Developing use of Wh questions using videos


Making the most of the iPad video function deserves a few entries on this blog. It’s not a very groundbreaking idea to use videos in sessions but it’s now so easy to record and playback on an iPad that ideas which might have been too fiddly or time consuming until recently can be revamped.

I have been using short videos to work on developing understanding and use of Wh questions but it could be used to work on a range of language targets. This idea has worked well with both preschool and primary age groups and is very simple to plan:

– Find some willing members of staff to act out an everyday scenario and film it on the iPad e.g. someone pouring out some cereal in a bowl, then going to the fridge to find that there is no milk. It might only be a 5 second clip – you can do a lot with a very simple scenario.

– Play the video to the group and ask questions about it based on the question words or other targets that you might be working on, e.g. “what is he pouring into the bowl?” “why does he open the fridge?”, “where can he go to get some milk?”

I usually preferred to film two part sequences (only a few seconds each) as having a second video to play proved to be a successful way of maintaining attention during the activity for groups who had particular difficulties in this area.

The children loved watching familiar staff members act out scenarios and they sometimes chose who they wanted to see in the video the following week. (I didn’t have any problem recruiting staff to star in the videos – I think it helped when they saw how much the children enjoyed watching them!)

I got most of my inspiration from the book Language for Thinking (Stephen Parsons & Anna Branagan, 2005). It has a wide range of pictures, each of which describe an unfolding scenario. Each picture is accompanied by questions which are separated into different levels of difficulty. The pictures were easily adaptable into video scenarios which made it very easy to set up and hand over to a member of school staff for running a language group.LFT

There’s lots of ways of extending this activity – am hoping to try out a few different versions myself and will report back on what works over the next few weeks!


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