Saturday, November 5, 2011

Putting EdTech into Practice - Movies in the Classroom

Most administrators will tell you they hate when teachers show movies in the classroom.  For the most part I agree with them.  Movies and videos can play a valuable role in the education process and can be an important aspect of a teachers strategy in providing lesson material to students, as long as teachers are doing it correctly.  Recently, I decided to show a video in my geography classes that I thought did a great job of showcasing a point that I was trying to make in class.

We we watched a video about North Korea that did a great job of showcasing absolute dictatorships and extreme isolation.  You can see the video by National Geographic HERE.  I ran into a snag early on and it was blocked on YouTube for some reason.  But being the resourceful person that I am, I checked my Netflix account, and found it.  FYI, if you don't have Netflix, you might think about it; they have tons of videos and movies you can stream online in the classroom.  Especially for elementary teachers. 

The video was about 50 minutes long.  In previous years of teaching, I would have asked my students to stay awake and pay attention and we would discuss the video when it was over.  This time, I did something different.  I had students divide a piece of paper in half and on one side they wrote North Korea and on the other they wrote the United States.  As I played the movie in class, I would periodically stop the video to discuss the scene and contrast what they were seeing in North Korea with the United States.  It was a great experience seeing students all turn their heads and start writing on their paper at the same time.  At the conclusion on the video we discussed it, and then I had them write for 5 minutes their personal thoughts about the video and life in Korea.  They had tons of questions as well.

This was probably one of my most successful lessons this year.  The students were engaged in the documentary video and I only had one student out of all my classes that I had to get on for falling asleep.  I even turned the video into an extra credit opportunity by asking students to comment on my classroom blog about it over the weekend.  I also used the video the next day as a bell-ringer assignment asking my kids to list 5 things they could not live without and discuss them.  We then discussed this as a class.

Here are some other resources for movies and documentaries.  Remember, it is not the movie that is important...it is HOW you use the movie that is important.

Movies in the Classroom - Provides permission slips and movies by subject matter
Movie Sheets - A collection of worksheets that go along with movies - Remember to stop the movie and allow students to write down the correct information.
Mathematics in Movies - A great option for math teachers.
Top Documentary Films - Free documentaries
Movies Found Online - A resource for free movies and documentaries.
Free Documentary TV - Free documentaries

How how could/do you use movies in the classroom? 
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