Whether you’re a classroom teacher, a home educator, or a parent, you probably already know how powerful movies and TV programs can be in the classroom. You’re probably also aware that the misuse of media can lessen it’s effectiveness. If you’ve ever seen a class of students wander out of a double period glassy-eyed or had your child say they shouldn’t have to go to school because they’re ‘…just watching movies’ then you know what we’re talking about. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and certainly not in your classroom!
Trim Clips To Only the Relevant Sections
Gone are the days of wrangling the VCR. Unlike the educators who went before us, we’re not at the mercy of a box of black tape and the fast-forward button. The great thing about working with digital files is they can be trimmed.
Google MP4 Trimmer and you’ll find a number of apps you can use to trim MP4, AVI and other audio-visual files. We really like Online-Video-Cutter, Kapwing, and Clideo. They’re all free for the basic version and intuitive to use.
As an example of what you can do, I took the TED Talk by Dolly Chugh that we used earlier in the week and trimmed it using Online-Video-Cutter. The result is below.
Cutting produces a shorter, engaging clip that won’t leave students with a media-hangover and the same strategy can be used on YouTube videos and any other content that you can download.
Most teachers have used to worksheets while watching a movie to make it a less passive experience. It can be hit-and-miss. Some students will fill them in, some with stuff them into their folder and some with leave them behind on their desk when they leave.
The key to success is making worksheets TARGETED.
Begin by asking yourself, why are you watching this movie? Does it align with the theme you’re focussing on in class? Are you introducing narrative structure? Is it a great example of character development? Does it provide insight into the subject material?
When you’ve decided why you’re having your students watch a particular movie, then you can create a worksheet that isn’t just busy work. If you look at the worksheet for The Diary of Anne Frank (2009) below you see that the focus is on WW1, Nazi occupation and the persecution of the Jewish people. This is for a history class, after all, rather than a writing class.
If this strategy would work well in your classroom, download this customisable worksheet.
It can also be found on the resources page.
Break It Up
Especially useful for understanding character development and narrative structure, split students into groups and have them watch the beginning, middle or end of a movie and then explain their section of the movie to the class.
Not only does this break a movie down so that it takes up less time, it means that students get a good demonstration of structure and character arc. If the movie is based on a book it also makes it easier for students to compare and contrast the narrative structure and character development across both forms of text.