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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Video Viewing with a Purpose

So what's the point?

While this question irks many teachers, I don't mind hearing it. Not at all. I often ask it aloud to remind students that it's an acceptable response (if asked in a genuine way). The question shows me that a student is attempting to find meaning in the source material, whether it's a poem, novel, writing assignment, or video.

One fabulous tool I recently discovered for bringing purpose and focus to videos is EDpuzzle. EDpuzzle allows you to add response options within videos to make them more interactive. The site does this by allowing you to embed surveys, quiz questions, and discussion opportunities within the video itself.

Video Choice Options
Students access your video projects publicly through a URL, or via a student sign-in to your class account. Once students log on and enter a one-time class code, they are assigned to your class roster for all subsequent log-ins. Why go with this option? Because the site will keep track of all registered students' scores and responses; upon completion of a multiple choice format video, then, you will have fully scored quizzes for all students.

What the site does not allow (as of yet) is a way in which to embed the videos. So take just a few minutes to view a sample video quiz so you can get a feel for what the site can do.

More recently, in preparation for a visit from the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey to our school, I had students view a Spark Notes video of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar with embedded EDpuzzle questions and comments in order to familiarize themselves with the basic story line and characters. You can check that video out and try the quiz for yourself.

If you accessed one of my video quizzes (you can still go back and try one out) you may be wondering how the site will score open ended responses. It won't. Open ended responses are recorded, and the teacher then scores those at a later time, marking them simply right or wrong with the click of a button.

It's a simple site, but with lots of potential. Especially when you consider that you can trim a video, add voice overs, and embed comments without demanding a student response. Also beneficial is the fact that when the video has finished running, it returns to the starting point rather than showing a selection of related (and often inappropriate) videos.

If you're wondering how you might use the site in the classroom, read on.

Expand Upon Vocabulary

A recent vocabulary word in our Greek and Latin rooted list was fractal. That word is a fairly new one with an interesting history, so I shared the video below to provide a glimpse into the work of Benoit Mandelbrot, the Father of Fractals.

Build Background

Before our annual visit from a live Shakespeare company, I wanted students to understand the basic plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The following video gave them the basic events and characters, just enough to follow the action the next day.
For fun, contrast the use of lines from MSND in the original play to how they're used in this Levi's 501 Commercial.

Start a Discussion

Because many students' preconceptions of the Holocaust are from by Hollywood films, I wanted to begin a discussion from this perspective and branch out from there. The trailer from Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust provides students with some seeds for thought which can lead to a deeper conversation (the EDpuzzle version appears in a link below the video):
You can see how I added the opportunity for students to engage with the video by viewing that same video on EDpuzzle. Note that you can hit Continue to advance the video if you don't care to leave comments.

Tell a Story

The Internet contains many wonderful wordless videos that beg the viewer to discover the story through music and images alone. Students can narrate or paraphrase a short film such as Going Green:

Tackle a Tough Topic

I wouldn't interrupt a video like Losers (below), but might provide an open opportunity at the video's end to leave thoughts. It's a tough video to watch, with coarse language, but trust me, these are the names students call each other.

Talent Show is more PG-13 when it comes to cyberbullying if Losers is too intense for your kids.

React and Reflect

In Why Students Don't Read What is Assigned in Class, high school students share how they rarely read what is assigned in class, but steal time to read what interests them instead:

Read Closely

This graphic interpretation of the Gettysburg Address fits in well with suggested CCSS curriculum (sorry; it wouldn't embed here). Similarly, the video reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" below is aided by subtitles, sound effects, music, images, and the creepy voice of Christopher Walken which allow students to better understand the mood of the classic poem:

Where to Find Great Videos 
  • Check out the teacher favorites submitted to Video of the Week and Share Your Favorite YouTube Videos for Teaching at English Companion Ning (you will need to create a free account with the English Companion Ning to view these links). A terrific source since teachers will often explain how the use the video they recommend. 
  • Future Shorts is a YouTube channel containing over 400 extremely well-produced short videos. Great for discussion starters, examples of story elements, etc. You already saw one above called Losers. 
  • Videos with a message at 
  • DenĂ©e Tyler's video blog is a wonderful collection that's well organized, with videos vetted by a teacher.
  • Most lesson suggestions on Film-English are EFL, but you might find videos there which you can use in unique ways.
  • Awesome Stories is a site that is, well, awesome, in and of itself, but the lesson plans there are often accompanied by videos which reside on YouTube. Some great inspiration if you're looking to try EDpuzzle but don't have a topic in mind just yet. Recently designed, and looks great!
  • Online Video in Education is a juggernaut collection of videos and articles which will really opoen your eyes to what is freely available in media online.
  • 90+ Videos for Tech and Media Literacy features some wonderful, annotated recommendations for those topics.
  • And, of course, the usual suspects such as YouTube and TED Talks. TEDEd has its own site and opportunities for creating interactive video which you should also explore. The Art of the Metaphor is a pretty good example of the high quality stuff you can find there.

What other sites for videos can you recommend? Leave a comment below to share a favorite site for video suggestions, or to share the URL of an EDpuzzle video you've created.


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