Recently I wrote a first person review of an educational DVD ‘Letter Sounds’ by the educational kids’ company Rock ‘N Learn. After watching the DVD, I was very impressed the information that my 3 1/2 year old daughter learned and I appreciated that the company offered to have me review a couple more DVDs. As I will be starting a position teaching fifth grade writing soon, I received the ‘Writing Strategies’ DVD. Generously, the company included the ‘Color, Shapes, and Counting’ DVD for my daughter. Because I was a certified K-6 teacher and a mom of a homeschooling preschooler, I wrote a review to examine the educational material in the DVDs.
Review of Educational DVD ‘Color, Shapes, and Counting’
Easing into the material, the educational DVD began with simple facts about colors. I liked that the names of the colors were written on the screen to help my daughter learn how to spell the colors. Combining the study of numbers and shapes, the movie covered counting up to ten as the cartoon characters began counting different shapes. My older daughter showed enjoyment as she joyfully counted her toes. I noticed my younger daughter, who was 9 months, was glancing at the screen with interest.
Something I loved about the educational DVD was how it covered content that got increasingly complex. For instance, after covering circles, the movie compared the shape of a circle to the shape of the ellipse. My daughter learned unusual shapes – a nonagon, a decagon, and more – with a focus on the amount of sides each shape had. As the movie progressed, it covered increasingly difficult content and differentiated for students who already knew the basics. When covering how to count up to 20, viewers were prompted to count faster and faster, which helped encourage rote knowledge.
As a teacher, I felt that the video did a great job of scaffolding the information. The harder material built on the material that students had already studied earlier in the video. Because I personally knew some kindergarten teachers, I believed that my daughter would be very well prepared for kindergarten if she learned the material in the video. My daughter cried when the video ended because she wanted to keep watching it! I felt that the video would be useful for the next couple years as my daughter works on her basic rote knowledge before kindergarten.
Review of Educational DVD ‘Writing Strategies’
As I prepared to begin a fifth grade position teaching writing in a public school, I reviewed the ‘Writing Strategies’ educational DVD. I liked that the educational DVD helped me understand common academic language for the average fifth grade classroom. For instance, watching the video taught me that fifth graders should be able to read a prompt carefully, brainstorm, find an audience, and determine the purpose of their writing. Watching the video helped me better understand how to communicate with students about writing effectively. While my background as a writer helped my ability to teach writing, learning to communicate with the academic language that students could understand was critical to my success as a writing teacher.
I noticed some very valuable teaching strategies that the video used. Cartoon characters introduced major concepts with visual cues. I learned how to compare a picture that had scattered parts to a story with sentences in the incorrect order. When the picture’s parts were in the right place, the picture could tell a story. As a picture needed its parts in the right orders, paragraphs too needed their sentences in the right order to tell an effective story. I loved that the explanation of sentence sequencing used a simple comparison that all students could relate to and understand.
As I examined the visual cues, I liked the image of the writer’s toolbox with a lure, which showed how students should use a hook to catch the audience’s attention. Because the visuals encouraged me to use higher order thinking to evaluate how the visual cues related to the content, I thought the video was very effective. I felt that the video differentiated for advanced students as well as some students with special needs who would need open ended prompts to develop an understanding of the content. Personally, I saw a great stopping point in the video when the visuals were introduced where I would be able to pause the video and ask students open ended questions about how the visuals were related to students’ writing.
Something that made the DVD different from some educational shows was when the video covered how to prepare for success on standardized tests. Using cartoons to appeal to the students, the video examined how to get enough sleep and to eat something but not to overeat. I liked that the video made note of how to mark clearly on the test form, which was a good reminder for students. After watching the video, I found a lot of great material on the company’s website that I could use in class. I honestly felt that introducing the video to my classroom would help improve students’ test scores.
Learn more about Rock ‘N Learn at the company’s website.
I received two free products, but it in no way influenced my opinion.