A post from Bridget
Language is hard to express in words. Voltaire
Last week, Jill blogged about a chapter we wrote on developing vocabulary through multimodal expression (Castek, Dalton & Grisham, in press). I wanted to expand on the Vocab Vid strategy (Dalton & Grisham, 2011) and share some examples created by students in my graduate course on adolescent literacy. Their videos “show not tell” the potential of this multimodal word learning strategy. I have also included a handout at the end of the post that you can adapt for use with your students. I’ve learned that some structuring of the process results in more creative and effective videos.
The way that I‘ve been thinking about VocabVids is in the form of a short, live action story (30-45 seconds). Language learning is social – we learn with and about vocabulary as we experience it in specific contexts (Gee, 2004). We also know that many students benefit from multimedia learning, especially in relation to vocabulary (Mayer, 2005; Dalton, Proctor, Uccelli, Mo & Snow, 2011).
To create VocabVids, students work in small groups to develop a scenario for use of the word, discussing the nuances of word meaning and relationships between words. The planning process involves getting to know the word through initial research with tools such as an online thesaurus and an image search of the term. Students brainstorm a context for the word, asking who, what, where, when and why would this word be used? Skits are improvised, filmed, reviewed, and reshot if necessary. I deliberately have kept the process short – the video is planned and filmed in about 15 minutes – and the product is a live action video that does not involve editing. The final products are presented in class for discussion of the words and digital video skills, with an option to publish to a larger audience on the school website, YouTube, Teacher tube, etc.
But what about word choice? I would choose words for different purposes. To begin, you might ask students to select from a list of words that meet Beck and McKeowan’s notion of tier 2 words – words that are important to know and which aren’t part of everyday word knowledge. Or, you might want to open it wide and let students choose their own words, which could be quite specific to their interests, linked to a novel they are reading, or to a unit they are studying in science and social studies. Encourage them to choose a word that lends itself to being acted out (don’t avoid abstract words – they can be excellent candidates).
Student-designed Vocab Vids
The following 6 videos are posted with permission of the authors who are graduate students in my class, EnEd 3400, Reading and Learning with Print and New Media. I’ve highlighted the targeted word and story context for your information. However, I recommend that you and your students try watching the video without knowing the targeted word to see how quickly you can generate a range of guesses. Use the related words and storyline as clues to engage your students in active word learning.
VocabVid 1: ‘Ritual’ by Meridith and Ashley
With a coffee cup and the words ‘routine’, ‘pattern’, and ‘customary habit’, Ashley and Meridith illustrate a morning ritual many of us enjoy – drinking coffee.
VocabVid 2: ‘Conspicuous’ by Leah and Max
Playing Hide and Seek? As Leah chides Max, it is very important to be ‘discreet’. Since Max is usually ‘obvious’, ‘blatant’ and ‘eye-catching’, will he be able to find a hiding spot that is not ‘conspicuous’?
VocabVid 3: ‘Diminutive’ by Katie R and Laura
Laura convinces Katie that the spot on her jeans is ‘little’, ‘tiny’, ‘petite’, even ‘Lilliputian’. It is ‘NOT huge’, as Katie fears, but “diminutive”! Personally, I loved the Lilliputian reference from Gulliver’s Travels.
VocabVid 4: ‘Eerie’ by Erin
Flashing lights and strange noises in the bathroom result in a ‘weird’, ‘spooky’, ‘creepy’, and ‘eerie’ experience for Erin.
VocabVid 5: ‘Lurk’ by Neil and Yumeng
When does ‘lying in wait’ and ‘peeking’ turn into ‘lurking’?! Yumeng helps Neil understand the difference.
VocabVid 6: ‘Braggadocio’ by Russell and Simon
Technical alert – this video is sideways, but funny!
Why would Russell call his friend a ‘bombast’ and scorn him for his ‘pomposity’ and lack of ‘humility’? Watch ‘braggadocio’ Simon to find out!
STUDENT HANDOUT: 30 Second VocabVid Stories
Your goal: To show, not tell, the meaning of a word in a 30-second digital VocabVid Story
VocabVid Stories are short (about 30-45 seconds) videos that illustrate the meaning of a word through a short skit. The goal is to situate the word within a meaningful context to help us learn and remember the word. And, you will learn something about designing short videos along the way!
1. Research your word to find synonyms, antonyms, and other related words that you can include in your story dialogue. Don’t forget to make note of different forms of the word. The Visual Thesaurus or other online thesaurus tools are great resources for exploring the meaning of your word.
2. Brainstorm possible contexts for how the word might be used. As you’re brainstorming, think about how you can act out your video skit.
- Where might you hear this word?
- Who might be saying it?
- What is happening?
- When is the word being used?
- Why are they saying it?
- What kinds of feelings might be associated with this word?
3. Do you need any simple props?
4. What is your location? Where will you film? (Since we are in school, I have made arrangements for you to use this class, the hallway, outside the door at the end of the hall, etc.)
5. Make a sign showing your word in writing (print the word large and clear so that it can be read on screen). You will show this sign at the end of the video.
6. Improvise your skit, giving each other feedback as you go along.
7. Film your skit and review (see the technical advice section on shooting your video and using a Flip camera).
8. Try filming again if needed and select the best one.
Show (and perhaps publish)
9. Share your videos in class and discuss what you learned about these words, as well as what you learned about creating VocabVid Stories.
10. Consider posting your video to a class website, blog, or YouTube (be sure to have everyone’s permission to post)
Technical Tips for Shooting your Video
1. Don’t shoot into the light! (Avoid standing in front of windows).
2. Actors need to face the camera or each other at an angle that still allows them to be seen and heard. It is common for people to turn away from the camera, especially if they are in groups. Watch out for this.
3. Actors need to speak clearly! Be dramatic!
4. Find a quiet spot. Test your volume at the beginning, so you know who needs to be louder or who needs to speak more clearly.
5. Show your vocabulary word on a piece of paper at the end. I have provided markers and paper for you to use.
Flip Camera Directions
- How to Turn Your Camera On: Slide the gray button on the top right side of the camera down. Your camera will automatically turn on.
- How to Begin Shooting: Hold the camera in the vertical position (otherwise, you will get sideways video!). Press the red button to begin filming.
- How to Stop Shooting: Press the red button again. There is no way to pause your videos, so you will have to complete them in one take. But, please film a few takes and compare so that you can choose the best one!
- Zoom In/Out: Press the + button to zoom in and the – button to zoom out.
- How to Play Videos Back: Press the Play button to the left side of the screen. Press it again to go to the next video.
- How to Delete Videos: If you want to delete a video, press the trash can twice.
ONLY KEEP THE FINAL VERSION OF THE VIDEO ON THE FLIP CAMERA. DELETE ALL OTHER VERSIONS BEFORE RETURNING THE CAMERA to Robin – she will download on Bridget’s computer.
Castek, J., Dalton, B., & Grisham, D. (in press). Using multimedia to support students’ generative vocabulary learning. In J. Baumann and E. Kame’enui (Eds.) Vocabulary Instruction: Research to Practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Dalton, B., Proctor, C.P., Uccelli, P., Mo, E. & Snow, C.E. (2011). Designing for diversity: The role of reading strategies and interactive vocabulary in a digital reading environment for 5th grade monolingual English and bilingual students. Journal of Literacy Research, 43 (1), 68-100.
Dalton, B. & Grisham, D. (2011). eVoc strategies: Ten ways to use technology to build vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 64(5), 306–317. DOI:10.1598/RT.64.5.1