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Opinion30th August 2018

How to use Youtube videos to bring literacy to life

Amy Hanna

Amy Hanna is Head of English at Ark Academy in Wembley, London. Last year, she won the Let Teachers SHINE competition for her educational YouTube project: Miss Hanna loves Grammar.

At Ark Academy, we’ve flipped learning on its head. The traditional way of setting homework wasn’t effective enough for our students. They were heading home to work alone on the questions, and ‘muddling through’ their homework without anyone to guide them. It meant that the hardest elements of their work were not addressed without support. That’s why we turned to the model of ‘pre-work’. It allows you to do the thinking at home, but you have some help to guide you through.

The way we manage it here at Ark Academy is through a series of pre-work videos hosted on YouTube. Students watch the videos at home, and are then quizzed on what they have learnt at school the next day. We know that literacy needs to be embedded in our curriculum, taught and revisited discreetly and explicitly for the best outcomes in students’ writing. My YouTube channel, Miss Hanna loves Grammar, is a way of bringing grammatical rules to life, and fostering a passion for grammar and literacy amongst my students that sparks their curiosity.

The students’ passion has really been ignited by working in this way. We’re giving them more work to do independently than before – but they are engaging with it better than before. It is building and fostering a culture of students who are more interested in curiously unpacking the answers to questions about literature or grammar. The most empowering element of this is that students are taking ownership of their own learning. They are given a schedule of what they will be watching that half term, so they know what is expected of them. And the quizzes work well, especially amongst the boys, who love a bit of healthy competition.

I even take requests! My students currently want videos on commonly confused words such as ‘advice’ and ‘advise’. I’m working on these, and the playlist should be available from September.

I am really passionate about making these videos – since the first video was uploaded on 14 February 2017, the channel has been watched by people in over 120 countries, and has over 375,000 views so far! And crucially, these videos have really helped my team. It has halved our marking load (because marking happens during class time through quizzing and quality control checking pre-work books). My team and students give me regular feedback and I use this to improve my next set of videos.

I really hope these resources can help other schools. I know not everyone has the time to be making their own videos, but you could consider using my channel as a starting point, and seeing how your students and colleagues respond.

Here’s some videos to get you started:

I have made over 100 videos that are pitched at GCSE level – whether this is quotation memorisation for set texts, including A Christmas Carol or Macbeth, poetry analysis videos or even model exemplar answers – these resources are available for anyone to access.

If you’d like to visit Ark Academy to learn more about this pre-work model, or would like to suggest a topic for my next set of videos, get in touch with me on, or on

You can find Miss Hanna Loves Grammar on YouTube here.