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Are You a YouTube Star? Why Not?

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"Do you make lesson recap videos? You should."

Those words, spoken years ago by Chris Aviles at EdCamp New Jersey, punctured my belief I was rocking technology integration in my classroom. As Chris correctly argued, lesson recap videos would give students what all humans need: multiple opportunities to learn. I had the technology but I was not delivering for my students. It was time to get to work.

A Brief Argument for Becoming a YouTube "Star" Instead of Using Google Drive

I suggest putting your lesson videos on YouTube. There, the whole world can benefit from your work. If a video is meant to give instructions to a specific class, there is no need to post to YouTube. However, if anyone beyond your classroom walls can benefit from your teaching, let them! Besides, YouTube lets you choose and upload your own custom thumbnails. Google Drive does not. For example:


Additionally, upload videos to your personal YouTube channel, not your school YouTube channel. You never know what the future holds. If you upload videos to your personal YouTube, they are there forever, regardless of your employment status.

How To Do It

Use the Screencastify Google Chrome Extension to screencast yourself and your lesson materials. If you are teaching 1:1, make your video the actual lesson instead of a recap. This lets students learn at their own pace while you conference with small groups. Pair your videos with guided notes, EdPuzzle, and TED-Ed to make your lessons engaging and produce assessment data. Further, pair them with Verso for anonymous whole-class discussion.

Think about what else you can share on YouTube that students and other teachers would benefit from. Make short (2 minutes or less) videos about individual concepts to help your students study. Know a tech tool or website teachers could use? Make a screencast about it!

Some Useful Tips

Your first few videos will not be high quality. You will have plenty of verbal pauses and bad lighting. Power through that and improve through trial and error - just like we want students to! As you film yourself:

  • Try to make your materials a PDF saved on your hard drive so you are not waiting for websites to load.
  • Stack your laptop on some books. You look beautiful when your webcam is looking down at you. You don't look as good when your webcam is looking up at you.
  • Play with lighting. You want light in front of you, not behind you. For example, never film yourself in front of a window. If you are looking at the window while filming, you should be good. Know that sometimes it is impossible to get the lighting just right
  • Hook your audience by doing something funny or wacky in the first 30 seconds. In hindsight, I wish my lesson videos had better hooks. For example, I ate bread in a video about the French Revolution but I should have done it at the start of the video, not two and a half minutes in.



You Probably Won't Actually Be a Star, But That's OK

My YouTube channel has 186 videos and 182 subscribers, less than a subscriber per video. If The Young Turks earned subscribers at that rate, they would have been out of business long ago! Few people watch my videos. That does not matter. What does is that students can always watch them. So can their parents, guidance counselors, and inclusion teachers. Home-bound students can also watch them. 

I hope I have convinced you to be a YouTube "star." Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney if you have questions along the way. Thank you for reading!

Thank you, Canva, the tool I used to make the image for this post. 


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Tom Mullaney is a Digital Learning Integration Designer for the San Francisco Unified School District. Tom's education experience includes Special Education, Social Studies, and educational technology coaching in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer. Tom hosts the Sustainable Teaching Podcast and contributes to the BamRadio Network EdWords blog. Use his TED-Ed lesson to teach your students about the French Revolution. Contact him on Twitter, @TomEMullaney or via e-mail, mistermullaney@gmail.com.

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Guest Thursday, 23 May 2019