Teaching Tip: These
materials are too vast for any teacher to ever cover all of them
in the course of a single school year. Our answer?
We get students and parents involved in the learning process
with: Family Movie Night! Here's how it
works: As we begin a teaching unit or textbook chapter, we find
movies from our lists that we (a) don't have time to show in
class but (b) believe would benefit our students' understanding
of the subject matter. Using our classroom web pages or
blogs, under a "Family Movie Night" subject heading, we link
directly to these books, films, and documentaries (individual
review web pages). Our families can then click on a link,
read a brief review, and select a film.
The results are astounding. Parents get to help their
children learn while eating popcorn and enjoying a great film
(even if the parents know next to nothing about the social
studies course content). Students learn while having fun.
Families bond by discussing these films. Everyone wins.
Example: Olivia was studying the history of China in the 1900s.
Olivia's teacher linked her to To Live, an acclaimed
film about a Chinese family spanning from the Nationalist
Revolution through the Cultural Revolution. On a Friday
night, Olivia watched the film with her grandmother.
Olivia felt afterward like she better understood the
material--like she had a "feel for it." Following the
film, Olivia's grandmother chatted with her for a good hour
about the grandmother's memories of the Cold War, Nixon's visit
to China, as well as modern U.S. economic issues related to
China. True story! Watching a well-made, engaging,
and historically rich film can and does give students (and
grown-ups) a vast amount of cultural and educational capital.
And BTW...Olivia easily scored an A for all of her work
in that World History unit.