Careful Reading of an Assigned Text: The Sneak Peek Video


  • Describe a successful classroom teaching tactic that could be replicated by other instructors.

The context: I use this tactic in my introductory theology classes required for all first year students. Students in these courses often struggle to relate to the challenging yet essential foundational texts of Catholic theology.

The pedagogical purpose: In the first step of the project, the Sneak Peek video promotes a careful reading of theological texts by requiring students to translate a chosen text into concise and creative visual imagery. When this project is shared in part two of the project, the video becomes a tool for generating enthusiasm on assigned readings among the whole group by creating within the classroom a forum for peer evaluation, accountability, and discussion.

Description of the strategy: At the beginning of the semester, students choose one of the assigned readings from the course syllabus. Then in the class prior to the reading's due date, the student will present an original one to three minute video trailer advertizing the “highlights” of what their peers will be reading over the next few days. Students are encouraged to be as creative as possible creating this “sneak peek” of the text for their peers. Some of the best videos have included props, animation, and music. Along with the video, each group or individual assigned to the reading is required to bring a handout for all members of the class that pose three reading-based questions. These questions are assigned for homework and used as guided reading questions that help to generate discussion during the following class.

Why it is effective: The Sneak Peek Video is effective for a number of reasons. First, it is effective because as a problem-based learning method it encourages students to contextualize texts and perform self-directed research as they gather the information and skills necessary for video creation. Second, the project requires students to use a range of multiple intelligences. Besides the intrapersonal and logical skills already listed, students are encouraged to collaborate with their peers in designing the original piece of media. Preparing the video allows students the opportunity to use interpersonal, musical, kinesthetic, and spatial intelligences. Finally, the activity is effective because it creates a positive environment for collaborative learning. Over the course of the semester as students become invested in the quality of their own project, they also become experts in the problem-solving associated with the task. Consequently, students willingly contribute useful feedback as they assess and discuss one another's work.