Making Curriculum Pop

Lesson: The Moving Image in the Art Classroom

Before this class I never thought about bringing the moving image in to the classroom nor did I even consider its importance and effectiveness to the learning of the student. As an art teacher I am always looking for ways to connect students’ experiences to their art-making. I strongly believe that students learn best when they are able to connect their experiences and what they already know to what they are learning in the classroom. It is in this way you get them engaged in their learning thus empowering them to learn more. Keeping this in mind I thought that using media in the classroom was a great way to form this connection. As Allan Teasley (1997) informs us, “when children finish kindergarten they have watched an average of 6,000 hours of television and that 59% of all teenagers have their own television (p.2).” I realized that media was a crucial, dominant part of student’s lives that needed to be acknowledged in the classroom. This conference helped me see the importance of using media in the classroom for it not only connects to student’s experiences and interests but also gets them to reflect upon the world in which they live in.

What really reeled me in to using media in to the classroom was the presentation by Media that Matters. After seeing the two documentary film clips it really opened my eyes to the power of media in education. It made me see how media can be used to awaken student’s mind to a world beyond what is familiar and comfortable. It can teach students to be critical thinkers and perceivers as they become more aware of the world in which they live in. The goal of education should achieve what Freire (1993) calls “critical consciousness.” It is a heightened awareness in which leads to critical thought and action.
It is what Teasley (1997) calls the “aha!” moment when students learn something that they never knew before (p.5). It is igniting that spark that empowers students to learn and do more, and to become seekers of their own knowledge.

Throughout the conference we learned about the moving image as another form of literacy that moves beyond text. William Kist reminds us that students learn in multiple ways through sensory, visual, kinesthetic, semiotic, and aural. Thus, as teachers we should start bringing new literacies in to the classroom to help students think in new ways. It is in this way that opens up new, diverse ways of seeing and understanding the world.

In the art classroom students are constantly learning through their senses as well as visually and kinesthetically. However as I learned along with other teachers from different disciplines in the conference, I found myself building connections between art and other subjects. As we learned the different ways of incorporating media in to the classroom I saw how it could be applied across disciplines and really connect the learning that is happening in the different subjects. It is important that students not only learn and think in multiple ways, but also be able to make connections in their learning so that they are able to think in a more integrative, multi-faceted way.

So thinking about all the things I learned and discovered from the conference I knew that I wanted to create a lesson centering on media that bridged the learning across all disciplines. Strongly influenced by Media that Matters I decided to do a lesson where students will create a short documentary film based on a social issue that was important to them. Learning throughout the conference how film can function as a connecting force across subjects, I created an interdisciplinary lesson in which Art, English, and Social Studies come together in the creation of a documentary film. It is in the English classroom where students will create the script for their film and learn about narrative, plot, characterization, climax, etc. Then it is in the Social Studies classroom that students will learn about different social issues. It is in the art classroom where student will learn about the elements of filmmaking and combine all their knowledge to create a short documentary film based on a social issue. In this lesson students will reflect upon important issues going on in their world, voice their own opinions, and connect their learning across the different subjects.

I created a sequence of 5 lessons all building up to the creation of their own video.
In the first lesson students will explore with the IMovie software so they understand the different elements in filmmaking. Here they will learn about different film techniques and how different techniques create different responses. After learning about the elements of making a film, students will watch two documentary films from Media that Matters. Here they will learn what a documentary film is, what the film is about, and how it is made. Lesson three is where students will brainstorm their ideas and combine their knowledge from Social Studies and English to create thumbnail sketches for each scene of their film. Lesson four is where they will use the video camera and IMovie to create their film about a social issue. Finally the last lesson is a group reflection and critique where students will watch everyone’s films and share their responses and thoughts.

I used Webquest to post my lesson on the web. Webquest is a great tool to find lessons that other educators created. The lessons cover all subjects and disciplines.
Please check out my lesson at
It provides more of a comprehensive, detailed lesson plan.
Take note of the discussion section for it provides important questions to ask students when introducing them to each lesson. Dialogue between students is crucial in all these lessons for it helps them reflect and formulate their ideas. Good motivational dialogues “encourage curiosity, inform acts of selection, and stimulate imaginative exploration of alternative ideas and solutions” (Burton, 2004, p. 99). Also group discussion and critiques are needed for students to reflect upon their art-making process, learn to talk about their work and that of others, as well as expose them to different artistic processes and approaches.

I hope you find this lesson helpful in incorporating media in to the classroom as well as providing a more integrative learning experience.

My Lesson Sequence: The Moving Image In the Art Classroom


Burton, J.M. (2004). A guide for teaching and learning in the visual arts. New York

McLaren, Peter and Peter Leonard, eds. Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter. London:
Routledge, 1993.

Teasley, Alan & Ann Wilder. Reel Conversations: Reading Films with Young Adults.
Portsmouth, NH. Boynton/Cook, 1997.

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