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Posts from the ‘movies’ Category

History at the movies: The 20 best films of the decade and how to use them

There’s nothing like watching a movie in a big screen theater – the kind that bans small children and has heated reclining seats –  holding a mega-tub of popcorn with a side of nacho cheese and a Diet Pepsi.

(You mean you don’t dip individual pieces of popcorn into nacho cheese while watching movies? While then . . . you’re welcome.)

And it’s even better when the movie is history related.

I’ve written about movies before. Because I like movies. I’m also convinced, when used appropriately, that they’re great teaching and learning tools. And a recent Smithsonian article highlighting their choices for best history movies of the last ten years got me thinking. So now I’m curious . . . what were the best movies of the last decade? Maybe more important, how can we use them as part of our instruction?

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My 10 fave historical movies that every social studies teacher needs to see

I started off by thinking that it would be easy to knock out a quick piece on my top ten favorite history movies. But that idea lasted about a minute. There are so many movies that I’ve enjoyed. And as Amazon, Netflix, and every other online and cable channel are pumping out movies left and right, it’s hard to keep up.

So . . . I decided to make a couple of lists: My top ten faves. Other great movies that aren’t the top seeds. And a list of movies about teachers and schools because . . . well, I enjoyed them.

And since these are my lists and we know that it’s all about me, there isn’t any real criteria for inclusion. Some would be good for instructional purposes. Some not. Some are more historically accurate than others. Others are “based on actual events.”

The only sorta, kinda rule is if the movie appears while I’m channel surfing, it wins control of the remote and must be watched through to the end credits.

So . . . my favorites in no particular order: Read more

NCAA basketball? Meh. History Movie Madness? Heck yeah!

Just so you know. I’m not impressed with the NCAA basketball tournament. March madness? March boring maybe. Too few upsets. Lots of blowouts. And not enough interesting story lines. I could have just picked all the tops seeds to win and I’d be at the top of my bracket pool.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna watch. Just not a ton of excitement so far.

So when I ran across the American Battlefield Trust’s History Movie Madness Bracket Contest my weekend was saved. You’ve probably heard of the Trust back when it was called the Civil War Trust. It started as a group dedicated to preserving Civil War battlefield sites. It’s now also working to do the same for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sites. So . . . they’re good people.

And now I love the Trust if even more because we get to apply our bracketology skills to history movies. I’ve written about my favorite history movies before (and am planning an update soon) so having the chance to break down 32 movies to find the all time best is right up my alley.

The Trust starts off with by claiming somehow that Gods and Generals is the best movie ever: Read more

Use the big screen to generate a love of history (I’m looking at you Dunkirk)

When you buy your ticket to the Dunkirk – and you know you will – make sure that it’s to an iMax theater.

Because this is the type of movie that will kick you in the butt no matter what kind of screen you see it on so you might as well go all in with the super big surround screen. Christopher Nolan shoot the film with the iMax format in mind and it shows.

Dunkirk is an incredibly visually and emotionally compelling story that highlights an event that we as Americans rarely think about. I’ve always been a fan of using visuals and multimedia to help create emotional connections in the brains of students. Especially a story like Dunkirk that can help kids connect with our content.

So how might you use Dunkirk and other movies as part of your instructional strategy? Read more

American Experience: TV’s most watched history series and handy instructional tool

Television’s most-watched history series, American Experience has been hailed as “peerless” by the Wall Street Journal, “the most consistently enriching program on television” by the Chicago Tribune, and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” by the Houston Chronicle.

And for what it’s worth, I like it too.

Seriously. Good. Stuff. Read more

Tip of the Week: Best 10 Social Studies Stuffs of 2015

Over the holiday break, it’s a yearly tradition in my family to watch the movies Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Home Alone. With hot cocoa. While yelling out our favorite lines of dialogue.

“Stuffs” is a bit like that.

It’s become a History Tech tradition. For the last few years, I’ve been listing my personal Top Ten Social Studies Stuffs of the Year.

Yeah. I know. Not an actual word. Though I happen to think it should be. Cause I use the word stuff a lot.

The idea started out with a desire to list my ten favorite books of the year but I quickly realized that there were a lot of other things – websites, apps, movies – that I really liked as well.

So . . . stuffs. The plural of stuff.

I suppose you can call them whatever you want. But here, in no particular order, are the top ten things that I found useful, interesting, or just fun this past year.

Feel free to add your own stuff in the comments. Read more