The Best Youtube Channels for ELA Teachers


If you're looking to incorporate more video into your teaching (and why wouldn't you be?), youtube is a great place to turn.

I dove deep into the youtube water recently while writing an article for We Are Teachers called "Creative Ways to Use Video in Your ELA Classroom" and I couldn't believe how many pearls I found. I usually turn to youtube for movie trailers, hair braiding videos (I'm hooked on that Jane Austen look), and Ted Talks, but I soon discovered if you know where to search, it's an English teacher's dream.

There are so many ways to use a good youtube video. You can play fascinating videos only loosely related to your material as students walk in, as a means to get their attention. You can use them as writing prompts and discussion starters. You can use them to teach material to your whole class, either during the period or as homework. You can use them for differentiated instruction, sending links to students who need enrichment or review. You can use them as rewards. You can use them to fill in awkward moments in your curriculum where nothing fits. You can use them for early finishers.

You'll find a lot to love here. Just be careful - you might want to set a timer so you aren't lost in this ELA youtube world for more than a couple of hours! I could probably spent an entire day exploring these channels and not get bored.

John Spencer's "The Creative Classroom"

John Spencer introduces himself on his website with the words "I'm a former middle school teacher and current college professor on a quest to transform schools into bastions of creativity and wonder."

Could I love this more? His channel is stuffed with good things, including appealing videos like "Why Group Work Doesn't Have to Suck" and "Creative Writing Prompt: Create a School for Ninjas."



Khan Academy's Grammar Playlist

If you ever teach grammar or get specific complex questions from students who are learning English, Khan Academy's 118 grammar videos are an amazing resource for you to use.

Here's just one example, the clearest explanation of what a preposition is that I have ever seen.



The New York Times Channel

Why didn't I know The NYT was on youtube until now? They only make high quality videos, but until now I had no idea I could get them all in one place. If you are interested in discussing current events with your students or having them write position or opinion papers on politics and world events, this channel is your new best friend.




Ted Ed's "Reading Between the Lines"

With twenty-seven videos including titles like "Shakespearean Insults" and "An anti-hero of one's own," The Ted-Ed channel is sure to have something to offer your students.




Epic Reads

Epic Reads has several fun series that can help you choose new books for your reading library and connect students with texts they will love. The book trailers section caught my eye in particular. Playing one of these very short movies could be a great way to introduce a new book that you have in your library.



The School of Life

This fascinating channel (and organization) focuses on the social and emotional side of life. While it has a whole playlist devoted to literature, many of the videos without an obvious tie to ELA could make wonderful prompts for discussions, writing reflections or opinion papers. Every student can learn from videos like "How to be Confident" and "How to Be a Good Listener" so if you can find a creative way to explore these in class, you'll be helping your students have better lives in a whole new way.

I love the way the "How to Be a Good Listener" video below compares listening to reading novels, and being a good listener to being an editor.



John Green's Crash Course Literature Channel

John Green, best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars, knows how to connect with students. With titles like "Why I got my Eye Put Out - The Poetry of Emily Dickinson," and "Don't Reanimate Corpses: Frankenstein Part I," you know these videos are going to appeal to students.



I hope you enjoy your new youtube channels!

And if you fill up on video and you're ready for some audio, cruise on over and check out The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast for more creative teaching strategies you can enjoy on the go.

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