Reflection: Online Resources Get 'Em Moving by Blocking Out Chapter 4 of Great Gatsby - Section 4: Closing


This year I had the brilliant idea to have students use their spiffy new Chromebooks to make their own video interpretations of sections of The Great Gatsby.  Why don't you see that here (you ask incredulously)?  Because this winter was the winter of -25 degree weather that kept us inside for about 8 days at the beginning of this term, THAT'S why!  I've tried video projects before (with mixed results), and while they are typically decent, they do take a lot of time (if you're doing them at school) or a lot of trust (if kids are doing them at home).  With all the snow days, time is at a premium here, which prevented me from making this project happen.  However, we all know that teachers are flexible creatures!  Roaming around the magical land of YouTube, I quickly found a whole array of videos that would fit the bill, and students ended up enjoying (and critiquing) other students' work.  It had an additional positive effect on student effort with acting as well, which was an unexpected bonus!  

If you decide you have the time, energy, and trust and want to try a video project, here's my advice for keeping it manageable:

  1. Make students try out the tech they are going to use before they get home to use it.  If you're using school technology, check it out yourself first to make sure it's not blocked.  I learned (the hard way) that our Chromebook video cameras were disabled after... well, after exactly what you imagine might happen with high schoolers and video cameras...happened.  Lesson learned.
  2. If it's a group project, make sure you have individual and group grades.  No one wants to get hassled over a "group grade" fiasco blowing up after a student is angry about what they earned.  Keep it separate, and make the individual grade much more heavily weighted than the group grade.
  3. Preview every video BEFORE you share it with the class.  Does it sound like I learned that one the hard way too?  Yeah, I totally did.
  4. Give them rubrics before you hand out the assignment (or, obviously, the equipment).  Kids stop listening when they get technology in their hands.
  5. Consider making video projects an OPTION, rather than a REQUIREMENT.  Some kids have limited access to technology or really busy schedules.  You don't want to have to sit through rushed, terrible projects.  Consider why you're assigning it and what you want to achieve before you make it mandatory.

  When Snow Days Eliminate Your "Wiggle-Room" for Students to Create Videos, Borrow from YouTube!
  Online Resources: When Snow Days Eliminate Your "Wiggle-Room" for Students to Create Videos, Borrow from YouTube!
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Get 'Em Moving by Blocking Out Chapter 4 of Great Gatsby

Unit 9: Is Gatsby Really so "Great"?
Lesson 3 of 12

Objective: SWBAT translate dialogue-rich text from The Great Gatsy into a blocked, "staged" performance directed by fellow students to improve comprehension and visualization techniques.

Big Idea: You haven't lived as an ELA teacher until you've watched students latch on to the role of Meyer Wolfshiem...luxuriating nosehairs and all!

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