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Public school students, whether black or of other races, carry a highly unbalanced impression of black people in the USA and in the world, because of what they have seen and what they have been unable to see in cinema. What they have seen are skewed images from the American film industry. What they have been unable to see are all the fabulous West African films that have been made since the 1960s. My unit will introduce film studies so that students of all races in the class can better appreciate films from Africa and be careful and suspicious viewers of films from America. This unit has been designed to increase basic knowledge and awareness of students about the American film industry and its influences on their mind and psyche through the use of cinematographic technique. Students will learn how films are marketed to reach certain targeted groups and the implications of the representations of character. This unit will pose critical questions beyond the standardized curricular literature while viewing films that sometimes correspond to the literary works. This strategy will open the framework for critical analysis strategies. In viewing and digesting literary works through text and visual techniques for depth of understanding, students will learn what producers, directors, screenplay writers and cinematographers sanction and use to form or alter our thinking, our emotions and our actions. Through this inquisitive study, the stage will be set for students to delve into the analysis by means of inquiring about uses of language, sorted order of perception, and disguised manipulative tools of propaganda all of which are projected in film.
The curriculum unit will produce a mind-opening journey so that teachers will be able to use the viewing of film in a positive way. As a result of the study, this curriculum unit will give students the foundation needed to be more attentive to attitudes and beliefs in other societies. It will give them alternate avenues of viewing that will show how Black people are viewed and/or portrayed in film. The unit will expose students to African cultures and ethnic groups and will give them a more technically savvy visual understanding of propaganda driven films, films that have altered societal perceptions. Students will see the relation between themselves and film, specifically how they are almost stagnant in their views despite an aggressively changing global world. They will learn to adopt the filmmakers' worldview through the telescopic eye of the movie camera and the editorial cut. This unit will perhaps prepare students to launch a career in the field of cinematography, but will also simply give them the ability to watch film with more insight and intelligence. While using literary terms closely associated with the industry, they will be able to intelligibly question all aspects of film. Students will begin to understand the makings of a film, specifically at its root, the story. They will be instructed to always note and keep in mind the written story (screenplay) and the use of film editing and adaptations.
By participating in the seminar, Stories Around the World in Film, I have gained a clear framework for understanding how the medium of film conveys strong messages through the labors of its makers, and how those stories and messages both share in and vary from those of our own culture. I have examined and discussed the oral tradition of storytelling and as a result will enhance students' critical examination of how film artists of Africa communicate their hopes, dreams and values. I am better prepared to widen my students' horizons politically, culturally and technically. In my English language arts classes, I will encourage students to pose questions as they become familiar with literary works that reflect life experiences different from their own.
Today's students are perhaps more attuned to visual media, yet lack the critical thinking skills that allow them to assess visual messages. "The small screen may seem a world away from the big screen but as [my students] increasingly view movies at home on DVDs, the ways in which television and films share aesthetic and social codes becomes even more evident," i in the way my students relate to themselves and the rest of the world. More than a few of my students have not traveled beyond their neighborhoods, let alone beyond their city or country, yet they can receive instruction that will give them the tools to come to appreciate differences not as an adversity, but as positive and motivating experiences. The blending of attention to literary value and technical facets of filmmaking will enable instruction that will bring analytical approaches to digest current films students absorb at movie theaters and/or in their homes.
According to former public school teacher, Richard Maynard, "modern propaganda is based on scientific analyses of psychology and sociology. The propagandists build techniques on the basis of knowledge of man, our tendencies, desires, needs, and conditions." ii With this in mind, this unit intends to help students realize the planning that underlies the making of films. The film industry plays with the psyche of its audience through visual modes of varied expression that cause reactions and responses. Students will learn how this is accomplished through the use of cinematic technique.
By examining literary works in the unit course and by looking at the handiwork of African and African-American directors, producers and film editors, students will be able to explore implications of societal value of Black people and the effect of this on issues of self-worth. This will lead students to investigate their place in the world and provide them a secure footing to express themselves in the future without denigration of their humanness. They will be able to celebrate what they have to offer the world in a more positive and socially acceptable manner.
