I don’t know about you, but we have been reading all we can about Generation Z, trying to understand the why behind the trends we’ve been noticing with middle schoolers across the board. It’s SO fun!

One of the primary things we’ve seen in recent studies is the increase in middle schoolers’ involvement with YouTube and social platforms. But as much as their generation hides behind screens, it’s interesting to see how much they value authenticity, too. Surprisingly, they value it more than just about anything else. I think that’s why YouTube has now been named the second most popular search engine behind Google. Something about it feels more authentic to users, particularly users from Generation Z.

Everything we are reading is saying somewhere between 80% – 95% of Generation Z uses YouTube more than any other social media channel. They visit YouTube to laugh, be entertained by funny content, and keep up to date with the latest and music and entertainment news. They also use it to search “real stories” or “day-in-the-life” videos, “behind-the-scenes” videos, and “how-to” videos. Turns out, teenagers prefer a low-quality video by an unknown person who seems real and authentic to a polished and produced video portraying something teenagers know isn’t reality.

Learning more about what this generation of teenagers connects with caused us to reimagine and rethink the way we do middle school teaching videos for our XP3 Middle School curriculum. After all, we have the best chance of reaching middle school students if we meet them where they already are, right?

We have the best chance of reaching middle school students if we meet them where they already are. Click To Tweet

So, we tried something new!

With a YouTube approach in mind, we decided to experiment with our middle school teaching videos.

We asked ourselves:

  • What YouTube channels are middle schoolers watching the most? (Let us know in the comments if you want to see this list!)
  • How can we teach a lesson with high-quality sound and picture but still come across as real and authentic?
  • How can we create a teaching video that keeps their attention?
  • How can we use humor to communicate a message that triggers an emotional connection to a person or an emotional connection to a topic?

Here’s what we came up with:

1. YouTube Style

Rather than have multiple camera angles, what if we had one camera straight on like the majority of the YouTube channels do? Instead of having our communicators stand up, we now have them sit down in a more casual way, like at a desk, or table, or couch, as if they are talking into the camera on their computer or phone (just like YouTube)!

2. Jump Cuts

Rather than use three communicators and four camera angles to try and keep the attention of a middle schooler, you’ll notice jump cuts throughout the entire video. In the same way that a middle schooler can go from being silly to being completely serious in a split second. This new style follows that pattern. This is also the way most YouTube videos are edited these days so it makes them recognizable and relatable.

3. Bloopers

We added in bloopers throughout the content to keep the feel of the video authentic and real. It also adds in an element of humor to the video in order to create a connection to the person and the topic.

Take a look at the new style:

For this Fall 2018 season, we used this approach in only one of the middle school series called Says Who. It’s a two-week series on authority, and you can check out the full teaching videos in your curriculum media package.

RelatedXP3 Middle School Fall 2018 Season Release

We would love to hear your thoughts on this new style, so let us know how they work in your environment! And thanks for helping us reimagine what it looks like to make resources that reach middle school students where they are.

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