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Back to School the YouTube Way

It's heeeeeeeeeeere, back to school! While many feel a fresh start with the arrival of a new year on the calendar, those tied to education begin a new chapter in life with the arrival of a new school year. August arrives and the loss of summer is mourned. But the promise and excitement of endless possibilities slowly begin to take over. Unlike a new calendar year, the arrival of a new school year brings dramatic changes in schedules, activities, and the company of co-workers, friends, and peers. With such significant changes, comes the worry and uncertainty of the unknown.

"What will third grade be like?"

"Is high school that different from junior high?"

"Will I have class with any of my friends?"

"Will the kids be ready for first grade?"

"Will the parents support our classroom this year?"

"What will the new school look like?

This time honored tradition continues, however today's technology adds new ways to ease the transition. Some teachers and administrators are turning to YouTube to bridge the gap between school and home, teacher and parent, and today's fears and tomorrow's reality.

The possibilities are limitless, so here is a preview of some of the great finds on YouTube as you start heading back to school.

The Classroom Tour

Julie Marciniak offers a tour of her 2013-2014 classroom. She takes the time to walk you through her finished classroom, talking about each area, items that will be used, and special activities that the kids will see in the upcoming school year.

How can you use a virtual classroom tour?

1. Share your video with parents - both with those unable to make it to open house as well as those who did. It is difficult managing Meet the Teacher night schedules, so even if they made it, they may not have had a lot of time to explore your room. A virtual tour will allow them to watch at their convenience, without distraction, and share the experience with other caregivers.

2. Share it with your future students offering an opportunity to virtually explore and familiarize themselves with their new classroom. By doing so you offer an opportunity for new students to learn where things are kept and hear an introduction to the class routine and procedures. They can then talk about these new things as they watch with parents and share their new classroom with extended family and friends virtually.

3. Educators get some of their best ideas from others. New teachers benefit from the methods that more experienced educators have developed and refined. In the video she shares some great ideas for brain breaks, visual supports, and student motivators.

4. Take a video of the speech room to share with students. In the hustle and bustle of Open House, very few families remember or have the time to stop by the speech room. A video offers the chance for you to introduce yourself to parents and provide important information about referrals and upcoming therapy procedures during the year. It maybe the perfect opportunity to show students their speech folders and talk to parents about the importance of homework and practicing at home.

One year I simply modified a stop sign to hang outside of the speech room as a visual reminder to stop on in! (And it worked well as many students stopped on in with their parents!)

Attending a New School

The staff at Douglas Elementary took time over the summer to take future students, families, and staff on tour of their new school. Even though the school was in the final stages of being built, viewers get a good idea of what the school looks like from inside. It is fun to watch a new school being built, but a virtual tour helps new students demystify some of the unknown mysteries that wait once they walk in the door.

Of course, videos aren't limited to elementary schools. Many middle schools and high schools create videos sharing virtual tours, orientation, and a look at the first day of school. James Madison Memorial High School is just one such example.

A Communication Tool

Finally, video tours are not limited to the beginning of the school year. Kathy Cassidy posted a video of a class taking viewers on a tour of their room sharing classroom activities and projects. Kids love talking about their day at school and the opportunity to show parents, family, and caregivers what they are doing is an invaluable tool. (Remember to follow student privacy guidelines developed by your school when sharing any classroom media or video with others.)

Preparation for Preschool and Kindergarten

YouTube is not limited to self-made videos. While virtual tours provide realistic and individualized insights into the upcoming school year, for young children fictional episodes help address the anxiety of going to school for the first time.

Here Cookie Monster talks about his first day of school.

And many children's books, such as Laura Numeroff's If You Take a Mouse to School, illustrate the many activities that one can expect to do at school.

What are your favorite back to school videos?

#youtube #parents #educators #slps #takehome #virtualfieldtrip #classroom

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