First I had to choose which videos I would use and what skill I hoped that they would learn from this video. I needed to plan this very carefully because I needed to get administrative approval and parental approval for my students to watch videos in class. Parents were sent a letter about the project and told that they would be informed on the skills being taught so they could also work on it at home. Many people see watching videos as a way to get out of doing class work and only use it as a reward but in my class of special education students, videos are an important instructional tool. I had students all in one class with a variety of disabilities and needs so I needed to find the right videos that could teach a variety of skills and be able to show the administration that these videos were necessary for my instruction. Some videos that I chose were Finding Nemo, Remember the Titans, Big Daddy, Miracle, To Kill A Mockingbird, Field of Dreams, Ice Age, Fly Away Home, The Outsiders, Rudy and Renaissance Man. I didn’t plan to use them all, but wanted a variety to choose from depending on my class make up and what social skills I wanted to work on.
Before we started watching any videos, I gave the class an overview of the plan and what the objectives were. They were also told that if the objectives were not met, we would discontinue the project of watching videos.
As an introduction to the video, I introduced the basic concepts and conflicts presented in the film. I also gave a short summary of the video if anyone had not seen it before (usually my students had seen the movie I chose before so I didn’t need to do this.) After viewing the video, I would ask the students to discuss the plot. Then we would discuss the essential components of the video such as type of conflicts, personality traits, motivation for actions and decisions, and their outcomes. Students would write about whether they agreed or disagreed with the character’s actions and why they felt this way. I would then put them in groups (I made sure each group had a mixture of ability levels) to discuss their opinions.
The next step was for the group of students to create, perform, and videotape a skit about a specific social skill. In order to do this, students got into groups and chose parts of the film they found interesting that demonstrated the social skill. Students personalized the events by relating it to an event in their own lives and how they may have acted. The fun part began when students dramatized the personalization through a skit or puppet show and had to write a script for all group members. It was amazing to watch how sensitive the group members were towards others with reading weaknesses or had an extreme fear of performing. Students videotaped the dramatization so it could be reviewed and analyzed. When all the groups had performed and were videotaped, the class watched the videos in order to critique them. Students offered feedback on feelings, actions, and consequences. It was also a time to discuss whether the action taken was appropriate and if not, what other actions could have been taken.
I was extremely pleased with how successful these lessons were for my students. Even though they may have seen this video, they were looking at it from a different perspective. By personalizing the event, students were able to look more objectively at their behavior in relationship to the video. This also helped them take criticism of their behaviors less personally and could discuss consequences and more appropriate actions that could have been taken. The students reacted favorably to the assignments. Parents were kept informed about the lessons and what skills we were working on so they could be reinforced at home whenever possible. Sometimes students came into class to share how they had acted differently since using their new skill. It is times like those that made me feel happy with choosing to be a teacher!
Photo credit: Untitled by mixergirl