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Fire-up Your Students’ Learning with YouTube

Fire-Up your students learning with YouTube.

Hey creative thinkers!

I know all of you know about YouTube.  In short, I go on YouTube for just about everything, no scratch that everything. I am a DIYer at heart so I either live on YouTube or Pinterest (my favorite past time, no seriously just ask my kids).

YouTube will FireUP your students' learning

YouTube is simply awesome and for transformative teachers like us, it is a magnificent place to go to not only supplement our lessons, but to also fire-up our students’ learning.

It’s time for some hard truths:-

  1. Students are not learning the traditional way (you can thank technology for that).

But I happen to like technology minus those video games. Ugh! ‘Traditional’ can no longer be our go-to. As creative thinkers we are always on the lookout for non -traditional ways to enrich and engage young minds.

YouTube can hold our students’ interest and engage beyond the traditional.

There are so many educational videos and some that are not so educational (we’ll talk more on that later) that are available for teachers to incorporate into their lessons. Students learn by watching reenactments, demonstrations (experiments), listening to stories, songs and notes! What’s notes you ask? Well take a look at ‘Thug notes’ on YouTube. It was a great find when I was searching for another way to explain “Lord of the Flies” to my son who was in 8th grade at the time. Well one introduction was enough to make Thug notes my go-to when looking for an alternative way to explain a classic. (Disclosure: The language in this video is for middle and high school students).  And even knowing this you guys I would check with administration (as she whispered on the side).

  1. Students attention spans are lower than ever.

Unfortunately, this frustrating truth is here to stay as long as we live in an instant gratification society. So, what do we do creative thinkers? We become innovative and transformative.

YouTube can spark impressive discussions and debates! (I love those)

During my reading lessons, I implemented a Socratic method called “Circle session”. The students form a circle on the rug and conduct a Q & A session using accountable talk sentence stem. I do not participate in any way during these sessions. Rather I use this time to informally assess my students. These discussions were sparked by books we were reading and YouTube videos I chose to supplement the reading lesson. The YouTube video held their interest, encouraged questions and responses. They were fired -up.  I have to tell you watching my students actively using content rich vocabulary was spectacular. Even my most reluctant students joined in.

YouTube supplements lessons

  1. There are increasingly more incidents of disruptive behavior.

Based on my career as a teacher, which has been about 15 years, I have run the gamut of disruptive students. Putting it nicely, it was an eyeopener.  One thing I have learned is 80 percent of disruptive students need redirection. How about a trip? A virtual trip that is.

YouTube can transport your class around the world.

I didn’t believe until I went looking and I did say I live on YouTube. I mean who just types up virtual field trips?  Me! Technology, gotta love it. We are always searching for a thought-provoking ways to fire-up our students. Every September I do my very best to plan class trips to the museum, planetarium, the library, etc. We’ve gone on neighborhood walks, grocery shopping (yes, I’ve done that; I promise I didn’t actually shop). YouTube offers virtual field trips to the Amazon Rain forest  or go on an African Safari! All without leaving your classroom. And it’s free (bonus!). I can not tell you what a sanity-saver this was. My disruptive students (and I had whoppers) were engaged and…wait for it; they wanted to do the follow-up activity as well. I was jumping for joy (not outwardly cause that would totally ruin the stern look). 🙂

So, about those not so educational videos…

You want to be super diligent when choosing the right videos for your students. Always watch your selected videos before your students to the end. There are some videos that are point blank inappropriate depending on grade level (see previous video).

Accessing YouTube videos

Most schools have firewalls installed to prevent inappropriate content exposure to the students. And this totally blocks out YouTube. But there are ways around that. Once you’ve selected and viewed the video, download the video or link it to a PowerPoint or Word document and Voila! YouTube also have an education section called #Education YouTube. Check out those videos as well.

YouTube is a useful learning tool. Use it to supplement your lessons. It provides a visual not to mention audio means of learning. Go ahead and fire-up your students!

So, creative thinkers, how many of you are using YouTube? Can you share some of the awesome ways you’re using this great resource?

Happy teaching!



5 Key Benefits of Technology In The Classroom

There are many benefits to using technology in the classroom. It engages the students to become masters of their learning.Hey Creative thinkers,

I am a lover of all things techie and  bringing technology into the classroom for me was a dream come true. I used technology in the classroom before it was ‘innovative’. Such as Microsoft Office including PowerPoint (definitely) , Word, and Publisher. My students loved the activity where they got to type out their narrative stories on Word or presenting their research on PowerPoint. I even created a newsletter where I grouped the students and put them in charge of editorials, advertisements and the “funnies” (remember when it was called the funnies).

Technology is here to stay

Yes, I know how it takes away the personal connection between people but… it’s here to stay. So why not make use of the benefits of technology offers the classroom culture. Technology can address your most distracted students (I’m actually dealing with that right now) and it can engage and challenge your honor student.

Well it has become my personal and professional goal to integrate technology everywhere I can to enhance my classroom activities and student engagement from planning to classroom management (yet another professional goal). Oh, the apps and programs you could use to increase positive classroom behavior but I will save that for another post.

So, what are the 5 Key Benefits of Technology in the classroom…

1.The students know it… so you better

  1. Kids are becoming progressively adept at using the different computer programs.
He’s checking his emails.

Yeah, I had to show this pic… are there really babies working on the computer?

So I had a very embarrassing incident where I was reading my nephew (he was three at the time) a story on my IPAD. During the story, I enthusiastically turned to him and said “ isn’t this fun?”  He said “Titi can I show you something?” I said “sure, honey.” He took the IPAD and proceeded to adeptly move the mouse over to lower left, click on a symbol that looks like a microphone and ‘ta-da’ another voice took over reading the story for me. He looked at me and said “see Titi, the IPAD will read it to me.”

