Teaching with video

Silent viewing activities

Silent viewing means turning off the sound on the TV or monitor and making use of the visuals on their own. This is most easily accomplished with the MUTE button on the remote. Silent viewing will be a PREDICTION technique when students are viewing for the first time, and a REPRODUCTION technique when they have already seen and heard the section being used for silent viewing.

a) Prediction

Students can talk about EVENTS ( What’s happening on the screen?) or DIALOGUE (What are they saying?)

They will be able to predict dialogue, i.e. guess what people are saying, throughout the course.

b) Reproduction

Reproduction (or ‘retelling’) can also be divided into REPRODUCTION OF DIALOGUE and REPRODUCTION OF EVENTS. Reproduction of dialogue might be most effective where there are useful formulas, fixed expressions and points of intonation or pronunciation. Reproduction of events tends to focus on narrative tenses, and on sequences.

c) Random sound down (Cloze listening)

This may be done at any time, but is particularly suitable when viewing the whole episode again. Turn the sound down or mute the sound at random  intervals asking students to fill in the missing dialogue.

Sound only activities

You can play a section of one of the videos with the picture turned off so that they hear the dialogue but are unable to see the action. This can be done by using the brightness controls on the television, by unplugging the picture connectors (BNC or yellow phono leads, on sets where sound and picture have separate leads) or most simply by placing something in front of the screen, such as a jacket or a sheet of cardboard.

Students can be asked either to predict what is happening visually, or to use the dialogue as a memory spur to recall what happened visually.

See ‘Random Sound Down’ above. A parallel activity can also be done by obscuring the picture with card at random intervals.

Freeze framing (still picture) activities

Freeze framing means stopping the picture, using the FREEZE FRAME, STILL or PAUSE (II or > I <) control.

FRAME ADVANCE or STILL ADVANCE moves the still picture forward one frame at a time. It can be used to explore the nuances of an event or of a facial reaction.

a) Prediction (What next?)

Prediction occurs when freeze framing is used during the initial viewing of a section. You can freeze frame and ask about either EVENTS (What’s going to happen?) or DIALOGUE (What are they saying? / What are they going to say next? ). See Silent Viewing above.

b) Reproduction

When students have already seen a section, they will be using memory to reproduce either what is being said, or to describe what is happening, or what has just happened.

c) Using the background

There is a wealth of detail in the background of the pictures which can be exploited by freeze framing. Teachers and students can often find something new even when they have done a particular lesson many times. The background also gives access to material about British life and culture.

One of the main differences between videos designed for educational broadcast and videos  designed for classroom or individual use  lies in the presumption of the ability to use freeze frame to explore and exploit background detail. The camera does not need to linger on things in the background, they can always be singled out later with the freeze frame control.

d) Thoughts and emotions

Video gives us an additional dimension of information about characters’ body language, facial expressions, gesture, stance, reaction and response. This information can be exploited in the classroom. Freeze frame and ask about feelings and emotions.    In some activities Students can deduce further information about the characters, based on what they have picked up from the video, but requiring the use of their imagination.

Paired Viewing Activities

Paired activities take more effort in setting up, but the results justify the trouble.

a) Description

In this activity one student in each pair turns their back to the screen. The other student faces the screen, and the video is played silently. The student who can see the screen describes what they can see to their partner.

Both students will wish to hear the dialogue later.

The ‘passive’ student in each pair will be motivated to see what they have missed as well! It is worth making sure that the partners swop roles, or that the activity is done twice, with different sections so that each partner gets a chance to perform the ‘active’ role.

b) Narration

This is more difficult to organise, as it involves sending half the class out of the room while the remaining half watch a section of a video. When they return they are told about the video in pairs by those who saw it. (See the note above about swopping roles.) In school situations, this can be done by team teaching, and working with two parallel classes at the same time.

c) Split class: Description / Narration

Half the class is sent out. The remainder watch a section silently. Then the two halves swop places. The ones that were outside now listen to the same section with the picture covered (see: Sound only, above.) The students are then paired off. One student in each pair has SEEN the video, but hasn’t heard the dialogue. The other student has only HEARD the dialogue. They work together to piece the story together.

Role plays

Students can be asked to role play sequences they have seen in any videos.

We have found it more interesting to get them to role play things which are NOT seen in the video, but which they can guess from having seen the video.

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