FILM STUDY WORKSHEET FOR A WORK OF FICTION — GENERAL
Designed to get students thinking about movies as stories that employ the elements and devices of fiction, this movie worksheet can be used for note-taking during breaks while watching a film. After the movie has been completed, responses to the worksheet prompts can be written up as paragraphs or short essays, perhaps as homework the evening after the movie is shown.
TWM’s Film Study Worksheet will help students:
- determine theme;
- analyze plot and its various phases;
- examine how literary elements affect plot progression, assist in character development, and convey meaning, including: motif, symbol, foreshadowing, echoing, flashback, opposition, metaphor, irony, foil, choice of language; and
- organize their thoughts.
Movie worksheets allow teachers who show films to meet the Common Core State Standards. See TWM’s article on Common Core State Standards and Feature Films in the ELA Classroom.
Click here for the Film Study Worksheet for General Fiction (this worksheet) in word processing format suitable to be downloaded and printed or modified.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING THE WORKSHEET
The movie worksheet is designed to be copied onto the front and back of one sheet of paper. It can facilitate class discussions or be the basis for writing assignments.
Add, modify or substitute questions as appropriate for the class. For example, if students will not recognize any of the devices of fiction described in Question #11, delete them. If students have previously received instruction in devices of fiction that are not mentioned in the question, add them. The Film Study Worksheet is an excellent opportunity to review past learning.
The same is true for question #12, relating to the elements of the cinematic art. If students are not familiar with any of the techniques described in the question, delete them and, perhaps, delete the question entirely. If students have previously received instruction in other techniques of film, add them to the question.
If archetypes appear in the film and students have received instruction in archetypes, consider using TWM’s Film Study Worksheet for the Hero’s Journey or adding questions from that worksheet.
If you use the worksheet more than twice, vary it somewhat by changing the questions, making sure that the new questions ask students to describe or comment on elements or devices of fiction found in the movie. TWM suggests that movie worksheets do more than just require students to restate what occurred in the film.
In most cases have the class read the questions on the worksheet before watching the movie. Provide several short three to five minute breaks while showing the film to allow students to take notes. Discourage the class from taking notes while the movie is running. Allow time at the film’s end for students to complete their notes.
If necessary, remind students that the antagonist in a story is not necessarily a person. It can also be nature, an institution, a condition of society, a personality trait of the protagonist, or a problem in the relationship between the protagonist and another person. The antagonist is whoever or whatever the protagonist must overcome in the conflict described in the story.
A sample set of instructions is set out below. These can be changed as necessary.
Read the questions before you watch the film so that you will know what to look for while you watch. At breaks during the showing or at the film’s end, you will have an opportunity to make short notes in the spaces provided. If you make notes while the film is playing, make sure that your note-taking doesn’t interfere with carefully watching the film. You do not need to make any notes on the worksheet but after the film is over you will be required to fully respond to the questions.
Complete the assignment by answering each question in paragraph form. Answers need to be complete and comprehensive, demonstrating that you paid attention to the film and thought about what was shown on the screen. You may use more than one paragraph if necessary. Be sure that the topic sentence of your first paragraph uses keywords from the question. All responses should be in complete sentences using proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
There are many different ways that the Worksheet can be employed in class. For example, instead of having each student provide a written response to the Worksheet, the questions can serve as the basis for a class discussion. Students can also be separated into groups of four or fewer, with each group being asked to give an oral presentation in response to a question on the Worksheet. For middle school or junior high school classes, the Worksheet can be simplified by eliminating some of the questions or by only requiring a single device of fiction to be discussed (Question #11) and by reducing the number of themes to be derived from the film (Question #10).
ADVANTAGES OF USING GENERIC FILM STUDY WORKSHEETS
RATHER THAN ONLY ASKING STUDENTS TO RECALL EVENTS AND PLOT DETAILS
Some movie worksheets contain questions about random scenes in the movie to test whether students have been paying attention. This ensures that students follow the movie and don’t daydream or do homework. Using this type of worksheet is clearly beneficial when the film has educational value or is going to be used to drive assignments requiring the exercise of important skills. It’s certainly much better than simply putting the DVD in the player and letting the movie run.
However, much more can be done with film study worksheets than merely ensuring that students are paying attention. Skillfully written worksheets require students to perform a literary analysis of the film’s story and point students to lessons that teachers want them to learn. Such worksheets stress the literary elements and devices of fiction traditionally taught in ELA classes. In fact, there is no need to ask any specific questions about occurrences in the movie. General questions about plot, theme, characters, imagery, symbol, etc. keep students focused and require that they know the details of the film. Moreover, when a movie worksheet requires students to perform a literary analysis, it will impress upon students the fact that movies contain stories which are similar to those found in written texts. A movie worksheet designed in this manner requires students to use thinking skills of a higher level than those required to simply remember and regurgitate incidents in the film. For this reason, TWM Learning Guides suggest movie worksheets that are specific to the film only in special circumstances.
TWM has developed generic movie worksheets designed to cover most types of fictional presentations. These worksheets stress the literary elements and devices of the story and engage higher level thinking skills. There are worksheets for:
These movie worksheets are designed to be modified for the abilities of the class, the curriculum goals of the teacher, the idiosyncrasies of the film, and specific literary, dramatic, or cinematic elements that the class has studied that may be evident from the movie.
Movie worksheets that require literary analysis and higher order thinking, rather than just the recollection of isolated facts, make better use of the valuable class time spent in watching a movie. It is for this reason that TWM suggests that teachers use generic film study worksheets.