Tips on Using Media in the Classroom

Lori Roberts is a high school biology teacher in Muscle
Shoals, Alabama. Lori is a leader in ocean education and is a graduate
of National Geographic Education’s two-year professional development
program, the National Teacher Leadership Academy.

The technology boom has made teaching so much easier. I remember when I had to use instructional money to buy VHS tapes for my classroom. I am sure many teachers used the same tape year after year because of funding issues. In today’s classroom, it is possible to have the opposite problem of which one to use out of the dozens available. In addition, there are many new forms of media that everyone should take advantage of!

Here are five tips for using different types of media:

1. VIDEO: Make sure the video clips or films are not too old. Kids will not listen to someone with a mullet. You do not want your audience to be so distracted that they miss the point of the content. Videos clips are often the best choice over a full-length film; it is not necessary to show an entire film to make your point. Five minutes may be all you need. Use a search engine to look up specific topics, and watch the video before you show it. Make sure it is relevant to the age of your audience.

2. INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARDS: Interactive boards are expensive, but worth
every dime. Students are able to interact with the lesson; hands-on is
best for kinesthetic children. Be considerate of the different types of
learners in your classrooms. There are also SMART resources available
for downloading age-appropriate lessons for your students. Go to for a sample of these. Additionally, 3D tools are now
available to use with SMART Notebook software.


Social media is an excellent way to communicate with your students. Just
be careful! I recommend the safe social network You can
use social networking to post assignments, clarify learning, and do
some one-on-one tutoring. You will reach students that do not normally
speak up in class this way. You could also create a classroom blog for
your students to interact with assignments, with you, and with one


4.VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS: You do not have to leave your classroom to
explore. Take your students on a virtual field trip. I use one called
“Let’s Take a Dip” in my biology class, in which students get to explore a small
part of the Potomac River watershed. They use virtual dip nets to catch
organisms, and then determine the health of the habitat. It is an
excellent resource for teaching population ecology.

2012-03-12_1330253.JPG5. PODCASTING: If you do decide to take a field trip, check out
podcasting. It is one way to get your students involved in learning
outside of the classroom before you actually leave the school. Many zoos
offer this activity. Students can download the podcast to their MP3
player ahead of time and listen to the lessons. The San Diego Zoo offers
iZoofari podcasts, for example. I took my students to the Birmingham
Zoo; it is a small zoo that also offers a podcast.

Do some research and figure out what works with your teaching style.
Think outside of the box. There are many forms of media that can bring
life into your classroom, and your students will thank you for it!

Lori Roberts

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