Who remembers Siskel & Ebert? I recall watching them every Saturday morning to find out what new flicks were coming out and which ones were worth my time going to see. After a brief history on Siskel & Ebert as well as a little bit of history on the movie critiquing business, I asked my 8th grade students, “When you want to see a film how do you choose what to go see?” The responses I got all boiled down to one answer: Social Media. Whether it’s YouTube, Fandango or Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review and a trailer are right at their fingertips.
Students became critics
At Oak Hill Academy, best private school in Monmouth County, I asked my 8th graders to become film critics, much like Siskel & Ebert. The students paired up and chose a favorite movie to review. To start, the students had to do a little research on their film following a rubric. They were asked to include details like the director, the writer, and the actors. Special effects as well as the year it was made and to give a short plot summary without giving away any spoilers. Researching all of the elements that get put into creating a film gave them a deeper appreciation for the end result that they see on the big screen. The students were asked to write a script that included all of this research in standard playwriting format using dialogue that created a natural flow of conversation as they discussed their opinions on the movie they choose.
Once the scripts were finished, it was time for rehearsal. Good public speaking skills were emphasized as the students were coached on proper diction, projection, tone and modulation.
Finally, it was time for the students to record their movie review Podcasts. Mrs. Murray met with each group where they recorded their Podcasts and published them to Podomatic, and finally connected them to Spotify. The links to each class’ Podcasts are shared in the Padlets below:
This was a fun project that allowed students to form a deeper appreciation for the craft of movie making. The students used play writing techniques and practiced good public speaking skills. In addition, they tied Arts and Technology as well as the past and present together. We hope that you will take a listen to some of the Podcasts. See you at the movies!
-Bridget E. DeVivo