This blog will focus on what film and TV tie-ins bring to the classroom. TV and film adaptations of books can be extremely useful for teachers in the classroom, they can help provide:
• a different perspective
• visual stimulus for visual learners
• a useful resource for helping more reluctant readers
• additional resources to help consolidate or focus on particular scenes
• a focus to look at the relationship between characters
• discussions to compare any differences between the book or film
Let’s focus on one of the popular books from The Penguin Readers range: Wonder.
Films and TV adaptations of books are extra material for teachers, but we need to think about suitable ways of using them in the classroom. Playing a film in its entirety is not always useful and playing something that is too long is never motivating and can often be information or language overload.
What is a freeze frame?
A part of the film or TV programme shown in a single frame.
Using freeze frames in the class whilst reading are effective in many ways. It provides an alternative to the book, an extra focus and can help elicit ideas from the learners. It can be useful for a particular scene, to focus on the relationship between certain characters and even as a grammar point.
Useful questions to ask when using a freeze frame:
What can you see? (present simple)
Relate it to the same scene in the book? (discussion point)
Do you have a different interpretation from the book verse the freeze frame from the film? (discussion)
What are they doing? (present continuous)
What were they doing? (past continuous)
Describe the characters from the freeze frame? (discuss)
We can see how we can use freeze frames for a deeper understanding. They provide the opportunity to elicit from the learners and concept check overall understanding. The visual clues in the film show the immediate facial disfiguration with August, whilst the book just indicates it from the description. In some ways, it could be useful to show the opening film scene of August and use it as a discussion point about how we should accept people no matter what. A useful quote to use with the opening film scene as an additional discussion point before introducing the book is: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’
How much should you show of a film adaptation in class?
The whole film
How much you show of the film or TV adaptation will depend on the activities you plan on doing. Often, it can be more effective to show freeze frames or short clips. This helps show there is a clear focus for using the film material. A film is a great way to consolidate a book, but a film is often too long.
Using films to focus on characters
When we are reading, we build up the characters in our own heads from descriptions in the book. With the films, we can see the characters. It can be effective to use the differences from the book and our own perspectives as well as the films to talk about character analysis, relationships between characters and a focus on less well- known characters that can sometimes be harder to understand and identify.
An activity for character analysis
Put the pictures onto an A4 piece of paper and distribute in the class. Each student can use the pictures to make notes on each character whilst reading. This doesn’t involve watching the film, it is more about using the visual clues to help build up a character review. This could be physical descriptions, personality adjectives and any other relevant information about the character. This is an effective study skill for students to have all the information about key characters in one place that they can use to help consolidate their understanding. It is also useful when students are doing homework or group work tasks, they can use the sheet as a discussion point or reference.