Tuesday, March 8, 2011

60second Recap | Learn literature's finest in fun 60-second videos

60 Second Recap is a great site for middle school and high school reading. Language Arts, and Literature classes.  Think of the good old Cliff’s Notes put into video form, and you’ve got the idea of 60 Second Recap!
60 Second Recap takes great literary works and breaks them down into brief summaries of about, oh… probably a minute if logic serves.  But instead of cramming the entire book down into 60 quick seconds, it divides up topics and literary elements into brief chunks.  It’s perfect for the English teacher who wants to stimulate interest in a novel, but still wants the kids to actually READ THE BOOK!
imageClick on George Orwell’s 1984 for example. you’ll find 3 paragraphs of text to whet the appetite, then a scrollable series of videos:
  1. Teaser Trailer
  2. The Overview
  3. The Plot
  4. Meet the Cast
  5. Theme 1
  6. Theme 2
  7. Motifs
  8. Symbol 1
  9. Symbol 2
  10. In Conclusion
60 Second Recap features over 30 titles from American Literature and around the world.  Plus, if you don’t see a recap, you can request one and they’ll consider it for their production list.  There’s also a video Dictionary of Terms, as well as a feature entitled “How to Write a Paper That Won’t Put Your Teacher to Sleep.”
All of the videos feature Jenny, their enthusiastic host.  There are even outtakes and behind-the-scenes stories about Jenny & the production of the videos.

The Down Side

When I first learned of 60 Second Recap a little over a year ago, all the videos were hosted on their site, which was great.  Recently, though, they have switched to YouTube for hosting of its video content.  An understandable move, one would suppose, but now the site and its associated videos are riddled with advertisements.  That’s the cost of doing business in the 21st Century, I guess, but it’s still a bit annoying.  Try to plan ahead and pause the video after the ads and before the actual content before you show it to class.  Or, visit the 60 Second Recap YouTube Channel, where you can click the “Skip this ad” link on the videos I previewed.  It’s obviously not going to be organized quite as nicely as the 60 second Recap web site, but at least you can avoid some the frustrating ads this way.  Additionally, I believe they used to allow users to upload their own recaps, making it a nice portal for a classroom project: making your own 60-second recap!  Great idea for a project – too bad it’s lost from the ad-supported site.

The Verdict

Even though I miss a few features, THIS SITE STILL ROCKS!  I highly recommend it to teachers who use The Classics in their curriculum!
60second Recap | Learn literature's finest in fun 60-second videos

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