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How to Encourage Independent Reading with Simple Video Creation

How to Encourage Independent Reading with Simple Video Creation

By Lani Aquino

Lights, Camera, Action!—Or, in this case, reaction. By creating short videos about independent reading novels, students are able to share their knowledge, opinions and overall reactions to books. Not to mention, this fun activity motivates them to read more in the process.

Here’s what you need to know about using video to inspire your students to do more independent reading.


Before sending students off to read and create videos, a whole-class brainstorming session and sharing of guidelines should be on the agenda. With many of the video concepts focusing on a reviewer/interview style, it’s wise to create a go-to template of questions/topics to be covered in the videos.

Dividing the reference template into sections based on literary components would allow students to either choose one or two ideas/topics from each section or focus on a single section to meet assessment needs.

Categories and topics may include setting, characters, conflict, key events, theme, climax (spoiler alert!), character motivations, plot-altering events, etc. Putting a cap on running time will deter long-winded book summaries and require students to formulate succinct responses.

Use the following ideas to decide what will work best for your class and figure out what templates you’ll need.

More: Track independent reading with Whooo’s Reading—35K teachers strong

5 Ideas for Literature Response Videos

1. Critic Interview

Upon completing an independent read, students work with a partner to generate an interview about their reading. Partners can be predetermined or selected based on availability at the time of book completion.

The interviewee can provide questions or the interviewer could choose questions from the pre-generated resource list. By not including the climax and conclusion in the video, these Critic Interviews become perfect additions to a Classroom Library Review folder on Google Drive or part of a playlist on YouTube.

More: 20 Best Google for Education Resources

2. Character Interview

Students take on the persona of the protagonist of their novel for these interviews, even dressing the part if possible. A more personalized tone is taken as the interviewer inquires about the character’s feelings, decisions, and reactions, which propel the rising action of the story.

This first-person perspective allows students to explore character development and gives teachers a unique lens for viewing comprehension. Rather than having the interview be about a book, it turns into an interview about characterization.

This will require a unique set of first-person questions that necessitate knowledge of the novel’s events. This video style would require the interviewee to provide the questions or the interviewer to have also read the novel.

3. Solo Reviewer

Students can record their own review by creating a Siskel & Ebert-esque video with themselves as the sole star. Running time requirements need to be kept in mind to deter an extended monologue that ends up summarizing the entire book.

With this video style, personal reactions to characters, setting, storyline/structure, etc. become the focus, and it can easily be recorded with a smartphone or tablet. This is a great choice for your voracious readers that tear through books and would otherwise require an interviewer on standby to assist in documenting multiple reads.

4. Vignettes

By creating multiple vignettes, slower or more reluctant readers are able to reach milestones that allow for video responses at more frequent intervals. These short vignettes could be uploaded separately for checkpoints and then compiled upon book completion to create a cohesive overview of the entire novel.

This format can also take on a more personalized reaction to the reading material. Students can share a character of interest, source of suspense and/or confusion, or overall impression of the novel.

Vignettes should be completed at the beginning, middle, and end of a read, and each should focus on the same concept and its development throughout the course of the novel. Concept choices can be student driven or teacher directed.

More: 3 Reading Strategies to Engage Digital Natives

5. Scene Retelling

Students can get creative with this more behind-the-camera concept. Using an animation program like Tellagami, an animated retelling of a standout scene, climax or alternate ending can be created. This form of video creation allows students to reflect on the major plot events of the novel and bring them to the screen via an animated character.

An anime of a key character can be created and placed in an appropriate background for the retelling, or students can create their own unique storyteller. With this format students are able to showcase understanding of the novel by setting a stage for their reflections.

Build a Virtual Library

As you begin creating videos, you can build a virtual library of reading reviews. This library can become a favorite go-to method for assessing learning. It’s also a place for students to check when looking for their next great read.

Depending on the extent of the library to be built and the audience of viewers, videos can be housed on a class blog, YouTube, Google Drive, etc.

For even more ideas and tips, check out these video creation resources from Free Tech for Teachers. You’ll find multiple methods and programs that can be used for video in your classroom.

Engaging students in independent reading can be as simple as recording on a cell phone. Students have the opportunity to talk about books on screen, and teachers gain an assessment method that can be viewed anywhere. When students hit record, literature reflections come to life.

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  1. Pingback: 13 New EdTech Tools to Boost Engagement 2016

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