Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Secret of Nimh: Movie Worksheets

(Movie Worksheets)

Link to Folder on Google Drive HERE

Slideshow Presentations on Google Slides
Part 1 (slides, pub), Part 2 (slides, pub), Part 3 (slides, pub), Part 4 (slides, pub), Part 5 (slides, pub), Part 6 (slides, pub), Part 7 (slides, pub), Part 8 (slides, pub), Part 9 (slides, pub), Part 10 (slides, pub), Part 11 (slides, pub), Part 12 (slides, pub), Part 13 (slides, pub), Part 14 (slides, pub), Part 15 (slides, pub), Part 16 (slides, pub), Part 17 (slides, pub), Part 18 (slides, pub), Part 19 (slides, pub), Part 20 (slides, pub), Part 21 (slides, pub), Part 22 (slides, pub), Part 23 (slides, pub), Part 24 (slides, pub), Part 25 (slides, pub)

Worksheets on Google Docs:
Part 1 (docs, pub), Part 2 (docs, pub), Part 3 (docs, pub), Part 4 (docs, pub), Part 5 (docs, pub), Part 6 (docs, pub), Part 7 (docs, pub), Part 8 (docs, pub), Part 9 (docs, pub), Part 10 (docs, pub), Part 11 (docs, pub), Part 12 (docs, pub), Part 13 (docs, pub), Part 14 (docs, pub), Part 15 (docs, pub), Part 16 (docs, pub), Part 17 (docs, pub), Part 18 (docs, pub), Part 19 (docs, pub), Part 20 (docs, pub), Part 21 (docs, pub), Part 22 (docs, pub), Part 23 (docs, pub), Part 24 (docs, pub), Part 25 (docs, pub)

These are movie worksheets that I used for the movie The Secret of Nimh with a group of young children studying English as a foreign language.
This is the 6th in a series of movie worksheets I designed for young learners.  See also Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The ideology and justifications for using movies in the classroom have all expounded at length in the previous posts (see also my post on using movies in the classroom, and my post on Comprehensible Input with Young Learners). So in order to avoid repeating myself I am going to try to keep the explanation here to a minimum.

I believe that children learn a foreign language best by plenty of exposure to the input.  The majority of this input should NOT be authentic materials like movies.  Rather the majority of input should be simple graded input that is easy for the learner to understand.  (For example graded readers and story books).
For that reason, I try to limit the movie to only about 5 minutes per lesson.  (That is, 5 minutes of playing time for the movie.  Including in all the activities built in around the movie, this has the potential to take up somewhere between 20-30 minutes of class time).
However, used sparingly, I believe authentic input like movies have their place.  The majority of the input will likely be beyond the students level of comprehension, but at least some of the input will be at the students level.
Interacting with authentic material is beneficial because it gives students the exposure to rich input with all the language features.  It has the potential to increase the students' enjoyment of English if they enjoy the movie.  And it helps to build confidence by giving the students a sense that they can interact and understand authentic material at at least some level right now, rather than having authentic material be some distant goal in the future.

All of those reasons are  exactly the same as all my previous movie worksheets.

There was, however, one major shift in methodology with this particular set of movie worksheets, which I will now explain.
With all the previous movie worksheets, the students were given the full script of the movie on their worksheets, even though the actual task was kept very simple  The reason for this was to provide the maximum opportunity for interacting with the full input, but to keep that interaction optional.  Higher level students can (and did) read through the script completely, followed along with the movie, and asked questions about words they didn't understand.  Lower-level students were content to simply match the words to the blanks.

My teaching assistant voiced some concerns to me that the lower-level students were not interacting with the input as much as they should be.  They would do the bare-minimum necessary to complete the worksheet, and then would tune-out and ignore and sentences that did not have a task assigned to them.

In an attempt to combat this, I decided to put the whole script of the movie on the Slideshow, by expanding The Story Last Time section.

In all my previous worksheets, The Story Last Time section was used to review SOME of the dialogue from the previous class.  Now, under this new method, The Story Last Time  section was being used to review ALL of the dialogue from the previous class.

I had been doing a lot of picture books with this class, and my intent was now to turn the movie itself into a sort of picture book.

This shift in methodology is not evident from the first several worksheets.  The talk with my teaching assistant happened once we had already started this movie.  The first 5 worksheets and slideshow presentation are done in the old style.  Part 6 is a transition and reviews half of the previous lesson, and from part 7 the entirety of the previous lesson is reviewed under "The Story Last Time" section.

The purpose of doing this is to force the students attention on every single sentence in the input.
Because this is authentic input, much of the input is going to be incomprehensible to the students.  So even though I'm forcing them to read through the entire script now, I still understand and expect that they will only comprehend a small percentage of it.  And that's okay.
Anything that is beyond the students' level of comprehension will still be beyond the students' level of comprehension, and I don't expect that forcing them to read anything will cause them to acquire any structures beyond their level.
However, what I am hoping is that there will be at least some vocabulary and grammar at their level, and forcing them to read the entire script will ensure that anything at their level will not escape being noticed.

