I just showed my first movie ever in class this year! I needed to give a quiet class something to talk about because they weren’t excited to talk about each other or themselves. Plus, I wanted them to see and learn a little about history and culture. Like Kara has said, the movie itself isn’t the activity. I spend a week watching “In the Time of the Butterflies” and the class got tons of practice between little bits of movie. After the movie was finished, I wanted my students to retell Minerva’s story.

I have found that if I give students a task I think they can handle WITHOUT modeling it for them, I end up with much too complicated language that was clearly NOT done by my students.

So here’s how I break it down and teach some simple structure. My idea is to start simple and then build on it. I didn’t want to do their job for them so we learned how to tell a movie’s story by talking about OTHER movies.

I told them this story.

Cinderella Spanish class

It took 20 seconds. Then I took the words in the blanks away and asked them to retell the simple version of the movie. They all did it no problem.

Then we tried this movie. I let them try to predict what would pop up in the blanks before I said it.

gnomeo y juliet



Finally, I left them with the basic structure and a task to describe their own movie.

When they finished, we read them in class and students tried to guess what the movie was. Many added details between the lines and they seemed proud of their newly acquired language skills.

The next day, they retold the movie on 10 different notecards. I gave them time to look up new vocab and encouraged them to give details. Amazingly enough, they could do it!  Their stories were a little different based on what seemed most important to them, but that’s ok by me! Students then switched sets of cards and tried to put them in order. Good hands-on learning and students got the opportunity to see what others had written about the movie!

Hope this helps!

Thanks to Kara for showing me that movies aren’t just lazy days for teachers like I had experienced when I was in high school.