We’ve all been here before. You walk into class and there it stands in the front of the room, gleaming with gold and all of heaven’s angels sing in a harmonic chorus–the television. Hooray for movie day! Where we as students don’t have to exercise our minds and we can take advantage of this class period to now catch up on sleep, last night’s math homework we forgot to do, or pass notes to find out the latest gossip. Where the teacher can finally get caught up on grading papers or lesson planning by pawning off his/her students to the T.V.
picture from: (http://lifeasandrea.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/movie-day.jpg)
This is the typical stereotype we get from teaching film in the classroom because, as students, we have all (or mostly all) been in this situation before. At least I have. And it was exactly what is was played out to be, and more. I can remember a time coming in to my Junior year English class and watching The Notebook. The Notebook. What relevance did that movie have to my education, you ask? Absolutely none. But hey, it was a nice break from school at least. Teachers have been giving showing film such a bad rep that some schools don’t even allow movies to be shown for “educational purposes” anymore because the power of doing so has been so abused.
The above clip is a bit of an exaggerated example of what showing film in the class is all about, but you get the point.
While most view film in the classroom as a plan for a “lazy day”, it is actually important to some parts of students’ learning. If you are planning to use film as part of your lesson plan, it is important to know how to teach it.
Relate the film to the students’ lives and/or to a text that is relevant to the class. You want them to learn from it, so make sure that that is what they will be getting out of it. It is important to frame the film, or rather, prepare the students with questions that you want them to analyze throughout the film and offer them short activities that highlight what you want the students to consider. You want the students to be engaged in active viewing, not zoning out and not paying attention to the lesson. Offer them graphic organizers or question sheets for them to follow along with so that they are following and understanding major parts of the film and maybe even asking questions of their own to discuss later on.
Media is important because it helps gain and maintain the students’ interest. Students sometimes need the audio and visual and that sense of living out experiences such as the character in the film might, as opposed to just being lectured at about it. Text can only take you so far, and that is why film can be utilized to enhance that learning if used properly.
If we bring in film, it should be valuable to the time that is spent on it, not just served as a time filler. If you are going to use film, teach it. Teach the students the different terms used in film and what they mean and what purposes they serve in movie-making. Get them informed on what film is so that they can understand what the film means and why major scenes where shot in the way they were. This will help them to interpret the meaning of the film and scenes and what the writer was trying to get across to the viewer.
There are a number of ways to use film in the classroom properly, and it is very important as teachers to understand film ourselves. There is more to it than just showing a movie.
Here are a list of links that demonstrate how to properly use film in the classroom: