Content Literacy

Provide Frequent Opportunities to Read Visuals & Videos

Posted on November 23, 2015

Provide Frequent Opportunities to "Read" Visuals & Videos

Our curriculum should include more than just traditional print text. Students should be reading a wide range of text types--including visuals and videos. These can be incorporated into larger units and text sets. However, look for smaller and more frequent opportunities to weave videos and visuals into your everyday classroom. Here are two strategies:

Apples to Apples: Big Picture Version
The first strategy uses "Apples to Apples," but not the game most are familiar with. This is the Big Picture version. Like the traditional game, the teacher identifies a green card with a key word or concept (e.g., costly) and 3-5 red cards. However, in this version, the red cards aren't words but photographs. The students all "read" or study the same 3-5 images and infer which one photo best represents the key word.

Apples to Apples Big Picture

Extend this beyond a reading activity and add a writing component. Require students to reveal their choice within a brief constructed response. (This is a great opportunity for students to practice the Yes MA'AM strategy.)

Me: Tattoos are costly.

Author: The larger the image, the more detail, and the more color all add to the price of a tattoo.

Author: Not to mention such body art comes with a physical price; the needle piercing the skin in painful.

Me: Tattoos come at a high price to the consumer.

To challenge students further, after they write out their answers, introduce a second "green" word to the same array of "red" photo cards. Have students infer which of the remaining red-card photos best represent this new word. Again, have them write a constructed response.

This short reading activity practices inferring and citing observable evidence from a visual text. This activity makes for great bell work, morning work, or even literacy station work.

Movie Clips v. Text Excerpts
Another way to increase student experience with videos (a.k.a. multimodal texts) is by showing clips of a movie to compare to excerpts from the original book. Rather than comparing the entire book to the entire movie, this approach allows for constant comparative thinking and integration of multimodal texts.)

This works well with novels and chapter books, but it could also include picture books. Read a couple of pages from Polar Express and then "read" several minutes of the same excerpt in the movie version.

Compare an excerpt of Dr. Seuss's 1957 How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the coordinating clip from the 1966 animated movie and the 2000 version starring Jim Carrey. This has students juggling three texts in their comparative thinking.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess

Consider how you want students to "read" and annotate a video. One option is to create a note-taking handout by inserting screenshots from the video using the Print Screen button or the snipping tool. This allows students to take notes while they watch, keeping track of key ideas and details beside small images on the handout.

ELA teacher Sara Wiley of Beech Grove Middle School in Beech Grove, IN creates screenshot handouts when she teaches story elements using animated short films. Check out three examples she generously shared:

Paper Man Animated Short

Keep in mind, your video clips only need to be a few minutes long. The shorter they are, the more frequently you can infuse them within your curriculum.