Can you "Close Read" a Movie?
Short Films as Mentor Texts:
Short films are also great for whole class discussions on literary elements, themes, or reading strategies. Picture books are great for these purposes, but can be difficult to read aloud in a middle school classroom. When I moved to the middle school from second grade, I still tried using picture books occasionally by showing the pages with images on my document camera. I didn't feel that my students were really engaged, and I definately got the impression that they felt like picture books were baby-ish, which was a huge bummer for me because I was really attached to my mentor texts.
My own kids, who are no longer carpet gathering primary grade students, still love watching animated films. When I watch these "kid flicks" with them, I often notice that there are a lot of mature topics, themes, and humor that a younger audience may not pick up on. I started exploring the idea of using short films as text and began looking for lessons on the internet. I was disappointed in the resources that I was able to find online, so I started creating my own lessons.
Short Films Teachers Love My Interview with Richard Leigh
My Latest Project: Introducing the Notice and Note SIgnposts using short films as Mentor Texts
I like reading. I like teaching reading. I like creating lessons. I like the ideas of Kylene Beers and Robert Probst in their book "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading". I like animated short films--a whole lot.
While I was watching some short films the other day, I started noticing that there were some really good examples of the notice and note signposts in these films.
Then the lightbulb came on! I needed to make a series of lessons on short films that I could use to introduce each of the signposts.
Short Films Bundle vs. Individual Lessons: What's Missing?
Get the Lessons:
- Boundin' (Words of the Wiser)
- Feast (Memory Moment)
- Foxed! (Aha Moment)
- The Lost Thing (Tough Questions)
- Presto (Contrasts & Contradictions)
- The Hybrid Union (Again and Again)
All of the individual film lessons begin with a focus on the basic plot mapping elements, prompts for writing and discussion, followed by lessons using “close reading” strategies to analyze the film for specific evidence of the use of literary devices, and include connections to other texts/films/topics for extending the lesson. Each lesson also includes the notice and note signpost pages for that specific film. There are enough activities for a week-long study of the film.
If you are looking to use the films to teach the notice and note strategies only, there is a Notice and Note bundle that includes just the notice and note pages from all seven films.