Learning from Movies

In our classroom I am experimenting with a new approach to teaching Units of Inquiry.  Inspired by a fellow international teacher, I have created centers (similar to stations) where students can explore our current inquiry topic.  At the beginning of the week I give the students a list of things they must accomplish by the end of the week.  The centers are created to help them complete these tasks. For example, this week the students must answer some questions about hygiene for our unit on health and the human body.  One of the ways they can learn about hygiene is through a movie.

Today, however, I observed my third graders flocking to the movie with little idea of how to use it in a meaningful way.  That’s o.k.  Today was more like a pre-assessment, an opportunity to see what kids can and cannot do with little guidance.  Tomorrow I will provide the structure I see lacking, using the “guided discovery” approach to introducing the different learning centers.

In his post,  The Right Way to Show Movies in Class, Mathew Needleman writes some helpful ideas on how to provide the scaffolding students need when watching a movie for educational purposes.

After reading this article, I am reminded to introduce the film and its purpose: “This film is about hygiene.  It will help you understand how to keep your body healthy.  The movie will also help you answer the questions I gave you on hygiene.”

Needleman also points out the importance of stopping a film to clarify unfamiliar terms and address questions.  Since my students will be watching the film independently, I will not be in control of the remote.  Instead, I will begin tomorrow’s lesson by modeling how to pause the movie and write down questions, interesting facts and words.

Needleman also suggests recapping and evaluating a film after viewing it.  In our class we will share our findings at the end of the period.  During this time, students can share what they learned, list their wonderings and let other students know how helpful the film was.

“To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner.  I am not a teacher, only a fellow student.” – Soren Kirkegaard


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One response to “Learning from Movies

  1. Sounds like a great set-up. I didn’t write about it in the original post but there are times when I have students watch movies independently as well as whole class. I like your idea of modeling how to pause the video. I also have students take notes and share their wonderings and learnings with the whole class when we debrief the independent work.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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