This is part of a series of blogs written by the Learn To Be Junior Board- a group of high achieving high school students.
One of the trickiest aspects of tutoring is explaining a topic to your student. You may know the topic like the back of your hand, but the question remains… how are you going to explain it?
You probably begin with some research — googling, reading, asking for advice. And then you come across the most amazing online video that explains the topic perfectly and in simple terms. How could you possibly explain it better?
You want to show this to your student and then you think… wait, is this cheating? Should I be explaining it myself with some of my own examples? Well, I am here to tell you that you should not be thinking this way! It’s OK to use videos to explain concepts in your tutoring sessions!
This post will walk you through why it’s OK to use videos in your tutoring sessions, and some best practices for doing it right. I’ll cover the following:
- Engaging Students While Watching Videos: Making sure your student stays focused while using videos.
- Where to Find Videos to Use with your Student: Some of my favorite sites to find helpful videos!
- Step-by-Step Examples: I’ll show you some specific examples of how I’ve used videos in my lessons with students.
Engaging Students While Watching Videos
We all know that videos are a great tool to support learning, but in order to gain maximum benefit they need to be used in the right way. The key is engagement. From the Covid-19 Pandemic we all know that zoning out during online learning is effortless, but when you are engaged in learning your attention remains. So how do you engage your student while watching a video?
Just some ideas include:
- Pausing after every new concept is shown and discussing what you saw.
- If there are sample questions, try solving them on your own before the video goes through the steps. Then discuss after.
- Find or create worksheets that compliment the videos you show and pause throughout to practice.
The reality is that every student learns differently and videos are not effective for everyone. The best way to determine if this is the right way for your student to learn is through the use of progress checks. After videos, use worksheets to confirm your students’ understanding. And don’t forget the simplest way to determine if it’s the right fit — ask! If your student is not enjoying the use of videos in your sessions, they should let you know!
Where to Find Videos to Use with your Student:
Here are some of my favorite websites where you can find more videos to use with your student:
- Khan Academy: This website provides videos in nearly any subject for all grade levels and has the additional benefit of coming with extra practice problems with explanations.
- Amoeba Sisters: YouTube channel that provides easy-to-follow, engaging videos on biology concepts. Good for Biology/AP Biology classes.
- Brightstorm: This website provides easy-to-follow chemistry videos. These videos are great for high school chemistry, AP Chemistry, and College level Chemistry.
- Crash Course: This website provides easy-to-follow videos on all different subjects.
Step-by-Step Examples of How to Incorporate Videos in your Tutoring Sessions
Chemistry/Math Example: Stoichiometry can get a bit complicated, and limiting reactants is just one example in Chemistry. This video provides a great, descriptive overview of the topic that I want to explain to my student by pausing and restarting the video.
Follow the steps below to understand when I would pause, explain, ask questions, practice, and restart the video:
1:03: After the real-life example, pause the video and ask your student: do you have any questions? Can you think of a different real-life example and label the excess and limiting reactant? Furthermore, make a similar example with sandwiches: You have 200 slices of bread and 20 slices of turkey deli; each sandwich needs two slices of bread and one slice of turkey deli; identify how many sandwiches can be made and what is the limiting and excess reactant.
1:03–2:17: Beginning to introduce the concept with a chemical equation. Pause when this section is over. Ask your student if they have any questions. Make sure to emphasize the idea of stoichiometric coefficients — shows how many moles of each reactant are needed to follow through and make a product.
2:17–2:37: Giving the question. Pause the video and ask your student how they can begin to approach the question.
2:37–3:21: Outlining what is given and what can be easily determined. Pause the video and compare the student’s previous answer with what was just shown. Discuss any discrepancies. Ask your student again how they can approach the question with these new clarifications. Ask your student if they see any stoichiometric relationships that they can apply (ex: mass-mass relationship, mass-mole relationship, mole-mole relationship, etc.).
3:21–5:17: Approaching parts A and B. Check for understanding.
5:18–5:20: Bringing up the next question. Try to let your student approach it on their own. Then continue.
5:20–6:47: Approaching part C. Check for understanding.
6:47–6:52: Bringing up the next question. Try to let your student approach it on their own. Then continue.
6:52–8:40: Approaching part D. Check for understanding.
Now that the video is done, outline general steps that should be taken for a limiting reactant question with your student. Then use practice questions from online and work on them with your student.
History Example: Just like the example above, we will break up this video as we explain it to our student to help them comprehend and practice:
0:52: Classic crash course intro. Overview of what will be discussed in the video: the cause of the American Revolution and the extent to which it was revolutionary. Pause the video and ask your student what they know about the American Revolution and make a list.
0:52–2:29: Identifying the causes of the Revolution. Pause the video and discuss the causes. Create a general timeline from the 7 Years’ War between France and Britain until the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Discuss how each of these events worsened the relationship between the British and the American colonists.
2:29–3:10: Crash Course funny joke break.
3:10–4:05: American Colonists’ response to taxation by the British. Discuss their methods like protesting and boycotting. Discuss to what extent they were actually successful. Ask your student what they know about the Continental Congress to lead into the next part of the video.
4:05–4:32: Discussing the Continental Congress. Discuss what they did (drafted the Declaration of Independence).
4:32–5:55: Discussing how the colonists viewed themselves. Discuss the divisions of American colonists during the war: some were loyal to Britain, some were against Britain, and some were impartial. Discuss why some slaves sided with teh British — what did they stand to gain if the British won? Finally, discuss the contrast between the war for independence and the Revolution. Try to create a venn diagram with your student.
5:55–6:22: Discussing the colonists establishing a new government. Ask your student what they think caused the colonists to stray away from creating a monarchy.
6:22–8:11: Discussing how revolutionary the Revolution really was. Define what a revolution is. Emphasis on what the colonists wanted — liberty and property rights. Discuss how these desires shaped the Articles of Confederation and later the United States Constitution. Recognize that those who had riches before the war and after the war were the SAME people. Reemphasize the line “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” from the Declaration of Independence. Ask your student if these documents supported the notion of equality. If so, to what extent? (Address race and gender limitations) As a lead-in to the next portion of the video ask the student if they know what the Enlightenment was.
8:11–9:16: Discussing the Enlightenment. Ask your student about the phrase, “Life, liberty, and property” — have they heard of it before. Next bring up “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. Discuss the difference between property and pursuit of happiness and address why “property” was swapped in the Declaration of Independence.
9:16–10:00: Discussing the changes the Revolution caused. Review by asking your student to list the changes and determine which ones they think are the most radical.
10:00–11:25: A funny Crash Course ending.
And there you have it! Using videos in your tutoring sessions is definitely NOT cheating! If fact, I’d encourage it :)
If you’re interested in volunteering as a tutor with Learn To Be, like I have for the past 2 years, you can learn more and apply here.
Thank you — feel free to leave comments below around how you’ve used videos to enhance your tutoring!