Working with Long Videos

Recently on Twitter there was a nice little thread prompted by Kamila Linková, asking for suggestions on what to do with a long (10 minute) video:

And there were a flurry of responses – so many that she wrote this great post entitled “101 Ways to Use a Long Video in the Classroom.”

Last term, long lectures were the staple of my content-based US history/advanced speaking and listening course. In that course, the lectures came from a popular lecture series and were 30 minutes each. I really loved Kamila’s post and wanted to give some more detail on different ways I handle long videos. Keep in mind there is no prescribed framework or ordering of activities, but below is a rough sequence, along with a plethora of options, of what I would typically do.

  1. Watch the video – We’re all probably guilty of assigning a reading or video we haven’t entirely read/watched ourselves. However, it’s going to be really important to watch the whole video in order to determine its different parts, vocabulary, and activities. So, I’d definitely start there and keep some rough notes on major topics, common vocab you are noticing, etc. Yes, it’s a lot of work to watch the video and then plan a number of activities, but, if done well, this video can be used for a number of lessons, so, really you are front-loading the work.
  2. Break it up – You certainly can’t show a really long video all in one go. It is probably going to be too much. So, while watching the video, make sure to mark different sections to work with, essentially making one long video and number of connected short videos. Here, I typically use Windows Movie Maker to literally cut up the video into different parts and remove the sections I no longer want. I then save each clip individually as part 1, 2, 3, etc. This then makes it easier to show videos, import into PowerPoint (where you can also do some rough cutting), and share them with students. Here are some important free tools you may need:
  3. Work with sections – You should choose the sections you want to work with, and think about what you would like to do with each section. Some may be better for note-taking while others might be better for bottom-up listening skills or critical thinking and speaking. With one good clip, here are a number of things I might do (in somewhat of an order):
  4. Vocabulary – Listen (again) or look at the transcript and identify important vocabulary you think students should know. Preteach this in any way you’d like. Here are some suggestions. I often give the words in the sentences from the video so that students get a chance to preview the language as it is found in the video. Here is a PPT example of some vocabulary activities I did in conjunction with this worksheet.

    Working with phrasal verbs from the lecture.

  5. Note-taking – At this point in the lesson/video, I would do a structured note-taking activity. This means providing students with an outline of the video clip rather than a blank piece of paper. For a structured outline, they have to fill in major ideas and some details. Often, I will give the headings of the main ideas and they have to explain the purpose of the main idea as it relates to the topic. Here is a good summary of research that outlines a good model of note-taking instruction.
    • At this stage, I typically have students listen, take notes, share their notes with a partner to identify gaps in information, listen again, and then go through the lecture together, listening in smaller chunks and filling in notes together.
    • Here are two examples of structured notes I have used: example 1, example 2
  6. Discussion – You could write discussion questions, or have students write them themselves! I often have students work with this chart:

    Click to embiggen.

  7. Bottoms up – Typically, after we’ve worked with the overall meaning of a video clip (or series of clips), we do one or two bottom-up listening activities to work on students’ decoding skills. These might include:
  8. Grammar time! – Work with interesting grammar (and other grammaticolexical features) that may appear in the clip and you feel are relevant. Translate this to speaking or writing practice, if possible. One example of this was a video that used a lot of third conditionals / unreal past conditionals (“If we had not dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Japan would have…”). We examined the structure, meaning, and usages of this grammar (including variations in structure, such as “If we didn’t drop the bomb,” which is perfectly acceptable in spoken American English.). Another example is a video that contained a lot of numbers. We worked on saying big numbers, and differentiating between our -teens and -ties (18 vs 80) by focusing on stress placement and intonation. You can also look at pronunciation at this point, too!
  9. Note-taking, again – Moving on to another section of the video, especially towards the end, you could provide less or unstructured note-taking practice in a similar vein as discussed above and in the referenced research article.
    • less/unstructured
  10. More speaking practice! – You should provide more speaking and discussion practice at the end of the video, after it has been watched, listened to, dissected and studied. This can include more critical thinking questions (made by yourself or students), as well as:
    • Audio diaries – Students record an evaluation, answer, or opinion related to the video or a prompt. You provide written feedback on the recording (grammar, pronunciation, vocab, content, etc.) and then students re-record.
    • 3-2-1 academic speaking
  11. Assessment – Finally, you can assess content-knowledge or listening skills via a quiz. Ask questions about the important concepts or re-play clips from the video with specific questions. This can be formative – feeding back into the lesson to target weak areas – or summative…that’s up to you.

There are probably a lot more things to do with a long video. Although I stressed that breaking a video down into different parts is important, it’s also important to eventually get students watching the video from start to finish, especially if sustained listening is a target language situation task (e.g. attending university classes). Perhaps, after all the activities, they can watch it on their own from start to finish, taking new notes and comparing them to their old ones? What are some other ways we can use long videos (and other texts) in the classroom?

3 thoughts on “Working with Long Videos

  1. Thanks, Anthony, for the mention and link to my post as well as for explaining the procedure in detail. I really appreciate it and look forward to trying your ideas.
    Cheers Kamila

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