In my classes, the students chorally read out "The Story Last Time" sections.  In order to prevent fossilization, I correct any pronunciation problems (even with words and structures far beyond their level of acquisition) but that's it.  I don't explain anything. Unless of course the students ask me to.
(Occasionally students will have questions about a particularly vocabulary word, especially if they are at an important plot point, and only one word is hindering their comprehension.  And I'm happy to answer any questions that they ask.  But if they have no questions, then I'm happy for them to just read through the section, and I accept that some of it they will understand, and some of it will be over their heads.)

In addition to forcing attention onto the input, there is one more hidden agenda for this.  And that is to build up bottom-up listening.  In the natural speed of English, EFL students frequently have a problem telling where one word ends, and a new word begins.  Reading through the script of the movie before listening to it helps the students notice where word boundaries are, and hopefully develops sharper bottom up listening skills.
(I think this is a useful activity provided that it's not the first time the students hear the movie.  The students should first have an opportunity to practice their top-down listening skills by listening to the movie before hand, and only afterwards should they read the script and focus on their bottom up listening practice.)

The classroom procedure works like this:
1) The students are given ten vocabulary words.  (The Slideshow is set up to try to elicit the words if possible, but the teacher can also give the words if eliciting fails.)
The purpose of the vocabulary is to force interaction with the input, and so the vocabulary is chosen based on which words are most salient and easiest to identify in the input.  It is not based on how useful the words are for the students.  Many of the words will either be already known to the student, or too low frequency to be of much use at this level.  Words are often repeated.
2) Students read through "The Story Last Time" section as a class.  ("The Story Last Time" is a review of the section of the movie that they have already watched in the previous class.) The teacher corrects pronunciation where necessary.
3) Teacher plays the movie.
Typically the movie will be about 5 minutes, and will include 2.5 minutes of old material (the same material that was just reviewed in "The Story Last Time" section) and about 2.5 minutes of new material--although in designing these worksheets, I based in around how many lines of dialogue I could fit on 4 sheets, and not on the timing, so the timing will vary).
4)  The students are given the worksheet.  They match the vocabulary to the pictures, and are also encouraged to read through the script and predict which words go with which sentences.  Some of the higher ability students will often fill out the whole worksheet before the movie is played a second time.
5).  The movie is played a second time.  Students listen and check their answers.  To help weaker students, I keep my finger on the pause button, and pause after answer is given to ensure that all the students have the answer.
6). Final Feedback on PowerPoint

By the time all of these steps have been completed, the students will have been through the same lines of dialogue 7 times  across two separate classes. (2 listenings, 3 readings, and 2 listening and readings)
First Class
1st time: listening to the movie
2nd time: reading the script, and matching the words to the blanks
3rd time: listening to the movie and reading the script to check their answers
The Next Class
4th time: in the next class, the students then read through that same dialogues in "The Story Last Time" section
5th time: the teacher plays the movie again--the material from the previous class is again repeated along with approximately 2.5 minutes of new material
6th time: the students are given the script.  The material from the previous class is printed again, along with about 1.5 pages of new material.  The students have the option of reading through the script again.
7th time: the movie is played again.  (Old material and new material).  For the newer material, there is a task (matching the words) but for the older material, the students have the option of reading their script as they listen (which some students choose to do) or just listening.

I didn't conduct any careful research, but just anecdotally, I certainly felt like my student's listening has gotten a lot sharper over the past couple months as a result of this method.  It seemed to me that as we went through the movie, their level of bottom-up listening, and their understanding of words in contexts, was also increasing dramatically.

There were, however, a couple of trade-offs which worry me slightly.
One is that the amount of class time dedicated to studying the movie was increased, which came at the expense of other materials.

The second problem was that this method decreased the students enjoyment of the movie.  The students wanted to just sit and watch the entire movie through with no interruptions, and were frustrated that they only got to watch it in small increments.  Many of them disliked all the reading exercises.  As one student complained to me, "We read so much, and we watch so little!"
Many people feel that students learn best when they are enjoying their learning, and according to it might be a problem that these increased tasks were decreasing student enjoyment.
On the other hand, I did really feel that they were absorbing much more of the language through this method.
So I don't know.
If anyone wants to run the experiment on their own classes, I encourage you to copy these Google slides over to your own folder, and then edit them to suit the interests and attention span of your own classes.

In my case, I found it helpful to encourage the students with rewards.  Everyone got stars for paying attention during the vocabulary, for reading nicely during "The Story Last Time" sections, and for listening quietly during the movie.  If we got through the entire movie-time with no behavioral incidents, the students were rewarded with a game.

I limited myself to 2 pages of script per class (that is, 2 pages double-sided--4 pages on Google Docs).  In most cases, I used 0.5 margins, but in some cases I found it necessary to go down to 0.3 margins.  In the rare cases when I went down to 0.3 margins, I had to be careful with the photocopiers to make sure everything stayed on the page

* See also this post for a grammar question I had about a sentence in worksheet 2.

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