Brief But Spectacular: A COVID-19 Survival Story

Monday, April 20, 2020

Kat Zwick discusses her experiences with COVID-19.

Brief But Spectacular: Video Storytelling and COVID-19

Read the summary, watch the video below, answer the discussion questions and then have students create their own Brief But Spectacular videos by checking out this easy-to-follow lesson plan.



Join the Brief But Spectacular Video Challenge

See details at the end of the lesson. We have the best judges around — senior citizens — who will award prizes to the top three winners in both the student and teacher categories. Submit for the first round by April 30, 2020, and the second round by May 10, 2020.

Brief But Spectacular: A Survivor's Story

Kat Zwick tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March, about a week after returning from a New York City conference. Her symptoms worsened to an “almost unbearable” level of severity as she isolated in her bedroom.

Within the depths of her illness, Zwick realized that “I matter more to people than maybe I usually think that I do.” She adds, “When you find out that you matter, and you didn’t necessarily conceive of yourself that way, I think that does alter, you know, how you show up in the world.

Now recovering, Zwick hopes her story will encourage others to take the illness seriously and stay home. This is her Brief But Spectacular take on surviving COVID-19.

Discussion Questions

  1. Essential question: How does video storytelling communicate a person’s experience in a way that is unique to other forms of creative expression?
  2. Why do you think Kat Zwick shared her story of how she likely got COVID-19?
  3. Think of a story that you have heard a friend or family member tell on more than one occasion. What is it about the story which makes it special to that person? What is your favorite part of the story? Why?
  4. When it comes to news stories about coronavirus, what types of stories are you most apt to watch or listen to? (straight news stories, press conferences, scientific developments, international news, human interest, etc.) Explain.
  5. Choose another Brief But Spectacular segment to watch here:
    • Why did you choose this segment?
    • What part of the story would you be most likely to pass on to a friend or family member? Why?
  6. Media literacy: Do you consider Brief But Spectacular journalism? How it is it similar and different from news segments you see on the rest of the NewsHour?

Brief But Spectacular Extension Activity

Every Thursday night, the PBS NewsHour profiles people and their passions in the series Brief But Spectacular. Creator Steve Goldbloom and his producing partner Zach Land-Miller wanted to find a new way to share original voices the public might otherwise not see.


brief but spectacular contest link


Student and Teacher #BriefButSpectacular Video Challenge

Now you can join the fun! Submit your video on how you’ve been inspired or what you’ve learned during COVID-19 by April 30, 2020 (first round) or May 10, 2020 (second round).

We will have senior citizens judge the #BriefButSpectacular video challenge!

Brief But Spectacular Contest Guidelines

  1. Create a video in the style of Brief But Spectacular (watch a few and you’ll get the idea, and see the lesson plan a few lines above).
  2. Submit for the first round by April 30, 2020 and the second round by May 10, 2020 on Twitter or Instagram tagging @NewsHourExtra and #BriefButSpectacularEDU
  3. EXTRA will then share your videos with our judges–senior citizens! Prizes to the winners! $20, $35 and $50 prizes in both the teacher and student categories. Keep in mind that the real prize is that you just made senior citizens across the country smile wide at your Brief moments.
  4. EXTRA will announce the winners over social media.
  5. Email Victoria at [email protected] for additional information.

Still need more inspiration? Check out this Brief But Spectacular video:


This article was originally published by PBS NewsHour Extra and can be found here.