The joys of YouTube for school Pt2 Web series edition.

In this entry about YouTube I thought I’d focus fully on webseries. These are brilliant! In most cases it’s people taking classic novels and adapting them into modern series normally via a vlog style video. This has become a massive thing on YouTube recently and there are constantly more and more appearing. This current fashions did start with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, so you will see a lot of Jane Austen here, however there are a range of different stories appearing regularly. What is really cool about these is that most of them are completely multimedia, characters have their own twitter, tumbler, instagram and pinterest pages. This really brings stories to life as you can continue to follow the stories and even interact with the characters. As far as how these could be used in lessons; if you are studying a specific novel then you could watch along with your reading, you could use the episodes as a hook in lessons to get students thinking about how old stories are just as applicable in modern eras, or you could even get your students to create their own video in the style of one of these for whatever you are studying. There are a lot here so bear with me. Also as a quick disclaimer; some of these do have swearing in so please watch first before showing to younger students.

  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This is an Emmy award winning series which pretty much started off the web series adaptation phenomenon. It is brilliant, and really brings the novel into the modern day proving that Jane Austen transcends beyond it’s original era. Completed.  
  • The March Family Letters. A take on Little Women. Completed. 
  • Emma Approved. Jane Austen’s Emma, follows the development of Emma as a character really well. It has some great Lizzie Bennet crossovers, word is that this will be having some additional bits added eventually. Completed 
  • Frankenstein MD. Frankenstein, does take some liberties with the book, Frankenstein being a women for instance, also the science does need not to be looked at too closely, but very good. Completed.  
  • I didn’t write this. This one is a bit different. It’s not a modern adaptation but is taking extracts from books and poems and turning them into a short video. This is an idea I think would work really well as a project for classes.  
  • Nothing much to do. Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing. This one has been very popular online Completed. 
  • Lovely Little Losers. Shakespears Loves Labours Lost. A continuation of the NMTD crew using another play. Still running.  
  • The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy. Using the characters and applying to a different story but with the same essence. This is a great example of how our mindsets are influenced by films. Now in it’s second season, it is following the characters from the book quite closely which leads to some surprising representations of Peter in the second season. Still running 
  • From Mansfield with Love. Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. I really like this one, it’s quite raw and is one of the few that is still English. Probably helps it’s one of my favourite books though. Still running.  
  • In Earnest. Oscar Wilde’s The importance of being Earnest. Very good, a lot of direct lifts of text from the play. This company is hoping to make King Arthur soons which should be good. Completed.  
  • Jane Eyre. The autobiography of Jane Eyre. This one starts slow but really picks up. The ending isn’t really authentic due to an actor quitting…still very good though. Complete. 
  • Jules and Monty. Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet. I confess I’ve only just started watching this one so can’t really fill in well, but I know that this in done in school a lot so I thought it would be useful. Completed  
  • Kate the Cursed. Taming of the Shrew. A shorter adaptation, well done but does hop around a bit. 10 thing is still the best adaptation though. Completed. 
  • Elinor and Marianne take Barton. Sense and Sensibility. Still running

And to end with just because I adore it. Classic Alice. This is very different as it isn’t an adaptation but is about a women choosing to live her life according to classic novels in order to help her appreciate them better.

Hope this is of some use to you and if I’ve missed any that you think you be useful then please tell me.


The joys of YouTube for school Pt1

I am a YouTube addict. This is due to a few reasons: 1. I am a child of my generation and was probably from the first school era to grow up online; I remember the when YouTube started 10 years ago and it was just pure brilliance. 2. When I bought my flat I couldn’t afford internet so I was restricted to the use of what internet I had on my mobile, which means the only videos I could watch were on YouTube. As I previously stated: I am now a YouTube addict. This has benefited me greatly in my planning, so what I thought I would do is share some of my discoveries and how they could be useful in class. I will add I am only putting up channels which are good and not random videos which I am sure any good modern teacher can discover themselves.

