Category Archives: video lessons

A Valentine’s Day Video Lesson: A Silent Melody

Many thanks to the lovely Beata Gulati for sending me this video in time for Valentine’s Day!

Anything to do with romance goes down well with my teenage students. This video has no spoken dialogue, the vocabulary level of the written English is simple, all is understood when watching the video in silent mode, and the heroine is Deaf! It’s as if the film has Valentine’s Day written all over it!

The use of that particular kind of alarm clock in the video doesn’t make sense. I “complained” about it to Beata but that’s just quibbling. Frankly, I think it is an opportunity to expose the students to the phrase “it doesn’t make sense!” If you watch the video and don’t understand why it doesn’t make sense, scroll down to the end of the post. I’ll explain it there.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Deaf people use an alarm clock that vibrates. The clock has to be placed on her bed for Swetha to be awoken by it.

A Non-Holiday Themed Video Lesson


Can you see the Menorah in it? Happy Chanuka!
Can you see the Menorah in the tree? Happy Chanuka!

Music videos with holiday songs simply do not work with most of my deaf and hard of hearing students.  I was only able to use Pharrell’s “Because I’m Happy” video back in September’s holiday season because that video is incredibly popular, has a simple word in the chorus (happy) AND I had a version of it in American Sign Language.

So I gave up trying to make a holiday themed video lesson and just used a short video, without dialogue (of course!) with a surprise ending. Something to interest teenagers. Thanks to Leo Selivan for introducing me to this video. You can have the students begin with the version below or watch the film  The Black Hole on YouTube first so as to see it without it being paused.

Here it is below.

Note: In the embedded version you see below the first question appears a second too early. In the version you find at this link this problem doesn’t exist, but you must answer on a separate page/doc, which is what I asked my students to do in any case.




“Because I’m Happy” – New Year’s Activity


Happy New Year! Naomi's Photos
Happy New Year!
Naomi’s Photos

I had to consider so many different constraints when creating this video-homework-task that it became quite difficult. Time will tell how effective it was.

1) The first constraint was actually time – I HAD to have it ready by Monday (two days ago). I’m trying to get my new students used to doing homework online, once a week. I post new tasks on Monday nights. Believe me, with this group it is an uphill battle.

2) We’re celebrating the New Year next week and I really wanted to have the activity relate to happiness in some way.

3) I really needed to practice the word “would” right away, even though many students haven’t learned the second conditional yet. It’s a very common word yet the electronic dictionary doesn’t help them understand it. My goal was to stress the hypothetical aspect of the word, and only that. Trying to imagine yourself participating in one of these two videos and thinking about what it would be like to have certain things happen to you, seemed to me to be the way to go.

4)  Students indiscriminate use of Google Translate (or alternative online translators) make it very problematic to assign certain types of tasks. If I just ask the students to create sentences to describe things that would make them happy, copy sentences into suitable columns in a table, or sequence events depicted in a video, they’ll do it all in L1. I call this situation:

“No English was harmed in the course of completing this activity”.


So I added gap-filling to the sentences before copying them into the table, simply to make it harder to use the online translator blindly. Not entirely satisfied with the results, but I had to stick to the “happy” theme.

5) I had to use TWO videos. I knew my deaf students would like the video made by deaf students at a Film Summer Camp. However, I have a group of new (very new) hard of hearing students who not only don’t use sign language, they don’t want to have anything to do with it.  I believe they will relax over time, I’ve seen it happen many times before. The kids study together! So I used a version without sign language and made sure the questions didn’t mention it.

6) I had to make sure the activity fit into one page. It is quite astonishing how many students do not “see” the part on the second page!

So, here are the two videos. Below them are two worksheets. The “blue” one is a bit harder than the “red” one.


 Because I’m happy blue2

Because I’m happy red



Locating Lessons using Videos on this Blog

Naomi's photos
Naomi’s photos

Just a short post to say that I have finally made it easier to locate posts that describe lessons using videos. All these posts include downloadable worksheets, often several worksheets (different levels).

All you need to do is:

1. Look for the title “Categories” on the first sidebar on the right side of the blog’s homepage.

2. Click on “Video Lessons”.  All the posts describing the use of the videos and downloadable worksheets can be found there, one after the other.

“Reading Videos” Sails with iTDi Summer School MOOC’s Kites

Flying High with iTDi
Flying High with iTDi

As you can see, the amazing iTDi Summer School MOOC, with its impressive variety of FREE sessions offering online professional development to teachers around the world, has chosen kites as it’s symbol.

