70,000 Views on My Student/Teacher YouTube Channel

A little over two years ago, I uploaded the first video to my school YouTube channel. It was a four minute song performance from third graders, “unlisted” so only people with the link could view it. A few months later, I added my first “public” video, a plant documentary created by my students. Slowly and steadily, I added more videos, experimenting with flipped learning and math tutorials, student produced iMovies, and heaps and heaps of student created vocabulary videos.
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I currently have more than 355 videos, of which 200+ are public on my channel, and what started as a way of providing homework help to my students and a global audience for their creations has grown to a level I never expected. This week we are about to pass 70,000 views on the channel, but we have recently been clocking about 10,000 views each month, and I can only imagine that number will keep growing. When compared to the stars of YouTube, it’s a drop in the bucket, but considering the content, and the fact that I’ve put little effort into promoting the channel or videos, it’s a large number. 

Here’s how it breaks down:

Student Produced Documentaries and Stories
The coolest part of tracking these numbers is seeing student creations reach such a large viewership. The first round of plant iMovies my third graders made really caught on, with more than a thousand views for a few, and several hundred for others. 
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A year and a half ago my summer school class turned a Japanese folk tale into a digital story, and it is our most popular student-created video, with about 2000 views. I saw some of these students, currently 5th graders, in the hall recently and mentioned that their video was quite popular. It was fun to see them whip out their phones, search for their video on YouTube, and marvel at the number of people who had seen it.
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Vocabulary Videos
My students have made a lot of vocabulary videos, mostly last year, but the current class has just started to get rolling and I would imagine the number doubling to well over 200 within the next few months. All of them are here. I would like to see their video dictionary reach a critical mass so it could become a resource for students all over the world, and I also would love to see other schools get involved with adding videos to the collection. My students love making them, and they are very motivated when they receive comments and accolades from people in other countries. Last week a third grade teacher in the States commented that “we had fans in far away places.”

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Math Tutorials
While I’m most excited about student produced work, the majority of views to our channel have come through the math tutorials that I created. Eight of the the top ten videos are math tutorials, including 10,000+ views for one thrilling lesson on subtraction (warning: not thrilling at all):
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Nevertheless, I’m happy that students in other places are learning from the videos. My main thought here: if I had known so many people would be watching these things, I would have put forth a little more effort. The tutorials are functional but simple, created hastily during my planning periods (listen for ringing school bells in the background), with almost zero production value. Perhaps the simplicity is part of the appeal. In the future I will at least try to add nicer introductions with VideoScribe, which I’ve experimented with in my newer tutorials.

Performance and Sports
In addition to the three categories above, I have tons of videos of student performances and of my basketball teams, but other than the occasional highlight video, almost all of those are “unlisted.” Still, I’ve found YouTube to be the easiest way to share performances/games with parents/students.
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So, after an unexpected 70,000+ views, what’s next? I guess the first step is to get our current channel better organized. All we’ve done is upload lots of videos. We currently have: no profile picture, no channel artwork, no video organization, no engagement with our 180+ subscribers, and no knowledge of how the YouTube network works. There are a lot of resources on this, so I’ll do some research and report back in a future post. 

Creating Homework Tutorials (flipped classroom light) on youtube

A month ago the renowned educational technology guru, Alan November, came to speak at my school in Tokyo. Though he was only visiting Seisen for a day, he pitched several ideas and encouraged us to choose a few that resonated and experiment with them.

One big idea was to let students “own the learning,” and Alan not only promoted the flipped classroom idea but wanted students to be publishing to the world. He highlighted a high school math class in America that has a website full of tutorial videos to teach other students math concepts.

As a third grade teacher, math seemed the simplest way to get started with this approach.  At Seisen we try to embed math into our units of inquiry as much as possible, but we still use “Everyday Math” as a skills supplement. And the last month, we’ve studied multiplication methods that, to be honest, are completely new to me. Using an ipad and Doodlecast Pro, I put together a quick instructional video:

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I was bunkered down and ready to commit hours to creating videos, but it was surprisingly easy. So easy, in fact, that we immediately moved to having students create the movies:

 

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When the videos were finished, I put them on edmodo so the students could watch for help with their homework. The reaction from the students was fantastic, and they’ve shown great appreciation for the video assistance.

And as predicted by Alan November, the excitement and motivation of the students creating the videos was high. They happily stayed in from recess to make them and are eager to do more.

After experimenting with only 4-5 tutorials, I definitely see this as a win – win situation for any class. Students who master concepts quickly will be motivated to create and communicate and share with students around the world; students who need more time have a resource, created by their teachers and peers, they can come back to  anytime.

The next question is where to go with this in the future, especially in regards to Alan November’s emphasis on a “global audience” for students work. I will need to think about it over the summer, but it wouldn’t be too difficult to create an entire site of 3rd grade math tutorials covering all of the concepts in our curriculum. And math could be just a beginning.