#SOL19 Day 21 Spark! Video Comprehension


For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.28.56 PMChallenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.


Video Comprehension Spark!

More and more students are learning information through online videos. But are we teaching our students HOW to comprehend this format for information or just assuming they know how to determine importance, analyze information critically, build on their schema, and synthesize ideas? From my experience I find many students to be passive consumers of video information. They process it as entertainment more than informational content.

Our students need some guided practice with comprehending visual information and digital formats, because increasingly that is the preferred choice of information consumption. Frequent quick writes that engage students in actively viewing and processing informational videos might be one approach that could support that goal.


One way is to invite students to jot what they know about a topic, an event, or a concept on which  they are about to view a video. Give them 3-5 minutes to activate their schema and prior knowledge and collect some thoughts on paper.

Then tell them they are going to watch a video about that topic and will be asked to quick write what they want to remember or what they learned after they view it. This sets a purpose, invites students to expand on current thinking, clear up any misconceptions they may have had, and engage more intentionally.

After the video give them another 3-5 minutes to quick write. Then invite students to look at their before and after and see what they notice? Ask them how their comprehension might have changed knowing they would have to write about it afterwards.

You could also try this activity by showing a video without any introduction or purpose setting and then ask them to quick write what they learned AFTER they’ve already watched it, and then try this frontloading process BEFORE  viewing and ask them what they notice about their quick writes. Were they able to remember/recall more information? Was their thinking different in any way? Did they take any notes (mental or physical?)

In honor of our SUPER MOON this week, here is a video that you could try with your kids and an example of my quick write.

Worm Moon capture


QW image

Let me know how it goes if you try it, or if you have some other approaches that could support student comprehension with visual and video information.


11 thoughts on “#SOL19 Day 21 Spark! Video Comprehension

  1. I think it is important to teach students to “read” a video, especially when it comes to ads! Thank you for your strategies and the example you provide. Well thought out and useful for us all.

  2. This is a great idea, Paula. I am not sure we are teaching our students how to “read” a video or just asking them to view it. The video you shared and your response is a wonderful model for us. Thank you! I love the two-column organizational scaffold – before & after.

    Students need to be active and reactive viewers — comprehending and critiquing, reading and reacting, getting and giving knowledge. I do see that many teachers are asking them to watch with pen in hand. However, at Kutztown Middle School in Pennsylvania, the seventh-grade science teacher often pauses the video in several places to ask students to turn-and-talk, sometimes a whole-group share about a new vocabulary word that represents a big concept, and then take some notes. Another valuable practice – she always sets the stage for viewing, often asking an essential question for students to think about while viewing the video.

    1. Sounds like that middle school teacher is teaching some active comprehension strategies for video viewing. I find our students needing more of that! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I really love this idea! I teach ELLs and think videos would be a great tool to balance with informal texts. I hope to try out your suggestions!

  4. That is a really insightful slice. I use video quite a lot with young ESL students here in India because we simply don’t have access to libraries or many books, so I will make a note of your thoughts and act on them, because they have to also process the videos in a language that is not their own! I like the turn and talk idea very much

  5. I am adding this to my “To Try” list! We work with Weekly Texts in my 10th grade classes (patterned after Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week), and sometimes our text for the week is a video. I think this will help my students become more engaged with the videos we watch and the topics they tackle! Thanks for sharing!

  6. We need to talk. I am working on renewing my national boards and have been thinking of doing a lesson on visual literacy and here you are with this amazing idea. We are Teachers sent out a great lost of Ted talks to show kids. All this is pointing to the possibility. Thanks.

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