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5 Classroom Videos That Are Great Teaching Tools

Movies for the classroom

I remember a time when teachers got a little peace and quiet by rolling in a film projector to show an instructional movie. The click-clack of the film running drowned out most of the student chatter while the class watched a clip from Mr. Rogers, an explanation of photosynthesis from an educational film company, or even an inspirational movie about a family who adopted a baby kangaroo. These classroom videos gave my teachers time to get some grading done, and my friends and I loved that we got a break from lectures. The videos were usually fun—and sometimes featured comically bad acting (driver's ed scare-tactic films, anyone?)—making learning enjoyable.

Educational classroom videos have a place in modern education, too: Here are five great videos that can inform and entertain your class—most of them are available on YouTube or other streaming services.

 

Schoolhouse Rock!

I know, I know—you're here to see videos that you didn't expect. But Schoolhouse Rock, well, rocks! Best used for students from first through fifth grade, these educational videos combine education and catchy tunes. I learned about the legislative process from "I'm Just a Bill," discovered how to correctly use interjections, and so much more. Whatever subject you teach, there will be a Schoolhouse Rock video that fits your needs. (Also, do yourself a favor and check out the "Schoolhouse Rock Rocks" album because everyone needs to hear "Conjunction Junction" performed by Better Than Ezra!)

Donald in Mathmagic Land

I remember watching this video several times as a child, and I love it to this day. This 1959 animated short film features Donald Duck journeying through mathematical concepts, and it works well for upper-elementary and middle school students who need to be able to understand geometry and other relatively advanced math concepts. One thing this video does really well is explain the background behind concepts such as the Pythagorean theorem. It provides visual context that helps make understanding the angles and lines easy to digest.

Bill Nye the Science Guy

I can't think of anyone who loves science more than Bill Nye, and his continued popularity makes his videos an obvious choice for this list. His combination of silliness, overt joy, and great science work gets people of all ages to understand even the most complex concepts. One of my favorites is this episode about the water cycle, but you can find an episode on nearly any science topic you could possibly want to teach your students.

Mythic Warriors

If you're tired of trying to force your middle and high school students to see value in the Greek myths you're teaching in class, these videos showcase the more popular ones in a fun and digestible format. They can also help facilitate discussion about how humanlike the Greek gods were. And I'll admit, the myth of Demeter and Persephone sparked my lifelong love of pomegranates, although the video I originally watched in school was slightly more vintage.

PBS In Search Of

In Search Of is a great PBS series that explores different concepts in depth. One of my favorite installments is "Who Owns the Novel?" With this video, students explore the idea of a novel as a living document, and its meaning is shaped by each reader. This movie is best for upper-middle and high school students as part of teaching literary themes. It could even be used in a social studies class to lead a discussion about how different societies interpret art.

The PBS website as a whole is a great resource for high-quality educational videos for nearly every age level and subject. I've never met a student who didn't love learning science from the Kratt brothers or math from the Odd Squad. The site also describes exactly what type of use is recommended to help teachers use the resources appropriately.

In a world full of high-tech educational resources, showing videos may seem like a dated way to present material. But there are a lot of great videos out there that present material in a way that students find engaging. And let's be honest: You could use a break every now and again!