Monday, November 2, 2009

Stealth Teaching

Using Movies to Teach

We all know television is the enemy of education. Every hour our children pass mindlessly watching the Disney Channel is an hour they aren’t reading, exploring or, well, thinking. There is something powerful about visual media, though. We have to give our opponent that. Only the time I started a fire in the kitchen held my kids’ attention like an episode of Sponge Bob. Why can’t we take that power and use it for our side? If nothing else, just announcing you will be watching TV for science today will get your children’s attention.

Here are some ideas to get you started.
• Find the movie version of books your children read and watch them after they finish. It is fun to discuss who they would have cast as the main characters, how the director’s vision of the scenery compared with theirs, or how the book differed from the movie version.
• Use movies about different time periods to give your children a feel for the time. Many movies are very well-researched and depict dress, speech and daily living quite accurately. We watched Gone with the Wind while studying the Civil War, for example.
• Make use of programs and videos that discuss animals, different countries, space, etc. Watching a video about sharks and seeing them up close on the screen will inspire them like no textbook can. And maybe they will actually remember something.
• Movies are stories. Use that to teach literary concepts like characterization, setting, mood, or theme. Watching should never be a substitute for reading, of course, but a little change can bring new perspective.

Save some of these ideas for the days when you have a long to-do list or are not feeling your best.

There is nothing wrong with an occasional sneak attack!

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