I got the chance to watch the Lincoln movie a week or so ago. Loved it. Who would have thought? A movie about constitutional law? Interesting?
But great casting, great costuming, and great performances, especially by Daniel Day Lewis, create a great movie. My wife was concerned about the length and walked out afterwards praising the movie. Even my daughter, who is not the history geek that her dad is, said:
The movie helped me see that Lincoln is an actual person, not just some historical figure in some textbook. He played with his kids while trying to run the country. I thought that was cool.
And I learned more about the process of how laws are passed and so I plan to go to a great college and become a lawyer, supporting my father in his quest to play every golf course in the state of Hawaii.
Okay. I added that last bit. But she really did enjoy how a very important piece of American history was told in an engaging and interesting way.
But how to use the movie in the classroom?
There’s more to this weekend than simply watching the Kansas City Chiefs go 1-9.
It’s Lincoln weekend. As in the movie Lincoln. As in Daniel Day Lewis as Honest Abe pushing through the 13th amendment Lincoln. You know . . . the movie for History geeks Lincoln.
It’s a big deal. Well . . . it’s a big deal for me. I’ve always been a Lincoln fan. One of the greatest American presidents. I love the Civil War period and, wait for it . . . I was born on February 12, the same birth date as Lincoln.
So. A big deal.
Obviously loving the story and the content of the movie but I’m also interested in the sidebar sorts of stuff. And I’ve run across a variety of interesting things. One of the most interesting for me is a Lincoln website that showcases that floor plan and history of the Lincoln White House.
I love history. Most people do. At least they do once they graduate from high school. Historical fiction, biographies, history related movies. All end up on best seller and highest grossing movie lists.
There are lots of reasons why this seems to be true. Part of the problem is how it’s taught in school. And part of that problem is that we often don’t use video and movies correctly. Even my daughter knows this:
Don’t show a super long movie over three or four class periods. Especially if there’s no clear reason for me having to watch it.
I’ve written about using movies here and here but I started thinking this week about what sorts of useful clips live online. And some quick looking around revealed a variety of handy tools.
The UK Scholastic people have a very cool site called Horrible Histories. They’ve posted short clips of their longer videos on YouTube. A great way to introduce historical topics or as reflection/writing prompts.
My favorite? Historical Wife Swap Ancient Greece. Athenian and Spartan wives swap families ala the current reality television show.
Another handy online video clip site is Crash Course: World History. You’ll find quirky videos on a wide variety of historical topics. These are a bit longer than the Horrible History clips at about 12 minutes or so. And they are a bit more upper level. But still a lot of fun and a good way to introduce different historical periods and topics.
(The bonus thing? These sorts of videos seem much better suited for “flipping” history classrooms than some of the clunky Khan Academy type videos out there.)
What history based video sites am I missing?
I posted my favorite movies the other day.
And, yes, I’m probably encouraging the stereotype of social studies teachers / coaches showing movies every week so that they can read the newspaper, break down game film, or drink coffee. But I will always argue that appropriate use of video clips and movies is great for kids.
So some resources to help break the stereotype:
Teaching History has some great articles and suggestions for using movies in your instruction. What Do Students Learn from Historical Feature Films provides information about how you can help kids analyze historical videos as historians. Teaching with Historical Film Clips provides a useful list for creating a lesson plan that integrates movie clips.
The people at Truly Moving Pictures also have a couple of handy tools. The first is a nice PDF guide for parents and educators that provides suggestions for activating positive emotions during viewing. They also have extensive curriculum guides for a variety of feel-good movies. Not all would work in a social studies classroom but there several such as The Express and Glory Road that could be used.
A great book is Teaching History with Film: Strategies for Secondary Social Studies. Great Films and How to Teach Them is another one.
There are lots of other useful tools out there. Check out these resources for more ideas and suggestions: