Teaching with movies

Several years ago I wrote a post titled “10 Movies Every Social Studies Should See.” Of course, I added some extra bonus movies. I love movies and am convinced that using short video clips from featured length movies in the classroom is a good idea.

And, yes, I’m probably encouraging the stereotype of social studies teachers / coaches showing movies every week so that they can read the newspaper, break down game film, or drink coffee. But I will always argue that appropriate use of video clips and movies is great for kids.

So some resources to help break the stereotype:

Teaching History has some great articles and suggestions for using movies in your instruction. What Do Students Learn from Historical Feature Films provides information about how you can help kids analyze historical videos as historians. Teaching with Historical Film Clips provides a useful list for creating a lesson plan that integrates movie clips.

The people at Truly Moving Pictures also have a couple of handy tools. The first is a nice PDF guide for parents and educators that provides suggestions for activating positive emotions during viewing. They also have extensive curriculum guides for a variety of feel-good movies. Not all would work in a social studies classroom but there several such as The Express and Glory Road that could be used.

A great book is Teaching History with Film: Strategies for Secondary Social Studies. Great Films and How to Teach Them is another one.

There are lots of other useful tools out there. Check out these resources for more ideas and suggestions:

Have fun!

About Glenn Wiebe

I work as a social studies specialist at ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Before coming to ESSDACK, I taught middle school US History and higher ed social science classes.

2 thoughts on “Teaching with movies

  1. I am trying to discern what example lessons are covered in the book “Teaching History with Film: Strategies for Secondary Social studies” but cannot find any real reviews and the sample that Kindle sent me only really gives the intro (not helpful). Can you tell me anything more about the type of lesson plans it covers?

    1. The book covers a variety of reasons why and how we can use video clips as part of instruction. There are teaching suggestions and some lesson plans at the end of each chapter. So it’s more than just a collection of lessons – this Amazon review does a good job of describing what it covers:

      You can also see the Table of Contents by going to the Amazon page and clicking Look Inside:

      Good luck!


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