In my Social Studies classes for Intermediate English Language Learners, I often show videos to supplement reading material (by the way, they are usually through EdPuzzle, though I wish they would add the feature of being able to adjust the video speed – they keep on saying “maybe someday.”)

I’ve periodically grappled with this question: Should I show the related videos before or after students do the reading?

Generally, I’ve showed them afterwards, and the vast majority of my students over the years have told me they prefer it that way.

I finally got around to putting the question out on social media today, specifically asking if anyone knew any research about it.  I received many thoughtful responses, with many different opinions, though no cited research (yet).  And quite a few educators wondered the same thing!

After reflecting on the responses, it seems to me like it’s one of those education questions that might have an answer beginning, “It depends….“:

It depends on the students’ literacy in their home language – if they are more fluent there (especially if they use the same alphabet as English), they might be more comfortable reading first and watching the video second.

It depends on the students’ English proficiency level.  I would bet dollars to donuts that Newcomers would strongly prefer watching a video first because they would likely gain more background knowledge from the audio, closed captions, and images that would increase their odds of good reading comprehension.

It depends on what scaffolds are used with Intermediate ELLs to support their reading comprehension.  For example, the process we use is first students work in groups to prepare presentations of a “Word Splash” (key words from the upcoming chapter that are likely new to them) which include images, definitions in their own words, and what it means in their home languages).  Peer tutors support them during the preparation and the presentations themselves.  Then, students work in small groups with peer tutor support to read the chapter and write summaries of each page.  Finally, we review each page as a class.  Those levels of scaffolding probably influence students’ confidence in understanding the content prior to watching EdPuzzle videos.

Lastly, just so the process in my classroom is clear, the “Do Now” or “Warm-Up” procedure when students first come to class is their spending ten minutes of watching, and taking notes, about Brainpop movies related to the content we are studying.  So, in effect, they watch videos before and after reading the content.

Even with these reflections, I’d still love to hear if anyone knows of any research on the topic!