Making Curriculum Pop

I run the high school film club, and my vice principal has asked that I do a middle school enrichment film club for the 7th and 8th graders. 


I'm not sure what kind of film I should bring in.  The high schoolers view everything from The Sound of Music to Platoon.  Where should I take this with middle schoolers???

My goal is to bring in a film that they would NOT go to the theaters to see, but that would be exciting for them to watch.  I also want to be able to have a good class discussion about what a good director does and draw parallels with what a good author does (plot and character development, building tension, theme, motif, symbolism, etc.) 


Any ideas??

Views: 67

Replies to This Discussion

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken is a great middle schooler movie and one that 99% of them haven't seen.
Also, I might suggest checking out Teach With Movies - a great website that might you help you in your search too.
This one may not excite them, but I have created a "film study guide" to "To Kill A Mockingbird" which helps students better understand and appreciate the "languages of film." You can find it at
Here's my list, although many of these are included because of their media literacy value, and so have less of an emphasis on some of the narrative elements you mention. Also, some of these, like the Hitchcock titles, have sensitivity issues. That said, many of these tie to authors/lit that are read at 6-8. Oh, and I'd also check out sites like for ideas.

39 Steps, The
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Adventures of Robin Hood, The
African Queen, The
American in Paris, An
Animation Legend: Winsor McCay
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete)
Big Clock, The
Blue Planet (TV)
Bride of Frankenstein, The
Bringing Up Baby
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The
Captains Courageous
Christmas Story, A
City Lights
Court Jester, The
Devil and Daniel Webster, The
Duck Soup
Fort Apache
General, The
Great Dictator, The
Safety Last
Fall of the House of Usher, The (1928, English)
Fall of the House of Usher, The (1928, French)
His Girl Friday
How Green Was My Valley
I Know Where I'm Going
Finding Nemo
It's a Wonderful Life
King of Masks
Lady Vanishes, The
Little Foxes, The
Mr. Hulot's Holiday
Madame Curie
Maltese Falcon, The
Meet Me in St. Louis
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Night at the Opera, A
Rear Window
Red River
Road Home, The
Sea Hawk, The
Singin' in the Rain
Spellbound (2002)
Stage Coach
Strangers on a Train
Sullivan's Travels
Time Machine, The (1960)
To Be or Not To Be
To Kill a Mockingbird
Winslow Boy, The
Wizard of Oz, The
12 Angry Men
Ace in the Hole
Alice (1988)
Arabian Nights (TV, 2000)
Atomic Café, The
Band Wagon, The
Ben-Hur (1959)
Bird Man of Alcatraz, The
Born Free
Boys Town
Brother Bear
Day the Earth Stood Still, The
Destry Rides Again
5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, The
Shall We Dance?
Fahrenheit 451
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Gold Rush, The
Hard Day's Night, A
Harryhausen Chronicles, The
I Am a Promise
Iron & Silk
The Civil War (TV, 1990)
Life of Emile Zola, The
Lost Horizon
Voyage to the Moon
Meet John Doe
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Mrs. Miniver
Oliver Twist (1948)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
King of Kong, The
Red Pony, The
Pearl, The
River, The
Seven Brides of Seven Brothers
Slanted Screen, The
Sound of Music, The
Swing Time
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Red Shoes, The
That's Entertainment
Thief of Baghdad, The (1940)
Where the Wild Things Are
White Fang
Good Morning (1959)
Diary of Anne Frank, The (1959)
Buena Vista Social Club
Flower Drum Song
Forbidden Planet
Apollo 13
Miracle Worker, The
Phantom Tollbooth, The
James and the Giant Peach
Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1935)
Jungle Book, The (1967)
Monsters are Due on Maple Street, The (TV episode)
Christmas Carol, A (2009)
Christmas Carol, A (1999)
Scrooge (1951)
For All Mankind
Stormy Weather
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Bugsy Malone
City of Ember
Polar Express, The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (1993)
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
Whale Rider
Only Angels Have Wings
Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles
Sergeant York
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Hobart Shakespeareans, The
Human Comedy, The
Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, The
All Creatures Great and Small (TV)
Paris When It Sizzles
Sherlock, Jr.
Best of Ernie Kovacs, The (TV)
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, The
Man Who Skied Down Everest, The
Please Vote for Me
Member of the Wedding, The
Tucker: The Man and His Dream
Yankee Doodle Dandy
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Air Force
Brian's Song
Close Shave, A
Horton Hears a Who
Gerald McBoing-Boing
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
Mary Poppins
National Velvet
Old Man and The Sea, The (1958)
Philadelphia Story, The
Red Balloon, The
Ten Commandments, The
Two Soldiers
Plan 9 From Outre Space
God Grew Tired of Us
Invaders from Mars (1953)
David Copperfield (1935)
Tale of Two Cities, A (1935)
War of the Worlds
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Meerkat Manor (TV)
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Sea Wolf, The
Lassie Come Home
Baseball (TV)
West, The (TV)
Pride of the Yankees, The
Secret of Roan Inish, The
Prince and the Pauper, The (1937)
Endurance, The: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
Superman Cartoons of Max and Dave Fleischer, The (1943)
Talk of the Town, The
Hairspray (2007)
Remember the Titans
Here is a lesson plan you could use with them before, during and after watching the selected film:
I'll second Frank and strongly endorse "To Kill A Mockingbird" another popular movie with my 8th graders' is "Gone With The Wind"

Want to go the documentary route then I suggest Ken Burns "Lewis and Clark" a wonderful adventure story. Another powerful documentary is "The Tulsa Lynching of 1921: A Hidden Story"

Here are two post-viewing writing activities I use with my 8th graders. Mixed in a little music and character ed too...

Standing Outside the Fire

The Heart of the Matter
How about the movie "Holes"
Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I'm not sure which one I'm going to go with yet, but this is a great start :)

I also forgot, the folks at the Film Foundation (run by Martin Scorsese) presented at last year's Teach, Think, Play conference in NYC.

CATHERINE GOULEY An award-winning author of books for young adults and curriculum writer for The Story of Movies educational outreach program presented on some international film curricula she developed for middle school students. The film she highlighted was a moving Chinese film called The King Of Masks. If you get a chance to write her you should as the story of HOW they chose the films they chose was very interesting.

You can read what students said about her presentation at the TTP Reflection Gallery!

The film foundation has PDF teacher's guides for The King Of Masks and three other Chinese films here!
Are you open to showing documentaries? If so, the Educational Video Center has a ton of excellent short documentaries made by NY teens. Their website is



© 2024   Created by Ryan Goble.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service