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Teaching History Blog

Historical Documentary and Video Reflection Assignment

It is said that a picture can be worth a thousand words, and videos can get students thinking about content in a familiar yet powerful way. Reading Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech fails to move students like listening to his voice and watching him deliver the message. In this assignment, students will reflect on videos that the instructor provides and compose a journal exercise about their experience.

Title: Video Reflection
Objective/s: Learner will observe a video/documentary of an historical moment and reflect on their observations, surprises, emotional reaction, and what they learned by watching the video.
Assignment type: Formative
Assignment Details:
1. Students are informed of the topic and background information related to the video they will watch. This background information may come from a text, Hippocampus materials, instructor lecture, or other outside reading.
2. Ideally, you will have access to video resources, but if you don’t YouTube is one place to start and American Rhetoric has a database of famous speeches including 5 minutes of Martin Luther King’s speech. An internet search can pull a great deal more resources like news footage from events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the JFK assassination.
3. Before watching the video, students will jot down what they know about the topic.
4. Students will watch video and answer the following additional questions:
- What did you observe about the event or person/people in the video?
- What did you notice in the video that really surprised, stunned, or interested you?
- What emotional reaction did you have to this video and why?
- What did you learn about the topic from this video that you did not know before? (You may want to require a minimum here of 3 facts or ideas)
- Is there anything missing from the video that you think would help you better understand the event?
5. Particularly if the video is not direct footage from an event but rather more a documentary or history channel type movie, ask your students “What message or information did the author intend with this video? Do you think the author had a particular bias?” If the video is a primary source footage, ask your student to analyze properties of the video. “Is there an angle you wish you could see or information that you are missing from this first-hand account of the event?” “Did you see the video without major editing or was this a clip that may be out of context?”
6. Student will compose a one page journal type entry reflecting on the questions you provided in a concise well organized way. The entry should be grammatically correct and include citation as necessary.

Compose a one page journal response and reflection to video. 0-25 points
Use proper grammar and citation. 0-25 points
Respond to questions provided by the instructor on the assignment in a thoughtful and substantive way. 0-50 points

How to Create a HippoCampus Playlist:
A four-minute tutorial video
Library of Congress:
United States House of Representatives:
National Archives:
United States Senate:
U.S. Federal Court:
U.S. Supreme Court Media:
National Constitution Center:
Virginia Historical Society's Virginia History Explorer:
Virginia Historical Society: The Story of Virginia:

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