Kites, to me,  symbolize the wide expanses of possibility, hope and energy, along with variety. Kites come in every shape, size and color. So do teachers. And their students.

iTDi recognizes that.

Naomi's photos
Naomi’s photos

My kite has been chosen to be included in the Summer School Mooc. My session on “Using Videos to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills” will be given this Friday, August 1, at three o’clock in the afternoon local time, which is one o’clock GMT. In the talk I’ll be discussing (with many examples) how videos without dialogue can help learners of all ages improve their reading comprehension skills and expand their vocabulary.

For more information, see here:


Confused: Teaching Vocabulary “Horizontally” or “In Context”?


Out of context (but pretty!) I took this one!
Out of context (but pretty!)
I took this one!

Now that I have completed my first installment of an activity set related to the word list appearing in the updated curriculum, I feel confused by terminology.

I approached the preparation of  this first set of activities for tutors of children who struggle with vocabulary acquisition in class (with a hearing loss or not) with Leo Selivan’s post Horizontal Alternatives to Vertical Lists in mind.

My goal was to work on the vocabulary not according to semantic sets, (transportation, colors, food etc.), which is the vertical approach, but rather teach the words with other words they go with (horizontally). I hope it will aid retention.

I chose a short animated film that I feel is age appropriate (elementary school) and suitable for use in schools. It is the centerpiece of the activity set. The I then decided upon 23 vocabulary items that relate /appear in the film. The activities you see below present and practice these items in different ways. Additional activities may be added later.

The decision to have all the activities connected to the film is grounded in a belief that what is made memorable is learnt best. I do this often with homework assignments for my own students, with many elements I’m trying to teach, not just vocabulary. The visuals in films (I always use ones without dialogue!) add a powerful element.

This decision led me to add three words that do not appear in the Ministry of Education’s word list. They are needed in this context (they are marked with an asterisk).

Which leads me back to my original question.

Have I simply put the words in context and not taught them horizontally? I feel the two terms overlap a great deal, but  perhaps there is a specific emphasis I should be adding?

I need to figure this out before continuing to create a new set of activities for this very long list of vocabulary items.

The Egghunt

1) Here’s the list of vocabulary items FOR THE TEACHER:

Egg buy Take care! hungry
Caveman* Hunt * Be careful! long
Spear* fall That’s not fair! angry
film smile How many sad
food watch sure
another break true

2. Here is the lead-in activity for the students. It must be done BEFORE watching the film.

3) The animated film (no dialogue, remember?)

4) Questions related to the film embedded in the film, courtesy of Edpuzzle. Edpuzzle has made it so much easier to work with film. Now that the activities are embeddable I can use them for my counseling job (with students I don’t teach or meet), not just with my own. They keep updating the possible ways to use the films and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming next.

5) A dustbin classifying game using

Thanks to Chiew Pang and his wealth of resources for introducing me to the game.

6) A set of the vocabulary items on

7) A “search-a-word” online activity which is temporary because I’m not pleased with the results. I may perhaps go back to the printed version as it didn’t limit me to so few words. Still thinking about that one.

Here is a printable verison of this with QR codes.
Egghunt QR codes English

Visualising Feelings about Sound

Students love it when we ask them how they feel. In fact, we all do.

It gets even better when we get information about how our choices compare to other people’s choices.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo I learned about this wonderful interactive activity, useful for enriching vocabulary related to feelings.

The emphasis is on sounds, which is problematic for my students. Some of them CAN hear the sounds in real life (such as a crying baby) but not on the computer. So I adapted the activity to focus on the question:

“How do you feel when you think about these things?”

Since some of the visuals used in the original link are not clear enough to understand through sight alone (it becomes clear when you hear the accompanying sound) I created a worksheet detailing the list of things to think about when doing this activity.

So far the students’ reactions have been very positive!

Here’s the worksheet and the link.

how do you feel about this

Emotions of Sound Interactive Survey from Amplifon

Emotions of Sound by Amplifon



A Video Instead of a Curse Word

In all the courses I have studied related to normal and abnormal language development (for my degree in education of the deaf) and those related to second/foreign language acquisition (my degree in EFL) there was one point on which there was perfect agreement. The only situation in which new vocabulary is remembered after a single exposure is when the exposure is truly memorable. That is why curse words are picked up and retained  so easily!

Since I can’t create a memorable experience in the classroom for all the many (oh, so many!) vocabulary items my deaf and hard of hearing students need to know and don’t, I’m turning once again to a video to do the job for me. Perhaps I’m not utilizing more than a fraction of what the video can be exploited for, but a “memorable experience” is what I need it to provide.