This unit proposes to examine the ramifications of the Black film industry both in Africa and America. We shall focus on American "race" films and expose students to their mind mapping, and stereotyping. This unit will give students a framework to assess how one feels, what one remembers, how one thinks, through the viewed expression of self by Black directors. We will also cover visual perspectives and views of the Black experience as mass marketed by others.
Students will be prompted to further their knowledge of language, diction, dialect and syntax through both literary works and the films viewed. Some of the films will correspond with works of literature; others will have been produced and written expressly for the silver screen. This unit will give students a knowledge base that through historical accounts and biographical information will help them understand the course of action of filmmakers' decision-making.
This curriculum unit probes matters concerning the visual imagery surrounding students including the glorifying of violence, the self-degradation of Blacks, the exploitative lewdness of spirit in film and the savoir-faire tactics of American propaganda tools used in so many films and videos. No matter how intimidating the environments for learning, we will ask students to progress in studying film. This unit will offer students avenues of reconciliation of self by delving into the Black film industry. By offering a learning environment that celebrates the phenomenal intellect of Black writers, directors and filmmakers, past and present, students will be given the wherewithal to forge ahead. The creative energy that has emerged in Black film and in the explosion in popularity of Hip-Hop cannot be ignored within this unit.
I have designed this unit to be used in support of teachers of students in the high school classroom setting. This unit will fit the mold for teachers with students in advanced or regular English language arts classes, social studies classes and for students in film and/or cinematography classes. This unit will be appropriate for use in classrooms of various racial make-ups.
Through studying historical elements in African and African-American cinematography, students will be able to approach state curricular academic standards with competence and will be able to successfully engage in the challenges they will have to meet. While on the other hand, teachers will be able to include the School District of Philadelphia's new initiative of academic inclusion of African-American history and literature into their classrooms. In doing a unit of this type we will also stimulate the study of Black film. This unit will begin opening the doors of Black filmmaking and will allow students to breathe, in respect to who they are and where they come from.
The curriculum unit will begin with a series of mini-lessons on film analysis skills and film terminology. Utilizing both current and historical African-American and African films, the study focus will lean more towards Blacks in film through the use of a predetermined template/rubric that will separate the various facets of movie creation (technical, narrative, and cultural). Students will develop the practice of thoughtful and analytical viewing; and, as a unit-ending group project, will be expected to create their own film script and production notes. They will gain an insider's sense of what is required to convey one's own story effectively. Students will never again just "watch" a movie without meaningful understanding and reflection.
Lessons will also include geographical and historical viewpoints for further understanding of the political and socioeconomic messages that are prevalent in most films. The study of foreign language will not be covered since all African films viewed will have English subtitles. However, language patterns will be discussed in regard to colonization of African regions as well as regional dialects of Blacks in America.
Students must be trained to recognize that films are created for several purposes, each genre of film serving its own type and method of meaning. The first of these types is for the purpose of entertainment; the second is didactic the third serves an aesthetic function. The aesthetic function operates for personal expression or for purposes of discovering something that is found as new.
In the beginning of this unit, students must receive instruction on cinematic vocabulary and on how to segment the film by way of scenes, shots, cuts and sound. Filmmakers decide upon ways in which the story will be revealed to viewers. The foundations of mise-en-scène will be given to students via a vocabulary list. Students will view one or two African short films such as Sembene's, Borom Sarret and/or La Noire de/Black Girl (1963) or an African-American clip from the Oscar Micheaux' film Within Our Gates (1920). We will spend 15 minutes or less for several days to receive instruction about certain techniques. Students will be attentive to technique rather than to dialogue since most will not understand the spoken language.
Our unit begins by examining how filmmakers treat Africa and Africans. To set this segment in motion, students will be given several variations of maps that can be accessed online or in recent magazines. Students will learn that Africa is a continent, not a country, so that upon viewing films they will be able to associate land mass and space in accordance to the most recent parameters as designated by political circumstances of the nations. In addition to the study of geography in Africa, students will become familiar with African-American migration patterns in the States, specifically Black movement from the South to the North after slavery.
The beauty and splendor of the lands in Africa is often captured cinematically for purposes of setting the stage for mise-en-scène, and to display the land as a place of wonderment and grace. On the other hand, filmmakers have tended to span the land, and then bring the camera's focus to the villages. Sometimes the focal pinpoint is that of a poor ethnic group of people. The opposite of such elegiac shots can be found in high-energy urban films that offer a hustling and bustling city contrasted to the old way of the village. A viewer experiences emotion when taken across the landscape from wide to narrow and then across from the dramatic change of spatial differences of landscape variety, ethnic group panoramas and living style fashions.
