Have you ever heard teachers saying something like this: ‘At the beginning of my lesson I bring a video clip to help my students feel (more) engaged in the topic of my lesson, or to motivate them more’. I got curious what can help us [teachers, trainers] see if this engagement is really happening, and what can help us ‘measure’ this during a lesson.
My own teaching belief is that setting a small watching task for a video clip helps students to have a reason for watching (brings focus, creates a purpose, etc.) and also helps the teacher to ‘measure’ what students were able to understand, feel, ‘get’ out of the clip.
Below I am brainstorming a possible list of small tasks to set before showing a short video clip at the beginning of a lesson. By ‘short’ I mean a video of about 30 seconds -3 minutes long. In fact I decided to challenge myself and picked a 12-second long video. It is about a day in a Korean student’s life.
You can first read the list of activities, then watch the video, or watch it first. I think it is familiar to many of you actually.
So, let’s see how many of the ideas below can work with this particular piece. Important reminder: it is a warmer, so we imagine that we it is done/shown at the very beginning of a lesson.
- students watch the clip without sound and answer: ‘What are the people in the video/voice at the background talking about?’ then watch again and check themselves
- students count how many colors/people/women/kids, etc. they can see
- students watch the first 5-10 seconds, then predict what the remaining part is about, then watch the rest and check themselves
- students watch and guess what the character(s) in the video would write in [this] essay
- students watch and guess what the character(s) in the video would think about the topic of today’s text
- students watch and write 2 questions to the people in the video
- students watch and name three things that are similar in their life and the life of people in the video
- students watch and ask one question to ‘test’ their partner’s (or even teacher’s!) memory about this video
- students watch and choose a title for the video
- students watch and guess today’s _____ [lesson objective/topic/grammar point, etc.]
- students watch and guess how the teacher felt when s/he found this video
- students watch and guess how the teacher wanted them to feel about the lesson/topic today
- students watch and write down  things that [surprised them, that they had already known about, they have never done themselves, their family is talking about a lot, their parents want them to do, etc.]
- students watch and imagine themselves in the video: what would they do? What would they say? To whom?
- students watch and discuss: do they often click on a video like this? Why, or why not?
- students watch and make 2-3 sentences using the grammar point/words from the current book chapter/text/topic, etc. (can be a competition, for example, individual or between small groups)
- students watch and answer: ‘Who made this video and for what?’
- students watch and answer: ‘Where was this clip first posted?’
- students watch and answer: ‘Who would you send the link to (and why?)’
- students watch and answer: ‘Who would you not show this video (and why?)’
- students watch and answer: ‘Would you show it to your ______ [parents/best friend, etc.]?’ (and why?)
- … **
**The very last bullet point is inviting you to suggest more possible tasks, especially if the clips are different from the link I chose for this brainstorming. Please share your own idea in the comments!
One more note about the above: in my list of tasks I see one more (teaching and training) belief : it’s possible to do more than one thing with the same material… I think I am starting to state the obvious, which is a sign to finish writing. Thank you for reading!
A couple of links I found helpful when thinking about this topic:
Mike Griffin’s blog post where he reflected on his beliefs about using video in class, plus a great discussion in the comments. (Also, thank you Mike for making this list longer!)
Lijljana Havran’s post where she is sharing 6 examples of how a video can be integrated into a lesson, and writes about video editing as a helpful tool to widen our repertoire (and more great links here!)
One more great post for two reasons: some of the ideas how to use a video in class can make my own list above longer, and also the selection of the short clips can be used in class with the ideas you create.
And finally, an e-mail debate between two great educators on Why Use Video to Learn English.
Thank you for reading! 🙂