Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Don't Press Play and Walk Away! #DENSI2014

For as many years as I can remember, I've been helping teachers to use video more effectively in their classrooms. There is something about walking into a classroom and finding students falling asleep with a video playing that just annoys me. It's bad practice. It's not learning. Let's all agree to stop, NOW!

How then do we effectively use video in the classroom? It's a lot more than pressing play and walking away. The key to using video in the classroom is to engage with it. Stop the video as often as every thirty seconds to ask questions, provide time to infer what will happen next or even assign a writing activity for the students to create their own ending. In a typical 55 minute class period, I've never used more than 5 minutes of video.  

Check out the snippet below for a glimpse into a training that I provide for teachers. The video used is Dear America: Picture of Freedom: The Story of Clotee, a Slave Girl: Belmont Plantation, Virginia, 1859 from Discovery Education.
Shameless plug alert: If your district/school isn't a subscriber to Discovery Education, what are you waiting for?!?! Beyond thousands of videos aligned to standards, it offers HD images, educational songs, writing prompts, sound effects, and so very much more! It is one of the non-negotiables in our district every year. Now back to using video in the classroom!
All of the activities are content generic. They work well with most any topic and of course are cross curricular to bring in multiple subjects. The video below provides an overview of some of these strategies with details about them below it. This "cheat sheet" provides some strategies for using video in class.

My favorite strategies are:
  • Remove the "picture" from the video
    Simply turn off the projector, put on the lens cap or even put your hand in front if you have to. When learners do not have a visual, it forces active listening. Beyond the script, what other sounds will students hear? Footsteps? Water? Wildlife? Ask probing questions about dialect, accents, and colloquialisms. 
  • Remove the "sound" from the video
    Feel free to mute the speakers or even unplug them. This activity encourages active viewing. For the most part, the room will be completely silent. Students will then create the dialogue or guess what just occurred. Based on age and skill of the students, this is a great place to read body language, hypothesize on the setting, or even find background music for the scene. 
  • Create your own ending
    Depending on the skill or concept being taught and explored, this activity partners very well with creative writing, inferenceing, hypothesizing and more. Provide learners the time to create an ending for a clip/segment. It could be an extension of only the clip or a "what-if" ending. "What if" you were on there? What would the ending be? "What-if" that happened present day? What would the ending be? "What-if" that character had this trait or flaw? What would the ending be? This activity is really only limited by imagination. 

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