4 Video Clips to Engage and Inspire Students

Technology permeates every area of students’ lives, and they are accustomed to watching videos for entertainment. As more teachers gain access to YouTube, FLat Classroom Skype by superkimboTeacherTube, and other online sites for use in their classrooms, they frequently use videos to introduce, enhance, and extend their lessons. But, teachers often do not have the time to search the web for classroom-appropriate videos. Other teachers are unsure of how to relate the videos to their course content in a meaningful way. These four video clips are a good place to start when incorporating video clips into your lessons; though these are geared toward engaging and inspiring students, they most likely are best suited to English/language arts and social studies classes. Please note: these videos are most appropriate for the secondary level.

Ashton Kutcher’s Advice for Teens

At the beginning of last school year, a colleague and I collaborated on our first week of lesson plans. Our goal was to engage students, inspire them to begin the year with enthusiasm, and to encourage them to explore their academic goals for the year. We decided to use Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Awards speech to launch our beginning day lesson.

Kutcher gives students three pieces of advice for being successful: find your opportunities, change your definition of sexiness, and build your own life. After sharing the video with students, we asked them to explain which of Kutcher’s pieces of advice were most meaningful for them. We then asked students to write their own pieces of advice for themselves, but the advice would be for themselves as students a year prior. These processes helped students reflect on their previous experiences and decide how to approach the upcoming school year.

Kerry Washington Reciting “Ain’t I A Woman”

As an English teacher, I sought out ways to encourage students to practice reading aloud and to embrace the tone and inflection of poems and speeches. I modeled as much as I could, and my students who had a dramatic flair or a love of performing (or both) also read aloud in class. I constantly searched the web for truly great models of reading performances, and Kerry Washington’s “Ain’t I A Woman” is one of the best.

This video has several classroom applications. Use it to begin a discussion of feminism or women’s studies, to launch into a study of racism or stereotyping, or to teach tone and inflection. You may find that it inspires you to practice reading aloud before your next lesson, too.

My Daughter, Malala

Sometimes, inspiring students to work hard in the classroom is a lesson best served by someone who understands what it is like not to have access to education. In this TED Talk, Ziauddin Yousafzai, a Pakistani educator, explains how education gives girls in developing countries an identity. He also equates education to emancipation. And, Ziauddin just so happens to be the father of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for advocating for girls’ education in Pakistan and recently became the youngest Nobel Prize recipient.

This video is an appropriate springboard into a discussion of feminism and women’s studies. Similarly, it lends itself to lessons on human rights, civil disobedience, international studies, and diversity.

The Danger of Silence

In his TED Talk, poet and teacher Clint Smith describes what it was like to give up his own voice during Lent. In a poetry-slam style, Smith extends his message to encompass his classroom principle, tell your truth, which he based on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Use this video clip to show students that silence is detrimental to others and themselves, and that their voices and their opinions have value. I envision using this video prior to a lesson on the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, or any other lesson that illuminates the power of words and the importance of speaking up against ignorance and injustice.

Videos that directly relate to your course content are beneficial, but sometimes videos that veer from the norm are more engaging and inspiring for students. Don’t forget: asking students to relate the video to the day’s lesson at the end of class as an exit slip exercise is just as effective as using the videos to introduce lessons.

Have you used any videos that you’d like to share? Add your ideas in the comments below. Or, if you have questions about these videos or how to use others, email Bailey at bailey@truthinteaching.com.

Image via Flickr by superkimbo

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