Last weekend after the COFLT conference, I went to a post-conference workshop lead by Carol Gaab called MovieTalk Magic. Before the workshop, everything I knew about MovieTalk came from here and here. In a nutshell, the teacher shows students a film clip pausing frequently to describe in the TL what’s happening and what’s visible on the screen.

The pictures help learners understand words they otherwise wouldn’t understand. For example, the teachers says “The girl has a candle” and points to the girl holding a candle. Learners already know “the girl has” and pointing the picture of the candle fills in the comprehension gap.

One of the burning questions the teachers, including myself, at the workshop had was how to keep learners interested in listening to the teacher’s description of the clip. Usually students just want to see the cool clip and not listen to the teacher’s description. Makes sense. The answer – makes the class discussion so interesting that they forget about getting to the end of the clip. The clip should be engaging but the purpose of viewing it is tied to objectives not just for entertainment.

Take Away #1: MovieTalk narration is one of many activities related to a clip.

My biggest takeaway from Carol’s workshop was that her twist on MovieTalk involves more than just narration. Narration of the clip is one of the many MovieTalk twist activities. Ideally, the activities are interesting enough to distract students from wanting to get to the end of the clip.

Take Away #2: Don’t tell students that they’re going to watch a clip.

Also, during the pre-MovieTalk narration activities, teachers don’t have to tell students that they’re going to eventually watch a clip.

Take Away #3: Ask questions with more than one right answer.

The day before Carol’s MovieTalk workshop I also went to her session on higher order thinking. In both sessions she made the point that asking questions with more than one right answer is more interesting. There’s a built-in reason to ask multiple students the same question. To come up with interesting questions, she recommended QAR Author and You and On My Own questions. For guided/embedded readings, she recommended asking four types of questions: comprehension, personalized, inference and culture. On the teacher copy of the text, she even recommended annotating at which points in the reading a teacher plans to ask a question.

Pre-MovieTalk Activities

  • Level 1 embedded reading without the punchline or some other important detail learners will eventually see in the clip
  • Prediction activities
    • Word clouds – write a summary of what you think the clip is about
    • Sequencing with screenshots – ask what went first, second, third, etc.
    • Screenshots – ask what people think is happening?

Post-MovieTalk Activities

  • Levels 2 and 3 embedded reading
    • Basically, you can turn any MovieTalk into a reading (or even use the transcript) and do follow-up activities. Martina Bex has so many ideas here.
      • Personal favorites: Back’atcha, Running dictation
  • CLOZE summary of the clip (could use word cloud as word bank)
  • Textivities – see Martina Bex’s bundle of activities
  • Online formative assessment tools (T/F, Probable-possible, CLOZE)
  • Write…
    • summaries
    • captions for screenshots
    • parallel versions of the story
    • horizontal conjugations of story summary