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Chapter 16     Using Video in the Classroom

"Anyone brought up with the belief that viewing television is a passive experience would be surprised by the unanimity with which both broadcasters and scholars have rejected that idea. The best programs lead students to carry on their learning activities, past the program and beyond the classroom, and to practice problem solving in the nonacademic world."

                          —Professor Emeritus Wilbur Schramm, Former Director,
                              Institute for Communication Research, Stanford University

Kids and TV

Children receive messages from everything around them are particularly susceptible to the messages they see on television.

"Next to parents, television is, perhaps, a child's most influential teacher."
                      —Ernest Boyer, author of Ready to Learn: A Mandate for the Nation

"Young children today watch a lot of television-an average of four hours per day!"
                       - Kids and Computers

"When used effectively, educational software can improve problem solving, language development, creativity, collaboration and communication."

Teachers use video for a variety of reasons.
Video can breathe meaning and life into nearly any lesson.

Using video, a teacher can:

  • provide a common experience for all students.
  • generate interest and stimulate imagination.
  • offer a different perspective on or another approach to a topic.
  • connect students with faraway place.
  • demonstrate abstract ideas.
  • stimulate the development of critical thinking skills.
  • equalize educational opportunities.
  • enhance self-respect and break down social stereotypes.
  • promote critical viewing skills and media awareness.
  • Video can be a powerful tool for meaningful learning. It all depends on you.  The key to using video effectively is preparation. Maximize learning opportunities by encouraging students to become active viewers.

    Before Viewing:

  • Preview the video for appropriate content.
  • Review related print and Web materials, especially the teacher's guide that may accompany the video series.
  • Determine whether you will use the entire video or only relevant segments to illustrate objectives in your curriculum. Remember: There is no rule that require you to use an entire program-even a few seconds of video can be very powerful

  • Prepare the classroom environment and video equipment.

  • Choose lighting to enhance the learning experience. Low light increases the dramaticeffect while brighter light may be helpful in eliminating distractions.
  • Position yourself to maximize your "facilitator" role.
  • Close proximity to the television monitor makes it easier to point to the screen and explain unfamiliar information. Or you may prefer to move freely among students and control the video image with the remote.
  • Stimulate students' pre-existing knowledge.
  • Have students write down what they are sure they know about the subject and what they think they know. After viewing the video, have students revise their lists based on what they have learned.
  • Divide students into small groups. Have each group summarize what they know about the subject and identify questions they may have. After viewing the video have the groups answer questions, discuss new information and formulate new questions.
  • Focused viewing questions can make viewing more meaningful by encouraging active viewing and evaluation of content.
  • Give students a task, something they are responsible for remembering or writing down, such as interesting facts or personal responses.

  • During Viewing:

  • Give students a focused viewing assignment.
  • Focused viewing questions can make viewing more meaningful by encouraging active viewing and evaluation of content.
  • Give students a task, something they are responsible for remembering or writing down, such as interesting facts or personal responses.
  • Use one short segment at a time and direct the learning experience.
         -  Focus clearly on a defined objective.
         - A short segment can be shown at the beginning, middle or end of a lesson.
         - Control the pace of the viewing experience and the amount of information.
         - Classify, analyze and discuss each segment thoroughly.
         - Increase observation and listening skills through repeated viewing of the
             same segment (just as you would review printed source material).
  • Press "Pause" often.
  • Take time to identify and clarify what the students are watching.
  • Stop to hypothesize and predict answers whenever a question is asked.
  • Clarify new vocabulary as it is used.
  • Let students ask for a PAUSE to allow for immediate feedback to their personal interests and comments.

  • Try viewing without the sound.

  • Provide your own video commentary and eliminate any narration that may be inappropriate for your students.
  • Identify students' prior knowledge or assess what they have learned by having them provide their own narration.
  • Encourage students to share their own questions as they view without sound. Then view the program with sound to discover whether these questions have been answered.
  • Use video without the picture.
  • Cover the screen with paper or turn it around.
  • Have students listen and gather ideas before viewing.
  • What roles do the music, visuals and narration play?
  • After listening to a video, have students create their own visual images and compare them with the video images.

  • Try a second viewing.

  • For younger students especially, the first viewing may elicit emotional responses. A second viewing vies them a chance to view more objectively.
  • Use a second viewing to focus on additional curriculum content.
  • Try closed-captioning.
  • Use closed captions as a reading reinforcement with or without the sound.
  • Closed captions are effective to use with English-language learners.

  • After Viewing:

    To make video a starting point for active learning, consider how the video will tie in to extension activities, including discussion.

    Ideas for Younger Students

    Turn To Your Neighbor
    After viewing a video program, have students "turn to their neighbor" and ask them to explain something about the program.

