Which is it? – encouraging students to engage with vocabulary and justify their answers

Recently, I found myself teaching filmic conventions to a group of year 9s. Normally, I start with using advanced organisers: students locate both definitions and examples of the relevant conventions. The problem with graphic organisers and locating definitions is that students often copy rather than summarise, and need additional practise and revision to ensure that they have actually retained the information.

The question quickly became: how do I provide students with examples of filmic conventions without boring them with a slideshow?

To shake things up, I began to brainstorm other ways that students can demonstrate their comprehension of the types of camera techniques.

Instead of showing students examples of the techniques one at a time (basically a lecturing format), I present the example and allow students to explain why the technique is one or the other. For example, below students need to explain why it is a low angle and not a high angle – it demands students to access their prior knowledge and justify their answer.

Below, students explain why the image is an extreme long shot and not a long shot.

What are the benefits to this strategy?

  • Avoid lecturing and engage your students.
  • Encourages students to access their prior knowledge quickly.
  • Requires students to problem-solve. Can they justify their choice.
  • Great way to check for understanding and hand out prices.
  • Engages with Bloom’s Taxonomy, Higher-level Thinking (Analysis). Students are expected to categorise.
  • The activity is flexible – you can also pose questions to students about pieces of writing. They may question why one thesis statement is better than another, or narrative openings.

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