Emotional moment for me

I was awestruck by his knowledge and his eye-hand coordination (the teacher in me) but simultaneously I flooded with sadness. He didn’t need me to read to him… I didn’t want him to see the utter rejection on my face so I gave him a blinding smile and said jubilantly “that was awesome honey, you are soooo smart.” I mean I should be proud right? I should be jumping up for joy that my three-year old nephew knows how to maneuver an IPAD right?



 Lessons must be meaningful

2. Technology allows students to have meaningful learning experiences.

Let’s face it…there has been a major paradigm shift worldwide in computer usage. It is now critical that our children have computer skills in preparation for the 21st century. So, how does a teacher know if their lessons are meaningful?

Creating engaging lessons gives the students the opportunity to be masters of their own learning.

Student engagement equals active learning. Nothing and I mean nothing is more boring that sitting still at a desk listening to a teacher go on and on about a particular topic. And then being forced to fill out charts, tables, and yes those graphic organizers (which I still use but in an improved way). But there’s a way to turn those volume intensified groans to “yeah!” in your classroom. Integrating technology like webquests, podcasts, interactive math programs, and listening to pre-recorded stories (like my nephew) to ‘liven’ up your lessons (Check out my post on the 10 Awesome Classroom Friendly Websites coming soon). Learning becomes actionable (for the students) and quantifiable (for the teachers, lets not forget data collection…Sigh) and fun (for students). Alright, for teachers also.

Coffee needed please
coffee makes everything better

3.Technology in the provides constructive learning.

Remember that theory we learned in teacher education? Constructivism. Well, it hasn’t disappeared entirely. Students learn through trial and error. They are given the opportunity to reflect upon what they have learned. Especially, when the student answers incorrectly. I actually relish this “teachable moment”. To ask questions such as “What other ways can we look at the problem?” Technology learning tasks assigned to students are scaffolded; challenging them. Tasks are cross-curricular meeting the standards for several subjects simultaneously. Task are problem-based (a favorite of mine) so the students use deductive reasoning and logic to complete the assignment.


3.Technology in the classroom provides the students to learn old lessons in new ways.

Ok so every year as a fifth-grade teacher I whip out my curriculum map and take a look at what’s the unit for September though to be honest I know it like the back of my hand. How can I spice up this unit on Reading, Math, or Social Studies? Well, technology of course!

Technology and Reading


How about teaching the story elements using the PowerPoint, or teaching figurative language using YouTube. I recently did a lesson about similes and metaphor and I found a ‘rap’ song explaining the difference between similes and metaphors. By the end of the lesson my students couldn’t get the tune out of their heads. But guess what? for the quick review I gave the following day every hand went up because they remembered the difference between metaphors and similes. Seriously, a proud moment… I know it was mostly due to the song…but I integrated it (bonus).


And what about using PowerPoint to enhance the presentation of a research report. When I did this it turned out awesome. The students always eager to finish the other classroom assignments so they could use their extra time to work on their research assignment. I was amazed that even my most disruptive students hand in completed work (ok not the neatest handwriting but baby steps) because they wanted to get to the library to add to their research then transfer their work on the slides in PowerPoint. And when I put them on the bulletin board they couldn’t wait to stop teachers and administrators alike to show them their work. Using technology in the classroom can open up endless possibilities to enhance and expand your lesson; taking it to the next level.


 4. Technology in the classroom provides ample opportunity to assess your students

Remember when I mentioned data collection? Well, here is the perfect opportunity to collect data on your students. Tracking and the chance to statistically view how your students are progressing. With the many varied technological programs and apps out there, you can tailor the programs to address different components of the curriculum. The technology is relevant and intentionally constructed to target content that is difficult for a particular student to learn. That one topic in Math that the student is struggling with (for me every year it the unit on fractions). Through the programs and apps available to supplement your lessons that ‘fraction lesson’ (insert here that one lesson that some students are not getting) are made meaningful. They are engaged, focused and probably doesn’t remember this is the lesson they couldn’t get.

Lesson Planning

 Somebody save me from Lesson Planning

Well I think I have a remedy, not cure mind you but a remedy that will definitely help.

  1. Technology in the provides the flexibility expand lesson planning.

When I started using the different websites and apps, it really helped with my lesson planning. Of course, initially you must spend even more time planning (Ok stop groaning it gets better) .  Once you have established the websites, programs and apps you are planning on using in your lessons for let’s say… an ELA unit, the daily planning will integrate these technological saviors, group your students, show what areas they need to practice and so much more. The different websites like IXL and Khan Academy does exactly that. I personally use Khan Academy for my children. Differentiated Instruction planning becomes a breeze because you have planned your lesson to meet the needs of the various academic levels you have in your class. And…. wait for it…

These websites and programs are really an extra teacher in room. Bonus! We all know we have those moments when we could use an extra teacher. I mean we are SUPER awesome but we have some limitations. 😊

#1 Teacher Medal
And the award goes to the # 1 Teacher

So, these were my 5 key benefits of technology in the classroom. Though I have expressed my total support for integrating technology into the classroom it by no means releases the overarching responsibility of the teacher. Technology is a supportive partner. Teachers, you still must know your students and plan, plan, plan. Technology fosters learning and elicits engagement and mindful thinking. 😊

I would be interested in hearing about how you use technology in your classroom? Has it been successful or have your efforts been lukewarm at best? Let me know.

Happy Teaching and Learning!



Welcome to my blog!

Hi I’m Genevieve, I’m a mom, teacher, DIYer, and blogger and I believe we should live life with expression!


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