Reel to Real|Course hero helper

Posted: February 27th, 2023

Reel to Real

Directions: For this activity you will watch one of the following movies and respond to the reflection questions. Movies can be rented on DVD (such as Redbox) or via iTunes.

Citations: all text should be yours; however, if you choose to quote a character in the movie, cite him/her by putting the character’s name and the time in parenthesis after the quote. For example, “what the world needs is…” (Coach Carter, 0:01:26)

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A word about reflection: John Dewey (who you will hear more about later in this class) was one of the first to point out the value of reflection for learning. In this activity you will watch a movie and then “reflect” – that is, you will evaluate the experience and think deeply about the content of the movie and its value to you as a future teacher.

Paragraph #1: Summarize the movie. This should be your own assessment of what the movie is about.

Other paragraphs: Answer the reflection questions below in a narrative format (not in a list; use paragraphs) using the headings provided.

Reflection questions

Paragraph 2: Teacher (or Coach)

1. What characteristics, traits, and attitudes set the teacher/coach apart from others?

2. Describe specifically the teaching strategies that you saw the teacher(s)/coach(s) using in the classroom (How did he/she reach his/her students?) Why do you think he/she used those strategies?

3. Describe the teacher/coach’s strategy for developing his/her students for a future outside of school. Be specific. How did he/she model success or failure in his/her own life (family, attitudes, relationships, etc.)

Paragraph 3: Culture

4. Describe the attitudes and actions of the teachers, administration, community, parents, and students depicted in the movie. Describe the school and culture of the neighborhood.

5. How did gender, race, and socioeconomic status influence the curriculum, teaching, and efforts of the teacher?

6. What were the demographics of the school, classroom, and community for the movie you watched?

7. How did the teacher, coach, community, school respond to diversity in the movie?

8. Was there ELL students or Special Education students portrayed in your movie? If so, how did the teacher, coach, and school respond to their instructional needs?

9. What at risk behaviors can you identify from the movie you watched? How did the teacher/school help these students with at risk behaviors?


Paragraph 4: Leadership

10. Discuss the following leadership values and principles – duty, respect, integrity – as they relate to the movie you watched (players, coach/teacher, school, and community)

11. Describe YOUR plan for being an effective teacher (or coach). What attributes do you wish to have? What strategies will you use? How will you work within a culture that is not your own? How will you handle a difficult community or difficult administration?

Movie Option 1: Freedom Writers (2007)

Run time: 123 minutes Synopsis: Erin Gruwell is a new teacher who is excited about teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Upon her arrival, Erin finds herself confronted with teaching a racially segregated class of students who have been labeled “at risk.” Additionally, Erin’s efforts to work with her students encounter opposition from her department head. Yet, through the power of writing, Erin helps her students begin to see the value of education—and their own self-worth as well.

Movie Option 2: Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

Run Time: 142 minutes Synopsis: Glenn Holland is an aspiring composer who takes a teaching job to support his family. As the years unfold, the joy of sharing his passion for music with his students becomes his new definition of success.

Movie Option 3: Dead Poets Society (1989)

Run Time: 128 minutes Synopsis:Carpe diem! Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary,” advises educator John Keating to his class of young men at an all-boys boarding school. These words guide his unorthodox lessons that will change their young lives forever.

Movie Option 4: Coach Carter (2005)

Run Time: 136 minutes

Synopsis: Coach Ken Carter takes over the head coaching job for the Oilers basketball team at his old high school Richmond.

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FNDS 2010



Movie: Freedom Writers (2007)

Paragraph #1: The movie Freedom Writers is about a young teacher named Erin Gruwell who teaches at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. The movie portrays the challenges Erin faces when she is assigned to teach a racially segregated class of “at-risk” students. Despite the opposition she faces from her department head, Erin’s determination and innovative teaching methods ultimately help her students see the value of education and their own self-worth. Erin Gruwell, the teacher in the movie, demonstrates several characteristics, traits, and attitudes that set her apart from others. She is passionate, empathetic, and innovative. She shows empathy towards her students and their struggles, and she uses innovative teaching strategies to reach them. For example, she encourages her students to keep journals and express themselves through writing. She also creates a classroom environment that is safe and welcoming, allowing her students to open up about their personal experiences.

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