TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. Announces New Curriculum Materials to Teach Historical Fiction in Social Studies Classes

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Most of the history read or watched by students after they graduate will be historical fiction, either in novels or movies. Social studies teachers who show students how to analyze historical fiction will be helping students develop a skill that will be useful all their lives. TeachWithMovies.com has developed a new homework-based lesson plan and movie worksheet to assist social studies instructors in teaching the analysis of historical fiction.

How to Teach Historical Fiction - TeachWithMovies.com

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Blending stories into a study of history turns the past into a dynamic place. . . . It piques kids’ curiosity

TeachWithMovies.com, the premier site on the Internet for curriculum materials that make effective use of film in education, has released an innovative approach to assist social studies instructors.

They are: (1) the Historical Fiction in Film Homework Project, (2) the Historical Fiction Film Study Worksheet; and (3) Historical Fiction Film Lists for U.S. History and World History.

Historical fiction is an excellent way to interest students in history. "Blending stories into a study of history turns the past into a dynamic place. . . . It piques kids’ curiosity," says Terry Lindquist, teacher and author.

The genre grabs the hearts of students and stresses that events in the past have affected the lives of people with families, ambitions and feelings; it emphasizes that people and their actions affect historical events. Most history classes will be enriched when the teacher adds historical fiction to the curriculum.

While few students will read non-fiction historical texts when they leave school, virtually everyone watches movies or reads novels that fictionalize history. How many people have read informational texts about the history of Britain between the World Wars, the American Civil War, slave rebellions in ancient Rome, the Watergate Crisis, or the Cuban Missile Crisis? Many people, especially if the books have reached the best seller lists. But tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, have watched films such as The King’s Speech, Glory, Spartacus, All the President’s Men and Thirteen Days and have read nothing on these topics.

This will continue in the future. Hollywood repeatedly turns to historical topics for its movies and millions watch them. The publishing industry offers new historical fiction titles each year and thousands read them. For the vast majority of people, it is historical fiction that determines how students view the past. Thus, one of the best favors that social studies teachers can do for their students is to give them the tools to evaluate historical fiction.

The TeachWithMovies.com Historical Fiction Film Study Worksheet provides a movie worksheet with a consistent scholarly approach to analyzing historical fiction, whether written or filmed. Students are required to examine the plot, the characters and the theme of the story, just as if it were any other fictional tale. Then they are asked to look at the historical aspects of the work, evaluate its accuracy and assess whether it provides a beneficial view in relation to what actually occurred.

The pedagogical technique of the Historical Fiction Homework Project is based on repetition. When students are required several times during the school year to fill out a movie worksheet that requires them to analyze historical fiction with a scholarly approach, it will give students a mindset with which to view historical fiction in the future. The TeachWithMovies.com Film Study Worksheet can be used for novels as well as for movies.

An additional advantage to the new TeachWithMovies.com curriculum products is that they are designed to require a minimal expenditure of class time. Teachers will have students read or watch historical fiction and fill out the movie worksheet as homework. The results of the worksheet analysis can then be shared in class or serve as the basis for a writing assignment, meeting other curriculum standards. In addition, teaching students how to analyze historical fiction is cross-curricular with English classes.

The Historical Fiction Film Lists provide an extensive array of movies that meet high artistic standards and that are reasonably historically accurate. If students can’t get movies on the list or they can’t watch movies at home, teachers can show a film in their classroom after school every other week or so.

James Frieden, a co-founder of TeachWithMovies.com summarizes the new initiative: “Our goal in creating the Historical Fiction Homework Project has been to help teachers show students how to understand and evaluate what will be their primary exposure to historical information as adults. The project, together with the movie worksheet and the list of movies, will enable to teachers to give students a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.”

Since 1998, TeachWithMovies.com has offered curriculum materials integrating film into the K – 12 curriculums.

Links to the new products can be found on our website under What's New.

TWM invites teachers and others to comment on the TeachWithMovies Blog.

The quote from Terry Lindquist is found here.


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