I encountered this short video on Jamie Keddie’s inspiring blog Lessonstream, a lesson entitled “An Unusual Recipe” 


Here is the video

There are three different worksheets.

The first one (entitled “red”) is simply intended to highlight the difference between “like” and “look like”. This confuses many of my students and we encounter it frequently in the material we use in class.

The second one (entitled “blue”) adds the word “real”. At first I wanted to add both “real” and “really” but most of my deaf students don’t differentiate between the two terms in L1. In addition, I find that even if they don’t translate these words accurately they still comprehend the meaning of the sentence they are in. As these students have such small vocabularies and there is so much to work on, I decided to “pick my fights” and not work on the difference between the two words.

The third one (entitled “green”) is for my small group of strong students. My stated goal is to practice vocabulary related to comparision (they have to watch another video as well), though I’m not really sure this was the best way to do it. Despite the fact that one should pick the material that fits the learning goal and not the other way around, I didn’t want these students to be the only ones who didn’t have an activity with the film. Not all these students have done it yet, so we’ll see.

western_spaghetti_red     western_spaghetti blue western_spaghetti_green


In any case, except for one girl who said the video was boring, the students liked the video! Whether or not they remember the vocabulary items remains to be seen.

Short Films for Reading Comprehension – Take Three!

This is the third part of my experiment in using video to teach reading comprehension strategies.

Take One, focusing on WH questions, can be found here.

Take Two, highlighting ” support your answer” type questions, can be found here.

This exercise focuses on “main idea” type questions. The purpose is to make the following message more memorable:

The distractors given are usually true sentences (or facts) from the text. But they are not the main idea. So you must read the distractors carefully.

I used three videos though only showed the students two. The first exercise relates to the “Power of Words one we saw two weeks ago. It is a very memorable video and I see no reason not to use the same video for multiple purposes.

The second one is a very short commercial. I don’t know where I heard about this one. Here it is:

This one I learned at the conference from Jamie Keddie’s excellent talk and CD. In his talk he used it completely differently. I hope to try some of the strategies he used in the future. However, I don’t think they were designed for a class of 33 struglling adult students (note: I’m not being inconsistent with the numbers, we are now a class of 33!). In addition, I’m pursuing a different agenda at the moment.

Here is the worksheet I used:

main idea


Overall I was pleased with results. The students loved the videos and did not find them childish or unsuitable. I overheard two students discussing the fact that I show them really educational commercials. However, one student complained that the worksheet was too easy. Easy as in the answers were too easy to find (most certainly not the level of English!). I replied that I wanted the point to be clear, that they would see how all the distractors relate to vocabulary and information that IS there and that they must be careful. I added that if the examples were very hard we would have to spend a long time on the exercise (which we didn’t) and perhaps the point wouldn’t have come across so clearly.

Now I’m not as sure. I don’t know if the exercise shouldn’t have been harder. It would certainly be difficult to think of more difficult distractors.

On the other hand, only one student complained.

I’ll have to think about it. Lets see how carefully they treat the “main idea” questions in the tasks they have.



Short Films for Reading Comprehension – Take 2!

Perhaps I should temporarily change the title of my blog to “Films for Reading Comprehension”, as I’m totally into seeing how far I can take this.

Spurred on by the effectiveness of using a short film to review WH questions with my class of 32 struggling adult learners (who need to pass a high-stakes exam) I decided to use another one this week, for the second lesson.

The students need to be familiar with a number of different types of reading comprehension questions and how to answer them. I ended the lesson today’s lesson using the short film “The Power Of Words” to highlight (or rather, put a spotlight on) YES /No questions or TRUE / FALSE questions that require the students to support their answer.

This time we watched the film before reading the questions . But I warned the students that they must pay close attention to details in order to answer the questions. Then we discussed the answer to each question. There are only five sentences on the worksheet but I felt that discussing the answers in this manner really brought the message home. For example:

For the question related to the season, everyone said “winter”. When asked to support their answer,  a few students said that they knew it was winter because of the rain. I pointed out that in other countries it actually rains in the summer too so we can’t use that as proof. There was a murmur in class of “oh, I didn’t think of that”. Which is what I’m driving at – THINK before you answer! We accepted “people are wearing coats and scarves” as the proper answer.

If you think you remember reading about how I’ve used this film in the past, you are right. I have FOUR different versions/levels of worksheets for it, but naturally (is just me?) I wanted something else for today.

Here’s the film. The worksheet is below it.


Support Your Answer