It’s the heart-warming story of the week! Baby elephant MeBai was recently reunited with her mother after being taken away from Elephant Nature Park and spent three and a half years apart from her mommy. MeBai was sold to a tourism company where she was used as an entertainment ride for tourist. But the little elephant was way too young and began losing weight, thus, unable to carry tourists anymore. With the help of Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation, MaBei, accompanied by several volunteers, did a four-day three-night journey through the jungle and was finally brought home.

Watch the story of MeBai’s journey home.

And watch below the moment MaBei and her mom saw each other for the first time after three and a half years. Adorable!

In the social studies classroom teachers can help their students strengthen Speaking and Listening skills — essential for college and career readiness — through a variety of activities. Video journals offer students an opportunity to connect with each other and develop these skills.

What is a video journal?

A video journal is a response that is captured using a camera with audio recording. The message might relate to a students’ opinion on a news clip they just viewed or a passage they have read. This journal entry could be an open response or an answer to a specific writing prompt. Instead of writing a journal entry students record their response using a webcam or tablet camera. Their messages can be uploaded to a learning management system like Edmodo or Schoology to be viewed by teachers and classmates.

How do video journals support speaking skills?

In order for students to grow as articulate speakers, they need practice getting their message across. Students can fine tune their speaking skills as they generate a response that covers they key points they would like to include. Encourage them to practice before recording to build their fluency or jotting down notes to help them stay focused. For students who struggle as writers, this type of task can help build their confidence. Video journals can also support English Language Learners who may feel more comfortable having discussions and conversations around a topic before writing a response.

How do video journals support listening skills?

Video journals can support listening skills by giving students an opportunity to be an audience member. After students post and share their video responses, other students can watch and respond by offering their own opinion or giving feedback. As students spend time listening to other video journals, they can reflect on what they need to do to strengthen their own responses.

What is the best way to get started?

To get started using video journals with your students, first think about what tools are available to you class. If they use Chromebooks with webcams you may want to have them record using this device and share a link to their message. In classes using iPads students might record their response and then upload them to a learning management system to share. You will want to set parameters for this type of work including minimum and maximum recording times. It’s also important to have conversations with students about finding a good place to record their video journal or how they can use headphones and a microphone if they are in a noisy area.

Using video journals can engage students in content while building their speaking and listening skills. Students who might be hesitant to talk in a whole class discussion can strengthen their understanding of course content with video journals.

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

Most students watch video clips in their day to day life, from YouTube videos in a Facebook newsfeed to a Vine clip recorded by a friend. When it comes to gathering information from videos in an educational setting, students have to change their purpose for viewing. Similar to the way that readers change the way we engage with text when moving from a novel to a textbook, students need to use a critical eye when watching a video to gather information.

When students are given a clear focus for a watching a video, they will know what to look for or what details are important to note. This focus could take a few different forms including discussion questions or writing prompts. Setting an expectation for your students as viewers of content might include a writing prompt. Teens will be asked to write about what they have viewed, turning their clear focus into a written response.

Channel One News provides new video clips every day that you can show to your students. Subscribers have access to teacher materials that include writing prompts. You might ask students to watch a clip once before giving them the writing prompt. Before they watch the clip the second time, you can share the writing response and discuss what details they picked up during their first viewing. This can help them focus on the clip during the second viewing. They will already have an idea of what to look for and can spend their note taking time wisely, recording only key details that relate to the writing response.

You may include this type of writing in your daily lessons or rotate your schedule to include writing in response to video viewing just a few times a week. The Common Core State Standards discusses the expectations for middle and high school students to gather information from multimedia texts. By providing opportunities for teens to engage with video comments through writing, they will develop skills that will strengthen their college and career readiness. Students will learn how important it is to watch multimedia content with a purpose, the same way that they read a text to gather information. This skill can translate across the content areas and is extremely important for students in the social studies classroom who will be expected to use critical thinking skills as they engage with multimedia.

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.