Teaching Watching. Recipes And Resources.

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These tried and true watching activities will help you get your students watching and communicating in English. The recipes work with most teaching scenarios and situations. Modify with your own basic ingredients (age, level, topic).

This is the fourth in a series of 5 posts. See the posts about Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. Also, view our full handbook – Using Video In The Classroom. Also, Using Silent Video.

1. A Hook. Motivation.

When you think of watching, you think of students truly engaged, glued to the screen. You can use this affordance to activate student interest and background knowledge.

Suggested Level: All Levels.

Ingredients: A high-interest video on the topic you are teaching. See this example for a lesson on “Why are you learning English?”

Instructions: Low prep. Just tell students they are going to watch an interesting video. Play the video. Ask students probing questions after. What is the main topic? Do you relate to the message?

Cooking Tip: There are great videos to introduce any topic. Vimeo and Youtube are now fantastic stable libraries. As with all video you use in class – screen for appropriateness. See our own Top 100 Videos For Teaching English.

Serves Up: interest, motivation, background knowledge, context

 Teaching Watching

2. Retelling. Rewriting.

Video and watching can be used in class as a prompt. Students enjoy and take in the content, language. Then after, they retell the story in their own words or rewrite the story in some form.

Suggested Level: B1 and above

Ingredients: Video with a narrative thread, a story. Here is a nice example.

Instructions: Students in small groups re-tell the story. One student starts and others must continue to re-tell by adding a sentence. Re-ordering activities are also great. Students are given sentences or pictures and must put them back in the right sequence while re-telling the story.

Cooking Tip: Practice the activity beforehand by getting students to retell a story from class or that they are familiar with. Also, with news, a 5 Ws organizer works wonders.

Serves Up: extensive watching, input, repetition, speaking, writing

3. Extensive Watching

Too much of teaching can be “intensive” and kill the enjoyment provided by the content. While it is important to provide students with a task while watching, keeping it simple and also allowing students to relax and “uptake” the language and content is a great strategy.

Suggested Level: All Levels.

Ingredients: high-interest video that supplements your lesson.

Instructions: Provide a very simple task for students to do while watching. It could be just, “What is the main idea?”

Cooking Tip: Students learn a lot of incidental vocabulary while watching with interest and enjoyment. Add SLS (same language subtitles to help student understanding. See a full post on Extensive Watching.

Serves Up: acquisition, motivation, interest, top-down processing

4. Remixing. Remaking.

The remix movement takes an original video and transforms it into something personal and creative. Students as “makers” and creators learn lots of English while making a product they can be proud of. Plus, most students have powerful phone cameras for recording.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: video model for students to reproduce.

Instructions: Show students an example of a video you know they’ll think is very creative and which has a strong structure. Watch. Discuss how it was made. The steps, list together. Then group students and get them making their own “copy” of the video. Share after.

Cooking Tip: Provide students with a structured plan and stage of steps they must complete. See this Lemon Tree remix students made!

Serves Up: personalization, PBL – Project Based Learning. TBLT

5. Analysis. Appreciation. Report.

Students can watch, review and “think about” the video content they watched. It’s a great “extensive watching” activity. Students share their own analyses and grow their media literacy.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: categories for review, video report templates.

Instructions: Provide students with a list of things you want students to look for or rate/review. Compare with each other afterward. What’s similar? What’s different?

Cooking Tip: Do this activity with multiple videos. Also, use commercials, a strong watching material! Students compare commercials for effectiveness.

Serves Up: media literacy, writing, response, critical thinking skills

6. Vocabulary. Grammar. Linguistic Features.

Many videos have thematic vocabulary and examples of “language in use” that students can focus on and pull-out. These words and structures offer students the chance to see how they are used in context.

Suggested Level: All Levels.

Ingredients: video with examples of the language you are teaching.

Instructions: Let students the first time, watch the video and “have a go”. After, ask what in the video was highlighted for learning. Then, watch again and ask students to note the vocabulary and language forms you want to focus on.

Cooking Tip: See the powerful video “Words” with collocations. Or Ikea: Homes.

Serves Up: vocabulary, chunks, collocations, grammar, linguistic features, functions.

7. Prediction

Teachers should not think of video as an “unmalleable” material. It’s so flexible. Rewind, repeat, slow down and pause are just some easy affordances. Prediction offers a powerful form of getting students to respond to their watching.

Suggested Level: All Levels

Ingredients: a video that has a strong narrative thread or one purposefully made for prediction like “What Happens Next?”

Instructions: Preview your video. At selected points, pause and ask the students to predict what will happen next. Then, play and see if student predictions were true. Continue until the watching is complete.

Cooking Tip: Add subtitles to help student understanding. Provide structures for students to make prediction statements. “I think …” “My guess is …” etc … See this story for a great prediction activity.

Serves Up: guessing, future tense, opinions, engagement, story

10. Enjoyment. Your Own Way

There are so many ways to use video. As mentioned, it is a very flexible, malleable material and use in ways that work for both you the teacher and your students.

I also want to stress, that teachers need to provide more opportunities for students to just “take in” the video and even enjoy it. Too often, lessons are too “micro” and complex and “full” and really demotivate students with small tasks when all they really want to do is concentrate, try to understand the video.. Focus on the bigger picture when using video. Use one you know will engage your students and aim for student general understanding. Support as needed.

Plus, a good tip is to offer students a transcript to support understanding and/or access to the video so they can review it pre or post-lesson. A kind of flipped video lesson approach.

Enjoy watching activities with your students online or face to face in the physical classroom.




Author: admin
A valued Teaching Recipes staff member. Here to help teachers with their cooking.