Movie Talk from Ruth

Ruth Fleishman sent us this today and thank you Ruth! –

Hi Ben –

I’ve done a few “Watch & Discuss” (or whatever we are calling it) last year and this year. The discussion here on the blog and Eric’s video have given me some ideas to improve what I do.

I just started one this past week with my beginner 6th graders and then with one group of 7th graders (I just upped the discussion a bit for them). It felt intentional but also free, a nice combination and a little less haphazard than what I’d done in the past.

I actually haven’t gotten to Day 2 yet since I have a horrible not-every-day schedule, but I like the way Day 1 went. I wrote it all out for future reference for myself because I get really scattered. Maybe this is useful to other people as well.

One Way to Do Watch & Discuss
Day 1 prep:
1. Choose short clip with repetitive action.
2. Make a list of all the verbs in the clip that you will use (acquired, familiar, new).
3. Optional – Choose screenshots and create a presentation if you want (no text) This takes time.
I did not use screen shots on Day 1 this time.

Day 1 in class:
1. Establish meaning and TPR the new target verbs first (3 + 1 cognate this time)
2. TPR all the verbs for this clip, extra practice for all – new and old
3. Brief comprehensible introduction to the story in TL
4. Show the clip (all, part, or screen shots depending on you, your classes, and the clip) I showed the whole thing this time without saying anything.
– Sometimes it’s good to not show the end at first.
– Sound off if there is speaking, sound on if it’s just music and sound effects and not distracting.
5. Show the clip again, stopping to ask questions (1-2 word answers), circle, and narrate. Get in as many reps as possible. They’ve already seen it so they won’t be so impatient.
6. Show the clip a third time straight through while students call out words, phrases, whatever they can as they see things happen. They liked this.

Day 2 prep:
1. Create presentation with screenshots if you haven’t already – This takes time.
2. Add text to screenshots.
3. Alternatively, write up the story as an embedded reading. Takes less time than screenshots.
4. OR do both. Use the embedded reading another day.
5. Follow-up activity idea (parallel story, act out, Textivate, cooperative mural – thanks, Angie, essential sentences…)

It’s great how you can use and reuse the same clip, same screenshot PP at different levels; just change the targets, the discussion, and the text. The screenshots take a lot of time, so it’s good to be able to reuse them. Of course, you can also just make fewer of them! I got a little carried away perhaps with my newfound skill.

Day 2+ in class:
1. ROA the story with the screenshots or Embedded Reading – Include as much circling as possible. I sometimes forget to work the story as much as I should.
2. Follow-up activity if time (parallel story, act out, Textivate, cooperative mural, essential sentences…) or another day

Here is my rather long screenshot presentation with text in French and link to the video on the title page. Feel free to make a copy and use as is, change the language, or whatever. It has lots of basic action verbs:

Here is the YouTube clip:



8 thoughts on “Movie Talk from Ruth”

  1. Thanks for this MovieTalk plan. I know I have to work on the backward design with a MovieTalk more.

    I liked what you shared here:

    6. Show the clip a third time straight through while students call out words, phrases, whatever they can as they see things happen. They liked this.

    I tried doing this last year as well, a kind of shout-out retell as you show the movie clip. The entire class got into it. They’re a sense of urgency to shout out the words or phrases as the movie clip is going on. Then, I tried it again for my second MovieTalk some weeks later and their interest had faded some. The third time, weeks later still, and I observed many kids fading out because they knew they couldn’t produce like the handful of superstars.

    Nonetheless, I imagine there is lots of potential in implementing variations of this kind of activity — let’s call it Narrating a Movie Clip.
    — paired narrations… switching speaker and listener with each clip
    — 1 student narrates during clip. Stop clip and class can volunteer details that narrator left out.
    — small group retells… students have screenshots printed on a handout. Students go around and retell the narration one screenshot at a time. (There could be many variations of this. Lynda, of our TCI Chicagoland group, offered the idea of giving students a slip of paper with the targeted structures written so that the listener in these small groups can tally every time the speaker uses a targeted structure.) But this should only be done after getting 100s of reps of the targeted vocab.
    — competitive retells. For those couple of students that are competitive in the room. Class could vote on who retells the story with more language production.

