Stories Told through Literature, Film and How It Applies to Our Society

byElizabeth Isaac


For the majority of us, watching a movie at the theaters or in the comfort of one’s own home is what we would consider entertainment in today’s society.  Film is one of the most money- making industries in our time. Just about every person in the world has been to a theater to view their favorite character, hero, or basically listen and understand a story of interest. But one of the most compelling things about film is how it is characterized, such as whether it is staged theatrically or cinematically.  The use of the camera’s position; an actor’s or actress’s tone, mood, and expression; setting and music are based on the producer’s or the director’s call. It is their ambition to promote audience involvement in the movie.  

On the other hand, some of us would rather pick up a paperback book and read for enjoyment. Reading a book invites the reader to experience the story. The reader can imagine the setting, characters; these details are left to the imagination of the reader. Since the reader does not have a visual perception with prescribed images, he or she gets to live in the story to experience the character or characters.  Either way, the audience or viewer’s desire to perceive the message of a story and or critique the elements is automatically within the viewer.  The choice of written text or film all depends on the age of the viewer or audience. The younger generation would simply learn to identify character as well as sequence, while others, older students, tend to be more experienced in comparing and contrasting films to a literary text.  

As we begin to learn about how films and literary texts work, we begin to see that there are some connections and we also learn to see that there are differences and similarities. Basically, most films are based on a screenplay, on textual information that is translated into film and some are adapted from literary texts. This is when one must ask the question: how much of the textual base or novel is transferred in a film? Usually some of the literary work is translated in part or whole to a feature film. How do we critique and analyze the adaptation of a film? In film adaptation, the written story as compared to a film may have similar or different elements than the literary text; this is even the case when the same story is adapted by different authors. Further, how is the character presented or portrayed to its audience? The central message is conveyed to the audiences from different perspectives, so the importance of how a story is presented is crucial. This is one of the reasons why students should be introduced to film adaptations of literary texts. I feel that this is an opportunity for students to become aware of using such skills as analyzing different elements and compare and contrast the film’s adaptation to a literary text. So watching a film or reading the text helps students to understand the history. In studying them, they are also able to live and breathe a film or a literary text rather than simply making quick judgments.


The school where I plan to implement my unit is located in Tsaile, Arizona.  Tsaile Public School is located in a rural area of northeastern Arizona. Tsaile Public is one of the seven schools under the Chinle Unified School District. It is the only school that is located about 30 miles away from the other schools.  Tsaile Public School is considered an elementary school whose enrollment is from preschool to eighth grade. The school’s yearly enrollment ranges from 420 to 450 pupils.  There are other schools nearby that are outside the school district which students have the option of attending, although this becomes a concern for our school since students who hop between schools are not stable academically because they do not always acquire all skills when they switch.  The ethnicity of the students at Tsaile Public is primarily Dine people or descendants of another tribe. About one to two percent is of another ethnicity, such as Hispanic or Anglo. The school provides free meals for all students enrolled through a grant that the school applied and qualified for.

The community of Tsaile is very quiet and small. An estimated 1,200 people live in Tsaile. Tsaile is located at the base of Chuska Mountain. It is located within the boundaries of the Navajo Reservation.  Tsaile is unique and very beautiful.  It is unique because it is partially located in the forest where tall pine trees grow and partially located in the open rocky land towards Chinle. On the weekends, families often go fishing at a nearby lake. There is only one convenient gas station or store and a community college, known as Dine College, which is considered the main campus throughout the reservation. The older Dine people that live in and out of the Tsaile area live by the traditional values and beliefs of the Dine culture. The younger generation is engaged in learning their own Dine language and practicing more of a modern culture of Dine involving tending to livestock, especially sheep, hunting, fishing, and family events. Many members of the older generation still practice ceremonies to maintain harmony in their households. They will often gather for ceremonial purposes or a casual get together. Some families will leave for trips or social activities and events in the community. Just about everyone knows everyone else in their neighborhood.

