I don’t know about you, but my 6th-12th grade students have zero attention span (thanks social media). Additionally, they seem to prefer to work when there are other things going on around them, like music or… deep sea footage from the ocean!
I found that my students stayed quieter and more focused on their work when I would have a YouTube video running. These would be nature-based and would have serene calming music playing. Sometimes I would let students choose (from a pre-selected playlist) which scene we’d get that day. This was usually nature, animals, landscapes… But sometimes I would use walking tours such as Paris or Italy. There are even live streams available from zoos all over the world that you can have playing. These are cool because they are different each day and are live. They do not have the quiet music, but that’s an easy fix. (Just play another YouTube video at the same time that has appropriate music.)
What I found was students would glance over at the screen on occasion, but that micro-brain break would actually help them keep their momentum throughout the class period. This worked well with my teaching style of beginning with no more than 15 to 20 minutes of lecture followed by work time for the remainder of the class period.
I would recommend you have a paid subscription to YouTube (just a suggestion) because ads can get weird, you never know.
As for the benefits of employing these videos in your classroom, there are MANY.
First, kids actually get excited to see what the day’s video will be. I was surprised by this, but it totally works. It’s also great to use as a reward. I would reward a student who was helpful to a classmate by letting that student choose the video the next day or even the whole week. It’s also great as a way to acknowledge birthdays. If Maddy, for example, loves otters, I would find an otter video for her birthday.
Second, there is an emotional component that cannot be overlooked. I had students with very difficult and chaotic home lives. Their nervous systems were already heightened when they would arrive at school. Playing calming videos actually helps de-escalate their flight-or-fight response. This enables them to better absorb the content in class. Thus, behavior issues go down.
There are a number of other benefits that I could go into that are backed by research, but I think you get the idea. Just toss a video up on the ol’ smart board and see the change happen! I suggest searching up: 4K videos, serene drone footage, and natural landscap