Saturday, September 29, 2007

the use of television in the classroom

These days my main worry is the use of TV in the Kindergarten class of my children...
It is such a chock for me when my kids come home telling me “what was on TV today”
In their class, TV is used as a relaxing time… Well, is TV really relaxing?
Many researches prove that it is not…

Happily I am not the only parents concerned by the use of TV in the classroom. For their defense, the teacher show us how good the quality of the programs are, and this is true, they are showing good programs, so we can feel safe on the content.

Unhappily, the content is one side of the question, the HOW a program is screened is a major issue. Leaving a child “relax” in front of the television should not happen in school. This “attitude” is far from being educational, even with the best content ever.

On the other end, the children could learn to become active viewers! Dr. Faith Rogow explains that very well in her article “Don't turn Off the Lights: Tips for Classroom Use of ITV”

Here is a copy of the article:

There are lots of ways to watch television and our purpose for viewing has a significant impact on what we take away from the experience. Most TV viewing is for entertainment and relaxation, and that's fine--unless we want people to remember what they've seen. Television can be a powerful educational tool, but it we want our students to absorb specific content from what they see, we need to give them a model for viewing that is active and critical. For starters,
  • view from videotape rather than real-time broadcasts
  • don't be constrained by programs; only use the segments you need
  • don't use the television as a babysitter

In addition:

  • Think about what you are trying to accomplish. If you can achieve your goal without using video, you may want to reconsider your use of TV. However, video can help accomplish things you can't do any other way. TV does the following very well:
  • Spark interest in a new subject area. Imaginative and quick paced video can inspire your students to pursue a subject.
  • Demonstrate something you can't show any other way, such as a satellite's view of changing weather patterns, the inside of a human body, a math concept that involves motion of 3-D geometry, the sounds and sights of a rainforest, the sound of various accents in a foreign language, a chemistry experiment that is too dangerous or too expensive to do in the classroom, etc.
  • Enrich content by demonstrating new applications or insights.
  • Practice a skill such as note taking, problem solving, predicting, listening, etc.
  • Review a lesson you have already presented so the students can hear and see it in a different way.
  • View actively - Think of the TV as a teacher. Do you turn off the lights when you talk ? Would you be satisfied with a class that sat and stared at you for thirty minutes without responding or interacting? The TV can't act as teacher if students aren't active. Interactive viewing requires three simple steps:
    1. Prepare -let students know why they are watching, what to look for, or what you will ask when the video is over. The younger the student, the more detailed the description should be of what they are going to see.
    2. Participate - View interactively. Sing along, answer questions aloud as they are posed, pause to discuss possible outcomes or solutions before the video presents them, pause to check for comprehension, pause to predict action, write down clues, etc.
    3. Connect to other activities - Bring the video lessons off the screen and into the classroom or home by choosing follow-up activities that connect the viewing experience to hands-on exercises or real-life experience. With younger students, be sure to explain the connections between the video and the activities you do.

  • Copyright: Insighters Educational Consulting 1997


  1. Anonymous1:42 PM

    My personal opinion as a teacher is that it shouldn't
    be used at that age. If a parent wants their child to
    learn those skills, then they can certainly play some
    shows at home with good content, and let them "relax"
    there. I taught (I'm on maternity leave now) at the
    high school level, and while it was definitely
    overused there, to fill in time when teachers either
    hadn't planned well, or sometimes didn't want to plan,
    there were certain times that were useful, and
    educational, if the content correlated directly with
    the curriculum, to give another access to help
    reinforce what you are trying to teach.

    It is much easier for the teacher, because they do
    very little, but I think it isn't right when the
    teacher is using tv itself as a teaching tool so that
    the tv watching is the learning experience, as
    oppposed to showing a clip of testimonies from a
    documentary on immigrants, to help personalize the
    immigrant experience in a unit that focuses on that.
    In kindergarten there is no curriculum that can't be
    taught by the teacher. It shouldn't be used instead of
    a teacher--that's what the teacher is for. If they
    want the children to relax, they could do a close-eyed
    visulization technique and later have the children
    draw a picture of what they "saw" during the story.

    I'm sure there are a lot of people who may disagree
    with this, and of course this is my opinion only.

  2. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Speaking as a former kindergarten teacher for LAUSD, I would use TV,
    at certain times for certain purposes. I would screen various
    children's programming, mostly educational, and record certain clips or segments to reinforce some skill we working on in reading or math and play them on a Friday to finish up what we were working on that week, sort of a fun reward, a departure from the norm. or if I would tape various things from animal planet, discovery, etc. to follow up
    on a whatever theme we were learning in science, for example ocean life. The kids loved it, and I really only used it to reinforce my curriculum, and if I truly thought they were getting something out of it.
    Plus, kids in public school in kindergarten and primary grades
    work so very hard, it is such a regimented daily schedule, it is nice to have a little TV (albeit also a learning experience) break (for the teachers too!) once in a while. I would clear it with
    administrators at my school before I aired in class, and with the
    parents. So, I can't speak for how other teachers use it, but that
    is what I did.
    Just one more thing to add: I taught in a a very depressed socio-
    economic area of LA. These children do not have the same realities of our children. Their lack of life experiences that we take for granted is staggering. For them watching a little bit of Sesame Street or Between the Lions I had taped for them to reinforce
    something we had been working on was a true treat. Many didn't have
    TV's at home. Having them watch some under sea movie footage or
    animals running on the african plains was special to them, as if they did have TVs they didn't have cable and had never seen things like that before. If anything, their parents watch the news and
    telenovellas in the home. In my classroom TV truly was an extension
    of the curriculum, or I wouldn't have done it.

  3. Anonymous10:40 PM

    Personally, I am not opposed to TV being used in the classroom as a
    supplement to the educational program-- to be used as a tool.
    However, I don't think kids should watch TV in school "to relax". How
    about quiet time reading a book to relax? I'm certain that most kids
    get enough TV already at home (admittedly, mine sure do) but I bet many don't read (or get read to) daily. IMO, it is a poor use of the resources available at school and of the time they spend there. Not to mention that it is really teaching them a bad habit for later in life. Much better to teach them other ways to relax as well. Again, watching a program specific to a lesson-- to enhance and reinforce the learning experience-- and to help reach all of the different learning styles is another story altogether....
    Just my .02--

  4. Anonymous10:43 PM

    That doesn't sound so good at such a young age. What happened to quiet time with books and crayons, or laying on mats and listening to the teacher read a story?
    I know of a boy who never watched tv before he went to school, and then in 1st grade the teacher gave a quiz on Nickelodeon shows and he failed the quiz. He was so embarrassed to have "flunked," and also embarrassed because other children made fun of him, that he started watching cartoons so that wouldn't happen again.
    Also, many lesson plans are based on Disney and other kid movies and characters. I was once helping a 3rd grade reading group and the story in the workbook was a disney story. I can't remember which movie it was from, but i didn't know if that was a good thing or
    not. I guess it's supposed to be an incentive to learn, but to me it felt like commercialism.
    Just my 2cents :)

  5. Anonymous10:15 AM

    I find it annoying when they watch TV at school- it's generally used as a babysitter, at least it has been in our experience- ds would be put in the
    cafeteria on rainy days with the janitor and a movie. That in place of moving their bodies, reading, drawing, or interacting with each other.