Edpuzzle Blog

Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff

We often think of educational videos as something only for older grades. Think National Geographic videos in science class or documentaries in history class.

With younger students, however, we might only be willing to share an online read-aloud or a song. Teachers are understandably worried about making their already tech-savvy little ones even more technology-dependent.

So how can elementary teachers make the most out of videos? When it comes to using video in the elementary classroom, the key is that it should never be your entire lesson. Videos are just a piece of the educational puzzle, or Edpuzzle (wink wink).

Videos act like a clone of yourself. They free you up from having to give direct instruction and let you focus on the important stuff, like supporting students individually.

In this article, we’ll look at three examples of classes and the structures that make video seamlessly fit into your lesson. If you don’t see your class here, don’t worry! These techniques can be applied to a variety of subjects.

Science Class

We know what you’re thinking, science class screams hands-on activities! We definitely don’t want students memorizing definitions, we want them understanding through experience because that’s the best way to learn.

But the problem is that hands-on activities with younger students aren’t always easy to do. With multiple materials on desks, conducting a whole-class science experiment can be a nightmare from a classroom management perspective.

It can also be challenging for you to ensure that students are using academic vocabulary in their discussion or that you’re catching misconceptions as they come up.

That’s why science class is a perfect place to try using a station rotation model. If you’re not familiar with this model and how it pairs well with technology, check out best-selling author Catlin Tucker’s explanation.

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In the example above, Station A is the video station. Students watch a video that introduces them to that lesson’s vocabulary. The video could be one that you find on YouTube or one that you make yourself. Either way, Edpuzzle lets you embed questions to keep students engaged and hold them accountable.

Station B is where the teacher sits with materials for students to interact with or conduct an experiment. Because students are in a small group, you have more control over classroom management. You can better monitor the discussion, making sure students are building off and critiquing each other’s ideas.

Finally, at Station C, you could have a spiral review activity. This gives students the chance to work with each other while building confidence and fluency with the vocabulary they've learned.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about what’s happening at station A with the video, it’s about everything that you as the teacher can do at station B, because you’re working with fewer students. Imagine the teaching potential!

Just make sure to have students rotate every 10-15 minutes! That way, students won’t be getting too much screen time and everyone will have a chance to watch the video.

Writing Class

Writing can be one of the most fun, but also the hardest things to teach. Students bring unique ideas into their writing, and that means that they need very personalized support to further develop them.

So, as a teacher, how do you make sure you’re giving all your students effective feedback? Enter the flipped classroom model.

There are two different ways to use this model with your elementary students. The first way is a regular flip, something you’ve probably already heard of. Students watch the lesson as a video at home so that when they come to school, they have more time to practice and get feedback.

For younger students, the key to success with this model is parental engagement. We can’t expect younger students to be self-monitoring and complete a video lesson fully independently at home.

It’s important to set expectations with parents about how to help their child engage. This might mean watching the video with their child or just helping them get connected and started.

If your students don’t all have technology at home, or you don’t want to risk having missed parental engagement, you can try an in-class flip.

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In this version, instead of teaching in front of the room, you record the lesson ahead of time and let students watch independently at their desks. This allows you to circulate the room to see who’s doing what and give in-the-moment feedback.

The in-class flip makes personalized instruction, even within a large group of 20-30 students, more of a reality. And who knows, maybe you’ll play a role in writing the next great American novel?

Math Class

Picture yourself teaching math in front of your whiteboard and modeling a problem. While some students might be following your every word, others have probably zoned out or have multiple questions that you don’t have time to address. How do you reach out to those students that are struggling?

What if the video could stand in front of your class working for you? That’s what Edpuzzle’s Live Mode does.

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In Live Mode, you project the video on-screen in front of the whole class, while students answer the questions on their own devices, with partners, or in small groups. This means you can help students and make sure everyone is where they need to be.

Now, imagine a first-grade class learning to solve word problems with addition and subtraction.

There’s no doubt that students need hands-on manipulative work before they can move on to writing down numbers on a piece of paper. With Live Mode, you can incorporate manipulatives as students watch your video lesson.

Consider recording your own video solving a math problem, so that it is specific to your classes’ needs and lets students hear a familiar voice. Once you upload it to Edpuzzle, add notes strategically in order to prompt a whole-group discussion or give students a stopping point to catch up.

By using Live Mode in your math class, you can have the co-teacher you’ve always dreamed of. Plus, your students will appreciate the added support as they delve into new and challenging math concepts.

Remember, when you incorporate video in a lesson, it’s not about what the video achieves itself. It’s about everything that you as a teacher can achieve in the classroom because you’re working alongside that video. Who knew getting superpowers could be so easy?


P.S. Want more concrete examples of how to incorporate video in your elementary classroom? Watch our Edpuzzle for Elementary Teachers webinar and get tips for how to create an Edpuzzle video lesson tailored to young learners.

Use video in your elementary classroom