It's here again: the portion of the year reserved for the age-old debate of whether to watch a DVD in the final week of term. Not so long ago, as a student, I can easily imagine how my teachers would have fought it out to book the hallowed TV trolley to stick on a film at the end of the year to get an hour of peace and quiet while their class caught up on sleep in front of whatever classic the teacher had available. I have a clear memory of this in my Year 9 Physics lesson, watching the first hour of Shrek and wondering why we had to waste time watching a film that bored me even more than the usual drivel (apologies to all Physics teachers- my Year 9 self had yet to realise that it wasn't the subject that was issue, but a teacher whose dulcet tones often had the most enthusiastic of us with heads on our desks within the first five minutes).
Now we are in the bright age of computers with DVD drives and (if you choose to risk it) streaming, film ‘lessons’ are readily available to all.
Please don't mistake these opening comments for a condemnation of film/TV in the classroom: they aren't. There are a plethora of times when showing students films or clips can be vital to their learning. For example: I rarely teach a Shakespeare text without using a Globe version to help students analyse dramatic method and consider how they can stage their own adaptations. However, putting students to sleep in a dark room in front of the latest age-appropriate blockbuster is not the way to engage them in the countdown to the holidays.
Instead, for my last week of lessons, I'm going to get them to apply what they've learnt to new contexts and also to consolidate some knowledge before the inevitable forgetting period that occurs when they jet off to Lanzarote, New York or Bognor Regis.
Year 7 are going to be debating to what extent it’s morally acceptable to use war to create entertainment by comparing their study of Sherriff’s presentation of the trenches with the presentation of the same conditions in some short clips from ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’.
Year 8 have been looking at how poets use their medium to reflect on culture and heritage. So, inspired by a colleague, they’ll be using the poems we’ve explored to create a poetry mash-up to consider how poetry can also be used to reflect the multi-cultural society we live in.
Year 9 will be taking their knowledge of how writers use language and structure to impact an audience outside of conventional literature texts to see how and why song-writers apply the same techniques.
Year 10 are going to be consolidating their extended knowledge of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by creating their own knowledge organisers to collate the gems of learning from our study of Petrarchan lovers, tragic concepts and alternative readings of the text.
My question to you is: how will your classes be making the most of their final moments before the summer? Tweet with #nofilmlessonshere to share and collaborate!