With this addition to geography, objectives will be met are in accordance to state curricular standards. Students will receive an overview on how to read a map, how to determine places and regions specified by maps. They will note the interactions between people and places in accordance to the region in which groups have been found to reside. These aspects of study are most important in reference to African trends as viewed in film from Francophone West Africa. Students will be asked to further their inquiry through basic geographical literacy while visiting museums and having guests visit the classroom for further discussion. Use of these resources will expand student knowledge of facts in conjunction with the fictional uses of landscape and imagery.
Students will view as many African cinematic genres as time will allow. When viewing African films, viewers can feel the strength of the longstanding African oral tradition of storytelling resonate throughout many films of the region. It must be noted, that all films discussed and researched for this unit are from West African regions, and more specifically Francophone Africa. Students will first come to understand the political definitions and language use (French, dialect, English, etc.) so that they will have an enhanced level of comprehension of certain situations and circumstances that students will come upon while viewing. Important to this segment of the unit will be the introduction and study of African filmmakers. Students will come to know when Africans came to be permitted to tell their own story through film
Students will learn how to critically analyze films from a historical viewpoint and then will bring cinematic knowledge into focus. In the early years of African filmmaking, the makers of such films were mostly concerned with political statement and social commentary rather than to make films for pleasure. Much later filmmakers began "making films that were directed towards contemporary African issues even if it were set in a historical context." iii Issues of colonialism are important factor in the images that are portrayed in most African films. As well, the process of de-colonization that occurred and the activities in African society contiguous with independence must be considered for study and understanding. The aforementioned bring about student realization of what happens at the level of marketing and distribution for African film. Why would filmmakers such as Ousmane Sembene, Moussa Yoro Bathily, Mohamed Camara, and Med Hondo have the visual expertise to complete full-feature films but not the business savvy to have their films marketed to a public majority? Students will look for reasons that might cause the films not to be seen in the filmmaker's homeland and not have the mass marketing rights that have been given many others.
Clarification of regional rituals, religions, and societal day-to-day activities will be done as research projects for students. In this portion, students will learn about the importance of the griot, as seen in Keita! (1994), the African storyteller to kings, queens and their offspring. To accomplish proficient visual literacy, students will be required to do personal interviews of West African people in their neighborhoods and communities. Students will determine a series of questions (that will be agreed upon as a group) for interviewees. This strategy will present opportunities for open dialogue to facilitate achieving cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness.
Visions of Africans in America
In this portion of the study, students will be instructed to relate their own life experiences to those that are seen in various films. To begin, students will be assigned to view films made by African-American film directors and producers only. By using films that were achieved by members of one's own ethnic group, students will criticize each film performance of actors and actresses. Does the Black filmmaker's message differ from that of other filmmakers? Can we suggest that Black filmmakers in America produce work that is representative of most communities and groups of Blacks in the country? We will find that emphatically the focal point of the message is race. Race is usually placed in the forefront in mass market Black images. The portrayal of Black men, then the Black family, and the Black women sets the stage for the mental image of what it is to be Black as put out by film visual messages.iv Students will recognize and begin to organize thoughts about films that reflect both positive and negative characteristic traits of Blacks as seen in film from their personal observation. Thereafter, students will be required to report to the group what films they believe come under which category and why they have chosen the film to represent said category. Next, students will be required to view Within Our Gates (1920) and in comparison The Green Pastures (1936). Class instruction in this section will focus on the visual meaning of image, stereotyping, mind mapping and the suggestion of the message. Do viewers believe the story, people, community and dialogue to be truth? Why or Why not?
All contemporary Black filmmakers acknowledge the crucial influence that migration has had on African-American cultural production. Whether forced or chosen, it has had a tremendous impact on the ethos of Blacks in America today. Silent "race" films spoke of the ills of city life in order to warn newly arrived Southern immigrants of urban evils, while sound era race films addressed the presence and the promise of the city. As was witnessed in literature during the migration to the North by artist of the Harlem Renaissance, filmmakers began to gauge the assumptions about the country's growing Black urban presence by examining its inclusion, exclusion and distortions in American city spaces by way of the mass marketed film industry. The play between visual and aural signifiers contributes meaning to a Black film, anchoring the narrative in an historical moment.v Without such an exposé of Black life in city and/or town-like spaces these films would have little meaning.
