“Neil the software guy” has been teaching with “videos” since they came on film(!) And as any teacher knows, it is always a CHALLENGE to FIND a VIDEO THAT FITS YOUR STORY.
- Sometimes the video is too long.
- Sometimes the video is too short.
- Sometimes the video covers ‘extra’ content that’s not exactly part of your lesson.
I’m writing all this with the amazingly good What’s in the Bible? DVD series in mind. Here’s the issue: These DVDs cover entire “books of the Bible” per DVD, whereas, most of us are trying to cover ONE particular story per class.
For example, Genesis has 50 chapters in it, and the What’s in the Bible? Genesis DVD gives us an overview of Genesis in 50 minutes. But if you’re just looking for a “Creation story” video, you will only find 5 or so minutes about that particular single chapter. If they gave you 20 minutes on that single story, they’d never get through the book. Whereas, if you’re teaching Esther, you’ll find 26 wonderful minutes on Esther in DVD #7: Exiled.
How to Fit a Round Video into a Square Lesson Hole:
You really need to KNOW what’s in each DVD in order to make an informed decision about HOW MUCH of the DVD you can use for your story. Now you know why I’ve written detailed guides for each DVD! They’re free when you buy the DVDs from us. (I know that sounds like a “come-on” …but if you’ve actually SEEN the DVDs in this series, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.)
Let me just say this: You’re going to L-O-V-E teaching with the What’s in the Bible DVDs. And you’re going to LAUGH, …. A LOT. As I write this, we have just completed using Episode 2 of DVD #7 which covers ESTHER, and my co-teacher and I laughed through most of it. “Chester Wigget’s Popsicle Stick Theater” retelling of Esther is a complete HOOT. …and the teachable content is deep. Great stuff!
And even though the actual amount of ‘your story’ on a particular DVD may be short, the surrounding material giving the background on the book, and how your story fits into “God’s Rescue Plan” (a big theme in the series) is terrific teaching material.
Just remembering this: the pace and depth of content in these DVDs should prohibit you from trying to show more than about 25-28 minutes from each DVD. Each DVD has 2 episodes totaling 50+ minutes . Resist the temptation to show it all.
See this picture of the kid in the firehose?
That’s what these great DVDs can feel like after about 25 minutes.
THE BIG TIP:
Quite often you can SHOW MORE of the DVD than covers your assigned story.
Why? Because Phil and the cast of characters often discuss themes and Bible concepts related to your story. You just need to preview the DVD or read our outlines to see these connections and CHERRY-PICK THEM from the DVD.
Your assignment is Creation, but the Genesis DVD #1 only does about 5 minutes on the “story” of Creation. But look at the REST of the content you will see that the DVD’s theme says that Creation isn’t just about the creation of the world, but rather, Genesis is about the creation of a people to serve God. DVD 1 also teaches that Creation is the beginning of a story about God’s story of Redemption…getting back to the Garden, so to speak. So using PARTS of DVD #1 to introduce Genesis and the story of Creation is very appropriate. HOWEVER, if you’re assigned the story is NOAH, for example, I wouldn’t use DVD #1 in this series to cover Noah because it doesn’t really focus on that story, and the rest of the DVD’s content isn’t really related to Noah. In summary: KNOW THY VIDEO.
Sometimes you get lucky: 26 Minutes on Esther!
The other Sunday I was teaching Esther using Part 2 of DVD #7 “Exiles.” Part 2 was mostly “all about Esther” and lasted 26 minutes. Yay! However, the last five minutes were over the heads of our 1st and 2nd graders.
Sometimes you just have to use a little bit: 8 minutes on Ruth.
When our lesson was Ruth, we only used about 8 minutes of DVD #4 because that’s what was specifically on Ruth, and the rest of the DVD didn’t help our Ruth lesson. We used the 25 minute Nest video on Ruth as our other video to get the whole story for younger kids.
Sometimes, unless you’ve previewed or read our outline, you could MISS how the rest of the DVD could help your lesson…
Example: You assignment is Fruits of the Spirit. DVD 12 in the What’s in the Bible? series has something about that. But at first glance, it looks like only a few minutes of the DVD talks about Fruits. And you’re right, only about 3 minutes appears to be about “Fruits”. So should you use ONLY that section? NO! –Because if you do, you’re going to MISS a HUGE part of the DVD that COULD help your lesson. Here’s why:
Because you previewed the DVD with my guide in hand, you saw what I saw. You saw that this particular DVD teaches 3 minutes on the “fruits” passage but does so describing a much bigger Pauline theological concept: “Sanctification” and the DVD has A LOT about the concept of Sanctification! In addition to teaching about Sanctification (being “fruity”), the other sections on the DVD are about “Justification by Faith”, which is a major Pauline concept and important theology to teach to all kids. So if you didn’t make this connection, you’d only use 3 minutes of the video. I make this connection in my study guide to DVD #12.
In other words, sometimes you have to do this with your video and story:
The next Big Question I’m often asked is, “should we try to use BOTH episodes in one class time?”
The answer is NO, not only because each DVD’s two episodes are 26 minutes or more in length, but also because each 26 minute episode is RICH in content and fast-paced you’ll want to stop and follow-up on.
As you preview each DVD and use my free teaching guides, you’ll begin to notice that Episode 1 in each DVD tends to cover the “Big Questions” of the Book it is studying, whereas, Episode 2 on the DVD tends to get into the individual stories and scriptures.And sometimes, it’s one episode or the other from the DVD you really want to dig into. For example, I prepped my older kids class with Episode 2 from DVD #1: Genesis because it’s particular content laid the groundwork for the big story we were moving into: Joseph. Whereas, Episode 1 from DVD 1 didn’t help do that.
The Next Big Question with the What’s in the Bible? DVD series is often this:
These videos are so good, should we just teach with the videos?
…like just teach the “Kings” video as our lesson for the next week or two?
……or maybe even use all the DVDs as a series of videos for the summer?
Neil answers emphatically: NO!
Why? Because they cover too much too quickly. …And this is my Rotation Model philosophy kicking in. When we move too fast every week, trying to cover so much ground, our content doesn’t sink in.
These DVDs are fun, but they are also THICK with content and fast-paced. You’d exhaust your teachers and kids without a break from using the videos. Guaranteed.
So in Rotation Model thinking, Week 1 we’d show DVD 12, Episode 2 to help us cover Fruits of the Spirit. But then on Week 2 we’d be looking at Fruits of the Spirit through an art project. Week 3 through software. Week four through some situational skits. You get the idea. THEN we might move on to another episode in one of the What’s in the Bible? DVDs. The What’s in the Bible? videos are like a FLASH FLOOD if we use them every week like a curriculum. They firehose information, albeit, entertainingly! It’s the job of the teacher to slow it down, and spend a week or three coming back to the content found in the DVD.
I’m going to use an episode or section of an episode from one of the What’s in the Bible? DVDs, then also use OTHER ACTIVITIES for the next week or three to RE-COVER THE SAME CONTENT before moving on to the next video.
I would NOT use DVD 2: Exodus as my main video about particular stories in an Exodus rotation. There are too many other excellent videos that zero-in on specific Exodus stories. Teaching about the Plagues and Cross the Red Sea? Then use Cecil B DeMille’s Ten Commandments, or Prince of Egypt. Much more time focused on those stories than you’ll find in What’s in the Bible? DVD 2.
But here’s how I WOULD use DVD #2 about the Exodus….
As a video introduction to the WHOLE STORY, a sweeping introduction to the Book of Exodus BEFORE WE GET INTO THE NITTY GRITTY of the various Exodus stories. This is where the What’s in the Bible? series EXCELS ….in presenting the WHOLE STORY of the BOOK, and teaching you about the history, background and THEMES.
Several other videos in this series lend themselves to being taught this way …because of the way the series is designed. Let’s say, for example, you’re going to do a four week study on Psalm 23 or 100 with your kids (Rotation Modelers would do this). Then PRIOR TO the beginning of classes on those specific stories, I might use parts of DVD #8 “Words that Make Us Wise” in the What’s in the Bible? series. It introduces the concept of Psalms, history, structure, and place in our hearts. That would be WEEK ONE.
Saying it another way, I wouldn’t use this DVD series as my curriculum, I would use it JUDICIOUSLY WITHIN my curriculum at certain key spots. I also say that knowing that the developer of the DVD series hired Sunday School writers to write a curriculum for their DVDs. It’s not free, and I wouldn’t use it for all the reasons stated in this post. It covers too durn much.
I hope this discussion gives you some good ideas for planning to use videos and this wonderful series of videos. You may also find my free Teaching with Video manual helpful!
If you haven’t seen them, order with confidence! They’re great. And when you do, I’ll send you my free teacher’s outline to the DVD so you can see how the sections of the DVD breakdown into teachable sections, and you can make informed decisions about which sections to show, and which to save for another day.
If you have questions bout these DVDs and teaching with them, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org