As the access to iPads, laptops, SMART Boards, and LCD projectors increases in Catholic schools, so does demand for engaging media to use as learning tools. In particular, many teachers are seeking out short videos to use in class to supplement their instruction.

As showing videos in class becomes easier, it is important to consider how exactly those videos are being used as tools for learning. Consider these suggestions for the wrong and the right way to show videos in theology classrooms.

The WRONG Way to Show Videos in Class

Send students to the Internet to find videos themselves.

Now that anyone can upload a video to YouTube, there is no telling what false information students will find and trust on the web. Before endorsing any video, you need to vet it for accuracy and point out any errors or misleading information that might appear in a video your students are watching. This is especially the case when dealing with videos about God and the Church. 

Assign a video without context or questions.

When you have students watch a video be sure to connect it to what they have learned in class or read in their textbooks. Do not let them watch the video in isolation from what you are trying to accomplish in class. Give them the context of what they are watching and give them some questions to answer while they watch.

Show long videos and documentaries without interruption.

While a documentary may display valuable information for the students, they still need reminders about what is important or relevant to the lessons they have learned in class. Pause the video and clarify what you want them to remember. Then you can reference each part of the video in later discussions or lessons.

Do not give the students the opportunity to talk.

While walking out of a movie theater, people talk about the film they just watched. The same should apply to in-class videos. Give the students the opportunity to talk about the videos they watch in class. Give them some discussion questions or guide the discussion as an entire class.

The RIGHT Way to Show Videos in Class

Use graphic organizers.

A graphic organizer is a visual way to represent and organize information. Graphic organizers are excellent tools to use while watching videos. You can create these graphic organizers yourself or search for common forms of them on the Internet.

Use comprehension questions.

Have students answer specific questions while following along with a video. This will enable them to know what is most important about a video before they even start to watch it. If they can’t answer the question, then they can go back and watch the video again until they get it.

Use discussion questions.

Unlike comprehension questions, discussion questions are open-ended and require people to take a position or form an argument. These questions require critical thinking. They almost always start with “why” or “how.”

Refer back to videos later on.

Students will remember the videos. If you refer back to them in lecture or subsequent lessons, you will help solidify the key take-aways in their minds. Have them recall key videos and build upon what they remember.

Create your own screencasts.

Use free or paid technology to record your lectures as videos that students can watch at home or during class. The key benefit is that they can rewatch the videos of concepts they do not completely understand. It also frees up class time to work on projects and assignments under your supervision. This is essentially the “flipping the classroom” approach to classroom instruction. Read more: “5 Ways Teachers Can Use Screencasts to Engage Student Learning”.

Use Videos to Supplement Ave Maria Press Textbooks

To help meet the growing demand for high quality educational videos in theology classes, we have collected a number of YouTube videos to use in class with Ave Maria Press textbooks. In addition, you can find questions to gage comprehension or inspire discussion. Each video is connected to specific chapters and even pages of the textbook.

Check out the latest videos for your Ave Maria Press textbook including:

Ave Maria Press also offers two documentaries to use in class along with free, downloadable teaching materials:

(photo credit: Dave Fancher)