Why I make YouTube videos

This week is a celebratory blog post as this week is the 2 year anniversary of my first ever ChemJungle video! 73 videos, 60,000 views and 700 subscribers so far (300 to go until I can celebrate true YouTube stardom according to my G12s!)

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The channel was born from frustration (as so many creative endeavours are!) as a result of other YouTube videos either having too little information for my IGCSE Chemistry kids or information that was way beyond the scope of the course. I was continually annoyed by watching tons of YouTube videos to try to find the “perfect” amount of information for what I wanted. Eventually I got to a point where I decided that I’d create my own YouTube channel with a video for each syllabus point to allow maximum flexibility in teaching.

Sure, it’s been a massive time commitment and it’s really hard to stick to a one-a-week  schedule when reports are due or my marking pile is taller than I am. But even though I’m still a long way from completing the syllabus, I keep powering forward knowing that it’ll pay off eventually. These videos give me and my students more freedom than I ever expected; I finally achieved my life-long teacher dream of actually being able to be in two places at once!

What I wanted to do in this post is to share a few moments that caused me to realise how powerful using YouTube videos can be (especially if they’re your own):

Freeing up time in lesson for 1-on-1 support and meaningful extension activities

I teach the entirety of our Bonding topic through ChemJungle. Students watch the videos at home and then in class they have options of activities that they think will benefit their understanding most. My main concern was that students would feel like they didn’t understand the material as well as other topics that were taught in a more traditional way. But actually, at the end of the unit : 90% of students felt their understanding was better than or equal to previous units – a massive success!Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 12.37.01

Comments included:

“I was able to take better notes and go slower to understand the unit more”

“We had much more time in class for learning further in depth about the topics, and doing experiments.”

In fact, the only downside that was mentioned was that sometimes students couldn’t ask questions immediately if they were watching at home – definitely something we could solve with a better system of posting questions.

The power of having a resource which is completely aligned with the syllabus requirements means that there is a significant amount of time that I can use to work with students who are struggling as well as providing more exciting opportunities for extension.

Sometimes kids want you on 5x speed

During a lesson on tests for cations I asked my students to write ionic equations; a skill that was rusty for most of them. I gave them the option of coming up to the front to listen to me go through it, or to watch my video on the topic. I was incredibly surprised (and borderline offended…) when every single one of my kids decided to watch the video. Every single one of them chose to speed up the video so they could use it as a quick reminder of how to construct the equations. Using this as an option in class means that no momentum is lost and that kids are in control of how quickly they move to the questions.

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Bringing consistency to revision

Kids absolutely love these videos for revision. If they understood something the first time, but have forgotten the details then they find it super helpful to hear me explain it in the same way. As they’re labelled with syllabus statement numbers it means that students can independently find the videos that they’re looking for with ease.

“Thank you for the ChemJungle videos, they’ve been an absolute lifesaver”

Incredible if kids miss classes (or if I’m off sick…!)

The videos provide a really simple way to help kids to catch up if they’ve missed classes. Even though the videos are organised by syllabus point, I still have to link videos specifically for the students that need them – I’m hoping to get to a point where they know the syllabus statements that were covered and they can proactively catch up on the work missed.

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But why should I create my own and not just use other people’s videos?

Most of these things can be achieved using normal videos on YouTube (and there are certainly some great YouTuber’s out there!) so maybe you’re questioning the logic in putting so much time into creating content when it already exist out there. My opinion is that if there is someone on YouTube that is already producing great quality content and the material is super aligned with the course that you’re teaching – awesome! If you’re like me and you find yourself using a million different YouTube channels for different things then you should definitely consider creating a resource that helps your kids to find what they’re looking for more quickly. I promise you that you’ll reap the benefits sooner than you think!




5 thoughts on “Why I make YouTube videos

  1. louiebarnett says:

    Hi Kirstie,

    Love this post. Just a quick smash and grab comment. You mention:

    “In fact, the only downside that was mentioned was that sometimes students couldn’t ask questions immediately if they were watching at home – definitely something we could solve with a better system of posting questions.”

    One way that works really well for me is creating a padlet called at the beginning of the unit called, for example, “C2 Bonding – Lingering Questions”. I use this in a variety of ways, but specifically for what you have mentioned, it might be good to ask students to turn any sticking points at home into questions that they put on the padlet. I know that this doesn’t address the immediate nature of what you said, but always having access to immediate answers is not always the best. I usually tell students to struggle for around 5-10 minutes and then stop, turn it into a question to be answered later (so post this on the padlet), and continue with their next task.

    I then ask students to take a look at the padlet and do three things: 1) Like any questions that you want answering 2) Write “me too” on any questions that you would have asked and 3) start answering any questions you can help with. Inadvertently, this also helps build community.




    • Kirstie says:

      This sounds like a really solid protocol for making sure the students feel supported whilst still taking ownership of their understanding. I imagine that maybe you even get kids answering each others questions adding to the feeling that the teacher isn’t always the only “more knowledgeable other”. Thanks for the tips – will definitely try this out next time I set video watching for homework!


  2. ChemistNate says:

    This is why I started making videos as well. I loved recommending PatrickJMT videos for kids who missed math classes, but there just wasn’t the same kind of content for chemistry.

    Best of luck on your road to 1,000 !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kirstie says:

      Wow your channel is insanely successful – congrats! What were the most significant things you learned when you first started? Teaching full time and trying to squeeze in a couple of youtube videos a week is harder than I ever imagined!


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