Category Archives: Viewing

Using Film as a Tool in the Classroom

1960s-classroomThe first Academy Awards ceremony was held during this week in 1929. To celebrate this milestone, here are some resources for using movies to support the literacy learning in the classroom.

The Language Arts article “Let’s Go to the Movies: Rethinking the Role of Film in the Elementary Classroom” argues that elementary language arts teachers should expand their definition of “text” to include film, a valuable instructional resource. The article notes that today’s elementary students come to class with a great deal of knowledge about films — prior experiences which teachers can tap into — and discusses the application of reader-response theories to film.

Based on the above Language Arts article, the lesson Get the Reel Scoop: Comparing Books to Movies asks students to compare and contrast books with their movie counterparts and then work in groups to design a readers theater response to the film version.

Ask students to play the role of moviemakers with techniques from the Voices from the Middle article “Meeting Readers: Using Visual Literacy Narratives in the Classroom“. The article describes a literacy narrative project — a concise digital video in which students meld still images, motion, print text, and soundtrack in communicating ideas/insights/discoveries about who they are as readers and writers.

Students take on the role of film director in the lesson
You Know the Movie Is Coming — Now What?. After exploring cinematic terms, students read a literary work with a director’s eyes, considering such issues as which scenes require a close-up of the main character and when the camera should zoom out to see the entire set.

The English Journal article “How Movies Work for Secondary School Students with Special Needs” demonstrates how to use scenes from films to help special education students improve their visual and auditory skills, build confidence in their abilities to talk about and analyze the components of a narrative, and feel comfortable engaging in writing and class discussion.

In the lesson Decoding The Matrix: Exploring Dystopian Characteristics through Film, students view and analyze clips from The Matrix and other dystopian films to gain an understanding of the characteristics found in dystopian works, such as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984.

Research has shown that contemporary popular films are a valuable resource in the ESL classroom, but what about older films? The Teaching English in the Two-Year College article “Unspoken Content: Silent Film in the ESL Classroom” explores how overlooked silent films can facilitate the development of ESL students’ critical thinking and writing skills.

Teacher educators can challenge students to explore how educators are represented in movies and television shows. Share the English Journal article “Teaching English in the World: All I Need to Know about Teaching I Learned from TV and Movies” with preservice teachers and ask them to film their own revised versions of the real life of teachers in the classroom. Encourage discussion of ways to counter flawed visions of the profession locally and at state and national levels.

How do you use film in your classroom?

Get Ready for those Summer Blockbusters!

Summer-BlockbusterWhen school is out for summer, many summer blockbuster movies are released. The last few years, there have been a number of films released based on books. Book-to-film adaptations provide great ways for children to explore their favorite books in new ways. Here are some resources from NCTE and that can be used in anticipation of viewing the movie version of a favorite book.

In “Get the Reel Scoop: Comparing Books to Movies” students compare a book to its film adaptation, and then perform readers theater of a scene from the book that they feel was not well represented in the movie version.

Students compare and analyze novels and the movies adapted from them in “Cover to Cover: Comparing Books to Movies“. They design new DVD covers and a related insert for the movies, reflecting their response to the movie version.

In “You Know the Movie is Coming—Now What?“, students read a literary text with the eye of a director, selecting scenes from the text and putting a cinematic spin on them.

From Text to Film: Exploring Classic Literature Adaptations” invites students to create storyboards to compare and contrast a book and its film adaptation.

In “Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom” the author makes direct links between film and literary study by addressing reading strategies (e.g., predicting, responding, questioning, and storyboarding) and key aspects of textual analysis.

Interested in more? Check out Teaching With Film in the English Classroom from NCTE!

Early Childhood Education Assembly Response to the Orlando Shootings and the Anniversary of the Mother Emmanuel Church Murders

Early Childhood Education Assembly Logo

The following post comes from NCTE’s Early Childhood Education Assembly and can be found in full at this link

Join Early Childhood Educators Across the Country To Effect Change in Schools Now!

On June 12, 2016, 49 people were murdered and over 50 wounded in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. One year earlier, on June 17, 2015, nine people were murdered in Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One killer targeted members of the LGTBQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community, many of them Latina/o. The other targeted African Americans. Both were acts of terrorism. Because the Orlando shooter was Muslim, much vitriol was directed toward the entire Muslim community. The Charleston shooter, a professed Christian, prompted no massive discrimination against Christians. Nurtured by anti-LGBTQIA bias and racism, these hate crimes are not anomalies. These acts and the Islamaphobic virtriol that followed the Orlando shooting represent a vivid history of violence and hatred directed against LGBTQIA, Latina/o, African American, and Muslim people within and beyond the United States.

The Early Childhood Education Assembly (ECEA) believes that it is long past time for schools to take a visible and vocal stand against the beliefs that breed these atrocities as well as the more insidious cruelties that occur in our schools every day:  the psychological anguish children experience when they feel they must hide their two moms or two dads, their sexual orientation, their explorations of gender identification, their faith, home culture, and languages. This anguish builds when children see no normalized validation of themselves or their families and heritage in school curriculum and materials and as they see their families and communities dismissed, degraded and dehumanized in hallway talk, playground slurs, and uninterrupted discriminatory practices. This is exacerbated when the curriculum has no foundation in teaching children to identify injustices and learn strategies for speaking back to them.

This is indeed a life and death matter. Children take their own lives or die emotionally and psychologically every day when they feel persecuted in these ways. As educators, we can choose to directly teach against such discrimination or be complicit in its continuance because of our apathy or deflection (“They are too young,” “But we DO teach about bullying,” “But parents won’t be on board.”). NO MORE EXCUSES. Either you’re teaching specifically against anti-LGBTQIA, Latino/a, Muslim Bias and Racism or you are condoning it through your silence, timidity, and fear. Remember, we are the people who help raise generations of future adults who will feel safe in who they are and know how to stand up for others and challenge injustices in their places of work, education, worship, neighborhoods, and communities – or not.

Toward this end, the ECEA urges teachers, family members, and community members TODAY to get on the phone or send an email to school leaders in your community – principals, superintendents, district curriculum leaders. Ask:

  • How will you plan for and directly teach children in your school to recognize and fight against LGBTQIA, racial and cultural bias when school begins this fall?
  •  How will you ensure that every child exploring gender identification or who has two moms or two dads or whose family is Muslim or Latino/a or African American feels safe, validated, and normalized in your classrooms and your curriculum? 
  • How will teachers, administrators, and families work systematically and regularly together to build the knowledge, strength, and courage to bring these changes about?

The ECEA offers RESOURCES* to support this effort. As you utilize these resources and generate transformative practices in your schools and teacher education programs, we invite you to post stories of your experiences on the ECEA’s Facebook site – so we can share the work, GIVE COURAGE TO EACH OTHER, and engage in discussions.

In closing, the ECEA believes strongly that this is a responsibility we signed on for when we became teachers – to safeguard our students and teach them how to live, love, stand up for others, and effect change as they grow into the world around them. Others share this responsibility, but an enormous “buck” stops here.

– The Affirmative Action Committee of NCTE’s Early Childhood Education Assembly

* A few resources to get you started can be found at the end of the document at this link.

*Further resources and the ECEA consultants’ network can be found here