Have you ever felt like you’re cheating by hitting play on a movie and letting someone else “teach” your students?
WE NEED TO STOP BELIEVING THIS LIE!
My own high school experience with movies was far from inspirational. It always involved a teacher popping in a boring tape (hello, late ‘90s/early ‘00s!) and calling it a day.
Unfortunately, this made me associate movies in the classroom with lazy teachers. Don’t get me wrong – it was nice to have a break, but I never got anything out of those experiences.
My attitude changed when I became a teacher around the same time as I discovered a love for David Attenborough (sorry, husband!). I realized that movies were NOT a waste of time in science class, but instead an invaluable resource for our students!
Because seriously… which one sounds more exciting??
Keep reading to find out GOOD vs. BAD ways of using movies in the classroom, WHY you should be embracing science movies, and a step-by-step guide of how to make the most out of movies in science class!
**Psst…if you reeeeeallly just want to skip to a quick list and summary of awesome movies, grab my freebie here for “The Best Science Movies for the Classroom: A Breakdown by Topic.” But I suggest you keep reading for some super helpful tips!**
4 BIG reasons why you need to embrace science movies IMMEDIATELY
1. Movies Showcase Science in Action
They’re full of real-world connections! Lab work, field work, real-world stories of the benefits of research…show your students that science is so much more than just a mandatory class they take.
2. Movies Showcase Real Scientists
“Scientist” is a vague job title. What does it really look like? All of my favourite science documentaries showcase scientists showing and talking about their own research. Best of all – students will see that scientists are not all old, white men! Newer documentaries, in particular, do a great job of showcasing lots of scientists who are BIPOC as well as different ages and genders.
3. Movies make kids happy!
My students know my method and know that movie days aren’t time to sleep on their desks, and they still get super pumped when they know it’s a movie day! Seriously – it’s the easiest treat for them and you!
4. Kids remember content from movies
I know that I’m an engaging teacher, but there’s still a good chance that students will forget what I’ve just said! This generation is used to consuming video content and I’ve witnessed that they often pick up on more from a movie than lots of other types of classroom activities.
There are GOOD WAYS and BAD WAYS to show movies in class
I’ve done both! Good is waaaaaay more satisfying for everyone!
- hit play and just give the class a random worksheet.
- show the movie in one giant chunk with no discussion.
- pick something that is fluffy filler. The students all know it.
- accept that students don’t need to be invested, even if there is some temporary enjoyment.
- use a quality movie guide that keeps students tuned in.
- create opportunities for kids to be pulled back in if their minds wander.
- carefully select the movie to bring a topic to life – not just to fill time (hello, freebie!)
- set an expectation for yourself that students will actually learn from the content, gain confidence in the subject, and that even quiet kids will be happy to participate.
So those DOs sound great, don’t they? But you might be wondering about HOW right about now! …Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
My 6-Step Teacher’s Ultimate Guide for Making the Most out of Movies!
- Students receive a worksheet to fill out as they watch the movie. It contains lots of factual questions, all in chronological order. They should be tuned in, listening for details.
- Before hitting play, give students a few minutes to read over the questions. This gives them a sense of what they need to listen for.
- Start the movie. Students listen attentively and fill out the sheet as they go along
- Look for a logical place to stop the movie after about 20 minutes. Have students check in with each other to fill out any answers they may have missed.
- Lead a discussion to take up the questions that they’ve answered and add in anything that you think is interesting. This allows time to make sure everyone has understood what they’ve watched so far.
- Resume the movie and repeat the cycle again until the movie is over!
That’s it, folks! Embrace movies in science class – they’re NOT a lazy option!
I’ve become an expert on science movies for the classroom, so if you’d like to see a breakdown of movies to use by subject and topic with summaries of content and run time, grab my freebie here for “The Best Science Movies for the Classroom: A Breakdown by Topic.” Enjoy!
Psst…are you a NEW-ish TEACHER interested in some classroom management tips to ensure you’ll have a stress-free classroom next year? Click here!
I hope you’ll join us!
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