Before analyzing plot, like really analyzing it, it may be helpful to review some basics. Regardless of where you are in the school year, you can count on kids in your class who just can’t remember exactly what “rising action” means!
Check out this five minute video I found (didn’t create it myself– just trying to share great stuff here!) that is set to music and simply walks through the basic elements of plot.
This plot analysis video works well as a review later in the year, or as a way to introduce plot in the beginning of the year. Either way, it’s useful and beneficial for your students.
Ok, so what about actual story video clips, like from movies or TV shows?
If I want to grab my students’ attention, which video clips or animated stories are best to do that?
Also… How can I make sure they’re learning, thinking critically, and analyzing in a way that is meaningful?
It’s not just about taking up class time or analyzing film clips because it’s fun…
It’s so much more than that.
The point here is to use visual, concrete methods to introduce or review a concept (in this place, how to analyze plot).
So now let’s look at strategically using video or film analysis in the 6th grade Language Arts classroom (or in other ELA grade levels for that matter).
Here are some ideas for when to strategically use film/video clips/animated movies to teach plot analysis:
1) the beginning of class when you need the students to get settled TIP: Make sure the sound is set a bit lower than usual so the students have to get quiet. They’ll “shush” themselves and each other to be able to hear a movie clip!
2) when transitioning between topics, concepts, or ideas in the classroomTIP: Have the exact video ready to go ahead of time and when it’s close to time for you to transition, start the video so your students can see it and just leave it on “pause” so they know what’s coming up and so they know to finish up and prepare for the next part of the day’s activity.
3) the end of class when you have that awkward 5 – 10 minutes leftover TIP: If you find yourself frantically searching for a useful video clip to provide a little analysis for those last few minutes of class, give your students a quick “set-up” activity to do while you pull up a video.
The “set-up” activity will take them a couple minutes, and it basically just means that you can say to your class, “I’m pulling up a film clip to show you that has to do with plot. We’ve been discussing lately, so while I’m getting the video ready, I want you to pull out a sheet of paper, turn it horizontally, and draw and label a plot diagram. As soon as that’s ready, I’ll start the video clip.”
What this does is it accomplishes two things:
First of all, it gives the students something to do while you find that dang video clip.
Second, it gives students an opportunity to recall the basic plot elements since they have to label the diagram. It makes for a nice, quick review.
What comes next?
Show the video clip. With 2-3 minutes left in class, stop the video clip and allow the students to add details to the plot diagram based on what they saw. They don’t have to fill in the whole thing; that’s not the point. It’s just a quick “exit ticket” way to review an element or two of plot, to see what they know and what they remember, and plus– you can always begin class the next day by picking up where you left off, thereby extending the discussion and learning opportunities.
If you’re in a bind or if you just don’t know where to start, check out these child-friendly animated film clips that provide lots of opportunity for plot analysis: Just pull up this page and click on the video– they’re ready to go right away!