We want our students to understand that readers are always thinking. This is true whether they are reading a novel, looking at the advertisements in magazine, or watching a movie or television sitcom.

Film and literature share many of the same elements and strategies for drawing in a viewer/reader. Using videos to introduce and practice reading strategies provides a number of advantages:

  • Students are engaged.

  • They have a great deal of prior knowledge about video texts.

  • Visual and auditory learners are supported.

  • Connections can be made back to print texts.

Here we look at some ideas for using videos to support the development of three effective reading strategies: making predictions, making connections and asking questions.


Proficient readers are actively involved in the reading process. They know that there are cues embedded in the text that provide information to the reader. They watch for these cues and make predictions about what they think might happen. Predictions do not have to be right, but they must be grounded in the text.

Students can be asked to make predictions when viewing a video. Pause where appropriate and have them consider the following key questions :

  • What do you think might happen?

  • What are the clues that helped you come up with your prediction? (sound, music, lighting, camera angles, etc.)


Whenever students are giving a personal response to what they read or view, they are making connections to what they know. Younger students more easily make connections to their own experiences. As students become more aware of the kinds of connections they can make, they begin to make connections to other books or movies with similar characters, themes or issues and eventually to larger world events and issues. Each of these kinds of connections is important in deepening the readers’ understanding.


Many educators now realize the importance of having students ask their own questions as they are engaged in reading/viewing. This essential reading strategy is used by readers who are actively involved in making meaning and allows him/her to gain a deeper understanding of a text.

Teachers can encourage the asking of questions as students view and discuss movies, documentaries and other video texts. Model the types of questions that will move the reader beyond the literal level. Use the questions below as you view this video on Cyberbullying Prevention.

Kinds of Questions

  • Factual questions are those that are answered in the text.

              1. Where is the scene shot?

  • Questions of interpretation and analysis can be answered only by "interpreting the facts given or suggested in the text"

        • What does this mean ?

              1. Why did the director use this particular technique?

              2. What technique(s) has (have) been used to make us sympathize with the girl who is being bullied ?

              3. Why didn’t anyone stop the speaker ?

              4. How do the other students feel about what is happening ?

  • Questions beyond the text are those questions that relate in some way to the real world.

        • Why? How come? I wonder...

              1. Why do people try to hurt other people ?

              2. How big a problem is cyber-bullying ?


Like all languages, film, video and television use codes and conventions to communicate ideas, issues and impressions to the viewer.

  • The codes are the tools that are used to create the film or video. These include such things as camera angles, music, movement, sound, lighting and editing.

  • The conventions are the way the tools are used to create a particular type of film or video. We expect to see certain conventions when we are viewing a particular genre. For instance we do not expect a music video to use camera angles or lighting in the same way they are used in a news program.

When students are viewing a film or video, the codes and conventions have an impact on the message that is being communicated. One of the best ways to help students understand these basic codes and conventions is to involve them in their own productions.

In the short video clip above, produced by a small group of grade 6 students, you will notice the use of some basic codes and conventions. Have students analyze the different effects that are used and discuss how they impact the message that is communicated.


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