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WORDS: A Lesson in Collaboration (Disguised as a Lesson on Homophones/Homonyms)

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Keywords: English, language arts, differentiated lessons, technology, homophones, collaboration, Flip Video, homonyms
Subject(s): English/Language Arts, Special Needs, Dyslexia, Autism, Technology, Social Skills, Video, Speech and Language
Grades 6 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Pulaski Cmty Middle School, Pulaski, WI
Planned By: Barbara Forsberg
Original Author: Barbara Forsberg, Pulaski
WORDS: A Lesson in Collaboration (Disguised as a Lesson on Homophones/Homonyms)

Project Overview: Students work in groups to plan, create, edit, and share a collaborative, creative video on homophones and homonyms.

Learning Targets: Students will develop 21st Century collaboration skills, learn new vocabulary, understand homophones and homonyms, and learn how to record, upload, edit, and share digital video.

Materials Needed:
Flip video cameras & props depending on what students choose to use
(see also RESOURCES)

Time it Took: Six class periods, minimum

*Introduction/Assigning groups/choosing homophone

*Brainstorming ideas for videos/narrowing down to 5-6 choices. Storyboard videos.

*Videotaping (2 days)

*Lab days-uploading and editing videos, deciding order, saving to p-drive (1-2 days) This time can be cut if teacher would prefer to do this part on her/his own the first time. (That’s what we did this first time.)

Begin by showing the Vimeo video, WORDS, by Everynone, which inspired this lesson.
*Ask students to predict what the video may be about. Tell them you will not be telling them what it’s about and that you will be watching it more than one time.

*Play the video again, this time asking students to “notice a pattern.” One by one, students should begin recognizing the pattern. Ask them to write notes for themselves, rather than shouting out their observations. (Students should begin noticing the homophone/homophones patterns in the video.)

*Expect to need to repeat the video several times, as students begin to discover the pattern. Each time students see it, they see something new, and “lights turn on”
*At some point, you allow students talk about the pattern they are seeing. Serve as a recorder to write words that that they are “seeing” in the video. [Another option is to let students discuss in groups what they think is happening.]

*Continue to show the video and facilitate discussion until every student understands that there is a pattern in the video. Teach the word “homophone,” (words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings) and homonyms (similar to homophones, but they have the same spellings.)

*Tell students that they will be creating their own WORDS video as a class. (Discuss Learning Targets). You will assign groups, and they will collaborate to choose their own homophone and decide how they will represent that homophone (or homonym) in five different video clips.

DAY TWO (depending on how much time you have for your class)
Review learning targets. Explain project steps:

-Use a computer to research homophones and decide which ones they want to use in their videos. Students must choose homophones that has at least three different meanings.

-Create five different 3-5 second video scenarios* (even if they choose a homonym pair or trio--five different representations are required

-Create quick storyboard sketches (1 per group member?) of what their video scenarios will look like

-Videotape scenarios. (Remember that mistakes can be edited out of the tape later.)

-Upload video scenes to MovieMaker and edit them down to 3-5 seconds each (optional)

Assign groups (show them the Group Evaluation Forms first, if you’re using those) and allow students time to choose their homophone and begin brainstorming ideas for their videos. Stress the importance of accepting all ideas first, and then narrowing them down fairly. (Teach methods for expressing dissenting opinions politely, as well as skills for being assertive when you feel you are not being heard.)

Have students map out their video ideas with storyboards, which they will share with a teacher to get feedback.

DAY THREE Videotape
DAY FOUR Videotape

Some groups will be ready before others to start working with their videos; plan to have time in the lab to teach all students what to do with the video clips when they are ready. (Then resume videotaping.)

Put all video clips in an appropriate order and save them as one movie file (optional, for those with SKILL! .)


*This lesson was created and used with an inclusive classroom that has students who are typical learners, gifted learners, and students with learning, cognitive, and emotional-behavioral disabilities. None of the students had used a video camera before.

*Before beginning, we discussed expected social behaviors when working in a group. We discussed what to do if there were problems and shared ideas for how to solve those problems, using specific language for disagreeing, expressing ideas respectfully, etc.

*We asked students not to tell other groups what their homophone was. That made the end result more fun.

*At the end of our project, we viewed the video as a class much like the original WORDS video discussion. We then evaluated our project; what went well, what didn’t, in terms of working in groups, as well as the video aspect.

*The teacher can take all of the copied videos and decide which order each homophones should go in. She/he can also choose which instrumental music to add to the compilation (I used a Soundzabound Background track.) Another option is to let students who finish early start working on the compilation.

*When they finish editing their videos, they should COPY and PASTE their video into a shared file (you will be able to see them all, but they will not). Once you have them all, copy and paste the videos into a folder on a flashdrive or on your drive. ALL PIECES OF THE PROJECT NEED TO BE IN ONE PLACE for ease of putting it all together later in Moviemaker or Jaycut.com.

*We grouped students by learning style; What we found when we did this is that it allowed the outside-the-box thinkers to get really creative and the more concrete thinkers to direct their own projects, rather than simply letting stronger students lead them. This worked out beautifully.

*When we did this unit, we were somewhat flexible, allowing 2-3 still photos in the entire project (only when students could convince us that there was no other option. For example, the “doe” photo was much more practical than the students sitting in a deer blind to wait for a real deer!


WORDS video on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/13768695

Group Evaluation Form

When your project is finished, you might also show videos from other classes.
Our video can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5II8UdD4GEU

Homophones (and homonyms!), in the order they appear in our video
I'm going to link up the professional video that inspired this lesson, as well as our video. Please note that you have to really watch them repeatedly to "get" what they're about. This was one of the most fun parts of this project--Getting kids to THINK :) In the event that you want to "fast-forward" to the explanation, scroll to the bottom of the lesson plan.

I check marked all the materials I used, but the only ones I don't already have are the FLIP cameras. My district has some, but they are only available some of the time--They're used a lot!

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Students could work with the music department to create their own background music.
Sharing this lesson with other classrooms was fun. Another class loved our idea and made their own video.
Links: WORDS on Vimeo (our inspiration)
Our WORDS video on Youtube
Materials: Integrating Technology, Student Resources, Sound Libraries, Video Tools, Screen Capture, Writing, Literacy, Flash/USB Drives, Mice, Ports and Hubs, Headsets, Keyboards, Power, Batteries, Tripods, Camera/Video Accessories, Projector Screens, Networked Projectors, Point and Shoot, Flip Video, Autism, Dyslexia, Speech and Language