This week I was evaluated… twice, actually. I’m pretty sure the number of times I’ve shown a full-length movie this year I can count on one hand; that’s true most of the time. I do, however, regularly show video clips as starters or as tutorials or examples to supplement content. So this year, it has been very odd that three of the seven times I was evaluated (they are all unscheduled pop-ins) have been when I was teaching with movies. No cute hands-on project. No grouping. No discussions. Just. My. Luck. I am only ever showing videos, films, or clips during class time if I am using it as a tool or as a text, so my students always know the purpose and are held accountable for that. But does it look that way to a visiting administrator? A worksheet, list of questions, or quiz would always add more rigor than nothing, of course. If you want to up the ante, though, here are a couple of more engaging and effective strategies that I keep in my toolbox to use when I’m teaching with movies in class – visitor or no visitor. Some of the tips would work with any type of film, and some would work well with either a major motion picture or documentary. What’s best is that most of them can be done with NO PREP and at a moment’s notice.
1) Graphic Organizers This week my juniors started their Antiques Show and Tell Research Presentation that was inspired by my loving of picking and The History Channel’s American Pickers. To kick off the unit, I show a portion of an episode in class so students can see how Mike and Frank research the personal and historical stories of the artifacts they find. Since that was my goal for the lesson, I included those questions on my graphic organizer and took the opportunity to add a few other specific ELA skills as well. When my assistant principal came in, I was able to tell him what the students were working on and he glanced at one student’s paper while he stayed to evaluate me. If you have some time to prep before showing a film, a graphic organizer is a really good way to engage students and guide their focus on a few key points and skills while they watch. This strategy keeps students on task during the viewing but can be concise enough with only a view questions so that they actually get to enjoy the film as well. They are also perfect pacing guides, so you could pause and discuss a particular point during viewing if you needed to. A graphic organizer can be used for a movie or documentary.
2) Pause to Summarize
This is a classic strategy for quickly assessing students’ understanding and reactions to a film. Just press pause and have students write a quick summary of the main details up to the point where you stopped the film. I like the use the SWBST strategy, and I keep blank templates handy. Another way to jazz up pausing to summarize, especially if you have an unexpected visitor, would be to give each student an index card or sticky note to write their summaries on. Extend the activity for movies by having them flip the card over and predict what they think will happen next. You can collect them and read a few aloud and discuss their accuracy when the movie is over.
3) Four Square Facts
half-way through the movie or at the end. The foldable would look exactly like this one does – from my previous post.
4) 3 – 2 – 1 Check Point
that helps you better understand The Crucible; 2 facts about “witches”; 3 facts about the Salem Witch Trials. We always spend time discussing afterwards to make sure everyone has the crucial information, but I like giving them the chance to draw it out on their own.
5) Compare & Contrast Characters
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