Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Celebrate Speech with a "Silent Film"

Another way to promote the awareness of the importance of speech during Better Speech and Hearing Month (or other times) is to explore the idea of silent film. Many kids are unaware that there ever were films that have no sound, and any language-neutral visual can be a great context for having kids generate language. I found this treasure, "Unspoken Content: Silent Film in the ESL Classroom" just in a quick search about this topic.  The article describes how "The Painted Lady," available, like many films, on YouTube (or using PlayTube to cache if YouTube is blocked), can be used to target narrative and metalinguistic awareness.

I mention all this primarily because Google has recently unveiled a cool new resource: The Peanut Gallery. This website (you cannot access this on iPad, and it only works in Google Chrome) allows you to dictate language that will appear as "silent film" titles over any of a selection of over 12 old movie clips. The site uses Google's "Web Speech API" and is remarkably accurate. Just speak, and it will convert your speech to text within titles over the movie clip, which is then saved and shareable.

You can see one of my attempts at it here.

The Language Lens on this site, then, is that it provides you with many contexts to have students analyze situations (characters, settings, ongoing events) and generate narration related to this, which employs the interpretation of body language and emotions, as well as, potentially, metalinguistics such as sarcasm and understatement. 

You will need to insert test dialogue (e.g. "Action" or "Oh no!") just to make the film proceed at first, so that kids get the context and can plan dialogue for a second or third try (or more), as improvising may be too difficult without your scaffolding.  

Common Core Connection
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.


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  2. Need a "like" button here! What a great idea!

  3. Cool idea! I'll be using this this week! :o)

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