Film Literacy Resource Suggestion: Film Education

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.

Our last post was a guest blog by media literacy professional Greg Williams from the Relevant Classroom. Greg started an important conversation about the relevance of media literacy and learning.

This week we are suggesting Film Education, an organization out of the UK that promotes film literacy and film education.

Please comment below or discuss with us on 

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Classroom Resource Suggestion:

This week the Labragirl Film Project recommends the educational organization Film Education.

About Film Education:

Film Education is an organization in the UK that is supported by the UK Film Industry. Their mission is to “promote and support the use of film within the curriculum.”

Film Education provides screenings, resources, and training. Although you do have to be in the UK to take advantage of some of their programming, Film Education has much to offer educators here in the States.

Why Film Education?

The UK educational system has a very  developed and integrated plan for film and its educational curriculum. As a result, there are a number of organizations dedicated to helping educators and administrators incorporate film analysis into their classrooms.

Film Education has a number of free downloads and training guides to help K-12 teachers with film literacy. We here at the Labragirl Film Project admire Film Education’s mission and believe that they produce solid materials.

Check out Film Education!

Suggested Use:

Film Education offers guidance for using film in secondary education.

A sampling of their topics include:

To access Film Education’s materials on using film in secondary education click here.

Film Education also offers guidance for introducing film into primary education.

A sampling of their topics include:

To access Film Education’s materials on using film in primary education click here.

Do you teach film reading and film analysis?

What are some exercises you use?

Have you used Film Education’s materials in your classroom?

We’d love to hear from you.

Please comment below or discuss with us on .

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

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UP NEXT 5/6: Film & Cultural Memory

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Previous Blog Entries

Relevance – the 4th ‘R’

Making Film I

Talking Film I

Downton Abbey in Your Class #1 – Roll Sound!

Reading Film

Fictional Projections of History

Think Globally Using Film

Our Relationship with Movies

Moving Past Historical Accuracy

Images Telling Stories

Film Shaping History

Think Film Images

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©2013 Labragirl Film Project. All rights reserved.

Reading Film

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.

Last time a guest blogger from the film production company, Labragirl Picturesour sister companytook a critical look at historical fiction movies.

This week we will talk about a resource that teaches us how to read film and other forms of media images.

What do you think about film reading? Do you use film analysis and film reading in your classroom?

Please comment below or discuss with us on .

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Classroom Resource Suggestion:

How to Read a Film: Movies Media and Beyond by James Monaco

A Labragirl suggested text for learning how to analyze and read film. {Click on image for source info.}

Third edition. {Click on image for source info.}

About How to Read a FilmOriginally published in 1997, How to Read a Film is now in its fourth edition. This work takes a look at how to read films and other forms of media.

Why How to Read a Film?  

Being able to interact and think critically about film and visual images is an important and necessary skill—especially as our society becomes more saturated with media images. One of the first steps to acquiring these skills is learning about the technical aspects of visual images. How to Read a Film takes a detailed look at how to read visual images within a framework of creating conversation about how we communicate visually.

Suggestions for use:

Because of the detailed nature of the work we would suggest using the text in the following ways:

  • As an assigned text in college classes
  • Assign parts of the text in high school classes
  • The concepts and ideas can be used at many additional grade-levels. To use this work in K-Middle School we recommend that the teacher read the text and then use information and ideas from the text to create grade-appropriate exercises.

Do you teach film reading and film analysis?

What are some exercises you use?

Have you used How to Read a Film in your classroom?

We’d love to hear from you.

Please comment below or discuss with us on .

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

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UP NEXT 3/18: Downton Abbey in Your Classroom!

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Sign up for our e-newsletter for more lesson plans and classroom conversations. Click here. 

———————————————————————————————————————–

Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Previous Blog Entries

Fictional Projections of History

Think Globally Using Film

Our Relationship with Movies

Moving Past Historical Accuracy

Images Telling Stories

Film Shaping History

Think Film Images

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©2013 Labragirl Film Project. All rights reserved.

Think Globally Using Film

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.

Last week we discussed ways to help students think critically about how they interact with movies. This week the Labragirl Film Project’s classroom resource suggestion is an organization that will help your students gain a global perspective of the world via film.

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Classroom Resource Suggestion: Journeys in Film

About Classroom Resource Suggestion: Journeys in Film is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using film to help students think globally. Journeys in Film provides professional development for teachers, has a developed middle school program, and offers lesson plans that will help you to incorporate film into your classroom.

The Labragirl Film Project believes that it is tremendously important for students to gain a global perspective of the world. In fact, helping to foster a global perspective of the world is one of our core missions. We here at the Labragirl Film Project believe that Journeys in Film does an exemplary job of providing products and services to help students think globally through visual storytelling.

