Those of you clicking this link based on the ambitiousness of the title, please know that this is very much in the idea stage. Like many international school teachers, I have several students who speak English only while in school (or with only one parent). While all of these children have the advantage of bilingual or even trilingualism, their English vocabulary often needs to be developed in school.
For several years, my preferred method of vocabulary instruction has been based on the book Bringing Words to Life by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan. Through “robust vocabulary instruction,” students learn, practice, and apply vocabulary until they have internalized the new words.
I highly recommend this resource to other teachers–I have seen the success of its methods time and time again as my students develop their understanding and use of new words. Up until this point, however, my approach to vocabulary has been almost technology free. I have a google spreadsheet of Tier 2 words with kid-friendly definitions, but everything else has been on paper and pencil.
When Coetail Course 3 emphasized Visual Literacy, I felt comfortable with the topic, especially when dealing with video. Around this time last year, my students created digital stories for the first time, and we made non-fiction documentaries later in the Spring. On the teaching side, through tutorials, I have made digital stories on a weekly (if not daily) basis.
Now it’s time to put vocabulary development and digital storytelling together (along with the Alan-November-inspired quest for a “global audience”). By having my students create vocabulary videos, I am aiming to:
- Develop students’ vocabulary.
- Develop students’ cooperation and communication skills.
- Develop students’ technology skills.
- Motivate students with a global audience.
Created with Doodlecast Pro on an ipad mini, here is our first vocabulary video:
I think it turned out well and can serve as a template for future videos, but I have plenty of questions and reflection points:
- For the first video, even though the students were narrating, making examples, and creating pictures, I was the one who made the script outline, wrote the words on the ipad, and walked them through Doodlecast Pro. If I turn a bunch of third graders loose, will they be able to do most of the process on their own?
- Speaking of writing the words on the ipad, one of the biggest drawbacks of Doodlecast Pro is the absence of typing. It takes time to neatly write out the words, definitions, and examples. On the other hand, maybe the handwritten words give the videos a dash of homemade, kid-created charm.
- Do I have the proper tool? I need to check out other screen casting apps (explain everything, screenchomp, educreations) and decide if they would be better options for my students. I’d be interested to hear opinions about which tools or apps you think would work best for this project.
- Pictures in color would be nice.
- Should we include opposites in the definitions? Is there anything we can do to add to or enhance the instruction within the videos?
- I need to see if there’s a way to get rid of the Doodlecast plug at the end.
- We cranked out this video quickly (15 minutes), but I’m curious how much time it will take to create others once the students are working independently.
The next step is to plan out new videos, teach students the technology, and see what they create. There is no shortage of vocabulary words to explain. And once we accumulate a significant number, it will be time to think about the online, kid-created dictionary. I have lots of ideas about that; so many that it will probably morph into my final project, so I will save those until later.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on vocabulary instruction, the video (before we start making more), and the project in general. Thanks!