While the older generation people tend to their livestock and family values, the younger generation is in a new era of society. This generation grew up with media and technology that is always within reach, meaning that the younger generation is more into media, technology and high-tech equipment and don’t have time to be involved in their family’s customs or traditions.  This of course is the influence of western civilization. Most of the younger generation are accustomed or should I say assimilated into the main stream society. For example, many families will take themselves and their youngsters and travel about 70 to 90 miles to watch a movie at a theater weekly, or simply prefer watching films through Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) at home.  As for reading text-based books, there are no book stores in the area.  There is a small college library located at the local Dine College.  There aren’t many books to read, but enough to provide the college with resources. There is a very small section of the college library that is dedicated to the children’s books. Most of the children get their reading materials at the local school, and at the expense of the parents.  The Tsaile Public School runs a book fair quarterly so that students can purchase books in efforts to raise the reading scores.  Just as in the other schools around the reservation, our Dine students are not fully literate or equipped financially to buy books, which makes it difficult for students to have reading as a part of their culture. Some families feel that reading hinders them with their responsibilities at home. Those who see the benefits of reading see that they want their child to succeed academically. The fascinating thing about living in Tsaile is the benefit of culturally relevant materials.  The Dine College houses a lot of history of the Dine people. Some of the authors teach their topic at the colleges. These instructors or professors at Dine College are links to the culture and the cultural history of the Dine Nation. Using some of theses reading materials and resources is an added support for the Tsaile Public School. The resources available through Dine College support make the culture relevant for students who are English Language Learners.

Content Objectives

My focus and my objectives are structured around a literary text and film and involve using both to understand history. It is through film adaptation based on a literary text that the students will be learning about a historical figure.  My unit is linked to the 3rd grade Arizona English Language Standards. The objectives are to compare and contrast the most important points from two texts on the same topic, in this case a literary text and a film based on a person.  In addition, students will learn to analyze story elements on the same topic but by different authors as well as make connections between a series of historical events. Students will be exposed to start from simply understanding the elements of the literary text and build up to analyzing for information.  The next step for students to be involved in is to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the film and the literary text. In doing so, students will be able to comprehend the text and make a connection with the story. The important component for analyzing is for students to have variations of the text from the view of different writers or authors.  I have selected a popular Native American woman, Pocahontas, who was notable for her association with Jamestown, Virginia. She was married to an Anglo named John Rolfe. I chose this resource to teach the skill of analyzing the content of a literary text from two different versions of the story. One is the Disney animated film Pocahontas and the other resource is a literary text titled Pocahontas: Young Peace Maker by Leslie Gourse. I have selected this literary text based on the emphasis on relevancy to our students as well. The foremost focus is to compare and contrast the film’s adaptation of the literary text. The important outcome of the unit is to have students become aware of how analyzing the components of a literary text provides information that they can use and apply in their perception of a story or character, which could lead to accurate information. As an extension of the unit, students will be involved in a project to create a short film about either version of Pocahontas. This lesson will be implemented three times a week for a duration of two weeks.


The importance of understanding a story and becoming aware of the differences in adaptations is one way a person is able to relate to the characters and their role in a society. Viewing or reading a literary text is a way that students are informed about the behavior and characteristics of a person who may be a part of our American history. Many children, teens, or even adults idolize certain characters in a story and some of the characters became popular and are well known to this day. Examples would be Tom Sawyer, Paul Bunyan, Oliver Twist and Pocahontas. Characters in films are judged based on how they are portrayed in a text by the director and other film workers. In addition, the elements of a story, such as the scene or setting, the central message, and sequencing are staged based on the author’s and director’s perception.  These elements are what we as teachers should teach students to compare and contrast when analyzing a topic.  Students should be open to reading the text version, rather than just watching the film version. Or if one chooses to have their students watch the film, it would be beneficial for them to be exposed to the text version and to start analyzing it for information. Furthermore, they should show how the film is adapted from the text they have read.  This also encourages them to go beyond one person’s perception in order to get information from the point of view of the person telling a story. As we begin this unit, background information is important. Learning your content and becoming knowledgeable is important.

Who is the Powhatan Tribe?

