The Teacher’s Guide To Using YouTube In The Classroom

YouTube is rolling out some big new ways to engage with the education community. Continuing with our look at how YouTube can aid teachers and students, it’s probably a good idea to actually outline exactly how the video service can help in the classroom.

Let’s get started. YouTube is more than just a cute cat video site. It’s matured into one of the biggest resources for educational content ever. While it may not be as organized as Khan Academy, it’s likely got what you need if you do a little digging. You can find videos that make the subject of your lesson more applicable to students’ everyday lives. You can teach students video production and editing skills through projects and upload the videos to your classes YouTube channel. There’s tons of reasons YouTube should be a part of most classrooms:

Spark Lively Discussions

Engage students by showing a video relevant to their lives. Video clips can bring in different perspectives or force students to consider a new viewpoint, helping to spark a discussion. Through video you can keep class exciting and new.

Organize Your Video Content For Easier Access

  • Playlists are YouTube’s way of allowing you to organize videos on the site: a playlist is a series of videos you put together – they don’t have to be videos you uploaded, and you get to choose the order.
  • When one video ends, the playlist plays the next video without offering ‘related videos’, thus creating a curated environment for your students.
  • Therefore, by creating playlists of videos you can select which YouTube videos you want your students to view.
    • Playlists live on your channel, are discoverable in search results (if you want them to be), and can be embedded on your blog or class site.
    • Create a playlist of videos for each school unit so students can review them when looking to learn more about a topic or need to review for an upcoming assessment.
  • Great playlists include videos that…
    • Hook your students into a lesson.
    • Provide real-world context for lessons.
    • Help provide cultural relevance for your students.
    • Provide remediation for concepts yet mastered.
    • Provide alternative viewpoints.
    • Provide visual context (chemical reactions, primary source videos).
    • Review previously taught content.

Archive Your Work

Capture and save projects and discussions so you can refer back to them year after year. This will also help you save time as you can assign old videos to your new students.

  • Record critical parts of your lesson so you can review how you taught that lesson in previous years.
  • When absent students ask what they missed, send them a link to the video and they’ll never fall behind.
  • You can even customize who sees your videos by adjusting the privacy settings. Use this great video to learn how to privately share videos with other YouTube users:

Encourage Students To Dig Deeper

  • Give students the option to dig deeper into a subject by creating a playlist of videos related to that concept.
  • By creating playlists of relevant videos you allow students to pursue their interests without wasting their time searching for information (or finding potentially objectionable content).
  • Create a playlist of primary source video content for a history topic you’re teaching.
  • Watch this video to learn how to make a playlist in YouTube

Help Both Struggling And Advanced Students

Videos (or playlists) can help supplement in class teaching for struggling students. Students can review them at home so you’re not forced to teach exclusively to the middle 50%. YouTube user piazzaalexis uses videos to address misunderstandings and allow his students to review difficult concepts.

Review For Upcoming Exams

Turn test review and flashcards into easy-to-watch videos so students can hear your explanations as they study.  Create a “test review” video students can use to study the night before the big test:

Create A YouTube Center In Your Classroom

Divide your class into groups and have them rotate through different stations. At the YouTube station, introduce students to new information, allowing you to help students practice their newfound skills. When working in stations or centers, have students use your YouTube channel to complete an assignment, freeing you up to work with small groups of students.


Add Quizzes To Videos

Create a Google Form that students complete after watching a video. You can use this quiz to get instant feedback on what they’re learning. YouTube user maxclassroom creates math videos for his students and has them complete their work online using Google Forms. To learn how to create quizzes using Google Forms click here. Embed your quiz on a class blog or site so students can watch a video and complete the quiz at the same time:

Students Can Become The Teacher

If your students watch a video of the basic concepts at home you can focus in class on applying those concepts, working collaboratively with their classmates rather than simply listening to you lecture.

YouTube user Rmusallam asks his students to prepare for class by watching the introduction to new material at home. That way when they arrive at school they’re ready to apply their learning. Through this method he has dramatically increased his instructional time. If you want to learn more about Rmusallam’s methods visit

What If YouTube Is Blocked?

Many teachers cannot access YouTube in their classrooms. Never fear, FreeTech4Teachers is to the rescue with


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  8. CharlotteIRISConnect

    October 4, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Some really useful stuff here! It’s so important to remember the wealth of resources and the opportunity for more interesting student engagement that things like You Tube offer teachers and students.

  9. weirba

    January 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Great article. I absolutely think that youtube can be one of the best educational tools out there. I use it every day to spark a conversation in Spanish. If we are talking about cats I go and find one about cats. It is a great tool for sure.

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