Using movies to connect students to writing? All the reasons it works
The most dramatic thing about college writing is that students learn to create texts following particular standards. And no wonder – most of them are trying to fit the requirements to get high marks. However, such a habit restricts their creative thinking and puts limits on the way they form their opinions in the long run.
One of the best practices that save learners from such a sad outcome is writing papers about something they are interested in. There is no doubt that most students like watching movies. After viewing one, they have ideas and opinions to share and discuss.
A movie is something you can connect to your experience and, therefore – find answers to some bothering questions. In this article, we will discuss how movies about education, life, relationships, and human values can help students improve their writing skills.
How can watching movies solve basic writing problems?
Just like any literary text, a movie is always a narration. Using a movie as a visual aid can improve students’ understanding of the way messages and ideas are expressed. Films are more engaging and entertaining than books, which makes them a perfect tool for:
- Vocabulary improvement
- Motivation to write texts about something learners are interested in
- Analysis of the narrative structure on the example of visual material
- Boosting students’ creative thinking and encouraging them to write texts based on the stories and messages revealed in movies
Writing a review or their own continuation of the story presented in a film, students discover a new way of exploring ideas. Such tasks can help students find their own writing voice and talk about problems that bother them.
Learning the structure of narration
Teaching with movies can be an efficient practice to help students learn to examine the way storytelling is structured. Just like a literary text, each film has the following elements and stages:
In the beginning, the director introduces the characters, place, and time where the story happens.
At the second stage, the author reveals the central conflict of the story and ways the main character tries to resolve it.
At the third stage, the resolution of the main problem is presented.
And the last element of narration is a moral message learned from the story.
Analyzing the structure of a story on the example of a film, students can learn to write better novels and creative pieces.
Analyzing sources and making decisions
When writing a paper about a particular movie, students can examine multiple sources of information such as critical reviews and articles. Doing so, they learn to make decisions, evaluate the accuracy of sources, and solve problems.
After detailed research, learners can present their findings and address different points of view related to the main theme of the movie. This way, a learner can make a real official statement about this or that film, presenting well-thought and detailed analysis on a solid basis.
This is more than an opinion paper, but research backed up with strong and clear arguments supported by other authors. Students can gather and read analytical articles, watch YouTube reviews, and synthesize information to present a consistent and well-researched piece.
Learning how narrative elements work
For example, watching Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, which is a fiction that presents itself as a documentary film, students can investigate the problem of “fiction and reality” in different ways.
They can analyze the techniques and manipulative elements that make Bowling for Columbine look like a real-life story, while it is actually not. This movie can become a perfect material not only for English but also for Psychology and Philosophy classes.
Seeing the movie through the lens of the theory
To make a regular film a real education movie, learners are welcome to try watching it through the lens of critical theory. For example, watching Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction in class, learners can analyze the film from a feminist perspective.
They can discuss gender roles, stereotypes, and issues of inequality. Students can choose from a great variety of films to examine, from Batman to The Silence of the Lambs.
To implement movies in a classroom, there is no need to start a separate course. Films can be efficient for all classes, including English, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Gender Studies, and more. Movies can be easily paired with literature – there are so many screen adaptations of classical texts. Also, they can help students understand social, political, and psychological ideas and issues.
Using the movie as a material for theoretical and critical reflection is another perfect way to boost writing skills and creativity. By doing so, learners can see the films from a critical angle and watch them as something more than just entertainment.
Susan Wallace is a writer and blogger concerned with the issues of modern education. Susan believes that the modern educational system has significant gaps and looks for ways to fill them.
The author writes articles about the implementation of art education, drawing, movies, and other creative practices in a classroom. She believes that this is a great way to increase students’ interest and motivation.