An example of Black imagery created by White filmmakers is the 1936 race film, The Green Pastures, which shows Black heaven with a southern plantation economy of cotton. This represents the rural South in the tradition of heavenly beings. Did Blacks believe this to be real? Did other ethnic groups believe such representations as true or as correlating to what Blacks thought was real? Students will be asked to define the purpose of such a film.
For purpose of this study we will define "race films as black cast movies that may or may not have been made by an African American director for African-American audiences, before 1950." vi In early African-American films, Blacks came to represent servility, slowly this persona changed as Blacks began to make their own films. Through use of a Black aesthetic and the urban drama, African-American filmmakers told a new story. Students must be given necessary historical background information in order to analyze and digest the misnomers of cinema as it plays in front of their eyes, the historical context, both politically and creatively.
Upon viewing most African films, students will become exposed to various religious practices. They will see Islamic traditions, Catholicism, and old animist practices. Since the practice of religion is sometimes crucial in comprehending meaning and symbolism it must be studied. According to historians, Islam entered West Africa around the 11th century and became the predominant religion of Ghana around the 13th century.vii Muslims, those who believe and follow the Islamic faith, read the Qur'an and accept the Five Pillars of Islam.
The five pillars are as follows: 1) Shahada, a profession of faith. All Muslims must proclaim, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." 2) Salat, prayer. All Muslims pray five times daily while facing the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. 3) Zakat, alms. Faith also means outreach. To give thanks and follow the example of Mohammed, Muslims with the economic means must give alms to those who are less fortunate. 4) Siyam, fasting. Muslims who are physically able are to fast from dawn to dusk during the ninth month (Ramadan) of the Islamic calendar. 5) Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca. At least once in their lives, all Muslims who are able must make a pilgrimage to the Great Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, toward which they have knelt while praying five times daily during their lives.viii
Students will not only learn of Islam in Africa, but will also learn the religious practices of African-Americans. Some of the early American films depicting Blacks showed the communities religious tradition as being strictly Christian. Christianity is the practice of believing in one God and the Holy Trinity. Study within this unit will also include a few American films of the 1960's and beyond in which students will find more Islamic representation in films during this period. Furthermore, students will learn and have exposure to what some may consider the original religion of the continent of Africa called animism. This traditional practice of religion in most sub-Saharan countries almost always acknowledges the existence of a high God who created everything; they perceive this God as distant and believe in the practice of spiritual rituals, involving nature spirits, warring spirits, sexual spirits, or spirits of departed ancestors. The spirits are honored through libation and animal sacrifice, and in some cases, through human sacrifice, which is quite rare, or through living sacrifices known as trokosi. The spirits are consulted through a process called divination.
In depth research study, the I-Search, ix will be utilized for students in order for them to reach the goals as determined by state standards in history. Such research will consist of, but not be limited to, interviews, museum trips, classroom visits of Muslims and classroom discussions. So that we don't ignore what is unfamiliar and perceived as dangerous students will be encouraged to further their study of Islam more than the other religious practices mentioned. This curricular decision is due to recent trends in society, i.e. Muslims are thought to be terrorists.
Heart of a Woman
Women are used in various ways in cinema. Many times the sentiments portrayed on the screen are those that are directly related to the position of women in a particular society. Other times the cinematic portrayal of women distinctly differs from what is actually a true representation. In films of this unit both African and American there are representations of women as they relate to family (husbands, boyfriends, children, parents), career, politics and society at-large. In the 1975 film Xala, students will see and experience the complexity of female relationships found in families who practice polygamy.
Black women have been treated in various ways in American cinema throughout the century. Look at the 1974 film, Claudine. It shows the plight of the Black woman, Hollywood style, but gives a comprehensible view of what being a single mother is about. The Duke is Tops/The Bronze Venus (1938) shows woman at first being subservient to man yet rising above that situation. Moreover, in the 1934 film version, Imitation of Life, yet another viewpoint of Black women is depicted and viewers are given a distinct role of Black women in society. To explore a study of ethical problems, students can view both adaptations of Imitation of Life 1934 and 1959. To further their investigation, students can read the Fannie Hurst novel and determine cinematic technical factors placed in both films intended for propaganda.