The Powhatan is an indigenous tribe that lives in Virginia. (The Powhatan is sometimes spelled without the “h” as Powhatan. Powhatan means “Waterfall” in the Algonquian language.)  They are known to have been associated with the Jamestown colony. There once lived a chief by the name of Chief Wahunsonacock, whom we have come to know as Pocahontas’s father. Today, the Powhatan tribe lives along the Pennsylvania and New Jersey border. They were driven by the English settlers northwards and became known as part of the Algonquian tribe. After removal from their land, their language was lost and the culture itself is barely visible, mostly belonging to the Algonquian tribes.  These tribes include the Pamunkey, Mattaponi, and Chickahominy tribes along with the Powhatan. They have similar language and culture but are considered to be independent from one another. The Chief Powhatan brought the villages together. Their alliance became known as the Powhatan Confederacy in the 16th Century.  Chief Wahunsonacock was the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy. In the Disney film, the Powhatan tribe once resided near Jamestown, a town named by the settlers. Until the European explorers came to the newly found land, the Powhatans lived as a strong tribe and used their own culture and language as depicted by the film.1

Who is Pocahontas?

I have always been influenced by biographies of people.  Reading about a person’s struggles, accomplishments, or learning about their timeline and history fascinates me. It is a part of what inspires me to learn about what a person would consider knowledgeable and his or her teachings. It is good to learn about the history of why and how a person came to be known as who they are today and what they stand for. For that reason, I take a personal interest in a well- known historical figure, Pocahontas. Not only can I understand and learn about her, I can somewhat relate to her from a Native American point of view.

I choose Pocahontas as a subject for my classroom because of its relevancy and what I feel should be told and also so that students become interested in seeking factual information.  Unfortunately, in this topic there are still questions raised about the true facts-- what really happened, how and why it happened? These are questions are not all answered because of the different stories and the lack of written information from the period. Who is Pocahontas? The question is asked by so many writers that we begin to look deeper into what has been told. The Powhatan tribe too gives their version of what they think is the true story of Pocahontas, which is questioned by many. Two notable authors, Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Castalow and Angela L. Daniels “Silver Star” have written about the Powhatan version of Pocahontas, The True Story of Pocahontas published in 2007. The Powhatan tribe believe that the truth is told by the tribal members themselves. This would be the first time ever that a story from the Powhatan tribe would thrive. The Powhatan tribe keep the secret of the life story of Pocahontas because of fear of corruption by outsiders to the tribe: for 400 years, the tribe has withheld the story of Pocahontas.  This was also due to the language gap, and the struggle they have endured in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.  (Linwood, 2017).2

A different version of the Pocahontas story has surfaced in 1995, told by Walt Disney.3 This was the first time ever that Disney decided to make a film about an actual living person. The film is based on Pocahontas, but the film’s adaption was not as accurate as some of the factual information about Pocahontas.  The film was based more on a Hollywood as well as from an Anglo perspective.  The Powhatan tribe disagreed with the film and argued that the film was distorting the truth.  Many critics agreed that the film was stereotyping Native Americans so as to make Pocahontas be the “good Indian” because she saved the life of John Smith.  John Smith was an early English explorer who came with the English settlers to America in hopes of fine wealth.  In addition, the English settlers planned to build homes and settle in Jamestown, Virginia. When the Walt Disney released the film, there were many criticisms about the film. It was noted that it was based on the Western idea that Pocahontas, who was to be assimilated into the new colony. This sent a message to the audience that the way the Native Americans lived was uncivilized. In many sequences of the film, the character John Smith reinforced this statement. In the film, John Smith is portrayed as strong, smart and smashingly handsome. Pocahontas was portrayed as beautiful and almost like a princess. Also, the film depicts the character Pocahontas as a hero because she saves John Smith, a Western settler, and became a hero to the English settlers.  The film was based on a love story between two people from two different cultures.  Many reviews claim that the story this movie told was far from the truth.

Chief Roy Crazy Horse described similar misconceptions about Pocahontas in an article, The Pocahontas Myth.4 He believes that Disney did not tell the actual truth about the life Pocahontas and the Powhatan tribe.  He adds that the historical and cultural perspective of the Powhatan was refused by Disney, since Disney refused to base their story on factual information. He claims that Euro-Americans should find it embarrassing to be that deceitful and dishonest. Furthermore, he stated that what Disney considers to be “entertainment” is at the expense of the Powhatans’ reputation. I agree as well, that this “entertainment” was at the expense of all Native Americans. The film displayed some stereotypes of Native Americans, such as depicting Native Americans as “savages” and “uncivilized”.  The Disney film also suggested that the early Europeans were characterized as being more civilized and smarter than the Native Americans. In other stories that surfaced about Pocahontas, some say that she was captured and mistreated. We may never know whether these tales about Pocahontas are true or not.

