If you’ve done much reading about Comprehensible Input, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Write and Discuss”. This is a great way to wrap up any CI lesson. I’m not sure where to give credit for this awesome activity, but I first saw it in some of Tina Hargaden‘s YouTube videos on the CI Liftoff channel. I’ve since seen lots of examples and blog posts devoted to this gem. Most recently I really enjoyed reading about all the ways AnneMarie Chase uses it in her classroom here.
In short, “Write and Discuss” is an activity where you review the discussion or story by writing sentences that you create together as a class. You start by asking the class questions to review what you just discussed in class and create sentences from that information. You can also ask them to give you a sentence about what you discussed in class. Then you write the sentences that were created on the board or type them on your computer so that the students can see the spoken word in written form. After you are done, you have this written documentation of the class discussion or story that you can use for extension activities (translate, quiz, games, etc.). Often you go back and look at it the next day and have the class translate it together. This gives the class an opportunity to see the input again and they just might notice some grammar concepts along the way too.
My first impression of the “Write and Discuss” was “Well that’s great and all, but I’ll never be able to do that in my classroom. My language isn’t written.” I mean I suppose we could gloss out some sentences, but in my opinion that doesn’t do a whole lot for language acquisition. Glossing is really just English words that we use to try to write down what we sign. It does very little for learning to sign. With all the benefits of the “Write and Discuss”, I was determined to nail down an efficient way to do this in my ASL classroom.
So written languages document their language by writing, but how does sign languages document their language? Through video! And so the “Video and Discuss” was born. I started trying to figure out the best way to do it. I could make notes of each class discussion (or better yet get a student to do it) and then video it outside of class. This would mean spending my entire planning period making videos and even time after school. One of the benefits of the “Write and Discuss” is being able to create the document in front of the students. They see it written formally and have a part in the creation of the sentences. If I waited to video later, the students would be missing out on those benefits. Not to mention, if I video it during class, I can save tons of time outside of class. Then all I needed to do is quickly edit the videos together to create the final product.
After much trial and error, I feel like I’ve come close to perfecting the process. I use a cell phone tripod set up on a podium. The first few times I did it, the videos took more time to edit than I liked. I wanted the transitions between sentences to be more smooth. I needed to trim the beginning and end of each video to cut out the lean in to turn the camera on and off. I tried using my Apple Watch, but even then, you could see me tapping my wrist every time. I brainstormed a bit and decided that I needed a more inconspicuous way to turn my camera on and off. Then I could edit all the clips together without having to trim any videos. I went on Amazon and ordered one of these Bluetooth shutter remotes. I hang it out of my pocket or clip it to my skirt. Then after each sentence I simply put my arm by my side to stop the camera, do a little more discussion with the class, and start it again to do the next sentence.
Later, I simply use my phone to edit all the clips together. I use the Perfect Video app. It was a few dollars a few years ago. I’ve used it for years and love it. I do all my video edits in it. It’s really simple to use and has quite a few features. And just like that, I have a video to use in class for review and any extension activities I want to do. I can use them for translations, quizzes, activities, games, assessments, etc. I can even share it with my class on Schoology (the LMS I use as their online classroom) or in Edpuzzle.
Example of an in class “Video and Discuss” session after doing a Special Person Interview. (Please forgive my silliness as I primp before I began.)
Final product of the “Video and Discuss” from the class above after editing.
I am still working on making sure to make time at the end of each class to do the “Video and Discuss”, but even on days that I have to do it after class, the process is pretty painless. I do not claim that this is the only way to do it, nor that I “invented” it, but it’s working for me and maybe it could work for you! Hopefully, I explained this well. If not, please feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to clarify.