Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Using Video in the Classroom & Canonization Truths


With all the exciting energy surrounding the celebration of the Church's most recently named Saints, I have been finding even more resources to use in teaching about canonization and our universal call to sanctity. For example, my friend Sarah (thanks Sarah!) sent me this GREAT video:

Awesome high quality, concise but strong explanation, executed well with a small touch of humor.  Perfect for kids and adults alike.

"Great!" you might be thinking. "A video.  Kids love videos.  Pop that baby on and let the TV do the teaching."

Just kidding- only a little sarcasm about overusing videos in the classroom.  I'd like to offer some ideas on using videos well in you Religious Ed program:

1. Shorter is better no matter the audience.  Second graders and adults alike will remember more from a great three minute video rather than a great sixty minute video.  If you have a long video you would like to use, pick out your favorite scenes and show those specifically, including pauses for discussion.  Spread out the video and make it a tool instead of the main instructional source.  Don't be afraid to rewatch all or part of a video to review or emphasize important information.

2. Lead up is key.  The prep that you give before the video even begins will often determine if the video is worthwhile or not.  Do the kids have the right background knowledge before you push play?  It is hard to interrupt the flow of a video to explain something.  Breaking from the momentum to explain a new word or a concept is distracting and sometimes defeats the purpose of using the video.  Give them what they need to understand the big picture before, and let the video reinforce and enrich what they already know.

3.  Go for quality.  Kids are seeking authentic truth, and they can smell fake a mile away.  Take the time to find good videos if you choose to use them.  Well made, relevant, age appropriate, engaging...look for those things as you preview possible options.  A bad video is worse than no video at all.  (Note that I didn't say new as a requirement.  Original School House Rock and 1950's Fulton Sheen make frequent showings in my classroom.)

4. Think outside of the box.  Use clips from popular movies or TV shows to start a discussion about morality.  Show a local news segment to talk about social justice.  Play the music video instead of a song to promote a different kind of reflection & prayer.  Pick a chunk of a longer movie to illustrate the most important point of a large idea. 

5. Give them a purpose for watching.  You don't necessarily have to assign them a worksheet to fill out as they watch, but let them know the reason the video is going to be a part of the class.  Give them something to listen for.  Ask them to be ready to connect the video to current topics.  Prepare them to complete a task after discussing the video.  For example, I like the use the "exit ticket" idea sometimes when we watch videos.

The exit ticket idea is simple- learners must give their teacher a short written statement about what they have learned that class before they can "leave" for the next part of their day.  Mine very often take the form of post it notes.  I also have made this handy dandy poster for them to share/organize their post its.  It makes grading easier for me and automatically turns into a resource for sharing ideas for the entire class.

I started with a piece of posterboard and divided the bottom part into 4"x4" sections.  I then wrote a large number (1-30) inside each square.  You can just barely see that toward the bottom of this picture where there are no post its.  Each student in my class has a number according to alphabetic order, so this way I can tell at a glance whose exit ticket is still missing, and the kids know exactly where to place their work.

Then I attached a plastic page protector sideways at the top of the posterboard.  That allows me to create a quick title on a sheet of paper, slide it in, and give the poster a focus.  This method allows me to reuse this poster over and over.  It is on year two right now, and has held up pretty well despite being used for tons of different topics.

This topic is also able to be reused for many different ideas- Which Two Are True?  For this exit ticket assignment, the kids had to write three "facts" about the Canonization video above after watching it.  The trick is that only two of them could be true.  One of them had to be incorrect but related.  On this occasion, I had them write the incorrect fact in red and the others in black, but if I hadn't this very easily could have turned into an interactive student assignment where their peers would have to try to find the two that were true and the one that was wrong.
For example, here is one student's take after watching the Canonization video:
1. We still use the same process as we did in the first centuries. (wrong!)
2. Miracle has to happen after death. (true!)
3. The feast day can be on a different day than the day the saint died. (true!)

Here are a couple more examples at what the students walked away with:

This video has added a lot to our already interesting Sainthood and Canonization study.  I hope that some of these ideas inspire you to find the best way to incorporate videos into your classroom.  
On that note, do you have any favorite videos that you love to use in your Religious Ed curriculum?  And do you have any great ways to teach with them beyond pushing play?  
I'd love to hear your ideas in the comment box :)

(If you are interested in the JP2 and John XXIII info seen here, click on the image below.  I also have a couple posts about how to appeal to visual and auditory learners and incorporate technology into your classroom that you might like to check out.)

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea of giving them a purpose for watching. I have been using Sketch Notes this year but am looking forward to trying Which Two Are True?