New -- NAGC Book of the Year Award
To showcase excellence in books about gifted and talented children and their education.
I suspect that if you are a middle grades or secondary school educator, or know someone who is, you are aware that teaching a class in a specific discipline represents only one of many responsibilities carried out over the course of a school day. I’ve written before about lunch supervision, extra-curricular activity moderation, enrichment class facilitation, and advisory programs, but in this installment I would like to tackle the often dreaded, and potentially boring, homeroom coverage.
The tasks which are required for the 15-20 minute homeroom period at the start of the day usually take about 5 minutes to complete, which often leaves plenty of free time for the students. If this time is left as an unstructured environment, students can become loud and disruptive. In the past I have tried to fill this time with a creative writing prompt, quote introduction, or short story read-aloud, but the recent addition of a smart board and projector in my classroom has allowed for a new and quite successful activity—The viewing of a variety of online videos. Students have come to look forward to it, and homeroom period has now become one of the best periods of the day.
As soon as attendance is taken, announcements are made, any forms collected and handed out, the lights are dimmed and the video begins. I’ve selected daily themes, which represent a variety of genres and styles, for each school day of the week. Access to any of the ones below can be found with a simple internet search. Remember to review the selection in its entirety before showing it to the class.
Here are suggested daily themes and some links to get you started:
Monday brings live performances, music videos, or theatrical production numbers. I’ve tried to vary the styles and types over the weeks, ensuring that the students are exposed to both well-known and obscure artists. Of course I usually begin with my favorites. I typically use YouTube, Vimeo, or MTV.
Ted Talk Tuesdays
Tuesday begins with a TED, TED-X, or TED ED talk on a variety of topics. There are some great ones geared towards adolescents, and you can even access shorter ones (3-6 minutes in length) by including “short” in your search terms. All talks can be found here.
Wednesday provides the opportunity to share classic cartoons, comedy bits, humorous commercials, and popular but appropriate YouTube videos. It always surprises me how many students have never seen a great Tom & Jerry, Road Runner, or Pink Panther skit. Great sites to start with are Nerd Fighters and Good Mythical Morning.
Thursday’s viewings consist of content intended to be inspirational, educational, and insightful. Short biographies on Achievement.org, science videos on National Geographic, or the Discovery Channel and Crash Course are some great places to start.
Friday, the favorite day of the week for students, starts off with a short film, documentary, or animation. There are a host of websites dedicated to short films and are usually organized by genre. Many well-known filmmakers have their first attempts at film online and students get a kick out of seeing them. I’ve even selected longer ones and spaced them out over the course of a few weeks. Check out Short of the Week for some great content.
Once you have instituted this new homeroom activity, try enlisting students to offer their ideas for selections to be used. I place a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board and post a Google Form online for such choices and try to incorporate them when I can. Knowing that they have selected the day’s viewing goes a long way, especially for the students that tend to brush off this new idea.
The variety of videos found online offer a glimpse into the past, present, and future of our society. Give your students something to remember and talk about by incorporating a medium that they are familiar with during a time usually spent trying to keep them settled. It is a great way to begin the school day.