Learning from a Video: 4 Simple Tips to Help You

Most students have experienced firsthand the fact that “watching” a video lesson can be very different from actually learning the material. This happens in every subject area, but particularly math. So how can students successfully learn what is covered on a math video lesson? Below are 4 expert tips to help.


Tip #1: Realize that you need to actually learn what is on the video, and not just “watch” the video.

This is a subtle but vital mindset shift. Just because the pacing guide says, “Watch Video 4-1”, doesn’t mean you simply watch it and you’re done. You’ve got to realize that you must LEARN the material on the video. You need to purposely approach a video realizing that the point is to understand the material, not just watch the video. So, don’t just hit play and passively watch it, thinking that will get the job done.


Tip #2: Learn to use the two most important buttons on the screen: PAUSE and REWIND.

When you are learning something new, particularly something abstract and strange like algebra, your brain is going to have a hard time with it at first. So you can’t just passively watch it. Let me give you an example.

Have you ever had a friend tell you a funny story, but part way through you get confused on a couple of details, so you say “Whoa, hang on a second! Go back to the part where you walked in the room.” You make your friend retell it so you can track along because you want to understand the story. Well, a math lesson may not be quite as interesting as your friend’s story, but you have to treat it the same. Pause the video throughout the lesson so you can process and think about what was just taught. This is called “actively” watching a video. You might even need to rewind so you can hear the teacher explain it again to make sure you understand it. So, the two most important buttons are the PAUSE and REWIND buttons. This means a 13-minute video might take you 18 minutes to get through. But it is really, really, REALLY worth the extra 5 minutes of pausing and rewinding to help your brain process and understand the material.


Tip #3: Watch the video in a quiet place with no distractions.

 Just because the lesson is a video and you can get it on your phone does NOT mean watching it in the car, in a waiting room, or on-the-go is a good idea. As a matter of fact, that is an awful idea. It’s almost a guarantee that you will not understand (or at least not really process or remember) the lesson. So, do not watch the video sitting in the stands of your little brother’s soccer game. Bad idea.


Tip #4: Do what is asked of you on the video.

If the teacher asks you to pause the video and work an example problem, then do so. If the teacher says to write something down, then do so. If the teacher asks you to repeat after her…well, you get the idea. Most teachers making these videos have been teaching a long time and they know what works with students. So trust the expert and spend a few extra minutes doing whatever it is the teacher asks. Don’t forget, you can pause and rewind often if the lesson is going a bit fast. It’s a beautiful advantage of video instruction.


There you have it. These are 4 tips that are simple to put into practice, but often get overlooked by students. Follow these tips when using a learning video, and I guarantee you will see much better results from a video lesson. Until next time…happy watching (and pausing, and rewinding)!



P.S. If you’d like advice on planning high school math for your homeschooler, download our free parent’s guide!

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David is a full time homeschool dad of 5 daughters. He has been teaching math for over 20 years. He holds an undergraduate degree in math education, and a masters in Curriculum and Instruction. He taught public school for 11 years and has been teaching in the homeschool and private school world for the last 10 years. He writes his own math curriculum and runs a business “Denison Algebra.”


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