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Practice note-taking with short videos

march 21, 2023

Provide opportunities for students to practice taking notes and citing information from multimodal texts—such as videos.

Commercials from iSpot.TV

A favorite source for video-based text is iSpot.TV for this type of text. This site has a huge collection of TV advertisements that are perfect for this. (When you get to the site, click on “Browse TV Ads” for the full suite of options.)

The value of a site like this is that a commercial is a short, 30-60 second multimodal text. Before having students view the video, you want to give them a viewing purpose. “Class, we’re going to ‘read’/view this next text, and I want you to take notes about…” And then fill in that blank with a specific viewing purpose.

For example, you could view the Audi commercial where a daughter claims her father is a space alien. The viewing purpose: “Provide reasons that the main character in this commercial thinks her dad is a space alien.” In 30 seconds, this young girl identifies five different reasons.

With a known viewing purpose, students watch the video and jot down what information they’re gathering. This exercise trains kids not to just be entertained by videos, just passively watching them. Instead, you want them leaning in, taking notes, and citing from video-based sources. We have to intentionally and explicitly teach them how to do this.

Paired Text + Video from Achieve the Core

A second resource is Achieve the Core. (Click on the Classroom Resources tab and then ELA Assessments.) Although everything on this website is not going to be video-based like iSpot.TV, there are several text sets that pair print text with a video resource.

For instance, check out this example for fourth grade about archaeology. When you click to download those files, you will find two print text passages and a third passage which is a video hyperlink. Using the corresponding writing prompt as the viewing purpose, have students take notes on relevant information learned within the video.

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