Better Days – A Film Class Journey 2

In the last post, I shared that we were beginning a film in class.  I asked students to listen to the theme song to get a sense of what might be happening in the movie.

Today I had my intermediate 3/4 class (I3/4).  Here is what has been taken in place.

First, I began the class with free voluntary reading (10 minutes).  Students chose a reading of their own interests, read quietly and then keep a simple log of what they read.  This record is for themselves to keep.  I’ll begin a check-in during the second week.  Typically, I call a group of students (3-4) at a time and have them share with each other what they have been reading, their thoughts, opinions, and experiences.  That’s the accountability piece.  But I don’t give a grade.

Then, I played the theme song in a lyrics-only version.  When the song ended, students were put into groups to work on the following three prompts:

  • Choose three sentences that resonate with you the most.
  • From the lyrics, make two predictions about what might be happening in the movie.
  • In your group, vote on the main theme in this movie based on the lyrics.

They took the lyrics, got into groups, began the discussion, and once they reached an agreement, they wrote their answers on the writable desks.  At this point, I resumed the class and asked students to share.

The prediction part was quite intriguing.  One student predicted one of the main characters probably had a terminal illness, either died or committed suicide.  Another predicted that something really bad either happened to the main character, or the main character did something really bad.  The third student added that the lyrics were heavy, probably it has something to do with hardship and struggles.

I kept encouraging them to take risks and share their thoughts and opinions.  “This is not about being correct or wrong, it is a great opportunity to train yourself to think.”  Students’ hands were raised up like bamboo shoots, I was a happy teacher.  Creating a culture of thinking!

Then, I played the theme song’s official music video.  It provides a glimpse of insights into the movie.

Now, I asked them to think about the genre of the movie: comedy, tragedy, romance, documentary, thriller, horror, fantasy…

Most of them predicted the film was going to be a romantic tragedy.  Here I paused the class and began to personalize: Do you watch tragedy?  Which famous tragedy plays or movies that you could recall?  If you have watched any tragedy, what was your experience?

Again, I asked them to make a prediction of what could possibly happen in the film based on the glimpse of insights from the music video.

“I think it has something to do with the school bully.  It seems that that girl was bullied.  That boy was projecting her.”  I was impressed, he pretty much summed up the movie without watching it.

“I don’t know what’s their relationship.  Are they friends, lovers, or a brother and sister?  They lay in the same bed.  So I think they are really poor.   I think she’s the little sister, their parents died, the older brother is taking care of her.  Because I didn’t see any adult in the video.”

“You have observed well.  That’s right, the adults seem to be absent.  The reason you are guessing they are siblings is because you didn’t see any intimacy between them like lovers?”  I asked.  Many nodded.

“My guess is that that girl has illness therefore she is different.  Because she is different, she gets picked on…  So her brother has to do something to help her…”

“I think he is a gangster because he is beating people up on the street.  He is not going to high school and he is a dropout.”  Another chimed in.

By this point, I advanced to the next slide with 6 different scenarios which could happen in the film.  I asked students to find a partner and choose one.

Here we have reached the end of our class.  As students were walking out, I informed them that I would put a Quizlet together on film terminologies.  “At your level, without using some simple film language to discuss lighting, and camera work, we will only be limited in talking about the story.  We will not be able to discuss how the director uses lighting and camera work to express his ideas.”

Students all agreed.

Post note: For the most part, students kept their sharing in the target language.  the relapse happened during group work.  Some groups were better than others to stay in the target language.  Two quiet students didn’t raise their hands, I failed to call on them either.  The discussion was very active.  Many students kept raising hands and I got busy getting their opinions.  Next class, I’ll do cold calls.

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