Wednesday, January 9, 2013

5 Movies to Use in the Classroom

I had a great holiday season, not just because I spent time with my family and enjoyed a few days in the warmth of sunny California, but I also watched a good amount of movies. 

As the new year kicks off, I am filled with glowing visions of constantly cranking out insightful blog posts and interesting method ideas for using media. The reality is that it is going to be an up hill foray to keep going with this idea - but I am committed. While I may not have all the ideas, these are a few that came to mind over the Christmas break. 

Check it out.

1. Father of the Bride (1950): You won't see Steve Martin in this classic, however there is a great scene where Spencer Tracy (playing the father) and his wife (Joan Bennett) are laying in separate twin beds. How bizarre to today's audiences! Why aren't they in the same bed? Discussions about the Hollywood production code, censorship, and other historically significant topics abound. 

2. Star Trek (2009): Filled with excitement and wildly popular, the latest (not for long!) Star Trek movie is full of interesting topics that could benefit students. Black holes, Newton's laws and aspects of the atmosphere are just a few science related concepts that appear near the end of the film with the destruction of Nero. 

3. The Thin Blue Line: Errol Morris explores the somewhat complex and gray areas of uncertainty that exist when the lack of evidence is thin. Is truth something that always exists regardless of the facts? Can we really know something without all the facts? Watching just 10-15 minutes of this film can lead to a great discussion about evidence, point of view, and complexity are all an important part of our lives.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox: Yes, this is somewhat related to Dahl's book and so there are many adaption-like discussion your class could have. However, one fun clip is when Mr. Fox begins calling out the latin names of all the animals. This is a nice short way to introduce a new unit in Biology, or illustrate in history class the influence of the dead language in our current sciences and society. 

5. The Man in the White Suit: When one man discovers how to make a fabric that is dirt-repellant and can't be ripped, it seems he has changed the world. However, the big businesses and concerned working class are so afraid of the innovation that they do all they can to stop it. This film is full of great discussion topics related to themes of progress, humanity, economics, class, race, and many more. 

These are just a few of the movies I watched in the last month, and though I haven't picked out specific clips from each of them, it is clear that there is a lot of content here. There is more than I can pick up on, that is for sure. What about you? What films do you like to use in your classroom?

Please share your ideas, clips, films, or other media that has helped your students take an interest to your lessons!

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