I love using film in lessons, but I believe the audience should participate in some way; too many times, films are used as a method of keeping pupils quiet towards the end of term, which for me diminishes the art and craft of film making. I want to encourage my pupils to watch foreign language films, even after they stop learning the language.
So here’s one of my favourites. I absolutely love this film, and use any opportunity to show it to my students, because they usually love it too.
I find it interesting and useful for the classroom on many levels:
- First and foremost, it’s a great story.
- It’s set in a school, so has a lot of young protagonists, which is usually a bonus for hooking pupils in.
- The students are from a range of backgrounds (social, cultural, family).
- Tranferring the original story from USA to Germany provides an extra dimension when considering autocratic government/leadership.
- It opens up avenues to discuss some of Germany’s historical past, and to dispel some myths.
I use the film in a number of ways, depending on the class I have:
One year, I used the film as a stimulus for an extended piece of writing, before watching the film.
I showed my class some stills from the film, and told them nothing other than the names of the characters and that the setting was school. I told them they could be either one of the characters, or a friend of one of the characters. I suggested that they think about describing the people, their relationships, the school, and what a typical day would be like. For more able, I added that they might want to use their imaginations to describe something unusual that happened at school.
They loved it! The less able (it was a mixed GCSE group containing pupils with targets from A to G) did basic descriptions of the characters, whilst the more able had one of the pupils with a crush on the teacher, or one of the pupils stabbing another!
After working hard on the task, the reward was to watch the film, and the pupils were intrigued to see what actually happened to each of the characters. Some were very close to the truth.
With a much weaker group, I introduced the film and some of the historical/political references which they might have missed, and let them watch it. Afterwards they used a gap fill exercise to summarise the story.
This year’s Year10 group get to watch it after they’ve done their next Controlled Assessment – 0n school!