  • Vlogbrothers. The vlogbrothers otherwise know as Hank and John Green (yes John Green the YA author) have become infamous online as a vlogging partnership, they have been vlogging since 2007 and most of the YouTubers that students like to rave about claim these two as their main influences. They are going to feature in a few things on this list but I wanted to start here. Most of their videos are just traditional vlog style videos so therefore, not overly useful in class however, they are two ridiculously smart guys and do quite regularly post about issues and current events. For example, I have used their videos on the Ukraine and incarceration in the US in my lessons as good sum up videos, their audience is mainly teens and young adults so they do tend to base their language and appropriateness for that audience which is great for us. 
  • CrashCourse. The Green brothers have set themselves a mini-mission to provide good high-quality educational content online completely for free. CrashCourse is so good and so useful, and I have used the videos from this channel so many times, sometimes in whole and sometimes in bits. They are videos that are about 12mins long and cover specific topics from each subject they’ve chosen to cover. These can range in ability from quite low to college level, I confess I’m known just to watch these as I find them fascinating. They are currently creating lesson plans and schemes of work that are based around their videos. The subjects they cover are: World History 1 & 2, Big History, US History, Anatomy & Physiology, US Government & Politics, Astronomy, Economics, Intellectual Property, Psychology, Literature, Biology, Ecology and Chemistry. 
  • SciShow. This one is Hank Greens. I confess this isn’t one I use in lesson…but I am a Humanities teacher so maybe not that surprising. SciShow covers all different topics, where CrashCourse science is more specifically sciency (don’t think that’s a word.) SciShow focuses on questions and things that are about answering areas on curiousity and applying the science to it. They also cover current issues and news in the world of science. There is also SciShow Space and SciShow kids which gives some variation in topic as well as ability.  
  • CGP Grey. CGP Grey posts videos on a selection of topics, not always educational, he recently did one on Lord of the Rings. However, they are always interesting and informative. I have used these multiple times and I find them especially useful for Citizenship. With videos on the EU, voting styles and a recent one beautifully named ‘why the UK election results are the worst in history.’ The videos are approx 5 minutes long and use maps, pics and sometimes a bit of silliness to cover his topics. The warning I will give to his channel is that he speaks very fast, it does suit him and his style but I know that some lower ability students do struggle to keep up.  

In order to avoid a stupidly long post I am only going to cover 4 channels today and then add more in another blog. If you use others I have yet to mention please do let me know as I would love to check them out.

Highs and lows the drug that is teaching

I have just had one of those days that sums up the joys and hardships of teaching completely and utterly. That’s the thing about this job, there is no set ‘this is what a day is like’ model to follow. Thinking of it I guess that’s the appeal; the idea of sitting at a desk in an office all day petrifies and bores me out of my wits, I love to be with people, I love each day being different, I love to be challenged and I adore the fact that I am constantly learning new things.

I’ll start with the low:

We are supposed to always remain calm and avoid shouting where possible. This is a lesson in which I failed horrendously and to be honest I am quite ashamed of how I handled it, but I guess, to put a spin on it, at least I can learn from this. I probably have dealt with behaviour management completely wrong with this group. They have been working on their controlled assessment and I confess I have been letting things slide, out of sheer determinism to keep students in the class in order to have as much time working on this as possible. On Friday we have a frustrating double lesson in which we only have the whole class for the first half then in the second the higher ability students go to a higher level science lesson and the lowest ability go to extra Maths tuition. This means I am left with a small amount of students who are left feeling distinctly average and unimportant. I spent the first half of the lesson rushing through something so that the majority of the class will have seen it and then the second half ensuring the rest got it and then getting them completing their previous tasks. Not a good plan it seems, should’ve figured that out in advance really. But the behaviour of those left just continued to decline and decline. I basically snapped, had a go at them and them told them to work in silence and that they could just use to info on the board to help them as I wouldn’t. Not my finest moment. As soon as I did it I realised it was a stupid thing to have done. But I had to stick to my guns, so I made them work in silence only offering the odd sentence of help. However, I did try to redeem myself at the end. I apologised to the class for shouting at them and explained my actions. I do believe that just because I am a teacher does not mean I am always right. I make mistakes and when I do it’s important to admit to them.

