“Be the Star” – Making Videos for Your Classroom

image source: bigstockphoto.com

“I’m just going to find a video quickly online!” I’ve said to myself many times, clearly delusional.  A “quick” online hunt for material to use in class often becomes a lengthy goose chase.  It’s hard to find just the right thing, at the right level, on the right subject when searching the vast reaches of the World Wide Web.  The better option?  To make it myself. Sometimes this can seem intimidating though, especially if videography is a medium one is not used to working in.

Considering that fact, below is my summary of a video presentation my business partner, Larissa Conley, and I made for this year’s TESL Ontario Conference explaining how to make your own videos for classroom use. 

It’s easier than you think, I promise!

Benefits of making your own videos

  • Content tailored exactly to your students’ needs
  • Reusable materials
  • No copyright issues (it can be difficult to find the original author/producer of online content)


  • Lectures
  • Listening practice
  • Example presentations
  • Modeling activities
  • Giving instructions for assignments or homework
  • Extra practice or more detailed practice of a point taught in class
  • Review or test preparation

Necessary equipment:

  • A smart phone
  • Access to the Internet


Making a short video yourself can take as little time as 30 minutes, from the planning stage to the final upload.

Common Concerns:

Concern 1: You wouldn’t know what to say.

  • You are the subject matter expert and know better than anyone what information your students need.

Concern 2:  You aren’t funny or entertaining enough to make videos.

  • You don’t need to be entertaining; you need to be informative. You need to do the same thing on camera that you do at the front of the class – communicate useful information in a clear way.

Concern 3: You feel self-conscious on camera.

  • Trust me, I totally get it. When I saw the first videos Larissa and I made, I thought, “OMG, do I really look like that?!” As I watched more videos, I found more things to be annoyed about (the fact that I say “that’s right” every other minute, for example), but I just got used to it and reminded myself of the purpose of our videos.  Much as I might care if I look fabulous or sound cool, the people watching our videos don’t; they care about the information we’re presenting.

How to do it:

  • Plan what you want to say. Write down a script and rehearse it a few times.  If you want, you can prepare a few flashcards or notes to prop next to your phone while filming.
  • Find a good location and the right position for your camera, then hit record. You can repeat the filming process as many times as you need until you have a relatively error- free version, but don’t worry about small mistakes.
  • Upload to YouTube and choose your settings.
  • Provide the link for your students and/or play your video in class.

BAM! It’s that easy!

DIY Video instruction

Larissa and I give examples and more detail in our “This Session is 22 Minutes” video, including things to think about when setting up your camera and a step-by-step explanation of how to set up a YouTube account and choose privacy settings for your videos.

Our online ESL videos are edited and made with a video camera, so the process we use to make them is more complicated than what I am presenting here.  However, we only started making videos six months ago, so our work so far is the result of only a few months of trial and error learning.   This means an unedited, smart phone video is something you can make right now (ie. when you are finished reading this blog post – go for it!), but the next step, an edited video, is also a very reasonable, attainable goal for the near future.

You’ve got this!

In conclusion, you’ve got this!  Give it a try and have fun.

If you have any questions about the process, or other ideas of how to use videos in the classroom, let us hear from you in the comments below!


This Session is 22 Minutes (instructional video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSZsATUQa_k

Extra English Practice ESL Videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIkhXl56Z9qg9QJdbpgeHw

Hi, readers! My name is Misha Gingerich. I am delighted to be involved in this idea sharing space, and hope that I can provide a useful perspective. In Ontario, I have taught English for Academic Purposes to adults, focusing mainly on grammar and writing skills, and I would gladly be labelled a grammar nerd. I have also lived and worked overseas, in India and Laos. In Laos, I taught English to adults and children while also playing the role of language learner. In addition to teaching, I have spent many years working in community building. Recently, I started a new project with a fellow teacher called Extra English Practice (EEP – www.extraenglishpractice.com). We create online learning materials for students and teachers, including videos, with the goal of helping students learn while having fun.


2 thoughts on ““Be the Star” – Making Videos for Your Classroom”

  1. Misha,
    The foyer at TESL ON conference was too chaotic for me to stop and watch your 22-minute video, which I had eagerly anticipated. So I was really happy to be able to view it from home after the conference. Making my own videos to post on YouTube is a step I’ve been wanting to try for a while, but first wanted to be able to edit, create an attractive thumbnail, add music, add animation, and the whole shebang. Your tutorial has really inspired me. I’m happy to say that Tony Vincent–whose Classy Graphics with Google Drawings class this past summer was a highlight of my PD year–is now about to offer Classy Videos in February and March of 2018. I signed up within minutes of his announcing it. I’ll keep you posted on when I create my first video.

    1. Hi Kelly!

      I’m glad you were able to see our 22-minute video, and thanks for telling us about Tony Vincent. I’ll have to check out his stuff! Larissa and I really learned through trial and error; a formal lesson would have been helpful. Good luck with your video-making! I’d be interested to see what you make.

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