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To Mars with MER - Educators

How to Watch the Program Segments

Using a video in class is NOT like watching sports or drama or sitcoms at home. PBS researcher Faith Rogow gave us permission to reprint her 2-sided distillation of key points in the LIVE FROM THE STORM Teacher's Guide. We encourage you to check out her full comments, and send us some of your own: we'll add them here.

"Television can be a powerful educational tool, but if we want our students to absorb specific content from what they see, we need to give them a model for viewing that is active and critical.

For starters:

  • view from video tape rather than real-time broadcasts (P2K: well, we disagree with that just a little!)
  • don't be constrained by programs: use only the segments you need (P2K: we think you'll find just about >every< segment, nay every second of video and audio, will work somewhere in your curriculum!)
  • don't use the television as a baby-sitter.
In addition:

  1. Think about what you are trying to accomplish. If you can achieve your goal without using video,you may want to reconsider your use of TV. However video can help accomplish things you can't do any other way. TV does the following very well.
    • Spark interest in a new subject area. Imaginative and quick paced video can inspire your students to pursue a subject.
    • Demonstrate something you can't show any other way, such as a satellite's view of changing weather patterns... the sights and sounds of a rainforest... (see why P2K likes Faith's comments?)
    • Enrich content by demonstrating new applications or insights.
    • Practice a skill such as note taking, problem solving, predicting, listening, etc.

  2. View Actively. Do you turn off the lights when you talk? Would you be satisfied with a class that sat and stared at you for 30 minutes without responding or interacting? The TV can't act as teacher if students aren't active.
Interactive viewing requires 3 simple steps:

PREPARE: Let students know why they are watching, what to look for,or what you will ask them when the video is over. The younger the student the more detailed the description should be of what they are going to see. (And hence our publication of the script: we're no 60 Minutes, seeking to surprise you with content.)

PARTICIPATE: View interactively. Sing along, answer questions aloud as they are posed, pause to discuss possible outcomes...

CONNECT TO OTHER ACTIVITIES: Bring the video lessons off the screen and into the classroom or home by choosing follow-up activities that connect the viewing experience to hands-on exercises or real-life experience. With younger students, be sure to explain the connections between the video and the activities you do."

We simply could not have said that better--but Faith has a Ph.D. as well as speaking wisdom! Her remarks are copyrighted Insighters Educational Consulting, 1997, and may only be reprinted by contacting her at