Musings of a 21st Century Middle School Social Studies Teacher
This past week, I was so excited to record with Jim Sturtevant on his podcast, Hacking Engagement. Jim invited a few student and I to share some things I've been doing in my classroom. I've been listening to Jim's podcast since the spring and have been inspired in so many ways to better engage my students. I love that the podcast not only includes REAL teachers' stories but REAL STUDENTS' STORIES! So much of the content Jim puts out there is so applicable to my class as he is also a social studies teacher, albeit in high school. I am so inspired with Jim's continued dedication to be the best educator he can be! He seems to have every bit of passion he had on day one of his career! I aspire to be like this! Jim and I connected on Twitter this summer... I forget what the connection was, but we ended up talking about a prospective project I had in mind: a movie critique involving contemporary movies in the mainstream. I wasn't quite sure what the project would entail, but the cogs were turning in my mind.
I teach two 6th grade Geography classes and I was inspired to include this assignment in the Human Geography Chapter CYOA Menu.
So, what did the "Movie Critique Assignment" look like?
When finished, be sure to share your assignment with Mr. Soper AND on Seesaw.
Notes about the Assignment:
How did this go over with the students?
From the introduction of this project, students were hooked! Students were psyched with the possibility of watching a movie they loved as a part of a class assignment! For days, I was getting questions such as, "Mr. Soper, can I do this movie? Do you think this movie will have enough cultural elements? When can I get started?" Engagement. Win #1!
After students watched the movie at home, we worked on the critiques for three days in class. They watched movies such as Snow White (Germany), Moana (Pacific Islands), and Beauty in the Beast (France), to name only a few. The students took their notes at home and "went to town!" (Yes... they did this at home. Logistics make it near impossible to do this at school, so I sent this assignment home even though I have been transitioning more and more toward the #ditchhw end of the spectrum...)
Throughout the workshop periods, I conferenced with all my students regarding the CYOA assignment that they had chosen to work on. I noticed an uptick in excitement especially from those students who had chosen the "movie critique." These students were able to take a passion (favorite movie) and apply to what we were learning in the classroom. With this engagement, students did such a wonderful job in observing those cultural elements (language, architecture, clothing, etc.) evident in the movie. Many students looked at these popular movies from a completely new perspective and learned much in the process. WIN #2!
I look forward to using this assignment again, both in this exact context but also in my US History classes! I believe there was such high engagement with this project due to the degree of choice. Still, the assignment has the potential to be a major success when using with any mainstream film in the classroom! (Ideas floating around my head: Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbor, Hacksaw Ridge, to name a few...) We need to bring the world the students are already consuming into the world of our classrooms!
Can't wait to try to this again! Close to max engagement with this one!