Pocahontas as an Historical Character

I believe that raising awareness about a character or a historical figure such as Pocahontas needs to be taught to students. This gives the opportunity for students to use the information or findings through text or film and make their own judgment about the character. Pocahontas is a historical figure of an earlier time and many today are unaware of her existence. Nonetheless, she was very popular in England. Here in the United States, she is popular through the Walt Disney film, but surprisingly, factual information about her is distorted or contradicts the authors that wrote about her. The information that I have gathered is what is commonly known based on several sources. These resources are textbooks and films about her.  

Pocahontas was born in 1597--some say 1596. She is the daughter of a powerful Powhatan chief Wahunsonacock. She is of the Powhatan tribe who lived near a town now known as Jamestown, Virginia. She was known as Matoaka and Amonate her tribe claims. After she assimilated into the English colony, she converted to Christianity, married John Rolfe, and became known as Rebecca Rolfe.  Her epic life begins as a ten- or eleven-year-old who saves the life of John Smith, who was going to be clubbed by her father, the chief of the Powhatan. John Smith is an Englishman who came across from England to establish a life in Jamestown. Some say the meeting of John Smith with Pocahontas never occurred. What we know about Pocahontas may not be the truth or even close to the truth.  We know that when she was ten or eleven years old when she met John Smith.  She was considered a kind of ambassador who tried to keep peace between two different groups of people—the English and the Native Americans.  She is thought to have saved John Smith, which makes her a hero with the Western colony. She did not marry John Smith but married John Rolfe and later lived in England and was treated like queen. There she was known as a noble Indian who did what she was told.  While still in Jamestown, John Rolfe and Pocahontas had a son named Thomas Rolfe.  As they were traveling back to America, she got ill and died, and is buried at Gravesend in England. Today Thomas Rolfe has some living descendants. The lineage shows up to three generation but after that it is unknown. According to some stories, she did not have a good relation with her own tribe due to the fact that she was nice to the settlers. There is truth to some of the information that was agreed upon by several authors that wrote about her. Even John Smith had written about her and in his writing, he said he was saved by Pocahontas. This may be made up to benefit him, or there could be some truth to it.5

Pocahontas: Film Adaptation of a Literary Text

As we know today, many literary texts have been translated into films, such as H.C. Andersen’s Snow Queen to Disney’s Frozen.  Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist has several film versions, as does Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Film analysis is a strategy use to analyze a film from all perspectives and angles. If a film is an adaptation, one should analyze how a film has been translated or transferred from a novel or literary text. As we analyze the film, we ask whether the film is based upon a whole or part of a story.  Furthermore, we ask whether the book has been translated faithfully, literally, or loosely from the original story in a text. As one might say, “The movie butchered the text,” meaning that it did a poor job of translating the text. Instead it lost or distorted the way it was intended to be told.  When a film is viewed, especially with younger students, reviewing film vocabulary is one of the best ways to teach before considering analyzing. This is to help the students use the language we use in analyzing the film. Such vocabulary as immersion, shots, distancing, takes, high and low angle shots or medium shots, lighting, special effects, animation, realistic, cinematic, theatrical. With that terminology and these definitions in mind, we begin to analyze the film and literature. Is the film loosely adapted to the text or is it closely adapted?

To teach film adaptations effectively in the classrooms, one should start by focusing on how to identify major parts or elements of a film and the text, then focus on “what’s different” in the text and or film. Closely analyze what the film shows that the book does not show. How the film is closely or loosely adapted to the text?  Discussions among students are important as they use the vocabulary words to discuss their findings.

