July 26, 2016
Videos are a great way to engage students while also bringing a variety of voices and perspectives into your instruction. Both captivating and informative, video is unique among other digital media in the way that it can so readily transcend the walls of your classroom. As the amount of video content on the Web expands, there is of course lots of great educational content that can help you bring the world to your students.
But the web is a pretty big haystack, and it can be hard to keep up with what's new and find the best content for your class. Nevertheless, searching for great educational videos is worth it -- showing the perfect video or clip in a lesson, in just the right place, can make for a powerful learning experience. The best videos offer opportunities for kids to have shared experiences and exposure to the wider world. Whether captivating, intriguing, or just purely informative, here are some great new video resources to inspire some truly authentic learning.
The folks behind Global Oneness Project have spent the last 10 years crisscrossing the planet, creating high-production-value documentaries that highlight some of the world’s most important global issues. The site now offers a host of content in the form of documentaries, photo essays, and interviews, all of which can help immerse students in parts of world they may not know. A growing number of the videos come with useful teaching materials and supports, designed to offer opportunities for cross-curricular learning. Teaching resources include lesson plans aimed at exploring a topic within one class period, as well as plenty of options to extend students' exploration further.
Billed as "20 short films you can’t afford to miss," We The Economy is a collection of five- to ten-minute videos that help demystify how our economy works. With work from a variety of notable directors (including the likes of Morgan Spurlock, Catherine Hardwicke, and Adrian Grenier, among others), every video comes with a discussion guide and a unique, 45-minute lesson plan. The videos engage students with a variety of tactics, including Vaudevillian skits, animation, and plenty of ironic humor, helping to make these typically dry macroeconomic topics more accessible. If for nothing else, check out the “Lemonade War” episode just to see Patton Oswald corrupt the concept of a lemonade stand, including an awesome cameo from Werner Herzog, who saves the day.
Produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Representation Project, The Mask You Live In takes a critical look at America’s often narrow definition of masculinity. Offered as a complementary resource to the film Miss Representation, this film about boys explores how pervasive, negative male stereotypes, often perpetuated in popular media, impact how boys see themselves and eventually grow into adults. Along the way, the film consults a variety of notable figures and experts (including researcher Jackson Katz, whose own Tough Guise documentary series explores the links between violence and masculinity). The Mask You Live In offers an unflinching and essential look at the complex, and often uncomfortable, social issues facing America’s young men.
Although originally released in 2011, Miss Representation's message is every bit as relevant today. As a companion to Newsom’s current project about boys and men (mentioned above), Miss Representation exposes the myriad ways that popular media in America fails to represent women in positions of power and influence. The film takes a sharp look at how pervasive media messages shape female cultural norms that emphasize things like beauty and sexuality over qualities like intellect and the capacity for leadership. Along with a host of startling statistics, the film’s collection of interviews are bound to leave students -- both girls and boys -- shocked, as well as ready to engage in some meaningful conversations about gender equality.
What video content do you use in your teaching? Tell us in the comments below!