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Remote learning: how to make your own YouTube videos for effective teaching
Some schools have been using home-made teacher videos to continue education and keep pupils and teachers connected while they were closed. Here’s how you can do this, with examples from schools that are making it work for them.
You'll need to offer immediate remote education if:
- Individual pupils or groups of pupils need to self-isolate, but the rest of the school is still open; or
- There are local or national restrictions that mean most pupils need to stay at home, like during the initial school closures in March
As part of your contingency plan for providing remote education, the DfE now expects you to provide pupils with access to high-quality teaching videos linked to your school’s curriculum expectations.
"Right now, it's not about the learning, it's about the connection"
Says headteacher Dave Sammels of Mayflower Community Academy, Plymouth – a view we've heard echoed numerous times.
- It’s so reassuring for children and their families to see their teacher’s face regularly, and hear a familiar voice
- A video is more personal than an email or written instructions, and means teachers can continue to be a part of their pupils' lives
- Children need structure and a sense of normality at the moment: a video of their teacher reading a story or explaining a maths problem is as close to normal classroom routines as is possible for many schools now
- It's a way to support parents too, as teachers can also explain and model more complex activities
It's free and easy to do: you don’t need high-tech recording equipment or lots of resources
- YouTube videos are quick to create, upload and share (via your school website, another platform, or email – we explain how below)
- It's not a lot to ask of staff – they're just recording their usual teaching from home or school (we explain how to do this too)
- Most children and parents are already familiar with how YouTube works and can watch the videos on a tablet, laptop, smart phone or TV – so it's accessible to a wide pool of people
From "Jackanory" to a full 'virtual school' – how schools are using it
Here are a few of the effective approaches we've seen so far.
A daily “good morning” to each year group, Charles Dickens Primary School, Southwark
Each day, teachers upload a video message to say good morning and talk about what pupils will be learning.
They also upload daily teaching input videos for English and maths (often featuring the slides they'd use for 'regular' teaching), and an information sheet for each subject which sets out the day's task.
All these resources are live on the school website, in the 'Virtual school' section.
Here, year 5 teachers give some reminders and sing "happy birthday" to a pupil:
Giving instruction to support learning at home, Mayflower Community Academy, Plymouth
Teachers record 1 video per year group, per day. They choose what to include: most add instruction to the packs they've sent home, or share a story.
The headteacher emails these videos to all parents in a daily newsletter. (You can sign up to receive it here – the school is very happy to share what it's doing beyond its immediate community.)
All teachers have a professional Twitter account and are available from 9am to 3pm each day to answer parents' questions and receive photos or videos of children's work. You can follow them through @Mayflower_MCA.
Here, the year 2 teacher talks her pupils through the day’s maths problems, which were included in the packs the school sent home:
Keeping up routines, such as story time, to give a sense of normality, Wyndham Primary Academy, Derby
The year 1 team uploads videos throughout the day to its own YouTube channel. Teachers record a phonics, maths and "Jackanory-style" story time video each day and publish the daily timetable on Twitter, so pupils can stick to familiar routines.
Here, Miss Muldoon reads a story to her year 1 class at the end of the day:
Have reasonable expectations – there's no need for perfection
This will be new to most teachers, so keep things manageable:
- Encourage teachers to make 1 video per day, per year group, if they're comfortable doing so
- In a multi-form entry school, let teachers alternate with their year group partner or share the responsibility
- If teachers want to do more, they can record 1 'teaching input' video per lesson, per year group – again, they can share this responsibility where relevant and play to their strengths
- Teachers who don't have their own class (e.g. art teachers, P.E. teachers) can create 1 video per year group for the week, or for however many lessons they would normally teach
- Get teachers to record their videos at least 1 day before pupils will watch them. As time goes on, they might want to do this further ahead to save themselves time (e.g. record a week's worth of phonics lessons in one go)
Lead by example: create your own assembly videos
For inspiration, have a look at these videos of:
- An assembly, by Kate Atkins, headteacher of Rosendale Primary School in London
- Collective worship, led by Andy Higgs, headteacher of Bucklebury Church of England Primary School in Reading
Cover the topics and themes you would usually (although you'll probably want to acknowledge the unusual circumstances) and use the opportunity to speak directly to pupils and parents.
How to make your own videos and share them
Use a staff briefing over video conference to teach your team how to make videos
You should be able to cover everything in 25 to 30 minutes. Download this guide to use as your own prompt, and then share it with staff afterwards.
- How to make a video and upload it to YouTube
- How to make sure videos are safe, in terms of online safety and safeguarding
- What makes a good home learning video
- Examples from other schools for inspiration
Work out the best way for you to share videos with parents and pupils
You can expect teachers to create their own videos but make it clear that they don't have sole responsibility for getting these videos to parents.
You may want to have one person who's responsible for collecting all videos and sharing them in whichever way works best for your school. There a few different ways you can do this:
- Host them (or link to them) on your school website, as Charles Dickens Primary School (above) does, and let parents know to look for them here
- Send the videos or links in a daily email or newsletter to parents, as Mayflower Community Academy (above) does
- Set up a YouTube channel for each class/year group/teacher and ask parents to subscribe to the ones relevant to their child, as Wyndham Primary Academy (above) does
- Host them (or link to them) on any online platform you're using (e.g. Google Classroom, Seesaw, etc.)
Set a clear deadline for when you want teachers to submit their videos
If one person is collecting all videos, having a deadline for teachers to work to is important. It's also important for parents, so they know they can rely on the resources being available when they're expecting to use them.
Headteacher Dave Sammels asks all his teachers to send him their videos the night before, so he can get the newsletter ready to go out to parents at 8am.
Be clear in your communication with parents
Parents need to know what to expect, so they can structure their day at home accordingly or manage devices.
If you're telling teachers it's up to them whether they record video or not, don't promise videos to parents. If you've decided as a school that you're doing daily video messages or teaching inputs, let parents know in advance.
Reading stories? Check copyright
Usually, this type of 'broadcasting' comes with restrictive copyright terms.
Encourage staff to check the book publisher's terms before recording themselves reading a book, which can usually be found on the publisher's website.
In most cases, there are terms you need to adhere to. For example, most publishers ask that you say at the start of the video that you're reading the book with their permission. You may also be expected to delete your video, or make it unavailable, after the end of the summer term.
The DfE's remote education expectations are set our here
Safeguarding advice is based on: COVID-19 coronavirus – advice for schools, from Safeguarding in Schools – Andrew Hall
Many thanks to the following for letting us share their videos and advice:
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