    Now, I realize these are all output activities and our focus here is how to give better input. But, I personally am finding the need to vary up my input with output activities. I’m struggling to have my students sustain attention on my CI so I need to both refine my CI skills and include brief helpings of a variety of output activities so that my kids don’t totally fall out. (It’s worth noting that about 30% of my students have IEPs. Many of my students have lots of room for growth in exercising rigor (thanks Robert) through interpersonal communication skills. Too much squirrellyness and too much English in my classroom.) I know. I know. Ideally I refine my CI skills. But, like Ben and James have said; that 10 minute rule helps keep the class manageable. So, why not do a little output activity after 10 minutes or so of CI?

    1. Sean, I’ve been thinking about and encouraging a little more voluntary output lately, too, for similar reasons. I like your ideas. There are more retell ideas in another post here somewhere. One easy, low-stress-for-the-kids thing to do is have them do a choral reading of the story with me in French. This is probably a super obvious thing to do, but I’d always just had them translate until I saw Sabrina do it this way in Maine. It’s really good for French because the spelling and pronunciation are so different. I have to say, besides knowing never to force it, I’ve been feeling unclear about output the whole time.
      But it’s getting clearer.
      I also am dealing with squirrelyness and too much English in some classes, especially young 6th graders. Good to bring up the 10 minute timer again. That’s always a good thing to do.

  2. I’m into minimizing prep as much as possible. Recently I’ve had the class narrate to me the story and I type it up, embellishing as we go, adding dialogue, etc. I sometimes toggle between the Word doc I’m typing, and the MT video which I am in the middle of showing for the 3rd or 4th time. Sometimes I type my version while they’re doing their free write.

    Then I print it right there in my class. I recently bought a wonderful high output HP1200 black and white printer for my classroom. $79 on eBay (I was reimbursed, thankfully). The high volume cartridge (refillable, cheap!) prints 5000 copies at about 12 copies per minute. So it’s a snap to type up, proof, and print my written story in my room. Then we go right into ROA.

  3. If you (like me) find screenshots helpful, but want to maximize the prep time involved, here are some ways I’ve used them:

    Aural input-based:
    – for Look & Discuss before seeing the short film; aural/oral discussion & PQA of the students based on what they see.
    – for retells of the film clip the day after MovieTalk: show on screen and have whole class, partners, or small teams retell what they see. If they like competition, tally how many statements students (either the whole class or in small groups) can make about each slide.
    – for Look & Discuss, show as many slides on screen as you want in “Slide Sorter” from the View menu. Say a statement that matches one (or more!) of the slides and have a student smack it. Play it in teams if you want. (I call variations on that activity “Smack!”)

    Reading input-based:
    – for early steps of Read & Discuss live in class: take student suggestions on how to caption them and type them then & there, then re-read together when captions are finished.
    – for a reading version of Smack!: give them a list of numbered sentences (random order from the captions you typed together, for example) and display in “Slide Sorter” view. Call out a sentence number and have student pairs figure which picture matches. Again, you can turn it into a game and have them smack the match. I use stuffed animals for the purpose.
    – for Read & Discuss if students can access computers: they get a copy of the slideshow, and look at the pictures to help themselves read and properly re-order a write-up of the short film.
    – for independent student writing by computers: they get a copy of the slideshow and add their own captions to each.
    – again for a Fluency Write: using the pictures as prompts, write about what happened in the short film (not captions, paragraphs).

    1. These are really good ideas, Diane. Thank you! Something like Smack! turns it into a game that could be played anytime after the initial MT days – the next month, next year, whenever. In fact, a few of these ideas could be used at later times. After all the work that goes into making these things, it’s good (and smart) to get the most out of them. After a while, they’ll seem fresh again, especially used in a different way. At least that is what I imagine, though the reality doesn’t always match my optimistic thinking and planning.

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