I love collecting intriguing images and videos – things that stop me in my tracks and pique my curiosity. I always figure that if it fascinates me, students would probably be interested also. Often, these visuals work as wonderful hooks for a lesson you need to teach.
In that vein, here’s OK Go’s music video, The Writing’s On The Wall (YouTube link in case you don’t see it below)
Not only is this video entertaining, it can also serve as an engaging hook for many lessons across your curriculum. But note, there are references to getting high, so depending on your students, you may choose to watch on mute “so they can focus on the visuals.”
I immediately thought of a unit I taught about propaganda techniques. This video would be a perfect hook for such a unit.
In the video, we learn how easily our brain is deceived by carefully constructed imagery. We literally see the wrong thing. We believe what the creator wants us to believe.
I’d use this big idea to connect to propaganda: our brains are also easily deceived by carefully constructed words.
When we formulate an argument that makes the reader feel like she’s missing out (bandwagon), her brain is more likely to believe the argument. If we make him feel like he’s in danger without our help (fearmongering), he’ll be more likely to join our cause. Or if we make it seem like we’re just like the reader (plain folks), they’ll be more likely to agree with us.
Or this video could serve as an introduction to ratios. We can use math to help us set up accurate, forced-perspective scenes like those in the video. If we want to make an object appear twice as far away, we’d have to make it half the size. What if the object needs to look 3/5ths as large? What if we want a student to look the same height as a teacher?
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Perhaps size alone doesn’t fully trick the eye, but incorporating art techniques such as atmospheric perspective will help sell the illusion. As objects move into the background, the objects’ colors lose contrast (think of a mountain in the distance). Artists can even employ a mathematical formula to calculate exactly how much to reduce contrast based on distance!
Of course, this video also reminds me of MC Escher and his impossible structures.
And, of course, OK Go has created an interactive, behind-the-scenes explanation about the making of the video. I bet you know some students who will spend their whole weekend play around with this!
The next time you see something that catches your eye, save it and consider how it might serve as an engaging hook for a lesson.
PS: This isn’t even my favorite OK Go video, either. That honors goes, hands down, to I Won’t Let You Down.