YouTube: The Power of a Playlist

The idea behind this blog post is to demonstrate:

  • How you can use YouTube in the classroom
  • How the "Power of a Playlist" can change the way in which we teach and increase our students' engagement in learning
  • How you can use such a powerful learning tool, with relative ease...

Pictured here with Prof. J. Hattie
after winning a signed copy of his
latest book :) 
Updated: 5th March
After listening to a fantastic and inspiring keynote speech from Professor John Hattie, the "power of a playlist" required an update!  During Prof. J. Hattie's address, he talked us through his latest findings and reiterated previous evidence: what works and what doesn't.  One thing was clear from his time in front of us 'except the evidence' he talked about the reasons underpinning these influences.

"Music in the classroom has very little effect on student learning:  Simply putting music in the background is pointless.' It is just 'white noise'" (J. Hattie, 2016).

Thanks, Professor Hattie .... Enter....The Power of a Playlist with Mr Towse revamped!

Fun and engaging videos

Often we browse the internet looking for that 'perfect' stimulus for tomorrow's lesson.  Choosing the right video can enhance many a lesson.  Visual and highly entertaining.  Videos can engage the learner simply because it is on YouTube.  Carefully written questions coupled with
creative and engaging activities will enable students to deepen their learning.

We all learn in different ways.  We are not necessarily a visual or auditory learner nor are we kinesthetic! In fact, "learning styles have very little effect on learning," however, providing video alternatives to the reading homework could pay off for students (when used effectively and with purpose). You are able to create playlists, either to supplement previously provided material or as an extension. A playlist puts it all into an easy, well-organized format for student consumption.

Engage your students in digital dialogue.  Have them do something with the music or videos and don't just provide white noise!

Some other great ways to spark learner interest and keep students engaged...
  • Spark a lively discussion via student questions:
    •  Is it a boy or a girl?
    • Why does the teenager start the music video on the floor?
    • Is the teenager in school, hospital or at home?
    • What has caused the scattered papers on the floor?
  • Student paced learning
    • Students are able to consolidate learning at their own pace.  Review many times, even after the lesson is over.  Build a deeper understanding and develop a sense of independence about a task, topic or concept.
  • Embed a YouTube Video into a Google Form for instant feedback.  I was able to create and use this particular form with grade five.  
    • Flip your classroom
      • The lesson does not end simply because it's 3:20 and the school bell rang.
        • Record the start of a unit lesson or a summative assessment and save them for future viewing or stream live to YouTube using Google Hangout Air.  If you have a student home sick, YouTube makes it easy to send the link or embed to a blog.
I would love to hear how you are using YouTube in your classroom.  Leave a comment or tweet me! +Mr Towse 

The Power of a Chromebook

After a successful pilot scheme in grade three, Chromebooks can now be found in grades four and five here at Seisen International School.

More and more classrooms I visit seem to be opting for a Google ChromeBook instead of the iPad!  I have found these three 'game changers' the main reasons for this change:
  1. Price
  2. Collaboration
  3. Management of Device, Apps & Extensions
The Google Chromebook is among the top three best-selling laptops (at the time of writing this post), and I can certainly see why this is the case.  I, now, use a Chromebook for school purposes. It's fully-functional in less than 10 seconds and contains a battery life of up to eight hours. It should certainly be your number one choice when considering your next computer purchase!

Transform Your Teaching with Chromebooks?

Here at Seisen International School we use ICT as a tool for teaching and learning.  Students use technology to collaborate, communicate, create, organize and investigate during a Unit of Inquiry. Having access to a ChromeBook has transformed the T&L process in homerooms and has meant that the Media Centre MacBooks are now being used to create a Garageband and iMovie projects instead of just accessing Google Drive.  Units last six weeks and during this time students and staff use ICT tools when they are 'Getting Started,' 'Investigating,' 'Making Connections' and 'Going Further'.

I am not saying technology, directly, changes the way in which I or other staff members teach, but the feedback is positive and the message is clear: technology can certainly make a difference when used effectively and with a purpose.  We now have access to information like never before.  With around 40000 search queries per second, the ease of collaboration is only getting better and the ability to create professional standard pieces for comes at very little cost. What does this mean? That instruction is no longer limited to standing in front of a class and writing on a board.

Why should I have devices in my classroom?


At a sticker price beginning at $177 dollars, they are a very cost effective way of getting devices into the hands of students. You are able to get five of these compared to the cost of ONE MacBook!

Collaboration & Feedback

Students are able to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and share it with their peers, teachers and parents with the click of a button. As previously mentioned, the ease of collaboration is only getting better, as Google Apps for Education allows real-time feedback. I use tools like Google Forms to spark the interest of students from the outset and use a form for real time assessment. Finally, each student now has an equal voice, because Chromebooks allow for digital dialogues.

Management of Device, Apps & Extensions

Chrome OS allows IT networks managers to push and quickly deploy apps and extensions to the whole elementary school without the need to wait two weeks.

I am very excited about deploying Chromebooks into our Elementary School and I am looking forward to ways we can integrate technology as a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning.

Free training from Google: Chromebooks

If you would like to work with me further, as always tweet me or drop me an email.  

World Creative Writing Month

The Night Zookeeper Needs You!

Unless you have been living in a bubble during the last month, then you will be fully aware of the Night Zookeeper's Global Writing Challenge.  If, however, you have been in a "Zoo Free Zone" then you have missed out one of the biggest global education events of the year!   Schools across the world competed to write as many words as possible in 21 days of competition. 

Working with schools in Japan as the official ambassador I was privileged to read some outstanding pieces of writing, most of them having been written outside of school.  The response from the schools in Japan was amazing, and the atmosphere a little closer to home here at Seisen was unbelievable.  It was the talk of the school.  Our girls arrived at the media centre at 8 am each day to spend 15 minutes typing before the morning bell.  They even spent recess inside the media centre typing before completing their homework using the Magical World of the Night Zoo!

Participant Certificate

With an initial word target of two million being crushed inside the first week of competition, the final word count reached 7 Million!! 7 Million...

What does that even look like? 

Question: How many words in total make up the 'The Harry Potter Series' (all seven books combined)?

Answer: A little over 1 million.  

So you would need 7 sets of the series! That's 49 Harry Potter Books....
Official Teacher
I would like to dedicate this blog post to Grade 1A here at Seisen, who went on to win their year group mini-league. Well done to 1A, Seisen Elementary School and all the competing schools from Japan!

If you missed my story share, check it out below.  Thank you to Logan at Mooreside Primary School in Manchester, England for the opportunity to share the story, 'Through the Keyhole.'

Story Share: Through The Keyhole from Night Zookeeper on Vimeo.
I would love to hear your success stories! Share them with a global audience and leave a comment below.

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