Tucson, AZ – June 27, 2011
Using films in the classroom is nothing new. Popular feature films and especially documentaries have been used as teaching tools for decades. The practice has sometimes been frowned upon by some educators and parents, who have viewed it as a babysitting tool and nothing more. Yet the use of films in the classroom can reap substantial gains for students if used properly.

Watching films in class doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – a passive activity. Through interactive discourse and exercises, students can discuss films they’ve viewed in class and thus learn to be active and thoughtful viewers. Some concepts are also more effectively illustrated through a visual medium rather than a printed one, such as historical trade routes and military battle plans. Using films and documentaries can be used in all classes, but are most prevalent in English, history, social studies, and ELL/EFL classes. Here they are often used to illustrate themes in social justice and media literacy, historical events and cultural practices, and elements of plot, setting, characterization, style, and point of view. Films can help to reinforce salient course concepts, and introduce students to new ideas and topics that they otherwise might not have explored.

This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org will focus on three resources that all use popular Hollywood films in educational ways. Peggy’s Corner explores more ways to use popular movies in the classroom to engage students and inspire thoughtful, critical thinking about current classroom topics. In addition, we will be also be featuring many more film-based lessons and activities the Gateway’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheGateway.org) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Gatewaytoskills) pages. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don’t miss anything.

Discussions will continue on last week’s theme of the Summer Slide on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
Will the Real Pocahontas Please Stand Up
Subjects: English Language Arts, History
Grade: 3-5
Students participating in this activity will learn about Pocahontas, the Powhatan Indians, and the many stories about Pocahontas. They will gain experience in assessing the relative merits of presentations of Pocahontas’s life, and try to decide who the “real” Pocahontas was. This resource is a product of the National First Ladies Library, a national archive that educates the world about the American First Ladies and other notable women in history.

Historic Route 66: Lesson Plans for Pixar’s Cars
Subjects: Geography, U.S. history, English Language Arts
Grade: 4-12
The setting for the film “Cars” is Route 66, the historic highway that changed America. The national highway linked Chicago, IL with Los Angeles, CA. This lesson has students research and report on various locations on Route 66 and their historical significance. This lesson was produced by ClassBrain, a site that offers specially designed resources for K-12 students, teachers, and parents.

Exploring Satire with Shrek
Subjects: English
Grade: 9-12
The movie “Shrek”, which satirizes fairy tale traditions, serves as an introduction to the satirical techniques of exaggeration, incongruity, reversal, and parody. Students brainstorm fairy tale characteristics, identify the satirical techniques used to present them in the movie, then create their own satirical versions of fairy tales. This lesson is a product of ReadWriteThink, which presents free peer-reviewed resources in reading and language arts instruction. This lesson is aligned to NCTE/IRA content standards.

About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills

The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.

About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks

Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.

About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner

Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught physical science and chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work writing, evaluating, and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!

About the GLRC

The Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) is a public-private collaboration which brings to fruition ongoing work between JES & Co., a U.S. 501(c)(3) education research organization, corporate sponsors and education agencies worldwide. Leading the initial corporate involvement are founding worldwide partners Microsoft, Cisco, Cengage/Gale, the National Education Association (NEA), and other leading corporations in process. The GLRC ties together several significant semantic web technologies developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and is designed to support cyber learning. The GLRC supports the implementation of the mapping of major collections of learning resources in systems around the world to the machine-readable expressions of the learning outcomes based on the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) modeling and technical framework. The work will implement the international linking of those resources through trans-jurisdictional mapping of learning outcomes by means of Semantic Web/Linked Data principles for teacher/learner access and use. For more information about the GLRC, contact Terry Smithson at TerryS@JESandCo.org or visit us www.JESandCo.org.

About JES & Co.

JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.

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