Yes, It is a teaching tool. Just stop in to our class when we have a YouTube Friday and see what’s happening. One Friday a month we watch a short YouTube video and then the students write about it. Some days we do a Quick Write; a one paragraph journal style exercise. It does not get corrected, or go through our usual proofing and editing process. The Quick Write is a free form observation of what we have viewed. Other days we do a more traditional paragraph or essay, with a rough draft, final copy, and an illustration. It is a great Language Arts exercise both ways, and also integrates some newer teaching standards in the areas of visual media.
Recently, we viewed a BBC video of the amazing Lyre Bird. The Lyre Bird imitates sounds in its environment, usually other birdsong, in order to, as several students wrote, “get some girls”. We listened and watched, wide-eyed, as the bird imitated kookaburras, mockingbirds, and other animals. Then, amused, we heard the click and whir of a camera, and a car alarm. The students’ amusement turned to concern when the last sound was of a chainsaw.
After the video ended, they began to discuss what that meant. The exercise quickly became an insightful discussion about animals and the loss of their habitats. The resulting writing and drawing became our Language Arts for the next week. Their observations of the video and thoughtfulness about the issues raised were impressive.
The video clips have become a much anticipated classroom event! They never know if we will be getting the giggles (panda sneeze, anyone?),or exploring a deeper subject. It is one of the hallmarks of the TCPS program that we can be student led when the opportunity arises. I hadn’t anticipated the reaction to the Lyre Bird being so fervent. How lucky we are to be in environment where we can allow our students’ interests to lead us down new curricular paths. We still wrote, edited, and perfected, as we would have in Language Arts anyway – but the students had a great feeling of ownership of the material. Great job, Second and Third Grade!