I think we can all agree that while teaching is rewarding and most of us love what we do, it can also be challenging. At least it is for me! While I might be a Q: author, I am also a classroom teacher, and I know how difficult it can be to not only reach all of my students, but to also accomplish everything that the curriculum dictates. That’s why I love anything that provides a solution to some of the many challenges we instructors face on a given day. Content aligned video can be used to overcome many common class challenges while also helping you extend your students’ learning beyond the four walls of your classroom.
Challenge #1: There is never enough time.
I remember thinking when I first started teaching, “Wait, so you are telling me that I’m supposed to teach a target structure, provide opportunities for controlled and free practice, offer correction, develop students’ higher order cognitive skills, AND assess progress in a few short hours a week?” It never feels like there is enough time! Even though we know that students need time to practice the target language in class, it often seems that the time we spend teaching it far outweighs the time students actually spend using it.
One way of overcoming this challenge is to flip the classroom using skills or instructional videos, which present the learning points in easy-to-understand ways. Students can watch a video at home and then come to class ready with questions about the skill, and, even more importantly, prepared to use it to interact. With the instructional portion of the lesson completed before class, students will have more time to do meaningful practice and generate authentic language in the classroom.
You may be thinking, “This is a great idea, but what about those students who don’t watch the video at home?” One of my colleagues ran into this very problem when she flipped her classroom, and she came up with an ingenious solution. By assigning short quizzes that test the students not only on the content of the video but also on facts that only someone who watched the video would know (like what color the bird in the example was, or which mountain the video referred to), she holds her students accountable for doing the work before class.
Challenge #2: My students are at different levels.
Even under the best circumstances— for example, a multi-level program that carefully pre-tests students to ensure accurate placement— teachers are faced with a range of abilities in a class. Not all students will understand new concepts at the same pace, and some students will need more help than others. If you’ve ever found yourself holding up a lesson to answer the questions of one or two students while the rest of the class yawns and looks out the window, you’re familiar with this problem.
So, how can videos help? I have found it very useful to assign instructional videos to my struggling students as extra homework. Videos are extra helpful for weaker learners because, unlike a classroom lecture in which the information is delivered according to the teacher’s pace, videos enable students to rewind and re-watch any parts they don’t understand. They can also watch the material again and again at spaced intervals, which helps with retention. This gives students control over the information, and how empowering is that?
Challenge #3: My students aren’t autonomous learners.
You might find that, although your students memorize information really well, they haven’t necessarily become independent learners. They still expect the instructor to be the conveyor of all new information while they sit and passively receive it. While this is a very relaxing view of learning, it’s simply not the way language is acquired. Students have to assume responsibility for their own linguistic development and seek out learning opportunities beyond the walls of the classroom.
This can be a difficult skill to develop in learners, especially if they went to school in cultures where this kind of autonomy is not typically fostered. Giving students access to videos that align with the course content is one way of scaffolding this process for them. With some encouragement, they may choose to watch the videos if they don’t understand a concept completely or if they do poorly on an assessment. They might choose to watch the videos in preparation for upcoming lessons. They might watch some of the videos, but not all of them. All of these decisions help students to become more independent learners, and that benefits their linguistic development.
Challenge #4: Finding the right video content is a headache.
If you’ve spent hours online searching for the perfect video, you know how difficult it can be to find appropriate material to enrich your class. YouTube contains a plethora of videos to comb through, but finding one that matches the content of your class and is also high-quality, easy-to-understand, and engaging can take hours and hours.
When making decisions about new course adoptions, it’s always a good idea to consider whether the supporting materials will enable you to extend your students learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. Textbooks which are accompanied by videos that align with the course content can benefit your students, your lessons, AND save you time.
That’s why I was really excited when I heard that new, free Skills Videos for every unit of Q: Skills for Success were being added to the student and teacher resources available on iQ Online. These videos, as in the example here, were developed specifically to complement the curriculum of Q: Skills for Success and will be an invaluable resource for teachers and students who use Q: in and out of the classroom. Skills Videos save time. The work’s been done for me. The only question left is to figure out how I am going to spend the extra free time!
Having access to high-quality videos won’t solve all of your teaching problems, but it will go a long way in addressing these four common challenges we all face in our classrooms. Content aligned videos have been a great resource for me and my students. Do you use videos in your lessons? Do you find that they solve any other classroom problems? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
Get a sneak peek at the exciting free resources being made available for Q: Skills for Success from August, including new Skills Videos and a new Extensive Reading program.