Teacher friend, hello! Today’s topic is one I wish wasn’t so relevant to this school year. Many of us are going to be using classroom video a lot for our learners this year, but we’ll be in front of the cameras! I’ve had an online business for 10 years, and while being on video is not my favorite thing, I have learned how to make it effective. If the thought of students and parents watching your face over a computer screen leaves you cringing and twisting in your seat, you are in exactly the right place. I’ve got you covered!
Looking for the podcast version? It’s right HERE.
Video? Why Me??
I know this topic matters to you, because you are a difference maker. You want the best learning experience possible for your students this year. Let me assure you, you can do this! Many of your students will already be engaged in video naturally. That’s good news!
Some students need more buy-in to be engaged. They’ll need a little more support. Other students will need you to go to dig to the depths of your tool box to reach them. These are the students in the classroom that worry you sick because you feel you aren’t reaching them and getting their attention.
There’s more good news. With the strategies I’m about to share, you’ll be much better able to reach all of the students in your classroom. At the end, there is a FREE Video Handbook download for quick reference with clickable links to the resources I’m about to share.
Classroom Video Strategy #1: Be Happy
That may sound silly, but think about conferences or instructional videos online you may have attended recently. Have any of the presenters been monotone, dull, or just seemed bored? It makes it even more work to focus! If that’s true for us, imagine how our students are going to feel.
We teach primary. We put on our pep every single day. Let’s not forget to bring that to video! Our students need joy now more than ever. Many of them haven’t been able to go into the community and visit with friends. They need to see people, and right now, you’re who they’re going to see!
Our students are great at modeling. If they see you being happy, they will model that and feel happier because they see it in you. If they are happy, they will start to know, like, and trust you. This is a HUGE step in our students being ready to receive our instruction. HERE is a post that has lots more about building virtual relationships.
Tip Takeaway: Do something before you go on video to make YOU happy. Do a quick bout of exercise, read something funny, or watch a comedy show.
Classroom Video Strategy #2: Add Movement
For this strategy, you will be moving, and you’ll be expecting your students to move too. Movement activates the brain and makes content easier to remember. Some students don’t readily move, but it’s so important! You can encourage them by telling them it’s part of their grade.
Here are some examples. One of my favorites is during sight word practice. Each sight word has a signal. For example, for the word will, we make a circle out of our right thumb and index finger and put it over the ring finger of our left hand as if you’re putting on a ring. Then we say, “Will you marry me? Will, will, will.” HERE is a link to my Sight Word Engagement Guide.
You can even add motions to letter and sound practice, vocabulary words, and in math to help remember the symbols of addition and subtraction. I show you how to add it to a letter and sound fluency routine HERE.
Don’t just add movement to your online teaching. It’s great in person as well!
Tip Takeaway: Movement is important because if you can see students move, you know they are engaged in the content.
Classroom Video Strategy #3: Remember Visuals
Visuals can be cues to students and content you are presenting. Imagine looking at two posters, both with black text, advertising a bake sale with the time and location. One poster is plain text. The other has pictures of chocolate glazed doughnuts in the corners. Which one will catch your eye? Chocolate glaze!
It is extra work to use visuals, but it’s worth the work to make our videos visually appealing to our students to help them engage. In the Virtual Classroom Survival Guide (you can check it out HERE), we created many management pops which are circles that you glue onto popsicle sticks. There are visual directions for cues, schedule cards, and more. You can make visual cards by Googling and printing pictures. However you do it, this will really help students stay engaged.
I created a year long program called Word Works Daily, and I made it with the intent of engaging students with what they see. It’s very colorful, has lots of student-friendly images, and has fonts and text sizes that kids can see easily. If you’d like to see what this program looks like, you can get a five day free trial HERE.
Tip Takeaway: Use images and clip art on screen to catch students’ eyes.
Classroom Video Strategy #4: Use Rewards
In my regular classroom, I use many different rewards: table points, sticker cards, and a prize box. Our virtual classrooms need rewards too, but don’t worry. I’ve got your back! I created a Free bundle for Virtual Classroom Rewards you can get HERE. There are five free rewards that will engage students through video.
- Make a Masterpiece – You have pieces to an incredible picture that you put together as you go through your lesson. Students are engaged to see the end result.
- Giggle Box – Template to create a box of jokes you can pull out during your lesson. As students complete tasks or you’re ready to transition, you can say, “It’s time to pull a joke from the giggle box!” I’ve included two pages of jokes, and you can absolutely add more. This one is my favorite!
- Silly Face Challenge – This uses a set of cards with silly faces. During your lesson, you can pull a card and challenge your students to make that face.
- Silly Sound Library – This is a digital tool you’ll pull up on your computer screen. Your class chooses a number, and when you press the number it plays a silly sound.
- Cheer Choice Board – You can use cheers as virtual rewards. If you make them fun, your students will work for the chance to do their cheer together.
Tip Takeaway: Virtual rewards can be free, fun, and motivational!
Classroom Video Strategy #5: Use Props, Toys, and Costumes
This may not be an easy fit for your personality, but let me encourage you, primary teacher to primary teacher, to give it a try. If students know you might show up in an unexpected way, can’t you just imagine their anticipation to get the lesson started and see what you look like each day?
Here are some ways you can try it. While you’re teaching, you could pretend to drop something, and when you raise back up, what if you had put on a silly hat? If they never know what to expect on the screen, they won’t want to look away and miss something.
Another idea is to bring Sneaky Friends. Every day, you can have a Sneaky Friend that will sneak on camera during the lesson. The friend won’t talk or make a sound. Students will only see it if they are paying close attention.
The Happy Bag, which is a reward I use with my students on special occasions, can also work virtually. The template is included in today’s download, or you can find it HERE. You can gather items your students will like to see and show them when students are engaging well.
Tip Takeaway: Embrace your peppy, fun-loving side and help your students stay engaged.
Bonus Strategy: Secret Password or Mission
One of my concerns about this school year is for the children who watch the recorded videos and don’t attend live. How can I be sure they have done that? Here’s one way! I’m going to embed a secret password in the lesson they will send to me at the end. I won’t put it on the screen, so they won’t be able to see it by skimming the video.
One suggestion is to have several parts to the password. You could tell them one letter at intervals during your lesson so that the only way they can give you the password is if they listen to the entire lesson. This could also be adapted to colors, shapes, or whatever you choose.
For extra motivation, give students who successfully provide you this password some sort of prize. It could be one of the virtual rewards or being entered in a drawing the next day to win a real prize that you send with their work packets or tool kits.
Tip Takeaway: A mission that lasts through an entire lesson is a great way to make sure students listen to all of your instruction time.
You can do it!
Ready for the Video Handbook download? Here you go!
Video is going to be vital to many of our classrooms this year, and you are capable of using it successfully. With these strategies and your own sprinkle of awesome, your students can learn content and make good memories with you this year with your engaging classroom video.
If you’d like to join a community of primary teachers who can relate and provide suggestions any time, head over HERE to the Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group!
See you next time, difference maker!