INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES FOR READING MOVIES™
Reading Movies is most effective as a supplemental instructional resource to
target the learning needs of English language learners, special education
students, academic at risk students, as well as mainstream students.
Teachers often express their frustration with obtaining high interest and highly
motivating materials for their special needs students. The Children First
educational agenda challenges educators to provide “at risk” students with the
same high quality teaching strategies and learning activities afforded other
students. The goal is to provide ELLS, special education and “at risk” students
with an academically rigorous curriculum that will enable them to meet or exceed
New York state and city standards. Although a teacher can use Reading Movies the
larger classroom setting, Reading Movies is especially effective when employed
in small group settings, such as ESL, special education and collaborative
Depending upon the available equipment and technological sophistication of the
teacher, Reading Movies can be effectively used in a variety of different
configurations: as a shared reading/viewing on a single television monitor; as a
guided reading/viewing activity where a group of students interact on their own
computer or laptop; as a one-to-one tutorial or individual conferencing where
the teacher accesses the students’ comprehension of the story and their
recognition of key vocabulary.
Likewise, each of the three film classics (Trojan Horse, 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea, Tales of Gulliver’s Travels) provides students with exposure to
timeless quality children’s literature and can be used as a springboard to
introduce these books in either their full or abridged versions.
A teacher can introduce the Reading Movies as she would any story or text:
stating the title, introducing the author(s), asking the students to predict
what the movie (story) might be about from the preview segments they see on the
Since the teacher has previewed the film and the supplemental materials, she can
present the Reading Movies in a number of ways. One effective strategy is to
have the students view a 10-15 minute DVD segment of the movie (up to a
particular climax or transition), then stop and discuss the story with the
●What is the story about so far?
●Who are the main characters?
●What is the action of the story?
●Where is the conflict in the story?
●What do you think will happen next?
This type of shared viewing is analogous to elements of author study, literature
circles or book talks.
At this point, the teacher can direct the students to “re-view” the same
segments with particular attention to a specific story line or character.
Finally the teacher can direct the students to write a response to literature in
their writing journals based upon viewing of the first segment. After the
students have seen more segments or the total movie, the teacher can use Venn
diagrams and other graphic organizers to gauge student knowledge and
Students can take ownership of their own learning by using the interactive
features of Reading Movies. The Word Play feature is a “virtual word wall”,
where students can stop the film’s action and click onto 32 vocabulary words
taken directly from the story. A separate DVD clip then gives the student the
pronunciation of the word, its meaning, synonyms, the part of speech and a
sample sentence. Based upon the teacher’s ongoing assessment, students can be
directed to focus on particular vocabulary.
Each Reading Movie also has a Beginner and Advanced Pop Quiz. This activity can
be teacher directed, where the teacher reviews the quiz with the students as a
group activity or, a student initiated individual assessment, where the student
quizzes himself. The Pop Quiz also has a built in mastery learning component,
whereas the student can immediately return to the film segment to review the
ELL Alignment – Reading Movies is specifically aligned with many types of
instructional scaffolding techniques effective in enhancing the performance of
English language learners in ESL classes:
Modeling - giving students a clear example of what is expected of them
e.g. “as you view tales of Gulliver’s Travels, think of characteristics which
describe Queen Cara.”
Bridging - activate student’s prior knowledge. ELLS will be able to
engage in meaningful classroom discussions since the Reading Movies allow them
to initially access the stories through visual and auditory means. These
students will have their everyday knowledge valued and authenticated.
Contextualization – Reading Movies takes literacy classics, with their
enduring human themes and values and encourages students to make film-to-self,
film-to-text, and film-to-world connections. Teachers can present Reading Movies
in such a way as to create analogies based on students’ experiences, thus
connecting complex ideas closer to the students’ real world experiences.
Therefore, despite linguistic limitations, ELLs can fully participate in
critical thinking activities so necessary to their academic success.
CLASSROOM TRIAL; of the Reading Movies™ program
AN OVERVIEW AND EVALUATION
By Bertha Cuascut Language Arts Teacher, P.S. 109 Q, New York
Reading Movies is an instructional tool which, when used effectively, and in
concert with the teachers overall instructional plan, provides a highly
motivating interactive and literacy- connected experience for students who
benefit most from a differentiated instructional approach.
It’s a new approach
to an age old problem. How do we get them reading?Integration of the Read A Movie Program into the
In searching for the answer to that question I agreed to try the Read A Movie
program in my sixth grade classroom.
This program consists of DVD movies with teenage actors. Each DVD has multiple
features such as: a movie, vocabulary practice, quizzes, other activities, and
more. Our students can identify with the child actors and they also have the
advantage of reading the speakers’ words. This activity of reading the speakers’
words creates a subliminal association with the word and its context. As the
student reads the words coming out of the actor’s mouth, the configuration of
the word is being impressed in the conscious mind making it easier to remember
and spell as well. In this activity the actors are actually modeling good
reading very much like the teacher reading out loud to the students in the
classroom. The watching of the movie can therefore substitute for the read
aloud/shared reading component built into America’s Choice ELA block model. The
movie has a very effective way of reinforcing vocabulary and certain concepts.
The repetition and playing back scenes in quizzes helps the viewer to recall
facts and analyze the information and data presented. All in all I have found
Read A Movie to be a refreshing, and effective way to bring literature,
technology, and visual arts into the classroom.
The integration of Read A Movie, with our current literature program was a
workable plus in my classroom. All of our regular routines were flexible enough
to incorporate the movie. The Read a Movie program even provided the students
with additional vocabulary practice, intermediate and advanced quizzes, and the
motivation to lead easily into new lessons.
