#7 – Our Top Science Video Activity (set up in less than 5 minutes!)

Using science videos is a great way to reinforce or illustrate a concept. But, making and marking the accompanying science video activity and/or worksheet is time consuming. Yes, there are tools out there that try to make this easier. Edpuzzle, Google Forms, and many other web apps allow teachers to embed questions into the videos students watch. Students can watch these videos and fill in the forms/answers at home. This saves the teacher a whole bunch of time, right?


Unfortunately, such web apps do not save teachers that much time. Teachers still need to spend time developing questions, forms, and answers for the video activity. Teachers still need to watch the videos before making questions too. And, they may still need to review/mark forms. Furthermore, students also need to have access to videos at home (and students may not all have computer or internet access at home). Ultimately, the challenge is having students learn important details from a video without making it too stressful for students and teachers. How do we do that? Our video activity helps to overcome this challenge. and you can also download our template at the end of this post.


The Pen is Mightier Than…

The video activity that continues to work for me in my practice (for 12 years!) comes in the form of a simple t-chart that students use to take notes from a video I show in class. Before watching a video in class, students draw a 2-column table (ie. t-chart). Students write “What I Learned” as the heading for one column and “What I Know” for the other. During the video, students write down notes from the video that pertain to either row. I give them the freedom to write anything down, so long as it’s from the video. I tell students to write down 15 points (if the video is 30 minutes long). At the end of the video, students tally up the number of points they on their chart and hand in their work. I read over their notes and give them a mark (most of the time). It’s that simple.


I came across this video activity when I worked as a substitute teacher years ago. Christopher Rozitis, a teacher who I substituted for in Vancouver, used this with his students. I’ve been using it with my students ever since. And why not? This video activity has a lot of advantages:


1. It requires little to no set-up

I don’t need to watch the video ahead of time and make questions. Students write down their own notes and I collect those notes. It’s that simple.


2. It’s engaging

I use this strategy for every video we watch, and whether it’s the first time or the fifteenth time, students work hard at getting the 10, 15, or 20 point minimum.


3. It’s student centred

When writing down 20 points, students do not need to write down 10 points for each column. Nope. The choice is up to them. Thus, if they already know a lot of things, then they’ll write a lot of points under the “What I know” column (and vice versa). This strategy is completely open-ended and


4. It gets the job done

Even though students have the freedom to write whatever notes they want, students still end up writing pretty much the same thing. What this means is that most if not all students end up getting the same information out of the video. And, whatever students miss, I usually review afterwards.


5. It’s a great snapshot of student understanding

When I review their worksheets, I get to see what each student already knows or just learned. If most students already seem to know something really well, I don’t spend as much time in class teaching it. If there’s a concept most students seem to struggle with, then I spend extra time going over the misconceptions. These student notes help me do this.


6. Technical issues outside of class are generally resolved

Most if not all students will see the video. There are no excuses from students who say the internet wasn’t working at home or they didn’t have access to a computer. No, all students get to see the video and everyone is on the same page afterwards.


Field Notes

  • I ask for a minimum of 12 notes for a 25 minute video. Usually, I try to ask for about a note every 2 minutes to a maximum of 20 notes.
  • I tell students NOT to provide one or two word points. I will not count them as notes.
  • I mark each note out of 5. For example, if I ask for 20 notes, I award 5 marks to students who write 20+ notes, 4 marks for 16-19 notes, 3 marks for 12-15 notes, 2 marks for 8-11 notes, 1 mark for 4-7 notes, and 0 for less than 4 notes.
  • If students are absent from the day of the video, I ask students to watch the video at home (if the video can be found online). Or, students can come in for a lunch hour viewing (I’m toying with this idea as I am writing this blog post).


Putting it all together

Videos are excellent resources to help teachers illustrate a point or something we can’t normally show students (like the formation of the solar system). I understand the need to have students complete a video activity (like worksheets) during videos, but such activities require time to generate and mark. Having students generate their own notes using a simple t-chart is a quick, simple, and effective way for students to learn the main ideas from a video. And, it also saves you time. If you want a copy of my template with instructions and sample notes, click on the link below and enter your email address. You’ll also be added to our email list (if you’re already on our list, you rock!).


Click Here To Get our Video Activity Template


Until next time, keep it REAL.

Posted on August 26, 2017 in Strategies

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