Teaching Students to Actively Watch Videos

We live in a society where we consume media and videos at an extreme pace. We passively watch, are entertained in the moment and then forget most of what we have viewed.

giphy.gifvia GIPHY

When taking the step into using videos to provide content to students to support flipped learning, we might make the assumption that students will be able to engage with the video and by the end of 5 minutes will understand what they have viewed.


Students have been trained to watch most media passively. Only the most extreme media is remembered for prolonged periods of time. Well I don’t know about you but I don’t intend to teach students about solving linear equations by standing from a sloped platform as a I balance between 2 thirty storey buildings.

So if students only watch actively the most extreme videos how do we get them to engage with probably pretty “boring” videos so that they can learn the content.

The answer just like anything else in education is that we need to teach them.

So how do you teach a student to actively watch a video? You use a coaching model like the “I Do, We Do, You Do” model. In this model you allow students to see how you can break down a video to extract the important parts that they need to know and what they should write. If you are using the right video 90% of the video should be important otherwise why is it included, videos don’t need padding.


This is the second year that I have used this model to get students actively watching videos and this year I’ve stretched it out a little longer and its great. True my students aren’t currently watching videos at home, in fact they have had very little homework. My thoughts are that a little time spent in class in these first few weeks is a worthy investment for the rest of the year.

Here is a summary of how I went about implementing the 3 coaching stages to teach my students to watch their flipped videos.

1. “I Do”

  • In the first “I Do” lesson we discuss the expectations around watching content and why we are choosing to do our lesson this way. You want buy in from the students.
  • Watch a short video together, pausing at important points in the video discussing why you might pause here and what important information this part would give you to record in your notes.
  • Once we have watched the video we discuss how to go about annotating our notes, colour coding etc to make them easier to understand and study from.
  • Repeat again for another video.

2. “We Do”

  • Watch a short video together as a class, again pausing at the important parts of the video and getting students to explain why I paused and what information we should be recording.
  • Students individually watch a video on their own device and take their own notes while I monitor. After about 10 minutes I record a rough version of the notes they should have taken on the board for students to check.
  • Check students notes and provide feedback on information that they missed or adjustments they could make.
  • Repeat at least once more.

3. “You Do”

  • Students view their flipped video at home for homework. Record their notes and complete the practice question so that they can check if they understood.
  • I check students notes throughout the lesson to ensure they are complete and provide feedback where necessary.


Once students have viewed a video at home, recorded their notes and completed the practice question (about 15-20minutes). They come to class.

In class we have a 5 minute discussion where students identify the main points from the lesson and I can clarify any misconceptions that become obvious. Students then move into either independent practice or structured group work activities. Having completed the direct instruction activity at home students have 60 minutes +  to work through problems meaning that they have the opportunity to seek clarification about more difficult questions in class instead of at home. Check out my post on how flipping can save you time.

Even though this exercise is essentially designed to teach my students to engage with the content in my videos, it also sets a platform for them to be able to take their own notes from a range of different types of media. Students also have the opportunity to work ahead if they are ready to move on and the rest of the class is not.


Please share how you think lessons on actively watching videos could help your class by commenting below or on our facebook page.


About cmcaton

I am a Secondary Teacher and Head of Department Mathematics in Education Queensland. I am passionate about the development of pedagogy that engages the 21st century student and love to explore their implementation in the classroom. Disclaimer: The thoughts on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
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