Software Focus on Video and DVD

Article excerpt

WITH INCREASING EMPHASIS BEING PLACED ON INTERACTIVITY IN LEARNING, SOME PERCEIVE video as a static format. In fact, video in the classroom can be much more than students staring at a screen. Videos can educate, spur discussion and inspire all kinds of activities. With the exciting DVD format becoming more accessible to schools, even more possibilities exist.

In this month's Focus On, we take a look at a number of video and DVD titles that might find a place in your classroom.

Based on the award-winning novel by Wilson Rawls (author of Where the Red Fern Grows), Disney Educational Productions' Summer of the Monkeys tells the story of Jay Berry Lee, a 12-year-old boy growing up on a turn-of-the-century farm in the rural Ozarks. His summertime adventures begin when he finds a band of runaway circus monkeys and sets out to earn the reward offered for their return.

The 8-page teacher's guide that accompanies the video features activities to help students develop their writing skills, identify elements of a story, analyze characters and explore such writing techniques as foreshadowing. Additional activities focus on author Rawls, arts and crafts, and monkeys. A copy of the novel is included. With good production values, this weld-made retelling of the classic novel will entertain while offering et new perspective on the original work.

Also from Disney, Bill Nye the Science Guy Sampler V includes ten new classroom edition video programs from the popular TV series. Every title in the sampler comes with a comprehensive educator-designed teacher's guide. Some of the topics covered are atoms, motion, fossils, erosion, fluids, storms, farming, life cycles, probability and time. Another title for the science classroom is the Animated Science Collection. The four videos featured in this set are Harold and His Amazing Green Plants, Winnie the Pooh Discovers the Seasons. Recycle Rex and Animated Earth: Forces that Shape Our Planet.

Staying on the topic of science, a pair of videos from Hawkhill Associates delves into the complex world of genetics and cloning. The Human Genome Project takes a look at the international study to decipher all the genes in the human species. Intended for high school and college classrooms, the video takes this complex, Herculean task and makes it very accessible and easy to understand. The program takes students into a state-of-the-art automated gene sequencing laboratory to learn some of the actual techniques being used in the study.

Cloning: How and Why examines the equally complicated concept of cloning in a very understandable manner. It discusses the world's most famous sheep, Dolly (the first cloned mammal), as well as developments that have been made in cloning since then. The video explains the science behind cloning, as well as possible future applications of animal cloning.

Moving from the future to the past, we go to Colonial Times, one of the many titles available in Sunburst's A Field Trip to Yesterday video series. Shot at historic restorations in York, Maine; Phillipsburg Manor, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Colonial Williamsburg, this video takes students in grades 3-8 on a journey back to Colonial America. There they can get a glimpse of life as it was lived in the original 13 colonies.

The video program is divided into eight sections: The Lost Colony, The Southern Colonies, The New England Colonies, The Middle Colonies, Home Life in the Colonies, Colonial Schools, Colonial Trade, and The End of the Colonial Period. Accompanying the video is a teacher's guide containing a variety of discussion questions and activity sheets designed for before, during and after viewing. Follow-up activities, interdisciplinary activities, exercises in map skills, a video transcript and more are also included. Other titles in the Field Trip to Yesterday series include Historic Philadelphia and Plimoth Plantaion.

Another history title of note is Goldhil Home Media International's Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom. …