THE BEST OF TEACH WITH MOVIES
TWM recommends these movies as the best of the best in meeting curriculum standards while providing students with stellar educational experiences.
Give us your input! Email your nominations and a description of your reasons, including your experience with the film. Tell us the name of your school and what grades you teach. You might find yourself in print.
Don’t ignore the great teaching opportunities from other movies! Review our extensive Drama index.
Check the list from time to time. We’ll change it depending on your feedback and our experience. It’s an ongoing conversation.
This list refers only to full-length movies. It does not include TWM’s Snippet Lesson Plans, which are excellent ways to teach Drama using film clips or short subjects. See TWM’s ELA and Drama Snippet Lesson Plans.
Cyrano de Bergerac
This classic play is shot through with irony and explores many issues of interest to teenagers, including (a) whether the ugly and disfigured can still be loved by someone who is beautiful; (b) the humiliation and lack of self-esteem felt by people who are disfigured or who don’t conform to society’s current conception of beauty or style; (c) how the most vociferous braggart is often trying to cover up a deep psychological wound; (d) the consequences of failing to pursue your dreams or of assuming that someone or something is unattainable; and (e) the differences between how people view and evaluate themselves and how they are viewed and evaluated by others.
The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams’ classic is an excellent example of the “memory play” genre. The TeachWithMovies.org Learning Guide will show teachers and parents how to: (1) introduce the film and the play, (2) present many of the literary and dramatic devices used in the play, and (3) help adolescents understand the issues faced by many children when they make a decision about whether to leave home.
Mel Gibson’s version of “Hamlet” is accessible to teenagers. The TeachWithMovies.org Learning Guide presents an interpretation interesting to young people focusing on the evils of revenge, a concept that teenagers are dealing with as they grow to maturity.
Looking For Richard
This film is Al Pacino’s entertaining introduction to Shakespeare’s play Richard III. Mr. Pacino explains the plot, the motivation of the characters, and the era portrayed in the play. Episodes showing the actors working on the play are interspersed with performances of important scenes.
A Raisin in the Sun
Set in the early 1950s, A Raisin in the Sun describes the struggle of the Youngers, a poor black family seeking to better itself despite the challenges of poverty and racism. When they make a down payment on a home in an all-white suburb, racism comes calling in an unusual form. The play is an award-winning American classic.
Romeo and Juliet
This is probably the most frequently taught Shakespearian play. The story is still one of the most compelling ever told.
Accessible and entertaining, Twelfth Night is a comedy of love, mistaken identity, and confused gender. Moved forward in time to the 19th century, the play begins with look-alike fraternal twins Viola and Sebastian on a sea voyage. Their boat sinks in a storm. Saved but separated, each believes the other to have drowned and each finds love in unusual circumstances.
The play is a romp, full of fun and lyric speeches. Shakespeare points out that we can be drawn in friendship and affection to persons of either sex. Sexual attraction is an overlay to the affinity that we have for others. The major female characters are charming and strong-minded women who control their own lives.