We all have done this from time to time. No voice but no sub? Pull a DVD from the tub! It is a necessary option when you’re stuck at school too sick to teach or have the endless chain of non-music substitutes. But we’ve also heard horror stories about those teachers who use video as the bulk of nearly every lesson and administrators who react by banning DVD, even in sub plans, for everyone and forever.
So is video really all that bad? Personally I’d rather have my classes singing, playing, creating and moving. Especially my little friends in K-2. They get enough screen time at home in front of the TV as it is. However I also hate to forsake all video entirely. It can serve its purpose and, when used responsibly, can greatly enhance learning. That said, what does one consider when making an effort to use video responsibly?
Does it provide an introduction, review or recap for your lesson?
Carefully chosen video material can provide a springboard for discussion on a musical concept with younger students. It can also provide a recap for concepts you have taught in that lesson or a review from prior lessons so make this your first question when considering video content. If you are using video at the beginning or end of a lesson you certainly could find an activity that could do the same, but will that activity refocus students, give them some quiet reflection time and have them ready to line up at the end of class? Plus give you some much needed setup time so the next class flows from entry?
Can you tie your video to standards?
This is another vital point to consider. My district has adopted the Michigan Fine Arts Standards and, in our small rural school the standard on age-appropriate audience behavior is a bit difficult to assess. We do not have enough funding for regular out of district field trips for live music, so video opportunities to teach and assess correct audience behavior is my best option. Of course, you also want to cover performance or literacy standards as well if possible and you can with carefully chosen video content.
Will the video content enhance or enrich learning?
Does the content reflect a higher performance level that your students could appreciate after their own efforts? Maybe it gives a different illustration of soft/loud comparison? Sometimes a carefully chosen video segment can give even your youngest students the “Aha!” moment you’ve been waiting to see.
The “Taratabong” series of videos from Italy is my favorite video content for grades K-2. These are short (6-8 minutes per episode), colorful, imaginative and filled with good content. They are excellent examples of the three criteria listed above and all are on YouTube in English. I have more about this series, including a list of musical concepts covered in each episode, on the Grade 1 page. Check it out, and happy video hunting!