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Making the Most Out of Movies in the Classroom

Putting Ed Tech Into Practice


Teaching with MoviesMost administrators will tell you they hate when teachers show movies in the classroom.  For the most part, I agree with them. 


However, as long as teachers are utilizing them correctly, movies and videos can play a valuable role in the education process and can be an important aspect of a teacher’s strategy in providing lesson material to students.


Recently, I decided to show a video in my geography classes that I thought did a great job of reinforcing a point that I was trying to make in class. We watched a National Geographic Video about North Korea that did a great job of showcasing absolute dictatorships and extreme isolation. This video was about 50 minutes long.


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If you run into issues with websites being blocked by the school or other security problems, here is a tip. I ran into a snag early on and it was blocked on YouTube for some reason.  But being the resourceful person that I am, I checked my Netflix account, and found it. 


FYI If you don't have Netflix, you might think about it.  They have tons of videos and movies you can stream online in the classroom.  Many are available for elementary teachers. 


Making the Movie Engaging

In previous years of teaching, I would have asked my students to stay awake and pay attention and we would discuss the video when it was over.  This time, I did something different.  I had students divide a piece of paper in half and on one side they wrote North Korea and on the other they wrote the United States.  As I played the movie in class, I would periodically stop the video to discuss the scene and contrast what they were seeing in North Korea with the United States. 


It was a great experience seeing students all turn their heads and start writing on their paper at the same time.  At the conclusion on the video, we discussed it, and then I had them write for 5 minutes their personal thoughts about the video and life in Korea.  They had tons of questions as well.


My Movie Success

This was probably one of my most successful lessons this year.  The students were engaged in the documentary video and I only had one student out of all my classes that I had to get on for falling asleep.  I even turned the video into an extra credit opportunity by asking students to comment on my classroom blog about it over the weekend.  I also used the video the next day as a bell-ringer assignment asking my kids to list 5 things they could not live without and discuss them.  We then discussed this as a class.


Classroom Movie Resources

The internet provides a wide range of movie resources that many might not be aware of.


Below are some resources for movies and documentaries great for teachers looking to incorporate them into their curriculum. 

Movies in the Classroom

This site provides permission slips and movies by subject matter. It has several options.

Movie Sheets

A collection of worksheets that coincide with movies submitted by teachers all over the world. Remember to stop the movie and allow students to write down the correct information.

Mathematics in Movies

If you are a math teacher, you will love this. It is a collection of movie clips in which math is involved.


Top Documentary Films

This website offers free documentaries.

Movies Found Online 

A resource for free movies and documentaries.

Free Documentary TV 

Another resource for free documentaries. There are many different topic categories available.


Video Writing Prompts

If you're looking for short videos to kick off free writing or journal activities, TeachHUB offers new, timely video writing prompts every week.


Remember, it is not the movie that is is HOW you use the movie that is important!


How do you make the most out of movies in your classroom? Share in the comments section!