Using TV with Read-a-roo!

Are you using TV wisely? - Controlling Your Child's TV Viewing Habits - What To Do First

Teaching Critical Viewing - 7-Step Lesson Plan for Using Instructional TV in the Classroom


Are you using TV wisely?

  • What does your child do when he/she comes home from school?
  • Is TV one of the many fun-time activities that your child participates in?
  • Are your children allowed to watch television before school?
  • Is TV the background noise all or most of the time?
  • Are they always asking for toys and foods advertised on TV?


Controlling Your Child's TV Viewing Habits:

  • Do you as a parent provide a role model for your child?
  • Are books readily available in your home?
  • Is there some other time allotted to other reading or being read to each day?
  • Do your children ask you about things they see on TV? And do you help them look up the answers?


What To Do First:

  • Begin by recording how much you and your children watch TV each week. Then, set limits on when and how much TV viewing is to be allowed and stick to it!
  • Get together with your children and explain what you are doing and why. Using a TV guide, let your children circle, with different colored pens, their chosen programs. Alternate who gets first choice. Explain that anytime the television is on, that time is counted as viewing time.
  • Make sure the TV goes on at the proper time, not before the program begins.


Teaching Critical Viewing:

  • Watch with your children. Talk to them about the programs and let them know your views on what is happening.
  • Ask, "What do you think will happen next?"
  • Have your child use as many different words as possible to describe one of the characters.
  • Ask your child to put his/her favorite shows into categories such as: type of show, and funniest to most serious. Devise a rating scale. Have your child rate each program he/she watches. Keep track on a chart or graph. Have them explain why they gave the programs that rating.
  • Examine the methods used by advertisers to sell products. Talk about whether the method used to advertise the product makes any sense, why the advertisers may have used that method, and words they use to sway.
  • Use a small notebook to make a dictionary of unfamiliar words, looking up the meanings in a regular dictionary. Try to make a game of using the new words during the week.


7-Step Lesson Plan for Using Instructional TV in the Classroom By Elizabeth Reeves, KQED-TV
Instructional television (ITV) programs can add a new dimension to your classroom and home, promote active learning among your students and children. The following steps can guide you in preparing a lesson using UNC-TV or any of PBS's quality general audience series such as National Geographic Specials or Scientific American Frontiers.



STEP 1: Learning Objectives - Start with specific, identified objectives. For Instructional Television (ITV) lessons there are two objectives:

  • Your objective for the lessons, tied to your school and curriculum;
  • The learning objectives of the teacher's manuals for each program.

Most ITV programs have several layers of information, so, during previewing you may determine what specific information you wish to emphasize to enhance your lesson.

STEP 2: Lead-In Activities - Lead-in activities should set the tone for viewing and let students know how the program material relates to previous lessons or subsequent activities. Some generic suggestions for previewing activities are:

  • Review vocabulary or key concepts in the program;
  • Do a "story mapping" type of activity: tell students the main topic of the program and ask them what they think will be included. This can tell you what your students already know about the topic and make viewing more interactive; students are watching to see if their ideas are included.


STEP 3: Focus Viewing Activities - Focus questions can make viewing more interactive by involving the students in the information presented. You may ask students specific informational questions which will be answered in the program; ask intuitive or interpretive questions such as assigning students to identify with various characters for a discussion following the program; or ask students to develop questions unanswered in the program, concerning topics they'd like to know more about.

STEP 4: Segmented Viewing Activities - Segmenting can be a valuable technique to enhance students' learning while enabling you to adapt the medium to your teaching style.

There are many instances when segmenting (showing only a portion of the program at a time, or pausing the video during viewing) may be appropriate. For example, you may choose to show only a brief section of the program that illustrates a specific lesson objective.

You may also want to get students' reactions to individual bits of information in the program, or give separate focus questions for each segment.

It is recommended that ITV programs be viewed with the lights on (or sufficient natural light) so that students may take notes during the program. This also allows you to watch your students' reaction to various parts of the program. Segmenting activities may include:

  • Pausing the video for a still picture to point out the background visuals, character's expressions or a longer look at an object with your VCR prior to class, not all machines give a clear still picture).
  • Using frame advance/slow motion for an extended view of a process.
  • Pausing and having students predict what will happen next, projecting possible solutions or stating what they would do in the given situation.
  • Giving an activity or question for one segment, then a new question for the next segment.


STEP 5: Post-Viewing Discussion - To give students an opportunity to react to the program, express opinions or questions about what they have seen, and to review, reinforce, and elaborate on the concepts presented, plan time for discussion following the viewing. "Tell me what you saw" is a good starting point for discussion. It's a non-threatening question that all students can answer.

Also, as each student talks about the part of the program they most remember, a review of the concepts presented comes from the students rather than the teacher.

This type of response also gives you information about which concepts caught the interest of various students, allowing you to gauge follow-up activities to expand on students' interests.

Post-viewing time may also be used as an opportunity for instilling critical viewing skills, discussing technical quality, the transfer from print to video character portrayals, and the use of visuals or sound effects to enhance the content.

STEP 6: Follow-Through Activities - Activities should be planned to reinforce and integrate concepts presented, and provide "hands on" experiences with the information. Activities may include:

  • Role-playing
  • Research
  • Small group work
  • Field trips
  • Producing a class video
  • Reading
  • Or anything your imagination and experience recommend.

Teacher's guides include suggestions for class activities including experiments, worksheets, additional reading suggestions, writing topics and creative projects. Students may develop their own post-viewing activities based on ideas presented in the programs.

STEP 7: Evaluation - Your evaluation of the success of the lesson is an important part of any instructional process. Consider whether objectives were information was (or could have been) highlighted. Was the video used as effectively as possible?

What additional activities might you integrate next time? What techniques worked well and could it be incorporated into future lessons?

Evaluation of each component of the lesson can provide valuable insight into the use of video with your students and enhance your use of the medium.

Elizabeth Reeves is an ITV Utilization Specialist for KQED, San Francisco, CA.

For more information e-mail: learning@unctv.org

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