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Small steps with big effects

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Have you ever done something you considered to be insignificant, only to find out later that it had a much greater impact than you thought? A couple of years ago I posted a video of "The Opposite Song" on YouTube. It was a song that helped children learn the concept of opposites. The video was part of a television program I helped produce here at Imagine Learning called Imagine Island. The show was designed to help English learners and pre-K kids learn the alphabet, build vocabulary, and master the basics of literacy. We created 26 half-hour episodes -- one for each letter of the alphabet. In recent months I realized that "The Opposite Song"  had been viewed over 20,000 times. This was quite surprising, as I hadn't really emailed the link to anyone or promoted it in any way. As the total views for the video continued to increase, we began receiving comments from viewers who used the video in their classrooms.  It was exciting to know that teachers were finding our video and putting it to use. But that fact was really driven home last week when I received a video response to "The Opposite Song."

Have you ever done something you considered to be insignificant, only to find out later that it had a much greater impact than you thought?

A couple of years ago I posted a video of "The Opposite Song" on YouTube. It was a song that helped children learn the concept of opposites. The video was part of a television program I helped produce here at Imagine Learning called Imagine Island. The show was designed to help English learners and pre-K kids learn the alphabet, build vocabulary, and master the basics of literacy. We created 26 half-hour episodes -- one for each letter of the alphabet.

In recent months I realized that "The Opposite Song"  had been viewed over 20,000 times. This was quite surprising, as I hadn't really emailed the link to anyone or promoted it in any way. As the total views for the video continued to increase, we began receiving comments from viewers who used the video in their classrooms.  It was exciting to know that teachers were finding our video and putting it to use. But that fact was really driven home last week when I received a video response to "The Opposite Song."

When the notification email landed in my inbox, I clicked the link and spent the next five minutes watching in disbelief as a classroom full of students in Thailand sang and danced along with "The Opposite Song." The teacher had been surfing YouTube in search of a video to help his English students learn about opposites. He found our video, downloaded it to his iPod, and connected it to the television set in his classroom.

Seeing those kids dancing around and singing about opposites was surreal. Neither our software product nor our television show are distributed in Thailand, so it was incredible to see something we created having an impact on Thai children. I exchanged emails with the teacher, Sean Tully, who expressed to me how much the kids loved the video. "The video worked amazingly well," he wrote. "What impressed me was how it captivated not one or two kids' attention for five minutes, but all 37 students for more or less the duration of the class!

"What touched me most was a special needs [student] I have in one class who really is in a world of his own.  He never participates in any class activities, but the day I used the song in his class, he came out of his shell and simply couldn't stop dancing (and singing) along to it!

"It is great to see materials work -- I've used plenty of substandard materials before -- but this worked better than I could've imagined.  The kids not only loved it -- they learned from it."

This English class in Thailand has put me in a celebratory mood for this year's International Literacy Day, which is observed every year on September 8.  The purpose of International Literacy Day is to highlight the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies worldwide. With the great inter-connectivity that technology brings, we can each share simple yet effective tools (like YouTube) to help promote literacy around the globe. What will you do to celebrate this year?

Here's Sean Tully's video from Thailand:

Watch the original song here.

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