Thursday, August 27, 2020

Conducting a Live Movie Talk via Zoom

I am a huge fan of doing Movie Talks, because I feel that they are a great way to preview vocabulary and language structures prior to a targeted reading. As much as students will complain about me stopping the movie clip to narrate it and to ask questions, when we go over the actual reading of the movie clip in various ways, they actually like the fact that they have a visual image in their heads of the passage already and know what to expect. However, in the digital learning classroom environment, the question for me has been "What is the most effective way to conduct a Movie Talk via a Zoom session (or Google Meet, Microsoft Team, etc) with a class of 25-30 students? Is it even possible?"

The answer is both yes and no. Yes, it is possible to conduct a live Movie Talk via Zoom, but in some ways, it is going to be different from how students fully experience it in the physical classroom. There are going to be some aspects which are identical to a classroom usage, but at the same time, there are other aspects which you will have to sacrifice and therefore will have to address in other ways.

The way in which I conducted a Movie Talk via Zoom was through the use of Google Slides. Now this is actually not a new concept at all, because I know of many teachers who have been using Google Slides for Movie Talks for years. When I created the Movie Talk Google Slide, I actually liked the layout very much, because everything which students and I needed was there on the slide itself. The layout of the slide was very basic and only had the list of target words and the video clip itself (directions for inserting videos into Google Slides). Below is my actual Google Slide for the Movie Talk (it is an active Google Slide, so you can push/play pause to see how it works):

I used the screen sharing function so that students could view it on their computer or device. 

  1. Asking questions and having students respond back and forth does not work too well in a Zoom session. I tried doing this, but since students were already muted, it took too much time for students to unmute themselves and to respond. As a result, it ended up being more of a Story Listening experience. I guess you could make it like Dora the Explorer by asking a question, pausing, and then answering it yourself.
  2. Having the target words on the slides is very helpful, and if you set the cursor for "laser," it helps draw attention to which word you're pointing and pausing at.
  3. Because I was not asking questions, I repeated the sentence an overly amount and used different variations of sentences using the target words to get in repetitions. At the same time, sentences need to be simple and short and full of repetitions with pointing and pausing to work in this environment.
  4. Whenever I pointed and paused at a target word using the laser pointer function, I truly had to pause and count to 4 in order to allow for student processing.
  5. In many ways, you are talking into the nethers. I found myself talking extra slowly and self-defining a lot of words as I went along to ensure that students were understanding. 
  6. I had A LOT of screens and tabs open for this (Zoom, Google slides). This made it kind of tricky at times.
  7. if possible, use the chat function for student comprehension check. They can enter in a number of 1-5 letting you know their comprehension level. Make sure it is set only to "Communicate with host." At the same time, depending on how many tabs/windows you have open, it may be too much.
  8. I would set "students cannot unmute themselves" during this, because I had a student who kept sneezing and there was a lot of background noise from students who were unmuted.
  9. This took about 25-30 minutes - maybe too long for a Zoom session, since it was just a listening activity? I told students get comfortable before we did this.
  10. My colleague John Foulk suggested that we use Google Slides for doing Movie Talks when students return face-to-face again. I tried it out by projecting it onto my classroom screen, and I really liked having everything there that I needed on the one slide. 
How is your Movie Talk experience going in a digital environment?


  1. Thanks for trying this out for us, Keith! I like using screenshots of the movie. It's so much easier for me than to pause it at exactly the right time.

    I feel very confused about how to read stories with my students virtually. Choral translation was my go-to. Is there a way to do it choral translation over Google Meets? Or have you come up with an alternative?

    1. For now, I have put the idea of choral reading or anything like that on hold while in a virtual environment. It is just too difficult to do.