Making Curriculum Pop

Hopefully folks found yesterday’s discussion about Oscar nominated shorts interesting. If any of the elementary or middle school teachers out there decide to use “Octopodi” in your Life Science lessons, we’d love to hear about how you integrated it into your curriculum.

I love short film and spend a lot of time recommending and scaffolding shorts for teachers I work with. Unlike many film clips or amateur YouTube videos good shorts have professional production values, fully developed characters, rich themes and compete narrative arcs. For this reason, short films are a unique genre with ties to short stories, magazine features, music videos, film and television. Many short films allow you to explore the same themes and issues found in feature films using less instructional time. Whether you’re using a short as “stand alone” content or as “supplemental text” for core curriculum these films allow more time for in-depth analysis of the film's content and construction.

Many teachers approach me asking where they can find short films. The short answer? Everywhere. Short films are now widely available on the Internet and remain one of the most underutilized teaching resources in K-12 & college classrooms. Many film festivals now present their content online and/or in DVD collections. Places like the Media that Matters Film Festival even sort their shorts online by theme and content (links on wiki). Last summer I culled a lot of these resources on a PDF for my pop culture class and I managed to convert that document into wiki page this weekend.

First mentioned on the Super Resources post, Nicole and I created the pop resources wiki last spring for the annual Teach, Think, Play conference we do at Teachers College. If you don’t completely understand what a wiki is check out this great overview from Educause, “7 Things You Should Know about Wikis.”

We’ve had students work on the wiki a bit, but there is still a lot of virgin territory. If there is an area where you’d like to add resources just ask for an invite to become a writer on the right hand side of the wiki page. Also, check this video by PB wiki to get you started:

On occasion, Nicole and I will kick-start a genre or category like the motherload of short film resources I gathered for you today.

A related resource was created by Nicole last year on Poetry and Visual Culture. This wiki page is loaded with lots of animated/action poetry. These are a cousin of short films and an incredible resource for ELA teachers who do poetry units.

Please feel free to share your vast knowledge about pop culture on the wiki with a larger audience. Everyone out there has resources in their world that we can all use to make our curriculum pop.

We actually had a snow day yesterday in the NYC public schools. This made it a bit easier to complete the wiki page - I hope people enjoy the resource collection!

Have a magical week and a Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo to you!

RRG:)

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