life examples into the classroom and extend the walls of the classroom.  Effective video utilization enhances classroom instruction rather than replacing it.  The most effective use of instructional video is to identify key segments and use those segments interactively throughout the lesson.

The following provides helpful guidelines for planning and implementation of the instructional use of video:


Before Teaching the Lesson:

  • Preview the video content to make sure it is appropriate and useful.
  • Select segments that are most relevant to the curricular focus of the lesson. A brief video clip can spark student interest or demonstrate a concept. Showing a particular segment conserves valuable classroom time and can focus the lesson for students.
  • Prepare your classroom for viewing by checking equipment (online access, Internet plug-ins, projector/ monitor, DVD, remote control), arranging seating and lighting, and cueing the video content ahead of time. Lights should be left on as much as possible to reinforce the fact that the video is not passive entertainment.

During the Lesson:

  • Begin with an introductory activity that draws students into the lesson and lets them know what to expect in the video. You might introduce new vocabulary or a new idea, or conduct a related hands-on activity.
  • Give students a Focus for Media Interaction: a specific task or responsibility to keep in mind while the video is on. Consider developing focus questions for students to answer by watching the video.  This keeps students on-task, and directs the learning experience to the lesson’s objectives.
  • Use the Pause button — your greatest ally in using video effectively! You might pause to:
    • Control the pace and amount of information
    • Check for comprehension
    • Solicit inferences and predictions
    • Define a word in context
    • Highlight a point
    • Ask students to make connections to other topics or real-world events
    • Change the pace by asking students to come up and point to something on the screen, or write in journals, or replicate what they have seen.
  • Encourage discussion and follow-up research.
  • Review and clarify complex points to reinforce what the learners have viewed.

With practice, teachers should encourage students to determine pause points on their own. Students should be able to request a pause for clarification or analysis. Teachers can give instructions ahead of time so that students ask for a pause each time they see a particular image or get a new piece of information. For example, a teacher might say, “Raise your hands each time you hear one of the characteristics that makes an animal a mammal.”

  • Eliminate the sound or the picture from a video segment. When you eliminate sound, you can use any video to instruct at almost any grade level, using your own age-appropriate narration. You can also ask students to describe and comment on what they see, an excellent technique for assessing students’ prior knowledge or reviewing and evaluating what they have learned. When you eliminate the picture (by turning down the brightness), you can highlight the role of music and narration or ask students to imagine what the picture looks like, or to draw what they hear described.
  • Encourage media literacy by helping students recognize elements of video production, such as camera angles, music, shot composition, and the role of the actors. Students can analyze a video’s effectiveness, and discuss the ways that audiences might be manipulated or influenced by choices made during production.

After the Lesson:

Students should feel that the video is an integral part of their learning experience, so teachers need to follow up the video with culminating hands-on activities, student-centered projects, and student- or teacher-designed investigations. Ideally, video will be used in conjunction with field trips, guest speakers, letter-writing projects, and journal writing — the variety of activities that make up an expansive, hands-on learning experience.


Information adapted from:

National Teacher Training Institute – Video Strategies