Now the high:

My last lesson today was crazy, loud, busy and joyous. I am not generally one of those teachers who insists on a silent room with only my voice to fill the void…I hate it. I am from the school of thought that a loud busy classroom is a productive classroom, this obviously takes some training and a no tolerance approach to micky takers, but when it works it is glorious. The class were working on a task of which I am quite proud of, it’s simple but very effective. We were looking at asylum seekers and the issue they face getting in trying to gain entry to countries. Currently the media in UK has an incredibly negative view on any foreign people trying to live and work in this country, which is, in itself, kind of laughable considering how many Brits live abroad not working and refusing to adapt to the culture in which they find themselves.  Anyway I digress, this task is designed to make them consider the individuals and not the stereotypes that the media focuses on. In the lesson they are given fictional nonfiction case studies of people trying to gain asylum to the UK, their task is to create a campaign to present to the task to try and get their person accepted into the country. The catch is that out of the 6 groups only 2 are allowed in. It’s a good task as it self-differentiates, the more erudite students tend to write moving speeches whilst others create posters and handout and even badges. They peer review the groups and decide who should be allowed in. Overall it’s a good fun lesson which really encourages discussion and deep consideration of what others go through.

When a lesson goes well it’s such a high. Now I being an incredibly straight laced, good girl I have never taken any form of drugs harder than an occasional glass of wine or tea which might as well be fed to me intravenously. But I find highs in other ways, and the feeling of a lesson that just works beautiful is one of the best highs I know. The students were so excited and engaged, they wanted to ask questions and learn more, when I asked them to put aside competition and just to focus on only choosing one person the high level discussion was amazing. Then to make me feel even better at the end of the lesson I had 12 students stay behind to talk to me about what we did and ask and discuss topics on a deep and thoughtful level. When I also add that this was a Friday last lesson I’m sure you can understand my joy.

When I read the news or from what I hear all throughout the various forms of media about how hard teaching is, I do agree hugely, and as today demonstrated they can push you to the edge. But, when it goes well there is no better feeling than to know you have got a bunch of teenagers genuinely enthused about something…..well there is no better high!

The ramblings of a British teacher

I was just sat reading the Guardian Secret Teacher blog (link at the bottom), brilliant by the way and well worth reading, and it occurred to me that I am a teacher in this country and I have things I would like to talk about. Now, I would in no way claim that I have the writing skills to convey ideas in the way that these writers do. I am very much a person born to be standing and talking with people and I love doing it. I struggle to express myself on paper and always have done. So I would like to start this blog with a quick apology and disclaimer for my written English, I’m trying my hardest and checking constantly; which is of course what we teach our students to do.

So a bit about me then: I am a 27 year old teacher from the South of England. I teach secondary school and my specialism is Religious Studies, although I have ventured into other Humanities subjects. I have been teaching since I was 21, the majority of this was in 3 schools in my area. They have all been completely different experiences and have come with their own challenges and joys, both of which I’m bound to touch on at some point. When I qualified as a teacher I could not get work so I spent 18 months working in cover at one school mainly in Humanities but sampling all subjects and to be honest I hated every second of it. I finally got work at a very big school teaching RS with a bit of Classics and Ancient History and completed my NQT, I was there for 2 years only leaving due to my contract expiring and the school shrinking their staffing numbers. I am currently working at my old secondary school teaching all sorts of Humanities, the year is almost over and I have to say this has been my happiest year since I started teaching so far.

Well that’s me! Clearly just an intro for you, hopefully you will be interested in hearing my ramblings so far and will come again for more.

Secret teacher link –