May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Technology for the Classroom: An Examination of YouTube Education

Posted: Friday, June 1st, 2012

by Donna Ross

In the last installment of Technology for the Classroom, I considered the value of TED-Ed for classroom use.  This issue will examine several uses of YouTube.  Among people with computers and smart-phones, YouTube has become ubiquitous. Even late-night comics mine YouTube videos for humorous gems.  Most students, including those at the elementary grades, have searched for YouTube videos and many have posted their own creations.  However, as I watch those funny cat videos I inevitably seem to be bombarded with material that makes me question the appropriateness for a school setting.   For example, I searched for a video on DNA replication and I was faced with thousands of videos, many with comments that definitely were not school-friendly. Along with some reasonable choices, I also was presented with “popular videos” that, based on the content and the number of views, caused me to despair for the future of our society. But, before despair takes over, let me share some ways to make better use of YouTube for educational purposes.

YouTubeTeachers by teachers is a new site within the educational subset of YouTube to help teachers understand how to make use of YouTube for educational purposes and to assist teachers to search more effectively for relevant videos.  For example, on this page when I select “high school” and “science” I have approximately 40 topics from which I can choose.  I opted for “DNA Structure.”  This took me to 14 videos, all of which seemed appropriate for high school viewing, although I wouldn’t have necessarily considered the primary topic of all 14 to be DNA structure.  The goal for this site is that  teachers will help to determine which videos are appropriate, there will be a larger library, and the categories will become more specific and useful.  Generally, if you use YouTube videos for your classroom, this seems like an excellent starting point.

YouTubeEdu is the broader subsection of YouTube dedicated to education. If you start at this page, you can get all of the general information about the education initiative.  You can also see the playlist and course partners.  There are university courses that can be viewed from this page.  For example, there is a four-hour course on lasers and fiberoptics from MIT, over 30 hours from Stanford’s Continuing Studies program on modern physics, and a full biochemistry course from Oregon State University.  At the K-12 level, there are videos from the Khan Academy, Sesame Street, Steve Spangler Science, and interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson on SpaceLab, among others. Beginning here works well if you know who has produced the video series you would like to use in your classroom.

You may also create your own YouTube site.  Some teachers have their own “channel.”  They post their own videos, class notes and assignments, and links to other videos for their students.  Using the YouTube editor, it is quite easy now to use a built-in camera on a computer to film and post part of your own lessons.  These can be available for students to review at home, after absences, before a test, or during stations in your class.

So far, though, none of the things that I have described will completely eliminate the “related videos” and the “comments” that inevitably show up.  When beginning with the education or teacher pages, the related videos tend to be fewer, but as I watched different videos, I did still see some inappropriate comments.  There is a solution, but it is a school-wide approach.  A school can sign up for a YouTube school network.  In this instance, one person at the school has administrator privileges and sets what is visible beyond the YouTubeEdu videos. Students can only view YouTube EDU videos plus videos their own school has added. All comments and related videos are disabled and the search function is limited to YouTubeEdu videos.  As a teacher with a channel on the YouTubeEdu site, remember that if your school has the network, the students won’t be able to see any inappropriate material while at school, but if they are searching for your site at home, they will have no such protection.

I know a lot of teachers search for videos on YouTube and then use a 3rd party program such as KeepVid to download the streaming video for later use.  I think YouTubeTeachers and YouTubeEdu will make searching faster and more efficient.  I’m still torn about the use of my own channel.  I would like to hear from teachers who have experience and can compare it with using a class wiki or website.  In the meantime, if you ever find yourself with too much free time, there are a lot of cat and squirrel videos waiting for you.

Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.

Written by Donna Ross

Donna Ross is Associate Professor of Science Education at San Diego State University.

2 Responses

  1. I’ve used TeacherTube in the past. I found usable videos there. I did find some offensive material so was careful with what I used with students.

  2. Interesting article Donna Glad to see you are involved in CSTA! YouTube can be an amazing resource, but I agree that sometimes comments are inappropriate. I think using KeepVid is a great option.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.