Movie rentals cost about $5 on Amazon and iTunes, for $1.99-$2.99 you can own a short film in your video library. Many short films are available online, for free, and showcase the work of students ("Home Sweet Home” is an example of this) and I like supporting the students' accomplishments, of any age. With short films, you spend less time on the movie watching and more time on the learning and discussion. Because they are really short, the films can be watched multiple times for close and careful analysis.
Close Reading A Short Film
- First viewing: Get the “gist” of it
- Second viewing: Watch for plot elements and fill in the plot map.
- Third viewing: Watch for (discussion question) followed by give one get one, turn and talk, or a think pair share type of discussion activity
- Fourth viewing: Watch for (specific literary device) followed by an activity involving a graphic organizer with a writing prompt
*It is important to set the purpose for viewing the film beforehand.
Each film lesson comes with:
1. An overview of key literary terms emphasized in the film
2. An essential question, which can be used for a writing prompt at the end of the lesson
3. Discussion prompts, which can be used with a variety of discussion strategies
4. A plot map (filled in) and a blank form for use as a student worksheet
5. Literary analysis skills worksheets (I have included some samples below)
6. Writing prompts for more in-depth analysis
7. Suggestions for extending the lesson (projects that will take more than a single day)
*These extensions can also be assigned as homework projects or extra credit.
8.Connections to other stories in film or literature
In short, there is enough material here for a week’s worth of lessons, or you can pick and choose the learning that you want to focus on for a single day’s lesson.
I am working towards creating a unit of 30+ films for a course based on the analysis of short films, which can be used to implement "Short of the Week" in your classroom, or as an elective class. This set of lessons will include a project in which students select a short film of their choice, not covered in class, and then create and teach a lesson around a literary device that is evident in the film. It will also include a final project of creating a short film using stop motion animation. I hope to have it the course completed this summer. For now, you can check out the five films I am highlighting in this post, and grab a hyperdoc version of my latest film project.
Essential Question: In a culture where we are inundated with ideas and images of “what we should be,” how does one stay true to who they are, and avoid the pressure to change in order to fit in?
The birds in this film have very distinct personalities without ever actually speaking. It is amazing the messages that can be conveyed without the use of a single word-another reason why I love short films. It seems only natural to have a game of character charades to see if we can communicate character traits without using words as well. I like to play games as often as possible in the classroom.
The story was inspired by the housing market crash and the urban decay that resulted from the high numbers of foreclosed homes, especially in Detroit, Michigan. In this scene a broken down old garage stumbles upon an abandoned car factory and is clearly reminiscing about a time when this factory produced cars. This all must be inferred, since the story isn't actually being told to us. Yet another reason I love using short films, the lack of words creates excellent opportunities to build those inferential mind muscles.