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The students of today are not like the ones twenty years ago, ten years ago, or even five years ago. Our students are used to a world where images change every second. A world where you can buy music, movie, or a book instantly without even going to a store. If you assign a book, chances are they will watch the movie instead. It is just their way. Teenagers are always looking for the easy way out. As a teacher, you have two choices: you can fight it or you can use it to your advantage.
Before you think I am just throwing out the art of the novel or drama and telling you just to show movies, look at this common core standard:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.7 -Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist).
Analyze MULTIPLE interpretations of a story, drama, or poem. This gives you so many options. You can listen to dramatic readings, go to live productions, many stories have multiple translations, but chances are you are limited in your resources and many schools do not advocate field trips. So, a movie it is.
The most obvious activity to use is a Venn diagram. What does the movie have in common with the text? What is different? The Venn diagram is a good start. One, it requires students will have to read the text. How else could they possibly tell what is different in the move? I request my students look even deeper requiring them to look at the descriptions, characters, settings, and moments that were added and taken away. Here are some prompts I use. These can answered in a paragraph or stretched out in to a multi-paragraph composition:
- Does the movie, "The Fall of the House of Usher," do justice to Poe's text? Use textual evidence and scenes from the movie to justify your response.
- Compare and Contrast Hamlet from the two scenes we viewed from "Hamlet" (1990) and "Hamlet" (1948). Which would Shakespeare have approved of? Use textual evidence and scenes from the movie to justify your response.
- The director of "William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet" changed the play’s setting from Verona, Italy Renaissance to Verona Beach, California, in modern day. Did this impact the overall understanding of the play? Use textual evidence and scenes from the movie to justify your response.
- Evaluate why the director would leave out Gatsby’s father’s return. How does this deletion impact the overall movie, especially for someone who has not read the book? Use textual evidence and scenes from the movie to justify your response.
- In "The Crucible," the director moves several scenes from around and even adds some. Evaluate one such scene and explain the director’s purpose for moving it or adding it. Use textual evidence and scenes from the movie to justify your response.
- Evaluate the scene with the three witches from "Macbeth." How is this scene different on stage than in the film? Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of how a scene is portrayed using this scene. Use textual evidence and scenes from the movie to justify your response.
These are just a few of the prompts I use in my classroom. Feel free to change and add to them in your own class. I suggest NOT showing the entire movie at once because there will always be some students that will fall asleep. I show everything in scenes and clips, ten to fifteen minutes max. This gives an opportunity for the students to take notes and discuss the scene. I pause movies often and discuss differences, and I question them on everything, from why is the camera placed here, or why did the director place her in this outfit and not the one from the novel? One student called me a bad commercial. I laughed and said, “Great, answer my question and I will go away.” They get used to it and will eventually point out things I did not notice before. Here are a few websites to help you get started: