Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Teaching Using Movies by Mike Siekkinen

I love a good movie! Sometimes I even love a “not so good” movie. 

I've found that Hollywood has made some very good historical movies over the years and I use them in my classroom whenever I can. Now, many say that simply showing students a movie is a waste of time and if that were all I did, it would be. But by using good support materials, even using full length feature films in the classroom can be fun, educational and meaningful for students. 

An example would be what I did when studying the Civil Rights movement with my students. I showed students the movie The Ernest Green Story. This is an older Walt Disney owned title. I purchased this for about $10.00 so had my own copy.

I had students do vocabulary used in the movie first to understand the terms used. Then I had students research the Little Rock Nine and desegregation in general along with applicable court cases, Jim Crow Laws, etc. I then showed the video over two class periods. Students had to do a KWL chart at the beginning as well as completing questions throughout the movie. 

Following the video, students had a reflective writing piece to complete and we discussed what occurred, compared it to different versions found on the internet and in textbooks. It was an experience that students enjoyed, learned the required standards and when questioned, all told me it was an enjoyable learning experience. Using full length feature films in the classroom, if prepared and coupled with research and writing, can be a powerful tool.

Dr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.