Have you all heard of 60 Second Recap? I just added the link to the The Reading Teacher page of this blog. It's a website for middle school/high school ELA teachers and students with Cliffnotes/Sparknotes-style videos. The video recaps are all a minute and are on novels that we would all recognize as required middle/high school reading. (The lame thing is that you have to watch a commercial before you get to see the recap- but I guess we'll all used to that by now.)
I first heard about 60 Second Recap a couple of weeks ago on NPR. Of course, there were a handful of NPR listeners that were up and arms about the 60-second video summaries. And yes, I see how it can be a bit demoralizing to us teachers that love reading and want our students to share this passion for books. BUT I think there is a way to use this site to encourage reading and reading comprehension.
As I was showing my husband, a high school English teacher, the link, and he said, "I would show my kids a video, then I'd have them create their own." So simple, and such a great idea. I know my students comprehend more when they look back into a text and rehash what happened in their own words (don't we all?) - that's why discussion and reading responses are so essential to comprehension.
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that we all have an smart phone, Flip, or some sort of video recording devise accessible. Go show your students a sample video or three, and create an assignment where they make their own video in a small group of 2-4 students.
Your students could create different types of videos. A few groups could do plot, a few others could do characters, and a couple other groups could concentrate on theme. And BAM! After your students watch their classmates videos and make a video themselves- they will definitely internalize and comprehend the book more thoroughly.
These video recaps can be used in other ways:
- Scaffolding learning for struggling readers
- Building your student's background knowledge before your students read the novel
- A way to introduce the themes you want to focus on during the book- then have the students look for places where the named theme presents itself
- A primer for you, the teacher, before you teach the book! (I know I needed a little help when I was required to teach Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart to 7th Graders!)
Be Well! Read On!