Images Telling Stories

Welcome to this week’s Labragirl Film Project classroom film literacy discussion. Last week we talked about how to incorporate film analysis and film reading into American History classrooms. This week we are going to talk about a short classroom exercise designed to introduce students to film reading. This is an exercise that can be tailored for use in K-16 classrooms.



Classroom Exercise: Silent Trailer

Grade Level: K-16

Goals & Objectives: 

  • Introduce students to film reading and analysis 
  • Teach students to identify how images are visually constructed  
  • Help students navigate critical thinking discussions about film and media images

Exercise Activities & Process:

1) Select a trailer to screen in your class.

Any movie trailer that you deem appropriate to screen for your class will work.

2) Play the trailer with NO sound.

When you screen the trailer in class make certain to turn the sound off completely. The ultimate goal and focus of this exercise is for students to discuss what they “see”. Turning off the volume will help them to focus on the visual images.

What are the visual elements and components that shape the images that they see?

How do these visual images create ideas, story, and images?

How does the lighting shape ideas?

What about the editing? Camera angles?

After your discussion, play the trailer both without sound and also with sound. This should help foster additional conversation.

3) A note about grade level

The ultimate goal of this exercise is simply to engage students in a discussion about what they see and how what they see shapes their ideas. To tailor this exercise to the grade level that you teach, simply adjust your discussion questions and the trailer that you screen in class.

Suggested Trailers:

Below please find a variety of suggested trailers to use for the “Silent Trailer” classroom exercise. And, again, any trailer you deem appropriate for your class will work for this exercise.

An American Tail

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Murder in the First


The Stoning of Soraya M.

How did it go? Did you use any of these trailers in class? How were your discussions? Do you have any related questions or issues you’d like to discuss? Did you use other trailers in class?  Comment below or discuss with us on .

Let’s talk film images,


*Disclaimer: All movie trailers are suggestions for class use, only. All instructors should screen trailers to determine if they are appropriate to use in their classrooms. 


UP NEXT 2/4: Films as primary sources

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Previous Blog Entries

Film Shaping History

Think Film Images


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