Right about now, everyone's turned to the "leggings only" mentality:  not only have we decided to stop putting together Instagram-worthy outfits and Pinterest-perfect lessons and procedures, but we're starting to cut corners and cover them all up with a nice, flowy dress. This is teaching in the doldrums of winter.

Have you reached the elastic-waistband version of yourself as a teacher?  If so, I'm with you.  All. the. WAY!  For these last few days before break, I want to do right by my kids, teach great content, but the above and beyond-ness of my normal school gig will just have to wait until after the holidays.

This post, however, will not get you to the break.  You're on your own.  What I'm here today to give you is your POST break solution.  Once you've made it to break, relaxed on your break, there's something else that you still need to do:  GO BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN!  And as exciting as it is to start fresh in the new year, it can be a bit of an adjustment getting back into the swing of things.  So, from my classroom to yours, here is the only lesson you need to get you through the first one to three class periods when you return from break.


The YouTube Scavenger Hunt


1.  Decide on content and topic

Are you in the midst of a novel unit right now?  Starting?  Finishing?  Are you working on a research project?  Would you like to introduce your students to poetry?  Once you've chosen your topic, read on!

2.  Choose your outcome

What do you want your students to be able to do by the end of the scavenger hunt?  To answer a synthesis question?  To present their findings?  To discuss their revelations Socratic seminar style?

3.  Create your handout

Keep it simple or just use mine and modify to your liking.  The handout should be a simple, open guide for students to take notes as they scour through your YouTube playlist.  Ask a few pointed, but strategically open-ended questions and leave room for ideas, scribbles, notes, textual evidence, etc.  You might include (at the end) the finished product or activity they will do or participate in the following day so that students are prepared.

4.  Create your YouTube Playlist

Here is the beautiful part.  No matter your topic or current unit of study, there are hundreds of connected and relevant YouTube videos that will help students understand your objectives more clearly.  For example, when my students are in their Slam Poetry unit, guess what kinds of videos I stash on the YouTube playlist?  My (and student's) absolute favorite slam poems.  Reading a novel with some complicated history?  Add it to the playlist.  Exploring a controversial issue?  Add videos from both sides of the argument to the playlist (and a few in between!)   Working on rhetorical analysis?  Get some commercials ready to go! 

A YouTube Playlist Scavenger Hunt might sound like a cop-out, but consider these delightful details:

  • It's completely student-centered

  • It offers student choice

  • The questions can be scaffolded for an appropriate amount of rigor

  • The activity expands background knowledge

  • Students are actually working on LISTENING skills

  • Students are hardly distracted on YouTube when their assignment is to watch YouTube.

Here's one of my favorite playlists to use for this kind of activity:  it's a Social Justice Poetry Slam playlist!  Feel free to take it and use it with the handout attached above.

Let me know how it goes in the comments below!