Using Video to Supplement Read Alouds

I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this past weekend and it made me a little nostalgic for the classroom.   One of my favorite parts of the day was right after lunch, when I’d spend 20 minutes reading aloud to my third grade students.  We made a plan at the beginning of the year of the books that we wanted to read and agreed that after reading each book we’d watch the movie version if it was available as a special treat. 

My kids thought they were pulling one over on me – getting Ms. Whalen to let them goof off in class and watch movies was a huge win.   We started with Tuck Everlasting (over the course of the year, we also read The Secret Garden, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach, and Bud, Not Buddy).  It took the class a few days to get into the book – but by the end, the 20 minutes flew by and I was often bribed into adding ‘just five more minutes!!’ each day. 

When I showed the first movie, I anticipated that the kids would immediately say “oh, the book was better!” and I’d be left with the smug realization that I, Ms. Whalen, had single handedly turned my students on to reading and off of TV (*cue the hymns of angels*).

Sometimes this did happen, but in reality, sometimes the movie won out.  But, comparing the two always led to some great class discussions about why certain things were changed and why the characters looked different than they looked in my students’ imaginations.  Interestingly, after watching the movie, I also found that many students wanted to re-read parts of the book by themselves, and in doing so, their fluency was much better.  By taking cues from the movie version, the kids were able to put the writing in context and had a better sense of expression and tone in their own reading. 

I am not recommending watching movies in place of reading – rather, I think that it can provide a great supplemental tool to wrap up a book and help provide valuable reinforcement for visual learners. 

What ways have you used media to supplement a lesson or help meet the diverse learning styles of your students?


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  1. Jannita Demian said:

    Media has a great influence on students. Placing our classic books in the form of movies can be good or bad depending on how closely the producers and directors keep to the story. When I taught 6th grade my students became addicted to “Indian in the Cupboard”. I actually learned that there is a whole series. By the end of the year, we had read each one and celebrated by watching the movie.

    An upcoming movie based on a classic book is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, which will be released in early December by Disney and Walden Media. The Disney site has a great trailer and is very interactive. Walden Media has some exemplary educational resources and some great discussion threads on how teachers are using the book to bring reading alive in the classroom. You can even request an educator’s guide that includes the lost subjects of art and music.

    There are teachers currently working on a distance learning project from California, New York, and even Narnia, Italy. The classes will be participating in literature circle groups online as they read through they text, have weekly video conferencing, exchange illustrations, and share thoughts and ideas about the reading. Each week the students will be given a research topic based on the reading and watch unitedstreaming clips. As a culminating activity, the students will watch a screening of the movie in their towns and meet for a video conference to compare it to the book. They begin the project in October and I am anxious to see what the students will learn from this engaging experience.

    Sometimes the release of upcoming children’s movies can be used as an incentive to read. I did a big “WILD About Reading” program for the students at my school. They read over 6,000 books in one month and as a reward we hosted a “WILD Family Night” complete with a meet and greet with exotic animals. A week later we all gathered at our local AMC theatres to watch a private screening of “Madagascar” compliments of DreamWorks. We also hosted a “Polar Express Pajama Party.” Both DreamWorks and Warner Bros. have been very supportive in sending items for goodie bags and raffle incentives.

    It seems that your imagination is the only limits you have. I can hardly wait to see how teachers in our Network, utilize each other in dreaming up big plans for our students.

  2. Rita Fennelly said:

    I think using various forms of media in the classroom is a must. As a science teacher, sometimes it can be difficult for students to understand that many of the products/technologies that they use without a care all started as a scientific pursuit of knowledge that was intertwined in the imagination of sci-fi literature.

    I really think media helps integrate secondary subjects into the fabric of our life and culture instead of just another class that you have to pass.

    This past year I have done everything from reading my students short sci-fi stories, listening to the original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, wathced videos on making trebuchets and rockets, and dicussed general sci-fi themes and how they relate to Einstein’s theory of relativity. One of my favorites is to have students read a Superman comic book after learning about gravity and other general physical science concepts. They love discussing how what they have learned fits or doesn’t fit with the comic. Sometimes I wish I had the opportunity to teach an electives course that focused exclusively on science and the sci-fi genre.

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