As back to school season gets underway, we were curious about how teachers are engaging with our content. We had to look no further than our members to learn that many students just might get a taste of CuriosityStream in their classrooms this year. Today, we hear from Todd Johnson, a Teacher and Media Specialist from Winnipeg, Canada about how CuriosityStream might make an impact in his school this year. And we like what we’re hearing!
Being a teacher, I am always looking for up to date/engaging media material to share with my students. I teach Social Studies and Science in the middle years (grades 6-9).
Upon first discovering CuriosityStream, I must admit that I wasn’t really thinking of it as a tool for a classroom. I was just more excited to explore and discover on my own, and then to share that knowledge during our science and history discussions. I tweeted out a few links to videos and it was mentioned to me on Twitter that maybe CuriosityStream might be valuable in the classroom, so I started thinking about what that might look like.
Now, from my teacher lens, I have a whole new perspective. Many of the subjects that we explore in class are covered on CuriosityStream with relevant, HD, high quality programming. Typical videos in a science catalog are expensive and can become outdated quickly. Videos on YouTube have ads, not to mention may not be credible and/or appropriate. CuriosityStream provides an ever-growing catalog of high quality videos – many that align to science and social studies – covering topics that our 15-year old textbooks have yet to discover.
“CuriosityStream provides an ever-growing catalog of high quality videos – many that align to science and social studies – covering topics that our 15-year old textbooks have yet to discover.”
One of the great parts of CuriosityStream is that there are lots of shorter videos. I think the days of rolling in a TV and having all students watch a video for the entire class are gone. First of all, most students use this as a time to check out, asking questions like: “Do we have to take notes?” Really what they mean is: “Can I take a nap?” Instead of the old way, students can sit down with their own device in a corner of the classroom and watch a video that is relevant to their studies. Or we can project a quick video using my device or laptop and projector. I see these videos as inquiry starters. Instilling a literal “curiosity stream” in our students is what we are trying to do as educators any way, and from what I’ve seen, the quality content available in CuriosityStream could become a significant part of a classroom environment.
More and more these days, as a teacher, I find myself searching for ways to get students more involved in their own learning. To get students active, I often have my class set up in centers and students will rotate through to investigate topics that interest them. This is where I see CuriosityStream fitting into a classroom environment. It could be a resource in a center where students watch a pre-selected video, or search through the library to find a video related to their topic of research. Perhaps instead of having a worksheet of questions, a potential idea would be to have students generate five questions from one of the videos and then carry out research afterwards to answer some of them. Or they could create a quick presentation using an app on their own device, summarizing their learning from what they explored. CuriosityStream allows students the opportunity to browse an engaging library of short clips that are relevant to their subject area. I often use apps such as Socrative, Kahoot or ISpring Quizmaker, I could see it being a fun activity to show a quick clip followed by questions using one of these educational apps. Admittedly, I’m really just brainstorming ideas, but I’m excited to try this year and see where it leads us. I look forward to integrating CuriosityStream content this year and I’m positive that new ideas for how to leverage this service will generate from my students and fellow educators.
In just a few minutes of searching, here are a few CuriosityStream documentaries that line up with our curricular outcomes here in Canada:
Deep Time History – Grade 8 Social Studies
Inside the Human Body – Grade 8 Science
Journey of the Universe – All Grades/subjects
Cosmic Front: Dark Matter – Grade 9 Science/Astronomy
Rebuilding Ancient Rome – Grade 8 Social Studies
This is just beginning to scratch the surface for how CuriosityStream might be used in a classroom. I will make it a goal this new school year to provide some more concrete examples of how CuriosityStream could become an invaluable classroom resource. Join me by starting a free trial if you’re not yet a member and exploring the content.
Todd Johnson is a Teacher, Media Specialist and proud CuriosityStream member from Winnipeg, Canada. Follow him on Twitter @mrj_rwp.