Why Journeys in Film? 

To learn more about Journeys in Film check out their website, “like” them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Have you used Journeys in Film in your classroom? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

What resources do you use to teach with film in your classroom?

Are there any film analysis/film reading resources that you’d recommend?

We’d love to hear from you.

Please comment below or discuss with us on .

Let’s talk film images,

Laurie

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

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UP NEXT 2/25: A guest blog from Labragirl Pictures“Fictional Projections of History”

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Sign up for our e-newsletter for more lesson plans and classroom conversations. Click here. 

———————————————————————————————————————–

Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Previous Blog Entries

Our Relationship with Movies

Moving Past Historical Accuracy

Images Telling Stories

Film Shaping History

Think Film Images

———————————————————————————————————————–

©2013 Labragirl Film Project. All rights reserved.

Film Shaping History

{Click image for source info.}

This week the Labragirl Film Project’s classroom resource suggestion is Bruce Chadwick’s The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film. In this week’s discussion we talk about ways to incorporate The Reel Civil War and related films into high school and college American history classes.

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Having fun with my Cal State Long Beach colleagues. (I’m the one holding the cute dog)

During my time in the History Department at Cal State  Long Beach, one of my favorite lesson plans was a series of conversations and activities focused on The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film. I enjoyed bringing these tools into the classroom because Chadwick’s blending of film analysis with historical analysis was an eye-opener for many. It was rewarding to watch students develop their academic voices as they navigated this new terrain.

About Bruce Chadwick’s The Reel Civil War:

Excerpted from: http://www.randomhouse.com/acmart/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375708329

Considered both racist propaganda for the Ku Klux Klan and a watershed in filmmaking technology, The Birth of a Nation provides the opportunity for numerous meaningful classroom discussions. {Click image for source information}

More than 800 films have been made about the Civil War. . . He demonstrates how the movies aided and abetted racism and an inaccurate view of American history, providing a revealing and important account of the power of cinema to shape our understanding of historical truth.”

{Click image for source information}

In The Reel Civil War, Chadwick explores the ways Civil War films have shaped our understanding of history. This includes an examination of how movies have created and reinforced myths that we’ve come to collectively view as “true.” Although he discusses numerous films, Chadwick uses The Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind, and Glory for the core of his narrative.

Chadwick discusses the ways Glory is both different from past Civil War films and the ways in which it perpetuates the same myths. {Click image for source information}

Making Film a Part of the Classroom

Usually, films are not a legitimate part of classroom discussions about history. This is completely understandable because movies, even when “based on a true story” or historical events, remain works of fiction. Therefore, when your goal is to construct a “true” or “accurate” representation of the past, it is not effective to turn to a film. And, just to be clear, Labragirl is not advocating using movies as examples of historical narrative. What we do believe is effective in helping students gain media literacy, historical analysis, and critical thinking skills is to shift from traditional film watching to film reading and analysis. 

With the ability to talk about how film images have shaped our view of the past, students will have a more comprehensive understanding of how history is created and, even more importantly, remembered.

Rather than the traditional film watching and discussion of content, Labragirl is bringing the following into K-16 classrooms:

  • Film reading based on film production knowledge
  • Film analysis based on decoding visual messages
  • Conversations about how to engage in discussion about the cultural impact of moving images
  • Incorporation of film analysis into larger academic and educational discussions

Using The Reel Civil War

Although I used individual lessons in a variety of classes, my most extensive use of The Reel Civil War was in a cultural history seminar entitled the US at War.

I dedicated approximately 1.5 weeks to this lesson plan. However, depending on the time you have available, this lesson can be shortened to as few as 2 class periods or developed to take up to 2.5 weeks (or longer).

The assignments that shape this series of lessons were:

At the college level, I believe that it’s important and appropriate to have students view the films in their entirety, either on their own or at a separate class screening.

At the high school level, depending on the time you have available, I would suggest screening clips of each movie in the classroom. In addition to saving time, the film viewing will be a community building event and the analysis may be more digestible in smaller doses.

Lesson #1: Our Relationship With Film 

If your students are new to film analysis and film reading then it’s important to begin with a general discussion about film. The goal of this discussion is to help students think and talk critically about their interactions with movies.

Below are just a few of the questions I’ve used in the past to open up conversations about how we engage with film images.

How does the movie-watching venue shape your interaction with movies?

Do we interacted differently with film images if we watch a movie on our phone versus in a movie theater?

What does it mean to think critically about movies?

