How MovieTalk Became Watch & Write

I have tried this CI staple – MovieTalk – five times now… the way it was originally supposed to be done (I understood it first from this post on The Comprehensible Classroom blog), an edited version of the way it was to be done (which for me was to script out my stops and my sentences to go along with the story to review targeted vocabulary), and by screen capturing different important scenes, putting captions to those scenes, then “pre-” viewing the whole Movie in stills first. Although the last version did work well enough in class, it was boring for the students if the PowerPoint lasted more than seven slides and unless I chose a particularly compelling movie/clip, dragged. The other versions require, at this time, a little too much free-form and speaking fluency for me to pull off for any real benefit to the students. By now, I know I’m not good on the fly.

Instead, I’ve stumbled onto a way, similar to the basic idea behind MovieTalk, to provide input with movies – or rather short films or clips:

  1. The students watch the short film or clip. Same criteria for choice as in a MovieTalk: little to no dialogue, short, interesting, clear plot.
  2. I pause the film or clip about 3-4 times throughout.
  3. We discuss the film or clip to that point. As a class, with student input, we create a script or description of the plot, characters, scenery, etc. in the target language. Follow the similar guidelines to creating a Write & Discuss.
  4. The film or clip continues.
  5. I pause it again and we repeat the discuss and write each time.

At the end of the film or clip, we use our newly written story – a summary or script of the film/clip – to read it aloud together and follow-up with any reading strategies.

If chosen well, this Watch & Write, as I’ve dubbed it, can be used to target vocabulary, culture, and/or grammar structures. Because the students are involved in the creation of the story, their interest and involvement are peaked. And, because we wrote it together, after watching and discussing what we saw, the class’s comprehension is right where it needs to be.

I love this!

The Watch & Write takes the focus off of me. It allows me to prepare vocabulary, structures, and culture ahead of time. It gives the students the reins. It provides them a reason to pay attention, a reason to focus. And, at the end, we have a lovely, easily done and co-created, new story to use in class for the rest of the week. What’s not to love?

(By the way, if someone has already discovered and named this, I don’t mean to steal the credit.)

I find this activity incredibly useful in my Latin II class now that I’m teaching with anchor charts and CALP-like instruction. Here’s an example below:

We are learning about the Roman Monarchy, specifically about bad kings.


And, our co-created summary:

De Malo Rege:

Unus princeps, rex, unam coronam habet. Rex alterum regnum it. Rex custodes in altero regno videt. Rex alterum regem interficit. Rex duas coronas nunc habet. Alterum regnum funus pro rege eorum habet. Regi tres custodes/populos mittunt. Rex tres custodes/populos interficere vult. Parvus custos morturus est… sed alius custos eum servavit.

Rex multos reges interficit. Rex altera regna it et alteros reges interficit. Rex quattuor coronas habet. Rex quinque alteros reges interficit. Unus rex coronam filio dat. Unus rex moritur… aut in papilionem mutat. Rex papilionem petit et sequitur. Rex in caelum papilionem sequitur. Rex clavum (key) de papilio capit.

Rex montem, qui magnam coronam habet, videt. Rex coronam magnam de monte capere vult. Rex et populi bellum contra monte gerunt. Rex populos eius de monte petit. Intra montem est silva et custos et regina. Regina coronam habet, sed rex coronam reginae non vult. Rex aves cum coronis – non coronas, sed plummas – videt. Rex aves sequitur.

Rex aves non capit. Rex coronam in digito eius videt. Rex digitum interficit. Rex moritur. Rex ad inferas terras cum mortuis regibus it. Rex omnes alteros reges et magnum regem cum corona magna videt. Rex coronam magnam habere aut capere vult. Magnus Rex, quis est rex inferorum, primo, coronam regi non dat. Tunc, Magnus Rex coronam regi irato dat.

Rex a omnibus alteris regibus cum corona fugit. Rex in spatium (into space) it. Rex cum corona magna de rege inferorum est.

(Please pardon any errors, I’m sure there are a couple…)

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