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As an ELA teacher in a small rural K-12 school in eastern Kentucky, I am often confronted with a conundrum: How do I make the most of the limited resources in my classroom while also ensuring that my students have access to the best educational materials and learning experiences possible? I believe a majority of K-12 teachers across the nation face this problem regardless of geographic location. Enter Retro Report. The videos are incredibly easy to incorporate into the curriculum. They work well with almost any instructional strategy educators are already using in their classroom and are accompanied by ready-to-use lessons for social studies, science and ELA.

Recently I had the opportunity to create an ELA lesson plan and student activities for one of the incredible videos available, “How the US Has Treated Wartime Refugees“. I wanted to provide educators with some insight into my process so they can feel equipped to use these resources to enhance student learning.

First, it is important to remember that anything that conveys a message is a text. Even though we are using a video, the analysis skills and thinking are the same as if we are having students read an article or a poem. With this concept in mind, I knew I wanted students to interact deeply with the text in a way that brought to the forefront the humanity of wartime refugees. I wanted students to grapple with the questions posed in the video. In examining the instructional strategies I often used in my classroom, three that came to mind:

  • Hexagonal thinking
  • Question Formulation Technique (QFT)
  • Found poetry

These activities require students to think deeply, are effective assessments of their understanding of the content, and lend themselves really well to this particular video. The found poem is the one activity that most closely aligned with my desire to have students focus on the refugees’ humanity.

Next I reflected on how students should interact with the video. Because they were going to be required to use specific words and phrases from the text, I wanted them to watch the video and read the video transcript. Having access to a transcript of the video to review or use for the activities planned is beneficial for a variety of learners and can allow them to more deeply engage with content. All Retro Report videos have transcripts available.

Finally, I provided some scaffolding and questions for students to answer as they watched the video and read the transcript, which would help them identify everything they needed to complete their found poem product.

This approach to using Retro Report videos to create lessons can be used by teachers of any subject. By examining Retro Report lesson plans, teachers can explore new instructional strategies and activities. Found poems is one that improves both student learning and engagement.

Kim Yates teaches 11th and 12th grade ELA, Mass Media, dual credit writing and literature courses at Pineville Independent Schools in Kentucky and is a member of Retro Report’s Council of Educators.

This article first appeared in Retro Report’s education newsletter. You can subscribe here and view past newsletters here.