In the Disney animated film, the story of Pocahontas is translated loosely from the historical figure because the facts are unavailable or not what some people claim.  As for the Native Americans, facts about them are a little distorted from the truth and there is some stereotyping that was displayed by the director. Overall, the intention of Disney may have been to profit from the movie at the expense of the Powhatan tribe. Unfortunately, the movie did not do as well as they figured it would. In a continuation of the story, Disney released “Pocahontas 2” to tell more about Pocahontas.6 Again, some critics claim that there are some misconceptions about her and still not enough truth.  Unfortunately, the truth we may never know. What is important is that students are taught to become aware of Pocahontas. There are so many books about Pocahontas and they contain some similarities concerning her history, often questioned by someone who disagrees with the story.

The Disney film Pocahontas is a musical as it is intended for children as an audience, like most Disney films. How and why it is animated the way it is can only be answered by the director.  How much emphasis there is on the truth is generally questioned. As stated by the author of Film Adaption, James Naremore, “We want to know why it took the direction it did, we need to look at the factors that influenced its development, in particular, from the most general to the most immediate: (1) The nature of narrative, (2) the norm of cinema, (3) methods of academic literary and film students, and (4) the exigencies of the academic profession. Each of these factors has shaped the writing and teaching that has gone under the rubric “Film and Literature.”(Naremore, 2000).7

Teaching Strategies

This unit requires students to actively and orally participate in group or partner discussion. It involves writing using graphic organizers, and learning and using new terminologies when reviewing or analyzing a film.  Students will be watching a film, reading a book, and doing research as an extension as they seek more information. Some of the following strategies will be used to make the unit more effectively delivered and to promote the use of cooperative learning/ differentiated learning.

Explicit Instruction (I do, We do, You do Model)

This model is considered a gradual release from modeling to independent practice.  This strategy has been proven to be effective when delivering a lesson.

I Do is a phase where the teacher tells and shows (model) what students need to do and how they do things. This phase is important especially for students who are visual learners. It is the effective and efficient learning process for students to grasp what they should do and be able to do.

We do is next phase of the learning process. This is also an important phase where the teacher is involved with the students by doing things together. The teacher is a support and guides the students to ensure that he learning of the objectives is taking place.

You do is the last phase where the students will work independently and demonstrate the work they are assigned without the teacher’s help. This phase helps the teacher check for understanding and see if there needs to be a re-teaching.

The teacher will demonstrate through explicit instruction how to analyze film adaptions with a literary text. 

Graphic Organizer

Graphic organizers facilitate a process that allows students to construct meaning, and they are better able to organize their understanding in visual and mental images. The ELL students or ESS student learn best by use of graphic organizers.  Graphic Organizers will be used to identify the elements of the story. The elements of a story are the characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, the problem and solution.  The form can be a simple organizer that the students can draw pictures in or even write a short paragraph in which they identify those parts. Another graphic organizer that would portray the characters’ trait will be of use: a silhouette of Pocahontas would be great to use. Students will be writing on the inside of the image. An organizer that will display the timeline and events of Pocahontas’s life would give the students a visual image. Students would gather information and plot it on a timeline, a strategy used to gather information on a historical figure and to compare and contrast the characters’ traits as seen by a set of different resources (film to book) through the use of T-charts. 

Cooperative Learning

Students will be involved in a group discussion of 4 to 5 students to complete the graphic organizer as well as in analyzing the character’s traits and factual findings, or simply in discussions.  Students will also be involved in think pair during the assignment of readings. Students will retell a book or paragraph they read about Pocahontas to another partner-- students will work in pairs in this strategy.  This strategy forces the students to be accountable and is supportive to their learning. Furthermore, students will learn in whole group settings at times when the story is read by the teacher or when they have to view the film.  


Students will be exposed to images through picture books and video (the Disney film Pocahontas), and images suggested by their own minds while reading sentences of a text. This helps students to see images without having to struggle and is helpful, especially for younger elementary students. Visual aids also help students see the picture much more clearly so they have a better comprehension of the story.

Technology in the classroom

Use of DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) players or Eno board (like a smart board) will be used to show clips of the DVD or the full version of the film. An Eno board is an interactive board that allows students and teachers to engage in the lesson. Use of Eno board will make learning visual for students. The documentary camera will be an additional tool to use when showing students how to complete graphic organizers. During the viewing of the film, there will be some clips or images shown to discuss the characters’ traits, the film’s adaptation, and discuss the translation of the book onto film. 

