Teach with Movies!

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Supplement your lesson plans with inspiring, relevant films!

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It's a fact: when you teach with movies, you offer your class a welcome break to traditional teaching methods. Not only is it a break for the teachers, but for the students as well. Students can sit back and enjoy learning history through the entertaining medium of cinema. The benefits of using movies in the classroom are numerous. However, be careful not to over-use movies in your class.

Teachers who use movies excessively are not really teaching their students. As long as you use film occasionally and always follow up with a study questions and activities, you will reap the rewards of incorporating relevant film in your classroom.

So, what are the benefits?

Well, for one, movies offer a history lesson in an entertaining format. The content is often more exciting than what students might find in academic textbooks. The visual stimulation will also add to the learning experience, especially for students who are visual and auditory learners. Movies can reach and grab the students who struggle in traditional academic settings. Many times, these students “get” the history and thus become interested in it after watching a great movie. Finally, the biggest benefit is that today’s young adults simply love to watch movies and it is a fun and welcome break from the monotony of your unit routines.

So which movies do you use and how do you teach with them?

First, you must take into consideration which movies you will use. Obviously they must be relevant to the unit you are currently teaching. In addition, the movie must be appropriate for the age group. If the movie you want to show is rated R (which many war-related movies are), make sure you get an edited copy or you send permission slips home for parents to sign.

You must also keep in mind that students will get caught up in the story and disregard the details that relate to the history or the lesson. To resolve this problem, go over the historical background and study questions together before you begin the movie. Read the study questions aloud as a class and have students think about them for a moment. Then, distribute the learning packet and ask students to read it thoroughly before starting the movie. This has always proven to be very successful in my classroom.

Another important point is that using movies in the classroom is not an opportunity for either the students or the teacher to goof off. Remind students that viewing a film in class is a privilege and it is not a green light for them to sleep, pass notes, or complete other homework. I encourage students to take notes of things they find interesting or possible answers to some of the study questions.

Likewise, this is definitely not a chance for teachers to check their Facebook, chat with friends, or shop on Ebay. Teachers need to be attentive to the class in case students have questions or the movie needs to be paused for a small discussion.

Movies are a great addition to any unit and can be beneficial in the classroom!

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If you want to use a particular movie in your classroom and don't see it here, simply order a lesson packet here for the movie!

"Sometimes a movie can really help students get a feel for an era or an event. For example, if you are teaching about the Titanic disaster, clips from the movie Titanic which portray the different classes and why lifeboats were allowed to leave partially full can help students experience the issues involved to a much greater extent." ~ Melissa Kelly, Secondary Educator

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