The video of Fireman Cory Kalanick rescuing an unconscious kitten from a burning house received 21,605,544 views. The video of the baby making faces got approximately 32,503,945 views. What makes these videos so popular? Scientists are beginning to explore the psychological motivations that propel some videos into megahits and others into duds.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: Why That Video Went Viral by Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times
“The video of Fireman Cory Kalanick rescuing an unconscious kitten from a burning house received 21,605,544 views. The video of the baby making faces got approximately 32,503,945 views. What makes these videos so popular? Scientists are beginning to explore the psychological motivations that propel some videos into megahits and others into duds.There it was, virtual gold: a video of a firefighter resuscitating a kitten trapped in a smoky home.
Neetzan Zimmerman, then an editor at Gawker, a news and gossip site, knew it was destined for viral magic. But before he could publish a post about it, his editor made a request. Mr. Zimmerman was to include the epilogue omitted by most every other outlet: The kitten died of smoke inhalation soon after being saved. For telling the whole story, Mr. Zimmerman paid a price.
That video did tremendously well for practically everyone who posted it, he recalled, except Gawker…Social sharing is powerful enough to topple dictatorships and profitable enough to merit multibillion-dollar investments.
But scientists are only beginning to explore the psychological motivations that turn a link into “click bait” and propel a piece of content to Internet fame.
Their research may have significant implications for the media and advertising businesses, whose profits hinge on winning the cutthroat race for the attention of Internet users worldwide.
If you want to melt the Internet, best to traffic in emotion, researchers have found. The emotional response can be happy or sad, but the more intense it is, the more likely the story is to be passed along..Sharing is not just how information ripples across communities; it’s also how emotions are disseminated. Recently, analysts at Facebook, Yale and the University of California, San Diego, reviewed more than a billion posts by Facebook users, and found that when users vented on a rainy day, their friends in other cities posted bleak status updates more frequently than normal.
But positive status updates were even more contagious, prompting upbeat updates from friends at even greater rates. The conclusion: Online, as in real life, feelings can be caught like the flu… For many people, sharing seems to be a way to process the highs and lows they feel while consuming content online.” Read more.
MEMORIAL DAY REMEMBRANCE
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Ask students to examine the titles of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
Stimulating background knowledge
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about You Tube videos. Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use the UIE brainstorming chart (sample) for brainstorming the meanings.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- There it was, virtual gold: a video of a firefighter resuscitating a kitten.
- The editor knew it was destined for viral magic.
- Mr. Zimmerman was to include the epilogue.
- That video did tremendously well.
- Their research may have significant implications.
- Social sharing is powerful enough to topple dictatorships.
- The more intense it is, the more likely the story is to be passed along.
- Uplifting articles are more likely than disheartening ones to land on The New York Times.
- Positive status updates are more contagious.
- Stories evoking rage or other negative, strong emotions are also emailed by readers.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- The kitten that was rescued was adopted soon after being saved.
- Scientists know the motivations behind popular videos.
- Dr. Guadagno made a popular video song.
- Uplifting articles are more popular than disheartening ones.
- Young people are more popular than old people.
- Upworthy is a site known for shareable content.
- A popular video on Upworthy was about a boy who produced a hit song before he died of cancer.
- According to researchers if you want to be popular on the Internet always tell a funny story.
- The most popular videos involve animals.
- People usually share things they have strong emotional reactions to.
Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- The kitten died of smoke inhalation soon after being saved.
- For telling the whole story, Mr. Zimmerman paid a price.
- That video do tremendously well for practically everyone.
- Their research may have significant implications for an media.
- The emotional response can be happy or sad.
- The more intense, the more likely the story is to be passed along.
- Positive status updates were even more contagious.
- Sharing seems to be an way to process the highs and lows we feel.
- People build their online identities by sharing.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with discussing or writing about the main points from the article.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics. Review ESL Voices Modes of Writing.
- The article states, “If you want to melt the Internet, best to traffic in emotion, researchers have found. The emotional response can be happy or sad, but the more intense it is, the more likely the story is to be passed along.” Rephrase this statement in your own words.
- Provide an example of the following statement. “Social sharing is powerful enough to topple dictatorships and profitable enough to merit multibillion-dollar investments.”
- Do you use social media? If yes, which ones? If no, why not?
- In your opinion are social networks good for people? In what ways?
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down at least three new ideas they’ve learned about You Tube videos from the article. Ask them to write down two things they did not understand in the article. Then have them write one thing they would like to know that the article did not discuss Review the responses as a class.
IV. Group Project
Visit the School Tube website and have groups create their own videos and social network!
ANSWER KEY: Viral Videos