    Tea Party
    While viewing a video, have students record the most interesting fact they learned from the program. After the video, have a "tea party" during which students walk around the room, greet each other and exchange their interesting facts. Younger students can be provided with a "Did you know___?" form to complete by drawing a picture or noting a key word. Although each student is responsible for only one fact, he or she will be reminded of many additional facts through this process. Following the activity, the facts can be categorized and organized for further study.

    Quick Write
    In a personal journal or on paper, have students write quickly for two minutes To record any thought that comes to mind after viewing a program or segment. This activity is especially effective to record personal thoughts following emotionally stimulating programs.

    Four Corners
    Choose four main concepts or topics in the video and label each corner of the room with one of the concepts. For example, if exploring camouflage, the four corners might be shading, mimicry, deceptive coloration and schooling. Ask the students to choose a corner of the room that matches the concept they wish to explore. Plan an activity for the students in each corner and have them share their findings with the class. This technique can be very effective for initiating class discussions on different concepts in one segment.

    Show, Not Tell
    After watching a highly visual video, such as a segment on garbage dumps, ask students to write a paragraph called "The Garbage Was Gross," emphasizing the use of descriptive words and metaphors while avoiding the use of the words garbage or gross.

    After asking a follow-up question to a video program, have students pair with a neighbor to discuss their responses. Invite students to share their responses with the whole group.

    After viewing a video program, ask a follow-up question that has several possible responses. To have a roundtable, have students make a list of possible responses on one piece of paper circulated among them. To have a round-robin, share responses orally.

    Comparing And Contrasting
    To encourage students to compare and contrast ideas, divide them into groups to make Similarities/Differences Charts. After presenting two ideas, have each group discuss similarities and record them on chart paper. Then have students discuss and record differences. Have students present their charts. Discuss each diagram and supply additional information to extend their understanding of the topic. If necessary, review the video to add to the lists.

    Numbered Heads Together
    Divide students into groups of four, assigning each student a number (from 1 to 4). After asking a follow-up question to a video program, have students "put their heads together" to assure that everyone in the group understands the answer. Call a number (1 through 4) and have the students with that number respond to the question.

    Divide students into groups of four, assigning each student a number (from 1 to 4). While watching a video program, assign each group member a different concept to understand or a question to answer. For example, in a program about the water cycle, No. 1 students might explore how the removal of salinity makes water potable, while o. 2 students might examine the problem of organic waste. After viewing the program, have each group member teach what he or she has learned to the other members of the group. Have each student quiz the group members until everyone understands how the pieces of the "puzzle" fit together to make one "picture."

    Describe a problem that can be solved from the content in a video segment - for example, how to determine the area of a rectangle. After viewing the video, have groups of students determine the solution. Each group may decide how to approach the problem, but the approach must involve all members. Alternatively, they may solve the problem together, but each student must be able to explain the solution.

    Using Close-Captioning

    Video can be an effective and powerful tool for learning English. The visual element is appealing and familiar to students, and teachers can use video to provide experiences otherwise unavailable in the classroom.

    A study by the National Captioning Institute found that second-language learners show increased acquisition of vocabulary and greater conceptual understanding when captioned text is combined with video.

    Suggestions for TEYL Teachers :

  • Use PAUSE frequently to check for understanding, provide examples, make comparisons, ask questions, and provide expanded descriptions.
  • View dramatic programs so students can observe the way characters communicatethrough spoken language, nonverbal gestures and body language. Have students observe how communication varies according to the setting.
  • Repeat the viewing of a program to discover additional environmental clues.
  • Have students discuss how the content of a program reflects situations they've experienced.
  • How would they handle a similar situation?
  • Use closed-captioned programs to enhance word recognition, pronunciation and spelling skills, and repetition of key vocabulary.
  • Have students record their thoughts and opinions about a program in a variety of ways, such as creative writing, original artwork, journals, autobiographies and student-written skits.
  • Show a program without sound, providing your own narration or giving students an opportunity to ask questions based on the visuals.
  • Use video to provide background images for student reading. For example, if students are reading a historical piece from colonial America, it may help to first show them a program presenting early pilgrims and their dress, homes and towns.
  • Select video programs that model language and provide settings and events familiar to students' real-life experience
  • Some links from PBS on using video and TV in the classroom:

    Articles & Info: Kids and the Media
    Reinforce healthy TV viewing by helping children make sense of what they see on TV and how it relates to the world around them.

    PBS Children's Programming
    PBS offers a multitude of award-winning television for youngsters ages 2-12. Inspiring educational shorts run between programs to create a seamless, commercial-free viewing experience for children.

    PBS TeacherSource
    Discover the many ways to use PBS programming in your classroom.

    Chapter 17
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