Incorporate Strategies for Critical Reading of Video and Digital Images

Teach students to “read” videos and digital images with the critical reading process that they use when reading texts.

Grades 3-12 15 min Resource by:
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Traditionally, when we think of reading, we often think of reading as written text. At one point in time, written text was the newest technology and the best way to distribute and share information. Today, that is no longer the case.

The definition of text has shifted to a text being anything conveying meaning. If we can look at something, explore it, find layers of meaning, draw information, and conclusions from it—then we are looking at a text. Examples include graphs, data charts, images, signs, videos, paintings, podcasts, songs, advertisements, maps, works of art, and webpages.

When people need to learn how to do something, the first place they often look is on YouTube, or they ask Alexa, Google, or Siri. With technological advancements, we have also advanced communication and how we share information. Now, more than ever before, information is being provided to students via video and digital images, especially in a remote-learning environment. Teachers are creating videos and images to make social and emotional connections with their students, recording themselves teaching concepts, and assigning videos for students to learn from, too. Students need practice using their critical reading strategies (pre-reading, reading, note-taking, and reflection processes) when viewing images and video-formatted learning materials.

Critically reading video and digital images creates new and exciting ways for students to purposefully consume information and develop understanding. The resources below can help you design and create lessons that include critical reading of video and digital images. Once you know what you would like learning outcomes to be for students, you can then pick a tool or tools that will best fit and hopefully amplify those outcomes.


A picture is worth a thousand words, so how might we capture, save, and annotate a picture? There are many tools and extensions that can allow you to take screenshots and annotate on top of the screenshot. Teachers can take screenshots of infographics, pictures, diagrams, and many other images. Teachers can put guiding questions right on top of the image. The image can be shared with students using the digital platform chosen by the teacher. Students can respond to the image using techniques similar to the way they respond to text. Students can also take screenshots and annotate on top of them. The annotated screenshots can be used as notes, as responses to questions, to demonstrate understanding of key ideas, or in many other ways.


Capture Screenshots and Annotate with Web Tools and Chrome Extensions

If you or your students are using a Windows device, there are two built-in options for taking screenshots. Both of these options allow the user to take screenshots and then use annotation tools to annotate over the top of the screenshot. Annotation tools allow you to highlight and draw over the screenshot using digital ink.

  • You can use the Snipping Tool that is part of Windows.
  • If using Windows 10, you can download the Snip & Sketch tool for free from the Microsoft Store.

If using the Chrome browser or a Chromebook, you have the option to add extensions that will allow you to take screenshots and annotate over them with text, highlighter, shapes, and more. The following Chrome extensions allow you to accomplish this:

Awesome Screenshot Tool

(Screenshot taken using Awesome Screenshot)


Just as we would ask students to read text multiple times and interact with it in different ways, we would like students to look at and interact with the same video multiple times. There are many digital tools that can scaffold learning through video viewing, so learning can be differentiated and personalized for our students. When students view videos on their own, they can process them at their own pace, answer prompts as they go, adjust playback speed, and possibly add closed captions and language translations. Videos can also be viewed and/or discussed collaboratively, even when students are using individual devices and are in different locations. Whenever you integrate and use digital tools, especially collaborative ones, remember to pre-teach digital citizenship and internet safety and make sure that expectations are clear and understood by all participants. Below are tools that can help enhance learning through video viewing.

Make Video Interactive

In a distance-learning environment, students are in control of how they watch or replay a video. As a teacher, you can make videos more interactive and student-centered through the use of Edpuzzle. Edpuzzle is a tool that allows teachers to insert writing or thinking prompts, audio comments, hyperlinks, quizzes, or poll questions to guide student thinking while watching a video. Settings can be adjusted so that students cannot continue on with the video until they have provided an answer to a question, and a teacher is able to look through all the answers that students have provided. Edpuzzle can be used as a type of formative assessment that can guide future instruction.

Screenshot of interactive video quiz tool

Annotating Video With Chrome Extensions

While many have experience annotating text, video annotation may be a new endeavor. Finding ways to annotate video and easily access those annotations later will help deepen learning and retention of content. Below are two tools to help make video annotation easy.

  • ReClipped: Take notes on YouTube & MOOCs
    • While watching videos, you can take summary notes. Summary notes will be time-stamped, and you are able to quickly return to the specific part of the video when reviewing notes. Notes are saved and can be accessed later. You can iterate your notes and share your annotations to a board so that others can access them, as well.
    • Here is an overview video of ReClipped.
  • YiNote (was TurboNote)
    • YiNote is another video annotation tool that allows the user to take time-stamped notes.
Screenshot of digital tool for note-taking while viewing video

Video Collaboration Tools

Help students extend beyond the text, or the video in this case, and allow them to synthesize and communicate their interpretations to others.

  • YouTube Live
    • Once you are logged in to YouTube, go to
    • Click the “Create” button in the top-right corner.
    • Select “Go Live” and follow the prompts.
    • It takes 24 hours to activate your account for livestreaming.
    • You can have students ask questions and make comments via the chat.
  • Netflix Party
    • If teachers and students have access to Netflix, they can use the Netflix Party extension to synchronize video playback and add group chat while watching.