In this unit you will find a highly detailed lesson for the study and discussion of the portrayal of Black women in film. Students will be required to use higher order thinking and critical analysis skills. Their discussion skills will be enhanced because they will be encouraged to intelligently debate subjects generated from viewing film clips from films not yet viewed in their entirety. Students' prewritten critiques or character make-ups about the different female characters will be used later as we put all the pieces of the film in their rightful places. Students must feel comfortable with film vocabulary at this point.
Using two literary texts, The Visit and The Color Purple students will be guided in reading for comprehension and analysis of written stories for elements normal to their grade level. They will view the corresponding films to critically analyze screenplay writing, film direction, editing choices of film directors and film editors. The story will be approached using a chunking strategy, pulling large amounts of written text from the entire story. Using these two literary masterpieces from text and film perspectives, students will mentally and visually analyze the wide range of differences in the role of Black women. Hyenas (1992) represents women in power and of very high esteem in West Africa, while The Color Purple's (1991) primary focus is the oppression of women — specifically Black women in America.x
As an extension for this type of comparative lesson, teachers can utilize another pair showing a correspondence between the African film, Xala (1975) and the African-American silent film, Scar of Shame (1927). These two films show women in a less than prominent stature. However, there is no novel to correspond with the film, Scar of Shame (1927). Students will gain insight in polygamy from both films and the historical perspectives of the Black family and the struggles or better said the trials and tribulations of Black women and men in these types of families.
Students will also come away from this segment of the unit with critical analysis skills to categorize and discuss concepts of social ethics. In viewing some or all of the films mentioned in this chapter, there are many opportunities to make probing comments for discussion, concepts of right and wrong, doing one's duty, and general ethics, giving students a chance to express personal feelings and attitudes. xi By using film for this purpose, its use will be even more effective with reluctant readers.
Lesson Plan 1
And They Gathered to Drink Tea
Goal: Students will be introduced to appropriate responses and interaction with literature and films that include Muslims and the Islamic faith as seen in varied countries of Africa, as well as in the African-American Orthodox Islam tradition.
Objectives: PA State Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening 1.1.11.D, .E, .F, & .G; 1.3.11.A, .D, .E, & .F; 1.6.11.A, .B, .C, .D, .E, & .F; 1.7.11.B & .C. PA State Academic Standards for History 8.1.12.C, & .D. PA Academic Standards for Arts and Humanities 9.1.12.C, .E, .F, & .I; 9.2.12.A, .B, .D, .E, .F, .G, &.J; 9.3.12.A, .C, & .D; 9.4.12.B, & .C.
Materials: Islamic children's short story or simple poem; 3 x 5 index cards (colored preferred); unsweetened iced tea (room temperature); sugar cubes; small (4 oz.) paper cups
Audience: This lesson can be utilized in the honors, advanced, learning support or AP English Language Art classes. It can be adapted to also accompany a unit in a history, civics, and a political science classroom environment.
Procedure: This lesson can be done in a 45-55 minute period over two days. Students will be given an invitation to join a family for tea on the previous day of class. Invitations will be colored to represent which branch of Islamic faith they will eventually represent. On the back of each invitation there will be one word or one phrase rendered from the text that is representative of the subject of Muslims and the Islamic faith. The invitation will instruct students that upon entry into the class he/she will only be allowed to say the word or phrase that has been written on the back of their invitation card until instructed to speak other words.
Prior to students entering the classroom the teacher must prepare the room. It is preferred that desks be formed in circles, small or large. Music should be played from a region of African Islamic tradition. Cups and tea (in a pitcher) should be placed on a tray, and the cubes of sugar in a small bowl for students to take as they are served in the small cups. On the board, write down any norms that the group needs to consider as they participate in the activity. Upon students' arrival the teacher will check invitations and the word/phrase must be said to enter the room. Students may need to be reminded that everyone they speak to, they must only say their word/phrase — no other dialogue should occur. Once everyone is settled and all become excited by the repetition of the vocabulary, the teacher can begin by serving him- or herself tea (modeling the use of cubed sugar, placed in the mouth and chewed, followed by a swallow of tea or vice versa). The teacher can serve students and discussion can occur only about the vocabulary (Think-Pair-Share). Next, the reading of the chosen novel or poem should commence. A reader can be chosen prior or the teacher can read aloud the chosen text. After the reading, students will be assigned as homework to briefly respond by writing about the classroom experience in K-W-L format. The next day, students will share ideas expressed in their writing. Discussions, as well as, question and answer sessions will follow giving way into the bulk of the subject matter via either text or film.
