Category Archives: MovieTalk

Wants to eat

I love this video, but can’t imagine a parent who would watch it without fear that something bad would eventually happen.


I’m going to save it here for when I think it will fit! Maybe it could go with Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro! 



First MovieTalk screencast

Here’s my first screencast MT. There are three things I’d like to do to improve it. One is obviously to ask questions, another is to increase the mouse size (and maybe change the color), and the other is to have a list of vocabulary on the side. Next time!

I need to find out more about copyright issues now. I’m going to have to start asking YT, and maybe the original posters, whether I can use the videos.


MovieTalk twist

I tried a MovieTalk variation that I’ve mentioned. First my classes read some Russian anecdotes together. Then small groups had to storyboard a story with plans to make short wordless videos. I told them the video-making had to take less than fifteen minutes, once in the lab, because I don’t like it when bells and whistles take away from input time.


Each group had at least one kid who knew iMovie. The kids chose different ways of getting the movies made, but since they had planned the shots and (minimal) props in advance, they could get done quickly. I think they used built-in cameras on our lab computers. They tried to make the action slow enough so that I would be able to talk all the way through.


The first story is about a kid packing to go vacation with friends on a river shore. He takes what he thinks he needs, but when his mom says he has to take his toothbrush, he decides he doesn’t want to go after all.


The second story is about a girl who goes to buy gloves. A salesman tells her that the pair of brown gloves she wants costs a kiss. She tells him that’s fine. She’ll take three pairs, and her grandmother will come pay for them later.



Today I started MovieTalking the first story. The kids loved watching their classmates, and they loved retelling the story. They didn’t care that there wasn’t much in the way of high-tech editing.


Now I’m going to be able to use these stories over and over, but there’s not so much work in them that I’ll feel bad if we don’t use them more than a week or so. And I think that other classes are going to want to make videos too. Without requiring sound, it’s easy to have a bunch of kids making videos in the same room. If there are any techie kids out there, they might be inspired to make better videos on their own.

NTPRS14 Promises and why we should keep telling stories

I am researching storytelling and the brain today. By Googling “Stories and the Brain,” I have run into many compelling reasons to use stories in our classrooms. Here is just one, from Jan Hills:

“So the next time you want to influence … or are struggling with getting people on board with your projects and ideas, tell them a story that has an ending which is what you had in mind. … Stories are a powerful way to plant ideas into other people’s minds.”

But that was after I checked my email and found many messages all politely mentioning my promise to put links up after my presentations at NTPRS14. Mea culpa!

Note: Another presenter was using my slides as her own in another state. Viewers must ask permission to use my work and give me credit when doing so, whether for monetary gain or not.

PDL presentation

MovieTalk presentation

Embedded Reading site (if this link doesn’t work, look over to the right sidebar and find it under websites. I can’t make it work tonight for some reason)

Laurie has our recent Embedded Reading presentation and much more there. She keeps an awesome site going. Contribute your own Embedded Readings!

Alma video

Audi Superbowl Prom Date video

Anna Koshmal video  (Without you, I am…)

For more video suggestions, click on the “MovieTalk” category in the right sidebar.

Belated Valentine’s Day MT

Here’s a little video that Leanna in Fairbanks found for us:

I think it could still work (we’re not at school again ’till tomorrow) for a post-Valentine’s day story. It’s sweet.

Separately, I found a note that Erik sent me about some things he observed in Betsy’s classroom. First of all, he noted that Betsy works on indirect error correction, having read all the research that says direct error correction doesn’t work. She analyzes her students’ speech and writing and lets those guide her in structure choice. Her practice dovetails with Ben Slavic’s advice to try to use the current structure in almost every teacher sentence on a given day. Such heavy input, followed by student story-telling or writing in which the only requirement is that structure, should help to correct errors…as long as students are ready to have acquired the information. If it’s late-acquired grammar, the teacher will still have to keep pounding the structure and making sure to repeat it in comprehensible input.

The other point Erik remembered from watching Betsy was the 100-word write that students had to do to make up a missed day. I used to do this, and hadn’t for a while, so was glad of the reminder. It’s easy because we don’t have to recreate an assignment or the whole lesson. We can give students a couple of the current structures, perhaps something to read, and then ask that they write using those. It’s so much easier than trying to re-run a day in class. And it’s effective as far as letting us know what the student still needs.

I wish we could all continue to do observations in one another’s classrooms easily. When it’s just in our own school, it’s sometimes possible to arrange. But there’s no more professional day release time for observations now. Too bad. Most people say that observations teach them more than anything else could.

iFLT is out

The iFLT Journal is hot off the presses. What pleases me the most is that Ashley Hastings has articles in it on MovieTalk. After having so many people claim MovieTalk, it is high time that the originator explained it. I know that everyone does it their own way and that people feel they’ve been using the technique on their own, but it’s appropriate to credit Dr. Hastings for his work at last.
Here’s how to get to the Journal:

Without you…

Here’s a sweet Russian love song for your listening pleasure. The video would be great for a first MovieTalk session.

I’m going to be out of sight for just another week or so. Once our conference is over (and since we’re putting up the rowing shells for the winter), I will be back at y’all!

ABE for Fitness

I am always trying to find natural ways to get my students moving around the room because of everything we know about how brains work (Brain Rules is one of my favorite books).

David Katz is my new hero, and I’ve just discovered that he has a series of videos for three-minute activity breaks here. This ABE for Fitness site is fun; the video on the home page explains why we should be doing it. Dr. Katz has a site called ABC for fitness, and there he has some suggestions for teachers.

I was thinking that I could combine one of the fitness videos with an ongoing MovieTalk, but it would be kind of like TPR, because I’d be asking the kids to actually move and follow the video. Katz commented that he asked adults in a committee to do a three-minute workout and that they came to life after that. It sure seems as though such an activity would be useful in the classroom as well!

Yeah. It’s summer!

Year Over

The school year is over! I have a few things left to do at school, thanks to too many meetings on our last day. One undone activity is to sign up for the very conference I’m helping run…maybe once you take a look at it, you will want to sign up too.

At the end of September, the Alaskans for Language Acquisition (AFLA) will meet in Whittier at the Whittier school. We’re very excited that Michael Moore, Ashley Hastings, and Judith Liskin-Gasparro will be our presenters. Sunday’s session will take place on a cruise ship! If you look at the picture on this page, how could you turn it down?

The second part of this message is to encourage people to continue adding films for MovieTalk. Laurie Clarcq suggested one Filminute movie, and I’ve just found another one: Black Hole, in which a man finds that he can get into anything (vending machines, safes) with the aid of a picture he copied.

It’s really good to use longer movies, because you can leave kids with cliff hangers, but the short ones are great for practice and for getting your toes wet in the sea of CI through MovieTalk. Once you start finding these, your students will help you too! One of my kids decided to use a short music video to MovieTalk for his oral final. I loved it, though I initially had doubts about whether I should be letting him do it. It went way too fast for me. I wanted him to take forever. Now he’s set the bar high for next year.

MovieTalk practice

I have lately been timing myself with MovieTalk and finding that it had been taking me a very long time to get through a very short piece of film. I have had kids zoning out on me when I talk too much about what’s on screen, and today I told them what the goal was. We set the timer for half an hour, and I planned to go from minute 18 to 28 in 30 minutes. At about 15 minutes, one young man pointed out that we had covered two minutes’ worth of film, so I picked up the pace, and was able to almost meet the goal in the next time period. Then one of my kids said that he was understanding 8.5 out of 10, instead of not getting very much. Hurrah…I guess that when I spend too much time, it gets less and less connected to what’s on the screen.