Can you think of a time that a movie influenced your mood or ideas?

What role do movies play in our society?


Lesson #2: Introduce Students to Film Reading

The goal of this lesson is to move students away from focusing on content and story lines to looking at the visual components of film.

To enter into this conversation start by showing a short movie clip. For the purposes of this exercise, any movie trailer or short clip will do.

One I like to use is the theatrical trailer for Back to the Future, 1985.  

What do you notice about camera angles?

Does the lighting shape the way a character is portrayed?

How does the soundtrack influence your mood?

What about the costumes? Set design? 

How does the pace of the editing shape the way you view the images? 

Lesson #3: The Birth of A Nation

The assignments for this lesson are:

  • Read The Reel Civil War through the analysis of The Birth of a Nation
  • Watch The Birth of a Nation in its entirety

The main goal of this lesson is to discuss Chadwick’s methodology and how he applies that analysis to The Birth of a Nation.

{Click on image for source information}

In all honesty, I oftentimes had mixed feelings about requiring students to watch the entire movie. Watching The Birth of a Nation can be painful—for many reasons. If you’d rather your students not screen the entire film, many of the points and images required for this discussion can be seen in selected clips as well.

There’s significant and justified controversy over this film. It’s extremely racist. It’s also considered a watershed in filmmaking history.

Does its role in film history outweigh its racist content?

What’s the value of studying this film?

From a historical standpoint, I think that it’s important to watch this film because it’s essential to understand how many of the images and concepts in this film have made their way into our textbooks and popular culture.

You can use clips of The Birth of a Nation to spark discussion.

{Warning: this clip may contain graphic images and language }

What ideas are portrayed in this film?

How are these ideas visually constructed?

How is the Civil War portrayed in this film?

How are African-Americans portrayed in this film?

What techniques are used for this portrayal?

How is violence portrayed?

How is it similar or different to the way violence is conveyed in films today?

Lesson #4: Gone With the Wind

The assignments for this lesson are:

  • Read Chadwick’s analysis of Gone With the Wind
  • Watch Gone With the Wind in its entirety

In my experience, the discussion about Gone with the Wind tends to resonate with students.  Oftentimes, a great deal of the conversation centers around students reconciling their previous non-critical viewing of the film with their new critical look at the movie.

Armed with studying Civil War primary sources, Chadwick’s discussion, and their own critical voices, it becomes clear that our ideas have indeed been shaped by films.

There’s the portrayal of Prissy.

Is Prissy’s character an example of Chadwick’s claim that Gone With the Wind perpetuated racist myths?

How was Prissy cinematically constructed? 

Did you see this type of portrayal in The Birth of a Nation?

Then, there’s Chadwick’s discussion about how the North and South are portrayed.

How is the North portrayed?

How is the South portrayed?

How do cinematic techniques create these portrayals?

Do we see these portrayals in films today?

Lesson #5: Glory

The assignments for this lesson are:

  • Read Chadwick’s analysis of Glory
  • Watch Glory in its entirety

Glory, in many ways, marks a clear departure from The Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind. Glory brought new story lines and new images to the silver screen.

{Warning: this clip may contain graphic images and language }

What new images and ideas do you see in Glory?

Visually speaking, how are these new ideas created?

Are any of the same myths that appear in The Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind present in Glory? 

Beyond Glory

With the recent release of Lincoln, it’s possible to continue this conversation with a fourth blockbuster Civil War film.

What images and myths persist?

What images have changed?

How do these cinematic images shape our understanding of history?

A Final Note

These are just a few ideas for ways to incorporate The Reel Civil War into your classrooms.

Many of the ideas and issues can be discussed at both the high school and college level.

If your classroom time is extremely limited, this lesson can be condensed into one or two class period. To do this, simply read The Reel Civil War on your own and introduce the themes you’d like to discuss. Then, screen the three movie trailers in class and talk about how the themes you’ve selected to discuss are visually constructed in the three movie trailers.

The Birth of a Nation Trailer

{Warning: this clip may contain graphic images and language }

Gone with the Wind Trailer

Glory Trailer

Thank you very much for your time and interest. I hope that you’ve found this discussion useful and I’d be interested to hear about your classroom conversations.

Do you have any ideas to share? Did you use any of these activities in the classroom? What were your conversations like? Want more ideas for questions and/or topics? Comment below or discuss with us on .

Let’s talk film images,

Laurie

*Disclaimer: All video clips are suggestions for class use, only. All instructors should screen clips to determine if the clips and trailers are appropriate to use in their classrooms. 

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UP NEXT 1/28: A few short classroom activities to help your students learn how to read films.

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Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.