Especially near the end of the school year, every teacher gets requests to “show a movie.” My collection of videos on specific history events is not what they have in mind. Short subjects related to the course don’t qualify, either.
The kids want an escape from classwork. I just can’t justify it.
But there have been times that I wondered whether a movie wouldn’t be appropriate to explain some part of history or economics. For example, in one economics class, the entire group was stumped by the concept of a “run on the bank,” of the sort that prompted President Franklin Roosevelt to declare the “bank holiday” in March 1933. I wished at that moment that I had a copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” to show both the economic conditions that prevailed in much of America at the time, and to show what a run on a bank looks like.
Then I started wondering about all the other stuff that movie could illustrate.
I’ve never used it.
But I stumbled on this site, Teach with Movies, which features a set of lesson plans and other material to use with “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The site claims to have lesson plans for 270 movies. There is a membership charge, but it’s a charge clearly aimed at encouraging teachers to buy: $11.99.
I had a principal who complained about showing videos — which struck me as very odd — and his complaints escalated until he passed out copies of copyright rules. In discussion, it finally became clear to me that he was opposed to running Hollywood, entertainment movies in classes. He didn’t bother to distinguish between my showing of the life of Theodore Roosevelt from PBS from “Beverly Hills Cop” — but he’s gone. I find I share his general revulsion for just slapping in a Hollywood movie to keep the kids quiet.
In the last year I’ve been asked to step in to show “Hitch” in a business communication class, and “The Money Pit” in a Spanish class. “Iron Monkey” could be related to world geography. These exercises generally are wastes of time, and of course, money.
But I also was asked to monitor a showing of “Charley” for a psychology class, and “Napoleon” for a world history class. The psychology class had several questions to pursue closely related to the course; the kids were generally lulled to sleep by Napoleon.
But why not, with careful groundwork, show “It’s a Wonderful Life” in economics, as supplement to the units on banking, the depression, the creation of the Fed, and general history?
Teach with Movies? Great idea. Have you used this site? Anybody know how well it works?