Short description of the lesson:
“Why are plants green?” is a didactic scenario I designed around a student-produced video Show your favourite experiment! Content creation demands a lot of creative effort, energy, and time. Thus, this complex process should not end up only with the passive presentation of the outcome and limited feedback. This didactic scenario illustrates how you can exploit the digital outcome of your learner’s project from a pedagogical point of view. Most importantly, the lesson creates rich opportunities to engage students in meaningful language practice.
Main lesson activities:
Learners predict the topic of the video based on some screenshots, watch the video, fill in a video observation worksheet based on a media and language checklist, turn into language detectives to identify language structures related to explaining and presenting experiments, write comments and hashtags after watching the video, engage in a critical reading activity, write a short catchy video introduction, discuss the importance of a storyboard before filming, rewrite the storyboard. Finally, they reflect on the lesson and are encouraged to create their own video to show and explain their favourite experiment.
Topic: Why are plants green?
Age group: young learners
Language level: CEFR level A1, A2 (elementary and above)
Time: 45-50 minutes
Language skills, structures: vocabulary related to explaining, presenting scientific experiments, speaking, writing
Life skills targeted: critical and creative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving
Aims: Why should I use this lesson plan with my learners?
- to enhance critical and creative thinking
- to develop digital media literacy
- to develop students’ writing skills
- to develop problem-solving skills for daily life scenarios
Pre-viewing guiding questions
Step 1. Before watching the video created by a learner, ask your students to think about the following questions. Give learners time to discuss each question in pairs.
- What type of video genre do you enjoy watching the most?
- Based on these screenshots from the video, can you predict the topic and the type of video?
Time: 5 minutes
Show your favourite experiment! (a science video challenge)
Step 2. Give learners the media checklist and ask them to look at the list of generic features of a good video. While watching the video, their task is to tick the features they identify.
Time: 2-3 minutes
use of free copyright photos or from personal archive
use of different shots, and camera angles to provide variety
use of transitions, visual effects to keep the audience engaged
Step 3. Tell learners that they are going to watch the video again. Explain that this time they need to pay more attention as they become language detectives! Their mission is to identify and take notes of what type of vocabulary sets are used in this video. They fill in task 3 from student worksheet.
Time: 5-6 minutes
Look for language phrases related to explaining and vocabulary related to presenting experiments:
Examples of phrases to link ideas:
- First, you will need…
- The next step is…
- For example, …
- As a result,…
Examples from the video:
- Well, let’s find out…
- For the experiment, you will need …
Examples of science-related vocabulary:
Possible after-viewing tasks
Keywords or hashtag writing (adapted from Ceri Jones, 2016).
Step 4. Ask learners to share their reactions after watching the video and encourage them to write a short comment.
Did you enjoy the video? Write a comment to show your reaction.
Tell learners that now is their turn to be creative and write hashtags for the video they have just watched! Ask them to imagine they are social media experts and want to promote this video to a large audience. Remind your learners to extract the most relevant keywords that can promote the video.
Time: 5-6 minutes
Most learners are already familiar with this element of digital video literacy. For those who are not sure how it functions, it is a good idea to ask a peer to explain. According to YouTube, the hashtag symbol (#) placed before a relevant keyword or phrase allows “creators to easily connect their content with other videos that share the same hashtag on YouTube. They also allow viewers to find similar content that shares the same hashtags.”
For example, after watching David’s video, my learners wrote the following hashtags:
#science, #experimentvideo, #whyareplantsgreen, #photosynthesis, #chlorophyll
Step 5. Elicit from learners some ideas and strategies to promote a video. Explain that content creators write a short catchy introduction so the viewers will be convinced to watch it.
Ask learners to read David’s intro for his video and discuss in pairs if they find it convincing. Encourage them to step into the shoes of a social media expert. Their challenge is to improve the video introduction so that many people want to watch it.
Time: 6 minutes
Step 6. Elicit from learners if they know what is the role of a video storyboard. Explain that a storyboard provides information about what your video will look like before you start filming. Tell learners that they have the chance to see an example of a storyboard and read the story behind David’s video.
Step 7. Think-pair-share. Encourage learners to discuss the following questions (in pairs or small groups):
Is it useful to write the story of the video before you decide to start filming? Why? Why not?
Which elements from the media checklist do you think are essential if you want to create an interesting video?
Time: 5-6 minutes (tasks 6 and 7)
Step 8. Encourage your learners to think like a scriptwriter, the person responsible for writing the video storyboard. Their challenge is to rewrite the script of this video to make it even more interesting. They can add/ change the scenario, but have to keep the topic.
Time: 10-12 minutes
Reflect on the lesson.
Give your learners time to reflect on the lesson. You can give these questions as Socrative exit tickets and allow them to use their phones to answer them.
Which task did you enjoy the most from today’s lesson?
How did the video make you feel? Why? What elements from the video created this effect?
What questions would you like to ask David about his video?
What new vocabulary can you use to explain why are plants green?
What is photosynthesis and where does it come from?
Do you feel now inspired to create a video to capture your favourite experiment?
Time: 5 minutes
The resources for this lesson can be previewed below and downloaded in PDF format for free.
In a previous article, Lights, Camera, Action: Inspire! How to implement student-produced video projects!, I delved into the theoretical and pedagogical implications of student-produced videos, checklists, main stages, and research-based frameworks to implement video projects, providing various examples of appealing video tasks. Now I hope I managed to demonstrate how you can exploit the outcome of your learner’s project from a pedagogical point of view.
Student-produced video projects can trigger high levels of engagement, but also invaluable soft skills (decision making, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration etc. during the planning phase to name just a few), as well as oral production skills.
Obviously, from the perspective of learners as active producers not passive consumers of video content, students also benefit in terms of developing their digital literacy, particularly their video editing skills.
Content creation demands a lot of creative effort, energy, and time. Thus, this complex process should not end up only with the presentation of the outcome. Learners should feel that their work is meaningful, so I always pay attention to the feedback and follow-up phase.
Happy teaching and don’t forget to add value, create, teach…to inspire and transform lives!