Vocabulary Development

It is important that when learning to analyze a film, one learns to define and use the terminology that goes along with films, so students will also be involved in learning the basic and general terminologies when analyzing a film.  This is to prepare the students to understand the film’s adaptation from a novel or text. Adaptation as defined by Brigitte in our Yale National Initiatives states that “Adaptation allows a story to travel from one medium to another medium.”  With the use of technology, the story is either restored, change or saved through images or visual images (animation or film). She further states that adaptation is a displacement of the original work into a new work. When analyzing a film we use words that refer to staging, use of lights or colors, music, the camera’s position, the character, as well as the elements of a literary text, and the mood and tone of the images.8 Below you will find a list of terminologies that I will be using with my third grade class when questioning and previewing films and literary texts.



camera position




special effects










historical figure






high and low angles



There are other words that can be used for upper grades, words such as abstract, expression, lens, etc.  Since this unit is geared for third grade, simple words will be used in order to get a better understanding of the author and director of the film. The students will be taught using a graphic organizer, such as the four corners to learn the vocabulary words. This will be one strategy they will learn to help them become independent learners of vocabulary.

Using these vocabulary words during the discussion is very important.  Although it may seem that some of these words are beyond the third grade students, using drawing, and actively participating using the words will help students understand them. The use of TPR is another strategy that can be incorporated when learning vocabulary words.  Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method used to teach students, especially English language learners, to pick up on the use of vocabulary. With this method that the students are able to pick up on vocabulary words and comprehend and use them. Students will use these terminologies when analyzing the films and literary text.

Guided Reading and Shared Reading

The third grade class at Tsaile Public School is not all at grade level. I will be using guided and shared reading to reinforce learning to read as well as learning to comprehend the text. This is to help students use reading strategies and become better readers without the frustration of reading. Further, the shared reading strategy will be utilized. This strategy is where I will be reading for the students and modeling for them. Anchor charts will be used while reading to help with comprehension.  This will help students to grasp important information about Pocahontas.  I will be reading an article or clips from a book to help students gather more information about Pocahontas.

Classroom Activities

The activities for this unit will span out to 10 days. Students will be learning to analyze for the adaptation of a written text by a film and compare and contrast in three different segments of three days each. At the end of the segments, on the tenth day, the students will be assessed on compare and contrast, comprehension, and analyzing based on the Arizona State Standards.  In addition, the students will be assessed using the district adopted formative assessment know as District Formative Assessment (DFA).  The unit will be implemented towards the end or beginning of first and second quarter of the school year. Prior to the activities, I will be reading the written text, Pocahontas: Young Peace Maker by Leslie Gourse during my read aloud to prepare students for analyzing. Students will be taking notes.

Segment 1 (3 days)

The first activity of this unit is for the teacher to review the written text with the students using the graphic organizer provided. Students will fill out the graphic organizer to answer questions about Pocahontas. The graphic organizer will vary depending on the topic. The first day we will be identifying the character, Pocahontas, and her traits.  In addition, other characters will be identified, such as her father Powhatan, John Smith, John Rolfe, Native Americans, and European colonist. The second day of the analyzing the text, teacher will model how to fill out the graphic organizer on story elements. Students can draw or write sentences about the order of the events. While students are analyzing the text, teacher will also model how to use the text as evidence based or supporting details. On the third day, students will use another graphic organizer to identify the setting, the author’s point of view, and have a discussion in pairs about their findings about Pocahontas.

Segment 2 (3 days)

On the fourth day, students will be introduced to the film adaptation vocabulary words.  Students will be given index cards. Using the index cards, students will write the terminology on the front of the card and the definition on the back. These cards will be reviewed for three days. I will be using pictures to demonstrate the meaning of the words as we learned each day. I will use technology as a support to have students learn the terminology. This will increase motivation and make it easier for the students, especially for third graders. Some of the activities will be performed by students interacting with the ENO Interactive board or acting out the vocabulary words. It is important for the teacher to also discuss what filming involves. On the sixth day, students will be looking at clips or pictures and identifying and using the vocabulary to discuss the pictures.  This activity is also geared towards third grade.  For upper grades above the third grade, more vocabulary words can be added about film adaptation. Students can also be introduced to vocabulary words with which they can discuss a literary text. For example, the word climax.

