Taking Note: VideoNot.es

Thank god for The Simpsons.  Their 20-year run ensured that they had the chance to parody nearly everything under the sun – including The Odyssey.   With students finishing up their odyssey through the epic poem, this week, I introduced students to several contemporary allusions to the epic, including an episode from The Simpsons, the trailer from O Brother, Where Art Thou? and some clips from Spongebob Squarepants and asked them to

  • Identify what reference(s) does this piece make to The Odyssey
  • Examine how does this text re-interpret, or reimagine The Odyssey
  • Analyze what does this reinterpretation suggest about our cultural perspective on The Odyssey and what the reinterpretation suggests about our culture, as a whole


My hesitation about the activity laid in asking students to move back and forth between video and their response, but I was pleased with the forum that the web app VideoNot.es provide: students can choose a video and type notes side-by-side, and, because students can logon to VideoNot.es with their Google accounts, students can come back to their work for sharing, reviewing and revision because VideoNo.tes.   An additional, awesome feature of VideoNo.tes is that it pauses the video when students start typing  – so, effectively, it allows them to tag video evidence at particular times.  So, this tool seems particularly apt for addressing CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7: Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text.  

With the iPad class, VideoNo.tes was less reliable, so I asked students to complete the same activity by commenting on the videos in our Google+ community, which also worked well, though it did not allow students to tag particular times in the videos.

Moving forward, I’m excited to use VideoNo.tes with student-produced videos, allowing students to comment on particular features or content of each others’ work.  One feature that I hope to see from the app is an ability to work on the same video note simultaneously for several viewers.  Currently, while the document itself is sharable, students cannot collaborate from several machines.  Additionally, VideoNot.es only allows students to upload and view YouTube videos; I hope that the platform can be expanded to include videos from a variety of sources.

I hope this post encourages you to make more use of The Simpsons in your classroom!


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