In observing my students as they watched the movie, I noticed all of my students
applying full concentration to the movie. It struck me that even those students
who normally would be fidgety and distracting others were instead paying close
attention to what was going on in the movie. This indicated to me that they were
all reading words and not just listening to what was going on. My sixth graders
were actively involved in all aspects of this DVD, the vocabulary lessons, the
movie, the singing, the background information and the quizzes,
Another advantage of using the Read A Movie program was the reinforcement it
provided. The information and material that was being covered in the movie
TROJAN HORSE is extensive. It took us into realms of Greek Mythology, History,
(The Trojan Wars), Geography, Social Studies, Literature, Math and the Arts.
After seeing the movie, my students had no problems recalling the facts, explain
concepts, and details. On test, projects, and even other work, the student’s
exhibited greater comprehension, memorable language, and an increased hunger to
learn more about the characters in the story and its subject matter.
As a teacher in the system for ten years, I completely agree with the careful
integration of a Read A Movie program into literature based, language art
America’s Choice Model
Our objective in this pilot program was to introduce the Edutainment Reading
Movies package, and to incorporate its Read A Movie Program within the balance
literacy block. To accomplish our goal we combined multiple samples of
literature for background and then created a two week interdisciplinary unit. As
our pilot movie we used the Trojan Horse. Our unit theme was the Trojan Wars.
One of the highlights offered with this unit is the using of this visual arts
media to assist students in learning. All of the lessons in the unit were
designed to engage students in an interesting and fun way. This unit also
addresses, integrates, and develops instructional strategies that utilize the
multiple kinds of learning styles that all students possess.
This thematic unit is designed with the assistance of DVD players and computers
to incorporate hi-tech learning, with literature-based, process-oriented
instruction under America’s Choice block model. The unit contains lessons for
twelve standard based block sessions. Sometimes it becomes necessary to stay
another day with a lesson to insure that the students have full opportunity to
do well and explore all available resources. Using this visual arts media to
assist students in learning new vocabulary is innovative and has held the
students attention for longer periods of time. They also learn about different
cultures, and develop a greater understanding of the world around them. Viewing
this movie on DVD makes it possible to utilize the resources with the movie such
as the quiz and vocabulary help. Included in this package you will also find:
related literature, articles, work-sheets and sample motivation materials, some
lesson plans, pictures, teacher reflections and copies of students work.
The cross curriculum lessons cover the following areas: Reading, English
language arts, Social Studies through literature, Art, Math, and Technology.
The following NYS Language Arts Performance Standards apply to this unit of
STANDARD: E1b, E1c, E1e, E2a, E2b, E2c, E3b, E3d, E4a, E4b, E5a, E5b.
Students will be able to identify the genre, use critical analysis and
evaluation, reflection, gain information and understanding, make informed
judgments about film, participate in group meetings, literary response and
expression, summarize events, deliver presentations, and persuasive writing.
The following is a sample of the current America’s Choice 90 Minute Block FOR
Reading and Language Arts, adhered to in this test of the Read A Movie Program.
DAILY ROUTINE - 90 MINUTE BLOCK
Independent Reading (15-20min)
Procedures: (30-40 min)
A mini lesson
Small group reading
Reading/Writing Strategy Conferences
Closing: Student share out what they learned
The ELA block model has three main sections of work for the students.
The Trojan Horse trial block was broken up as follows:
A. Silent reading Each day the students spend 15-20 minutes engaged in reading.
1). Teacher provides books and pamphlets, on legends, plays, copies of tales and
other stories that can give students background information on the countries
2). Students are encouraged to bring in personal reading material that is
related in some way to this week’s topic.
B. Read Aloud/Shared Reading 10-20 minutes
10-15 minutes read aloud or shared reading (strong readers read to their group
and on some days the teacher reads to the entire class)
C. 20-30 minutes group work and meetings (research, reading, composing, editing,
conferencing, and rehearsing.
D. 10 minutes sharing out.
Students take out time to reflect on the day’s activities and report to the
class their findings and accomplishment.
SAMPLE LESSON PLAN - Lessons provided include:
A. Creating KWL charts to assist in recording what background we bring to the
lesson and what more we want to get from a lesson.
B. Word profiles and vocabulary practice.
C. General research and geography lessons on where is Turkey and Greece.
D. What is an emigrant and how do they feel?
E. Lessons on myths, legends, fairytales, and folktales.
F. The comparing and contrasting of stories, characters, and information.
G. The effective use of reflection through journals.
H. Working productively in a group.
I. Using multiple types of graphic organizers.
J. Using word searches, using maps and using movie menus.
Instructional Objective: Students will be able to:
a.) Research and report on Greece and Turkey
b.) Read about and discuss the characters and their roles in both the movie and
the book Trojan Horse, incorporating multiple graphic organizers.
c.) Develop and strengthen new vocabulary with the use of technology provided by
d.) Sharpen their listening skills by participating in real aloud and shared
e.) Analyze cause and effect as it relates to the events that occurred during
the Trojan Wars.
f.) Critique, in the form of a book review or movie review about the Trojan
g.) Work in small groups.
h.) Re-write a scene and play the roll of one of the characters in the movie.
i.) Evaluate daily work by using a student created check list.
j.) Create travel brochures to both countries highlighting some history,
geography, culture, things to see and places to go.
k.) Read about and discuss the characters and their roles in both the movie and
the book Trojan Horse, incorporating multiple graphic organizers.
l.) Re-write a scene and play the roll of one of the characters in the movie.
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