Segment 3 (3 days)

On the seventh day, students will view the DVD of Pocahontas. Teacher can decide to view this in segments, clips, or as a whole movie. I will be showing the whole movie because the students will find it enjoyable even at a young age.  The Walt Disney film is about 81 minutes long. Another version of this could be to use the Walt Disney children’s books that have pictures.  The images are a great way to discuss the elements of a story.  On the eighth day, students will start comparing and contrasting the film with the written text. The teacher will be using the gradual release model to discuss what the differences and similarities are. The teacher may pick an element, such as setting or character and model how to compare and contrast a written text with the film. Next, the teacher will guide the students to analyze another element of the text and then compare that to the film. They will again discuss whether the film is an accurate adaptation of the written text. Finally, students will work in pairs to demonstrate independent discussion with a partner. The teacher will observe and asked each partner what they shared. These activities range from thirty minutes to forty-five minutes each.

Tenth Day

On the last day of the lesson, teachers will administer a quiz to the students that will test their comprehension of Pocahontas. This assessment will measure their comprehension of both the film and text. This will show how well the students have understood a historical figure. This unit can be modified to use other historical figure for further practice on analyzing, compare and contrast, point of view, and understanding adaptation. A separate district formative will also be given to measure how well the students are able to analyze.


As an extension, this activity will encourage and motivate students in learning to adapt a written text to a film: students can perform or make a short video clip of one scene.  The short clips can be viewed together as a film.  After viewing, the students can analyze and see if they made a film that is an accurate adaptation of the written text.


Implementing Arizona State Standards


Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).

Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Distinguish one's own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters

Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

Teaching Resources

D'Aulaire, Ingri, D'Aulaire Edgar Parin, and Frances Sternhagen. Pocahontas. New York: Doubleday, 1946.

Gourse, Leslie, “ Pocahontas: Young Peacemaker,” Childhood of Famous Americans. Simon and Schuster, 1996

Linwood Custalow, Dr, Angela L. Daniel, and Angela L. Daniel. The True Story of Pocahontas (Large Print 16pt). Read How You Want. com, 2010.

Walt Disney, Pocohontas,

Bibliography and Resources

Bazzini, Doris, Lisa Curtin, Serena Joslin, Shilpa Regan, and Denise Martz. "Do Animated Disney Characters Portray and Promote the Beauty–Goodness Stereotype?." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 40, no. 10 (2010): 2687-2709.

Bruchac, Joseph. Pocahontas. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005.

D'Aulaire, Ingri, D'Aulaire Edgar Parin, and Frances Sternhagen. Pocahontas. New York: Doubleday, 1946.

Golden, Margaret. "Pocahontas: Comparing the Disney Image with Historical Evidence." Social Studies and the Young Learner 18, no. 4 (2006).

Gourse, Leslie, “ Pocahontas: Young Peacemaker,” Childhood of Famous Americans. Simon and Schuster, 1996

Horse, Chief Roy Crazy. "The Pocahontas Myth." Rankokus Indian Reservation, NJ), www. powhatan. org/pocc. html(2004).

Mossiker, Frances. Pocahontas: the Life and the Legend. New York: Knopf, 1976.

Naremore, James, Film adaptation. Rutgers University Press, 2000.

Strong, Pauline Turner. "Animated Indians: Critique and contradiction in commodified children's culture." Cultural Anthropology 11, no. 3 (1996): 405-424.


  1. Horse, Chief Roy Crazy. "The Pocahontas Myth." Rankokus Indian Reservation, NJ), www. powhatan. org/pocc.html (2004).
  2. Linwood Custalow, Dr, Angela L. Daniel, and Angela L. Daniel. The True Story of Pocahontas (Large Print 16pt). Read How You Want. com, 2010.
  3. Walt Disney Film Pocahontas (1995).
  4. Horse, Chief Roy Crazy. "The Pocahontas Myth." Rankokus Indian Reservation, NJ), www. (2004).
  5. Ibid.
  6. Walt Disney Film Pocahontas 2 (1998)
  7. Naremore, James, Film adaptation. Rutgers University Press, 2000.
  8. Peucker, Brigitte, Summer 2018

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