Assessment: Students will be graded on class participation, following norms, and homework assignment (one paragraph: 4-6 sentences)
Follow-up activity: Students will watch in its entirety one or more of the following films, The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun (1999), Fathers- 3 African shorts (2000), Mama Africa (2002), or Borom Sarret (1963). After having watched a film students must discuss how Islamic tradition was represented. Teachers can begin this exercise using a K-W-L chart. Use the charted information to map for students fact vs. fiction about Islamic beliefs and practices as given through the visual imagery.
Lesson Plan 2
Woman at the Heart
Goal: Students will critically analyze characteristic traits in the roles of women as visually portrayed in varied movie clips. Students will utilize the five-paragraph essay to describe the varying characteristics of women in interaction with self and/or others. This lesson is designed for students to be able to identify use of film technique and the influences upon our thinking. This lesson will activate prior knowledge and connect them to the film.
Objectives: PA State Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening 1.4.11.B & C; 1.5.11.A, .B, .C, .D, .E, .F, & .G; 1.6.11.A, .C, .D, .E, & .F; 1.8.11.B & .C. Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities 9.1.12.A, .C., .F, & .J; 9.2.12.A, .D, .F, .G, & .L; 9.3.12.A, .C, & .D; 9.4.12.B.
Materials: Four or six African and African-American film clips that your class has not seen in their entirety. This lesson works best when using the same number (2:2 or 3:3) of clips from the continent and the country. DVD and/or VHS Projection or TV unit.
Audience: This lesson is designed specifically for the high school ELA and film theory classes. This lesson can be adapted to meet the needs of a learning support classroom environment.
Procedure: This lesson consists of two to three days of activities. Day one: Students will be counted as groups by giving each student a specific number one to four, or one to six depending upon the number of clips to view. Students will then write the number assigned to them in their notebooks. Next, students will be asked to look at a specific Black woman in each of the clips. They must jot down a list of note about who or what the Black woman might represent in society and in the movie. The class will be given a list of criteria that must be answered and/or addressed in the form of an essay for completion of the lesson assignment.
Students will be instructed to write an essay about the Black woman (as specified) represented in the film. Students will be required to include at least two cinematic techniques to describe and support their position in determining the woman's characteristic traits and identity. A discussion will follow giving examples of what will be expected from students. The class discussion will begin with a review of a five paragraph formatted essay; terms used to describe someone's personality traits; and a review of already learned cinema technique vocabulary.
Next, students will watch each clip that will be designated by a corresponding number that represents each student group (one to four, or one to six). Clips will be excerpted from movies like Hyenas (1992), Xala (1975), Mama Africa (2002), Killer of Sheep (1978), Daughters of the Dust (1999), and Scar of Shame (1926). It is best if you have prepared the clip for showing in VHS format. If using DVD format, record what scene/chapter needs to be viewed. Make sure you guide students through the viewing, maybe giving them one-word suggestions or using film clip that is not a part of the assignment for modeling the process. Students must take notes while watching. After showing each clip a two-three minute discussion can occur then, directly begin the next clip. To make the viewing more intriguing and interesting, break up showing African and American clips.
Day two: Student volunteers will share their essays with the class by reading aloud their responses. Essays will be presented in order of the numbered group for the clip. The class will respond to each other's responses. A debate forum can be prepared for further discussion.
Day three: Show the entire film that most intrigued or baffled students first. Then decide upon a viewing schedule for the others to integrate into the curriculum guide.
Assessments: Day one: For homework, students will be required to write and complete a five-paragraph essay. Day two: classroom discussion using film technique and personality trait vocabulary. Day three: Students will write a two-paragraph analysis of the specified woman in the film shown in its entirety.
