Radiolab: “Words” the Videos

Every now and again I feel compelled by some kind of video or piece of music.  Compelled and perhaps doomed to listen or watch on repeat.  I then make other people put them on repeat, too.  This is probably some kind of sickness [thanks, Dad] but I’d like to see it as critical thinking, a way to process the information until I feel comfortable.

When you work with video in the classroom, especially short video, sometimes you need to put it on “repeat” for students to understand.  It takes 2 times through sometimes, once for viewing and once for responding, to make meaning out of something that moves so quickly.

Yesterday’s post focused on how to use Radiolab’s episode “Words” for Socratic Seminar discussion.  But we don’t stop with the episode itself.  Oh, no.  It also includes the video entitled “Words” (go figure) by Everynone that was made to compliment it.

Original “Words”

Have students watch the film once just to “blow their minds.”

Discuss it as a class just to get a general handle on “text” of the video.

  • What just happened?
  • What did you see?
  • What stood out?

Then, watch it a second time while students catalogue each word, the examples, and an explanation of their significance.  Easier version: give students the words.  Harder version: give students the chart below without the words.

Word Example  (list two) Commentary -Choose one of your two examples.  Explain the significance of the example and why it’s chosen.
Play
Blow
Break
Split
Run
Fly
Light
Space

Questions for synthesis

  • How do the words fit together?  Describe the overlap.
  • As a whole what argument is being made about language?
  • Why is it significant that this a video about words with very few actually used?
  • What argument does the examples used suggest about the purpose of this film?

“Reworded” “Words”

Everynone also created a “reworded” (their word choice) version of the original using only YouTube Clips.  While you don’t have to use it, it would be perfect to create a short compare/contrast paragraph writing or even a paragraph writing about the ubiquity of these words in the everyday.

The words are the same.   The order is the same.  Here are some questions to have students consider or turn into writing.

Questions for classroom use: 

  • Why is the significance of titling this version “reworded?”
  • What noticeable differences occur between the two versions? Quality should not be one of your categories.
  • What argument can be made that these words overlap with one another not only in meaning but also in everyday YouTube life?
  • What are the pros/cons to both versions?

Class Assignment Extension

  • Form small students groups (2-3) and have students choose 5-7 words.  They must come up with words whose meanings “overlap.”  Have them brainstorm in small groups.
  • Consider allowing them to construct a video (stop motion, iMovie, Windows MovieMaker, ) from scratch.  Their “stitched” together version has to be completely of their own creation.
  • Rules you might include: no “real” talking, no staged video from start to finish.  It needs to feel like a series of moments with different “characters” in each segment.
  • You might even consider giving them a number of examples they must have for each work before they overlap with the next.
  • Regardless, this should be an assignment that challenges the students to think creatively and critically.   Consider, as well, having them use their cell phones to “collect” video to use in the final product.

One comment

  1. Susan richardson says:

    You always make me think and see things a different way.

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