One of our favorite strategies here at the Yellin Center is frontloading. Frontloading is a great way to boost comprehension in almost all learners, and especially in students who struggle with attention and comprehension. The principle is simple: A preview of a concept, in which a learner is exposed to some of the most important ideas, tends to help students understand and absorb the information when they’re presented with more thorough instruction later. For example, if a student reads a short summary of a science chapter before reading the chapter itself, she tends to understand the complicated ideas in the chapter more easily. She knows, for example, which information is most important. She also has a sense of where the chapter is taking her as she reads and so can more easily build a schema in her mind.
Frontloading can take many forms, but one of our favorite ways to frontload is to take advantage of the treasure trove of information available on the internet. Videos are a great way to frontload for lots of reasons: they’re visual, engaging, move fairly quickly, and hold students’ attention. We want to share some great sources for frontloading videos, all of which are available, for free, on dedicated YouTube channels. Not only are the videos below great sources for information about physics and earth science, they’re all humorous and are characterized by quick but precise explanations and explanatory visuals, too. Students who spend a few minutes watching a video preview before they attempt to read a textbook chapter or attend the next day’s lecture on the same topic will more readily understand and remember the relevant information.
MinutePhysics – middle and high school
As the name suggests, this channel hosts a series of videos that explain topics important in physics, such as gravity, wave/particle duality, the mechanics of the sun, and even Schrodinger’s cat. At the time of this writing, there were 123 videos available, though new ones are added all the time. Most videos are between one and two minutes long.
MinuteEarth – middle and high school
Just like MinutePhysics, this channel is a gold mine for students learning earth science and geology. Viewers can learn about the properties of sand, how trees survive winter, where Earth’s water came from, and other topics, all in less than three minutes per video. So far the channel has 33 videos, but their collection is growing.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post in which we’ll share other favorite video sources!