Learning support modifications: Use only two films, one from the Africa, the other from America. Allow for a more detailed modeling process. Write vocabulary to be used on the board or provide a handout with already learned and acceptable terms. After number designation occurs, have students sit together in number groups. Develop a list of questions for students to answer for homework assignment. Have students write a two or three paragraph response. Allow additional time for questions and answers. Show film in two segments, over two days. Give this lesson an extended amount of time period in the lesson plan, one that will suit the needs of the student population.
Lesson Plan 3
Language Pictured in Colored Perfection
Goal: Students will gain insight into the contents of literary films. Students will analyze uses and effectiveness of literary elements as it relates to interpreting a story within a film. Students will learn to connect reading the novel in correlation to the film; comparing and contrasting its similarities and differences. Students will be able to recognize cinematic techniques and their purpose of use in order to reach the marketed audience. This lesson will take four to six days of 45 to 55 minute periods.
Objectives: PA State Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
1.1.11.A, .D, .E, .F, .G, & .H; 1.2.11.A, & .B; 1.3.11.A, .B, .C, & .E; 1.4.11. B, & .C; 1.5.11.A, .B, .C, .D, .E, & .F; 1.6.11.D, .E, & .F; 1.7.11.B, & .C; 1.8.11.B, & .C. Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities 9.1.12.B, .C, .E, & .J; 9. 2.12.G, .I, .J, & .K; 9.3.12.A, .D, & .E; 9.4.12.C. PA Academic Standards for History 8.1.12.B, & .C; 8.4.12.D.
Materials: A class set or text projection xii of the play, The Visit; VHS or DVD of Hyenas (1992); DVD/VHS Projection or TV unit with DVD/VHS capabilities. (This lesson will be successful using several other combinations of text and film.)
Procedure: Students will be introduced to the lesson by previewing the hard copy of both selections, reading the titles, headings (play)/chapters (DVD), skimming first and last paragraphs of the play. They will be asked to fill in open-ended questions that will be provided to them using an overhead projector. (See appendix — "Frame It" strategy). Next, students will be given a list of difficult vocabulary found in the text. They will be asked to hold on to the list for further inquiry when later viewing the movie. Students will share answers to open-ended statements, and be asked to then write their answers on poster size paper for classroom décor and as reference material.
While reading the play, students will be required to keep a dialectical journal xiii for further analysis and record. By using this strategy, students will have information about the written story then comparing the text to script variations in the film. At the completion of reading (2-3 days), students will receive a test that will be posted on a whiteboard, requiring detailed answers on a sheet of lined paper provided by the teacher. After completion of testing, students will be required to turn in all notes, which will be graded and redistributed for student inspiration subsequent to viewing the first 15 minutes of the film.
Next, students will be required as a homework assignment to write an original opening script for the movie, altering what has been represented in the cinematic form. The following day students will share their responses in small group discussions. The group will decide which of their scripts are worthy of sharing out to the whole class. Each group will share two opening scripts. Allow student groups to decide upon presentation norms. Following the discussion and presentations, we will begin to watch the entire film. They will be given vocabulary to comprehend in the film. Students will have already recorded questions for use in analysis. The questions will be representative of similarities and differences between the printed work of literature and its cinematic counterpart. How much of the original format of the play was preserved on the screen? How did the filmmaker substitute visual language for text narrative? Were characters and plots seriously altered in the screen version? Why would a filmmaker want to make such alterations? Is the film version necessarily inferior to the literary work, if such changes are made? How could the script be altered to favor the protagonist? Has any cinematic technique been used to change the perception of character(s)? Students will be aware that by answering these questions they will have completed the final test for the lesson.
For additional activities, give students a chance to appreciate the differences between print and film, have them become scriptwriters. This activity will use the conventions of creative writing. Grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure must all be emphasized. Yet, at the same time, they will be involved in creative communication. To adapt for the learning support class no emphasis has to be placed on the previously mentioned conventions however, emphasize the need for authentic dialogue.
Assessments: Students will receive various quizzes unplanned and planned enlisting four to five written responses. Student will use a Venn diagram xiv to compare film and play for home assignment. Students will have a technological test on the reading and another written response test on the film. Students will discuss both media in the classroom and be graded upon their level of participation.
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