Literature Circle Roles Reframed: Reading as a Film Crew
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Students interact with a range of different kinds of texts in the classroom, but for many, films and movies are the favorite. Because of their interest in the films, projects related to these movie texts often result in a higher level of engagement. Capture this enthusiasm, and transfer it to reading and literature by substituting film production roles for the traditional literature circle roles. After reviewing film production roles—such as director, casting director, and set designer—students work together in cooperative groups to read and discuss a piece of literature, each assuming a film production role.
Self-Reflection: Taking Part in a Group: Students use this sheet to evaluate how well they interact in a group activity, including their role in the group, completion of task, listening, and more.
Roles of a Film Crew: This printable sheet offers definitions of 11 major roles on a film crew. The sheet can be used for a variety of lessons in which students participate in or explore filmmaking.
From Theory to Practice
Can students' genuine enthusiasm for film and movies extend into the classroom and literacy activities? John Golden, in Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom, thinks so. He writes, "[W]e know, or strongly suspect, that the skills [students] use to decode the visual image are the same skills they use for a written text, and our goal, therefore, is to use that immediate interest in and uncanny ability with film and make it work for us" (xiii).
This lesson plan invites students to think like filmmakers while reading a text, which in turn, makes the connection Golden refers to.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
- 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Multiple copies of literature books
- Chart paper or board, and writing instruments
- Magazines that can be cut up
- Roles of a Film Crew (optional)
- Literature Circles with Film Roles (optional):
- After the Literature Circle (follow-up questions)
- Self-Reflection: Taking Part in a Group
- Permission to View Film/Video form
- Teachers and students should have a working knowledge of Literature Circles. If a majority of the students have not had experience with Literature Circles, take some time to describe them.
- Divide students into groups of 4 to 6, depending on class size.
- Create a schedule for reading and meeting.
- Begin by selecting books that the students will be using for the project. Any kind of text will work well, but it may capture the students interest more if you select books that will soon be turned in to a movie, or have already been made in to a movie. View either this list or this list for choices.
- Make appropriate copies of the Crew Handout, role sheets, Follow-Up Questions, and Student Self-Assessment in the printouts.
- make predictions about text events before and during reading.
- use evidence from a text to form questions and verify predictions.
- respond to questions and discussion with relevant and focused comments.
- retell information from a text.
- discuss the meanings of new words encountered in independent and group activities.
- assess their participation in the Literature Circles.
- Invite students to share their knowledge of and experience with traditional Literature Circles.
- Explain that the class will be participating in a different version of Literature Circles. For this project, students will take on roles found in filmmaking, while reading and responding to a piece of literature.
- Explore the different roles found in the filmmaking industry, using one or more of the following options:
- Ask students to brainstorm the different roles, listing their suggestions on the board or on chart paper.
- Post or pass out copies of the Roles of a Film Crew handout if students are having difficulty or to add missing roles to the brainstormed list.
- Watch the credits at the end of a film, or visit the Website of a film.
- Creative Skillset site describes ways into the film industry, job roles, provides real life stories, useful links and a glossary.
- The Internet Movie Database also has links to most of the movies that have been made, as well as information about upcoming films. There is also a link to Speak from IMDb.
- Ask students to brainstorm the different roles, listing their suggestions on the board or on chart paper.
- Choose one of the roles of the film crew to use as a model for the students. This example uses the role of director as a model.
- Share the description of the director with the class: “The director is responsible for the overall look and feel of the movie. A director is usually the primary creative force behind a motion picture.”
- Ask students to respond to the definition and to discuss the role they think the director plays in a film.
- Focus students’ attention on the process that a director might follow to turn a book into a movie. Have the class brainstorm a list of questions that a director would need to think about and answer. Record students’ responses on the board or chart paper. Guide the students through this discussion as needed.
- Review the questions that have been recorded. Ask the class to consider whether there are enough guiding questions there for the director to determine and communicate the gist of the text in the movie version. Make any revisions as necessary.
- Once students are comfortable with creating questions to guide their work based on the descriptions of the film roles, divide students into pairs or small groups, depending on class size.
- Ask pairs or groups to pick one of the roles of a film crew and develop a guide or questions that can be used in the Literature Circles with Film Roles, similar to what was done as a class for the role of director.
- If desired, pairs or groups can write their guiding questions on chart paper. Post the finished paper in the classroom to help guide work in later sessions.
- When the pairs or groups have completed their work, ask them to share with the class.
- Divide students into groups for the Literature Circles with Film Roles.
- Once students are in their groups, share with them the piece of literature they will be using in their Literature Circles.
- When the book has been selected, allow time for students to choose the role they will assume for the first round of assignments.
- Direct students to the guiding questions for different film roles from the previous session. These questions will structure their work during this project.
- If desired, share the film crew role sheets (see Printouts in the Resources section) with students, to structure their tasks further.
- Explain the schedule for Literature Circles work. Be sure to allow time for students to read and complete their assignments.
- Announce the date for the groups to meet with their completed assignments.
Session Three and Following Sessions
- As Literature Circles meet, act as a facilitator, not a group member or instructor. Circulate among groups recording anecdotal data on students’ work.
- When Literature Circles are done meeting each day, coordinate the rotation of roles among group members.
- This cycle should continue until the entire story is read and/or students have experienced all of the roles.
- For the last session, ask students to complete the follow-up questions as a group.
- Finally, have students complete a self-assessment to evaluate their own attitudes and participation in the project.
Show the students a movie based on a text that the class has read. Further discuss the decisions made by each of the film roles. Did the movie match their expectations? Be sure to send a Movie Permission Slip or the forms required by your local school to families announcing details about the movie before showing it in class.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- As students work in their groups, circulate through the room, observing their work and taking anecdotal notes. Listen for indications that students have completed the assignments and are engaging positively with the reading and the project. Note evidence of strong intrapersonal behavior and collaborative achievement.
- Look for details that indicate comprehension of the reading in students’ written response as well as in conferences and interviews. Additionally, look for evidence of analytical thinking that relates strongly to the original reading.
- Review Self-Reflection: Taking Part in a Group and compare students’ own perceptions to their accomplishments as evidenced in your observations, anecdotal notes, and students’ written responses. Reinforce student self-assessment that match other available evidence. Respond to students further, working with them to improve their reading and collaborative strategies based on the collected information.
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