Why film should be part of your 'Teacher Toolkit'

27 Jul 2016 BY Suzie Pugh

3 mins

Great teachers are dynamic, creative individuals who connect with learners and facilitate rich learning environments. They are entering a profession where 21st century learners hold a rich understanding of media language; this calls for a multimodal approach to teaching and learning.

In preparing trainees for the profession, teacher-educators must help trainees to develop a 'teacher toolkit' bursting with strategies for effective teaching. Using film to support learning is one such tool that can facilitate high quality teaching. 

Why use film?

Emphasis on raising standards in literacy has permeated teacher-training programmes and using film to support this drive has been highly successful. For example a trainee designed, planned and supported a terms project on the film Coraline. The wealth of topics covered included: working on narrative plotting and creating expectations, predictive writing, and developing inference and deductive reasoning skills. The film sustained engagement for a whole term and the trainee commented on how enthusiastic all learners became due to this inclusive approach - ALL learners were able to access the story. The impact of the visual immediacy of the film was deemed 'irreplaceable' as the boys made rapid progress in their oracy skills; reading images transferred into reading text. The study of visual texts assists in bridging the gap between the literal and the figurative. Struggling or reluctant learners, who have difficulty accessing printed text, are able to discuss film with insight. Trainees have experienced reluctant learners gain confidence and contribute more readily to discussions where sophisticated concepts and complex issues have been explored. 

All trainees should keep film education in their teacher toolkit, not as a rainy-day or Christmas stop-gap but as an invaluable tool for teaching and learning.

Suzie Pugh, Coordinator, Executive Programme Director, University of Wales, Trinity St. David.

Cross-curricular and assessment benefits

Cross-curricular links are easily made through the careful choice of film; learners who may never have stepped out of their home town can enter the world of another culture. Developing empathy and tolerance to promote global citizenship can be easily achieved with the use of film clips as trainees explore issues of poverty, racism and war. There is a wealth of online resources to support such complex issues film clips, lesson ideas and downloadable resources are readily available.

Understanding strategies for assessing learning is not simple for trainee teachers. Getting to grips with the school's assessment procedures and recording systems can be daunting. Introducing simple filmmaking strategies to capture learning for later reflection has been invaluable for trainees. For example, some have filmed learners' oracy skills in order to collate evidence for levelling. Others have filmed techniques in PE to use as a guide for evaluation and improving performance. Trainees have found that 'allowing' learners to film their experiences gives ownership and empowerment a valued opportunity in a busy school day. 

All trainees should keep film education in their 'teacher toolkit', not as a rainy-day or Christmas stop-gap but as an invaluable tool for teaching and learning. The key is to keep it simple, not be too precious about the technicalities and to share and reflect upon the results with fellow trainees and learners.

Suzie Pugh

Suzie Pugh, Executive Programme Director, University of Wales, Trinity St. David.

Suzi has 20 years experience in education. She has been involved with Initial Teacher Education, supporting trainees to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Main teaching interests: creative engagement, collaborative learning and film education.

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