YouTube on wood, daily genius

© daily genius


Videos are one of the many tools in your teaching toolbox for creating engaging science experiences. To help you better understand strategies for integrating media into your teaching, we've crafted model activities that fulfill a variety of purposes.

Why Use Media?

According to the Common Core English Language Arts Standards for Science & Technical Subjects, middle school students should be able to "compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic."

But that's not the only reason we should be using media in the classroom. Videos are one of the many tools in your teaching toolbox for creating engaging science experiences. To help you better understand strategies for integrating media into your teaching, we've crafted model activities that fulfill a variety of purposes.

Hook Students on the Topic

Flights clip

Media can serve as a "hook" that opens up the lesson. Videos can activate prior knowledge, engage the student with something mysterious or visually appealing, or establish a purpose for learning. Lessons that use video clips in this way include:

Engage Students in Science Practices

Photosynthesis Seen from Space

Visualizations based on aggregated data provide the unique opportunity to engage your students in various Science Practices highlighted in the Next Generation Science Standards, including asking questions, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing explanations. Lessons that use video clips in this way include:

Reinforce Other Hands-On Lessons

Seasons clip

Videos often tell stories that reiterate or reframe science concepts your students are mastering through active, hands-on lessons. Lesson that use video clips in this way include:

Encourage Critical Thinking and Inspire Action

Academy youth, Flipside Science, water series

Want to teach your students about design thinking, but don’t know where to start? Our Flipside Science series provides an easy-to-implement introduction. Students learn how to define problems, evaluate potential solutions, and decide what they think about environmental issues. They are then empowered and inspired to engineer their own solutions to complex problems.  Lessons that use video clips include:

Browser Plugins for Safer Classroom Viewing

Worried your students will be distracted by ads, comments, and more? Apps are updated regularly, but here are a few suggested browser plugins to make classroom use easier:

(Updated July 2016)

How to Encourage Active Viewing of Media

Our friends over at KQED Education have ample experience helping educators use media effectively in the classroom. If you are new to using video in your science lessons, try incorporating the following strategies:

STEP 1: The Set-Up

  • Choose a video with a purpose in mind. Will viewing the video help students learn something new or spark interest in a topic?
  • Determine whether you will use the entire program or only relevant segments in order to help accomplish objectives in your curriculum.
  • Have students use the attached KWL chart or personal response sheet to record their thoughts before, during and after watching a media piece.
  • Activate prior knowledge by asking students what they know about the topic of the media piece.
  • Prepare students for what they will be watching by providing a brief summary.

STEP 2: Viewing Strategies

  • Ask a focus question by having students look for something in the clip. A focus question can make the media more meaningful by encouraging active viewing/listening. Try alternating between using content-specific questions and personal thoughts.
  • Press PAUSE during the segment to identify and clarify what the students are hearing and seeing. Instruct students to signal when they need the video segment to be paused to ask for clarification.
  • Show it again! You may choose to watch the segment twice with your students, once to elicit emotional responses and get an overview of the topic, and again to focus on facts and draw out opinions.
  • Consider turning off the sound so students can focus on the visuals. Watch in silence or provide your own audio commentary. Encourage students to record their questions as they view without sound. Then view the program with sound to discover whether these questions have been answered.
  • Try using closed-captioning. This is effective for reading reinforcement.

STEP 3: Making a Connection

  • Allow the children to share their responses from the focus question, KWL chart, and/or personal response sheet. Try one of the group-sharing techniques listed on the subsequent page.
  • Choose follow up activities that connect the media to hands-on or real-world experiences.
  • Explain the connections you make, especially for early-grade students.

Group Sharing Techniques

Our friends over at KQED Education have ample experience helping educators use media effectively in the classroom. Below they suggest the following sharing techniques for segmented video viewing.

Word Map
Start a word map on a subject with the class before viewing a video and then add to it after viewing the video.

What I Know, What I Think I Know
Before viewing, have the students tell you what they are sure they know about the topic and what they think they know. After viewing the video segment, have students add to the lists based on what they learned.

To encourage students to compare and contrast ideas or objects make a “T” chart on a flip chart or butcher paper. Invite students to first find similarities and list those on the left side of the “T”. Invite students to look for differences and list those on the right side on the “T”.

Heads Together
Number students within small groups so that each person has a number: 1, 2, 3, or 4. Then ask the entire class a question. Have each group “put their heads together” to make sure that everyone in the group knows the answer. Call a number (1-4) and have the student with that number raise their hands to respond.

Think – Pair – Share
Ask students a question about the segment they just viewed. This may be to explain a concept you’ve just taught, summarize the three most important points of the segment or whatever fits the lesson. Provide ample time for each student to formulate his or her ideas. Invite students to turn to their neighbor and share.

Last One Standing
Ask an open-ended question in response to the viewed segment. Have students stand up when they have an answer in their head. Provide enough time for everyone to stand up. Start with one person sharing his/her answer. Instruct anyone else who has the same or very similar answer to sit down. Continue until all ideas have been shared and there is no one left standing.

Share This

Science Video Vault

Our collection of educational videos will help your students visualize data and understand scientific concepts.

Distance Learning

Can't travel to Golden Gate Park? Your class can interact with our exhibits, animals, and experts in a live stream via our Distance Learning programs.