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Problematic Premise of the Pedagogy: It's All about Attention

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I like the spirit of this post, Mark, because you lay out a careful focus on tuning in to the emotional responses of the learner. This is a common pedagogy in American K-12 and college environments.

But there are some real limitations and dangers to this instructional strategy and it can easily be misused. It's a topic that I write about in my scholarly article, "Non-optimal uses of video in the classroom" (Learning, Media & Technology, 2006). Here's a link: http://mediaeducationlab.com/pub/non-optimal-uses-video-classroom

You frame this instructional technique as inspiring learner motivation-- which it certainly can do. But I have also observed in many K-12 and college classrooms that this technique serves as mere "bait" without much "hook." Using video as attentional bait may perpetuate the status quo function of media in American society—as a tool which delivers eyeballs to the screen. This method of using video accepts a problematic premise: that viewers are passive, bored, easily led and driven by their impulses to seek visual pleasure. If a teacher has such expectations about students, she or he may develop curriculum that is essentially persuasive or propagandistic, selling ideas, but not seeking to engage students in wrestling with problems or ideas and not encouraging critical analysis and inquiry.

That's why this pedagogy of using film as a motivator MUST be followed-up with the use of critical questions about film and video to promote media literacy competencies. Learners need to analyze "how" the filmmaker activated their feelings by asking (1) what was the purpose of this message? (2) what techniques were used to attract and hold attention? (3) what values are represented? (4) how might different people interpret this message? and (5) what is omitted?

Good teachers channel learners' attention towards the development of building new knowledge and critical thinking skills. The skillful use of film and video in the classroom should provide an explicit, carefully-modelled link between viewing and our learning goals. That's the missing link in your blog post. I hope you will write more about what you do after the lights go on to link the film viewing experience to your instructional goals.

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Julie - ELL Students

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Julie:
That's not really my territory at all, though I did work on a pre-school level years ago and do work with older ESL kids. But I'll give it a try.

You could do some Google searching. But I think you also might start out by identifying some videos, movies, TV programs these kids are watching and start by using a few of those. What TV and movies turn them on? When I work with high school kids who come from other countries I try to find some film that I think will relate to their lives and start from that place.

The writing possibilities:
a) quick 2-3 sentence thoughts and feeling after seeing the movie.
b) a few sentences which would be what they'd tell a friend who asked them what the movie or show was about
c)brainstorming ideas on paper and then shared for a short movie they'd create that would be a sequel to the one they watched.

For pre-school kids. I'd link the film to story telling. I have a story I use with pre school kids in which they go with my main character, a devilish bear, to a magic shop where they eat a magic cookie and magically enter a film of their choice. So they become a character in the movie. I have them come up with ideas about what kind of adventure they have. This is all oral but could then be connected to some writing and drawing if and when the kids are ready for that.

Just a few ideas, but once you get started you'll find stuff on the web and also come up with lots of ideas yourself.

Mark

English Language Acquisition

Hi Mark, I work in a prek-5

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Hi Mark, I work in a prek-5 elementary school, with ELL students. I am very fond of using Media with them, particularly since it's the background knowledge that limits rapid acceleration. I am interested in the role media and technology can play in writing development with ELLs. Any thoughts or resources? Thank You so much!

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Foreign Language Teaching and Film

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Wonderful Samantha. Using films in a foreign language class can work in so many ways.

When I was teaching English in the 60s I did a combined assignment with a French teacher in which two of our students translated the film "Jules and Jim." That was a major job!

Chairperson Dept. of Foreign Languages

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I have been using snippets of film for years now, and have adapted music videos as well. For film, I show a short scene without sound or subtitles. The students discuss what they think is happening, or they write down their impressions. Next, the film is shown with sound but in the target language only, no subtitles again. Students then adjust some of their impressions about the scene (or not) and discuss in groups of four. Lastly, if needed, subtitles are added but again only in the target language. It is great to see their faces light up when they realize that they really understood the scene!

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Ernestine

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Hi Ernestine:

Great links! Thanks for sharing them. Lovely work being done too.
I can also provide you with links to films being created by kids working with the California Film Institute here.

Of course feel free to cross post this.

And to contact with me directly for more dialogue.
markpsf@mac.com

Mark

Director of Education and Outreach at Scenarios USA

Hollywood short films written by public school teens

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Hi Mark,

I was thrilled to read your blog post and would like to cross post on our Educators Blog if that's OK? I used film clips all the time as a Humanities teacher at international schools, now I create interdisciplinary lesson plans around these awesome films that my org creates and that are shown on Showtime etc: http://www.scenariosusa.org/films/film/. Our Educators Blog lives here: http://www.scenariosusa.org/category/educators-blog/. I hope we can connect! Warmly, Ernestine

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Chailleb

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Good luck with the transition.

While we could dialogue privately, exchanging information with you on this site may also be helpful to others who are also looking for films they can use.

I'll look forward to your update when you "land."\\

Mark

8th Grade SpEd

As it turns out I have

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As it turns out I have recently relocated and will begin school at a new location (new state), still teaching 8th SpEd. So, at this point I'm not sure how the teaching will look as they are still working on the details of co-teaching, self-contained, etc. I can tell you that I will be focusing mostly on Language Arts. Once we get the details ironed out I will let you know and we can move forward from there.

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Chailleb

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Ten years of middle school teaching. You need a sabbatical! :-) Then you could find more films and videos to use.

Middle school kids are indeed a special breed.

I'd be happy to help with ideas, but I need more info, rather than just pointing you to some generic sources.

Tell me more about what you teach, the subject, and maybe even a few of your units within the subject so I can get you started. Then, using web searches and just keeping tuned as you watch TV shows and go to movies, you'll begin to discover your own resources.

Mark

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