Each time I hear Jamie Keddie speak, I get fantastic, practical ideas that I can use with my learners. I must confess that while I’ve been using his video exploitation ideas for storytelling lessons focused either on storytelling as a skill or spoken fluency … I still haven’t been able to work out how to focus on planned target language as opposed to emerging language which is something he also seems to be using videotelling activities for.
In a webinar titled ‘Video in the Classroom’, Jamie described narrative seeding, a type of activity where you seed the Ss with elements from a video, while withholding others and then ask them reconstruct the narrative collaboratively. In a sense, narrative seeding is what we call a frame game in business training – a template that allows you to easily load and reload content – in this case videos of your choice.
Here are the three variations of narrative seeding that he spoke about:
Variation 1: Audio but no video
Play a video from YouTube without letting Ss see the visual. Get Ss to work collaboratively on reconstructing the narrative underlying the sound. Depending on the video you use, identify target language or feature that you want to draw Ss’ attention to.
Example: Play the famous sneezing panda video allowing Ss to only hear the audio not the video. Ask them to work in pairs and speculate as to what might be happening. Jaime suggests that the the sudden noise in the audio might be a good way of demonstrating the difference between present simple and continuous in narration (insects are making noise and then something happens etc.). A variation on the sneezing panda video is to play this video of a couple of girls watching the sneezing panda video and ask Ss to work out what the girls are watching.
Variation 2: Video but no audio
Play a video without audio. Jamie suggests taking screenshots of the video instead of showing Ss the video because this allows you to have greater control over how things play out. For each screenshot, you need to plan a series of questions that will prompt Ss to flesh out the narrative.
Example: Take screenshots from the short film Conversation Piece that establish the setting and convey the action.
T: This video is called conversation piece and the story involves a man, a woman and an object in which you put flowers in. What is that object?
T: This story involves a man, a woman, a vase and a problem.
What is this man doing?
Where is he sitting?
Guess what time it is.
Why is it the morning?
How do you know?
What day do you think it is?
What do you think the relationship of this woman is with the man?
Where is she?
Which room is she in?
What do you think she’s doing in the kitchen?
Where is she now?
She notices something.
What does she notice?
She notices the vase is broken.
What is she going to do?
When she notices the vase is broken, she says something to her husband.
By the way, her name is Linda. And his name is Jeff.
Linda says something to Jeff. What does she say?
To which Jeff replies … ?
Linda says something back to Jeff.
Then Jeff says something back.
Linda walks over and puts the vase in front of Jeff.
… and says something. What does she say?
Jeff says something back.
Ask Ss to work in pairs and create a dialogue (3 turns each for Jeff & Linda) and have them think about how they would continue or end their dialogue. Invite Ss to perform their dialogue for the class while you play the video and they provide a sort of imperfect dubbing.
3. Variation 3: No video, no audio
Dictate or show the following phrases to the Ss.
Two Japanese girls dressed up as tourists
Two elderly Japanese men also dressed up as tourists
Several hidden cameras
An unsuspecting passer-by (the victim)
A van to create a distraction
A Polaroid camera
If you run it as a dictogloss, show them the actual phrases on the board and correct errors if required. Tell the Ss that these six things appear in a video. Ask them a genre question: what type of video do these items come from? Elicit that these videos are called prank videos and the people who make the video play practical jokes on unsuspecting people.
Ss get into pairs and use these clues to create a narrative. They have to say what they think happens in the video from beginning to end. They can ask questions of the teacher. This also involves narrative seeding.
- Avoiding winging the questions. Instead plan them carefully so they are targeted at getting Ss to explore something specific.
- As in his session at TEC in Hyderabad and his webinar for IATEFL, Jamie suggested having Ss video record the narration that they have reconstructed and using these videos later for in-class feedback.