Friday, June 27, 2014

ACL Institute 2014: Paper Slide Videos

On a purely sentimental level and having nothing to do with the activity in the title, this is a bittersweet presentation for me. This is my last presentation as a member of the Excellence Through Classics board, after six years of serving. I have grown to really love the board and the people who serve on it and will miss the chance to work closely with them in the future.

So this is one of the easiest activities I've ever picked up at a teacher's workshop. I learned about it at a Discovery-hosted workshop in my county and have used it since as a quick way to freshen up our routine when it starts to feel like we're in a rut in my classroom. It takes no prep (unless you're like me, but I'll explain that below) and uses up around a class period. Paper slide videos even give you material to use in your class afterward. It's basically the perfect activity.

The first time you assign students to do paper slide videos, there will be lots of instruction, some confusion, etc., but it becomes something easy by the second or third time you do it because the term is pretty self-explanatory.

The Process

I like to do these after we've done a reading. The examples I'm going to be posting were created after we'd read the Aesop's fable "The Dog and the Lion." We had done all the build up (TPRS, dictatio, a preliminary read-through individually, in groups, and with me, all with lots of question and answer) and I was ready to let students create.

After all of that, the next day, students found themselves with desks already grouped (I like to do that because it lets them choose their groups but keeps them to the arrangement I create--they are not allowed to move desks, so they have to be in groups of three, or however I have them arranged) and copy paper piled in each group. Students then are instructed to summarize the story in their own words and create a picture for each sentence. These are the paper "slides".  

Once a group has their slides complete (I don't ever require them to color them, but many do; I only require that the video is clear, obvious, and is finished by the end of the period) the students go off to the side to record their video. I have them do it with their smart phones; it's a safe bet in my school that at least one student in each group has a phone that can do the videoing. The video is simple; students focus on the slides and read the Latin out loud. That's what makes this such a simple activity that can be completed in just a period.

The most difficult part of this activity for the teacher is finding a way to access the results. I've tried several things and what works best for me is to have a cord for each kind of smart phone to plug into the usb port in my student computer. However, that was a $40 investment--one that I felt was completely worth it because now I can do all kinds of videos with my students, but you might not either be willing or able to spend that kind of money. 

Other options:
  • Ask certain students to be responsible for bringing their usb wires to class. I've done this, but it's random at best.
  • Watch the videos on the phone. It limits the chance you have to use the videos as material for class, but it does let you verify that the kids did their work.
  • Set up a mailbox of sorts to let students send you the video. I have tried Dropbox with varying results, and, since Dropbox is blocked on student computers in my county, I have had students submit work using dropittome, a secure file deposit system. Of course, that still requires them to have a means of getting the video off their phones.
  • Have students email you their videos or post them on youtube.

What does it look like?

I'm so glad you asked. Here are a few examples from the Aesop story mentioned above. In the story, a lion and a dog run into each other. The dog makes fun of the lion for working so hard and starving all the time. The lion replies that he would rather go hungry than be a slave like the dog.

After the videos are finished...

We generally are finished with the period. A few students might take theirs home to finish them because they are not completely done yet.

However, the next day there are several ways to use these videos as new material for the class.
  • Watch them! Even if you do nothing else, they generally want to see all the videos the class created.
  • Watch them with lots of question and answer. I generally pause it every so long and point at the pictures and ask questions about them.
  • Have students watch the videos and write reviews of them in Latin. I don't do this very often because it generally requires a lot more work on my end. I have to book a computer lab, organize the videos into something all the kids have access to (I usually use Padlet for that), and set up a way, again, for students to deliver their final results to me.
That's it! It's honestly deceptively simple, and once you have trained students to make them, all you have to do is say "Paper Slide Videos" and tell them the story to focus on, and then watch your students create!

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