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Video Diagrams – Help your students visualize your instructions

I recently wrote an article called 5 tips for creating activity instructions in PowerPoint and I have had positive experiences using these diagrams over the past few weeks.

Adding animations to them not only caught the attention of the students but it really helped the students to understand what they are expected to do.

The downside is that it seemed to require a certain level of technology in the classroom to utilize them effectively. You would need a screen, projector or at the very least an overhead camera. This isn’t always practical, especially if you teach at different locations and to different class sizes.

I needed a way to make these diagrams more universal, so that they could be viewed from any tablet, mobile device or computer without worrying about formatting issues or installing additional apps.

I decided that the best way would be to produce video diagrams. It is easy to convert a PowerPoint presentation into a video and as a video it could easily be played on my phone. I wouldn’t have think about what technology was available in the classroom as long as I had technology in my pocket.

I have produced these three video diagrams for tekhnologic and they are free to download.

Play the video and click on share in the top left-hand corner and you will see the option to download the video.

Rotating Circles

I like using rotating circles in the classroom because they get students up on their feet, they can be set to music (similar to musical chairs – everyone stops walking when the music stops), they are great for practicing timed discussions and students get to talk with many different partners.

Without the video diagram, I used to divide the students into A or B, then I would instruct the students to make an inner circle and an outer circle whilst using gestures to give them prompts. There was no real problem doing it this way, but it could take some time, especially if it was the first time I had done this activity in the course.

With the video diagram, I have managed to reduce my teacher talking time by asking the students to decide with their partners who is A and who is B. Then I show them the diagram with the two circles and ask them to stand in position. When I play the video the students understand which way I want them to move.

Running Dictation

I use running dictations to get the students moving and to promote accuracy. They can be used as a way to introduce vocabulary by asking the students to collect words, or they can be used to introduce a conversation by asking the students to collect individual lines of the dialogue.

Running dictations encourage students to use their working memory to recall the target language, which allows them to focus on it. I try to encourage peer correction and I don’t award points for misspellings.

Without the video diagram, I used to model the activity with one group of students. In large classes there is a chance that some members from the other groups will take the opportunity to talk among themselves. You can encourage students to listen to instructions and to each other, but you shouldn’t assume that all the students are paying attention. An alternative is to ask for a student from each group to come and watch the activity being modeled with one group and then return to their own groups to explain what the activity entails.

With the video diagram, I have another means to explain the activity in a quick and concise manner. I have managed to condense the instructions to this activity into six words.

I might give the following instructions while playing the video:

Run to the paper. Remember the words. Say the words to your group. Everyone writes the words. Change – a new student runs to the paper.

If there are students who haven’t paid attention, I can review the instructions in six words:

Run, Remember, Say, Write and Change

While the video can illustrate the instructions in 18 seconds.

I may still use modelling and ask comprehension questions about the instructions, especially if I have adapted the activity or I am introducing a variation for the first-time.

Writing Rotations

I am hoping to encourage some collaborate writing among my students. There is a common classroom activity where one student writes one sentence on a piece of paper and then folds it over to hide the sentence. A second student writes a second sentence and then folds it over. This continues until the story is finished.

I want to try a variation of this activity that involves groups rather than individual students in a hope to prevent any down time.

The students are divided into groups of four. Each group nominates a writer. The groups decide on the first sentence before the writer changes groups. Then the students decide the second sentence before moving again. The writers join all the groups and writes down a sentence from each group, trying to produce a script

With the video diagram, I am hoping that the students who are nominated as the writer will easily understand that they should visit all the groups.

Once the script has been produced, I am hoping the students can use it to practice a role-play that has been created by all the students in the class.

I have not tried this activity yet, so I am interested to see how much the video diagram helps.

When I have repeated an activity that has used one of these illustrations the students have shown almost instant recognition.

If you have any favorite classroom activities that you would like to see made into a video diagram, leave me a message in the comments.

Alternatively you can send me a message on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Take Care!

Update: For more more video diagrams, go to Part 2: Five activities to get students moving

12 thoughts on “Video Diagrams – Help your students visualize your instructions

  1. Hey T.,
    Wow!! Did I say , “Wow?” This is a whole new level of blogging!!!
    I really liked the videos you made and will use them during the summer with my EAP sts!!! Great post!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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