Teach Compare and Contrast with Short Films

Short films are highly effective tools when teaching comprehension skills, especially with English language learners. Most short films are wordless. This allows students to grasp the concept being taught without initially relying on their reading or listening skills. If the concept is first taught visually, THEN through language (listening, speaking, reading and writing), students can more readily apply their understanding, in this case with the skill of compare and contrast. This results in students participating in the language building activities with increased confidence. 

One of my favorite lessons COMPARES the films "Joy and Heron" and "Dustin."  


These two films are very different, yet they have so much in common. I like to start with Joy and Heron, but it really doesn't matter. After I show the first film, we discuss various aspects of the film (depending on my focus, as well as, my group of students). For my newcomers, or beginners, we do this whole lesson together and we really focus on the skill and language of comparing.  

For my students with higher language skills, we compare AND contrast. I might fill out the chart for the first film as a whole group activity, then have them fill out the chart for the second film on their own. This lesson is easily adaptable depending on the needs of students.  

DAY 1: For my newcomers, after showing the first film, I ask my students about the characters, setting, problem, and depending... an act of kindness, the result of the kindness and the ending. I note their responses on a piece of chart paper or on the board. I will need to prompt them, ask leading questions and provide specific vocabulary in order to help them elicit the necessary information for the chart. 

DAY 2: We watch the second film, then fill in the chart with the same information.

DAY 3: We review the information on the chart, then COMPARE how the two films are similar. For language support, I provide sentence frames and they also have the chart to reference. 

This lesson is always a hit with students, and a favorite of mine. My students are engaged, in large part due to the use of these short films, and set up for success with the language supports. It's a great way to teach comprehension skills AND build language skills. 

For a blog post that lists more than 20 of my favorite short films for teaching comprehension skills, CLICK HERE!

For a comprehensive resource for this lesson that includes three graphic organizers and vocabulary for beginners, plus PRINT and DIGITAL options, click on the image below.

Happy teaching with short films! 

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