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Teaching History with Film: Strategies for Secondary Social Studies Paperback – 25 Feb 2010


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"…Teaching History with Film provides useful guidelines for a thoughtful, sophisticated use of film to serve a range of instructional purposes in the secondary classroom. In doing so, it offers teachers and education faculty a helpful resource in effectively using a medium that has long been a staple of the history classroom."--The History Teacher

"The book is a valuable resource of ideas and possibilities when contemplating how to teach history in the secondary classroom. The authors do a fine job of including real teachers’ thinking around approaching their curriculum. In advocating for the thoughtful use of film to help students learn about broad themes, big issues, and pertinent topics spanning the passage of time, Marcus et al. show how history has the power to connect us all, past and present."--Teachers College Record

"This book offers a provocative and emerging effort to incorporate film into social studies curricula."--Theory & Research in Social Education

"Having read Teaching History with Film, we can no longer think of film as the too-familiar Friday standby...Carefully drawn classroom contexts, attention to the research base (much of it the authors') and a solid grounding in theory make it clear that teaching history with film has benefits commensurate with its challenges, especially in regard to highly controversial topics. This book is an outstanding contribution to the literature on teaching and learning history."--Linda S. Levstik, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Kentucky

About the Author

Alan S. Marcus is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut.

Scott Alan Metzger is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the Pennsylvania State University at University Park.

Richard J. Paxton is the Thomas S. Thompson Distinguished Professor of Education at Pacific University, Oregon.

Jeremy D. Stoddard is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the College of William & Mary.


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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
History with film 23 Sept. 2010
By VY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An outstanding reference book for teachers who use film in their classrooms. Full of innovative ideas for film usage for the education practitioner with theory to back it up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Addition to an Educator's Toolbox 16 Dec. 2014
By gloine36 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you are a secondary social studies teacher looking for ways to integrate films into your history courses, this is the book for you. The authors have explored the use of film by various teachers across the US and how those instructors developed course lessons for themes. These instructors did not just show films. That is a major error in using film in any course. Students have nothing to work with as they try to integrate the film into their knowledge of history which is often underdeveloped at the secondary school level. They need guidance and this is the part where this book shines.

The authors break down each instructor’s film module and place them into a delivery method. The first two chapters explore why film is used to teach history and notes that by itself film is not able to do that, a fact which is well noted by historians and educators. The remaining eight chapters delve into an individual instructor and how they incorporate film into their teaching. These instructors are generally experienced educators working in secondary school that run the gamut from poor to wealthy school districts. Students in these districts range across the diversity of the US, with some districts being next to lily white while others are in varying percentages of ethnic make-up. Regardless of their social, class, and ethnic backgrounds, the instructors had to develop teaching lessons in order to use the films effectively in their classrooms.

The eight chapters each have a theme which is used to illustrate how the instructor presented films to students in order to teach history. No two instructors were the same in their approach, but all had the same pedagogical goals as their objectives. This reflects the way our students are taught on a daily basis in America. No two teachers are the same. Each has different experiences which are manifested in some way through their teaching. The result is a broad range of teaching styles with very little cookie cutter systemic development being observed. On one hand this is good, but on the other hand, teacher development in the US is often haphazard. I think this is reflected in how the authors of this book selected experienced instructors for the examples. These teachers have learned through trial and error what to do in order to transfer knowledge to their students. Hopefully, less experienced instructors can benefit from that wealth of knowledge as expressed in this book.

As an instructor for a community college who teaches a history course using film, I was given a baptism by fire in developing a course with a minimum of overall guidance. This book would have been a very good tool to have at that point. Now that I have some experience, I can see how this book is quite beneficial. The only problem I have with the content is that it is designed specifically for secondary school use. The time elements in a semester at college require some serious adjusting of the calendar when considering the modules employed by the instructors in this book. However, that does not preclude using the historical analysis methods shown in use by these instructors.

It is that historical analysis that enables film to be used as a medium for teaching history. Without the primary and secondary sources to provide context for the themes of each film, the students would be little more than movie goers with popcorn. The analysis is absolutely critical for the successful understanding of the themes in the movies. Without it, the courses would be failures. That is the heart of this book. It really points out the need for planning lessons that are designed to explore the themes in films, not the actual film. When the themes are considered to be the primary learning objectives, the films become useful tools for exploring the themes.

In the end, the authors have done a very good job in developing a slim book at 200 pages which explores the role of film in history education at the secondary school level. I consider the book to be quite useful for my own work through the adaptation of the ideas to higher education. Personally, I am quite ready to create a World History film class in addition to my American History courses so I too can use Kingdom of Heaven in exploring that part of history. As an instructor, I think this is a very good resource for instructors who wish to add the use of film to their educational toolbox.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Strong Primer on Teaching History with Film for High School and Community College Teachers 20 Aug. 2014
By Eric H. Roth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What is lost and what is gained in using film to portray history? How do films recreate the emotional context of historical events? What are some effective techniques for exposing and disclosing the tension between accuracy in real history and the need for drama in reel history? Which definitions of accuracy matter most in using film to teach history?

Teaching History with Film: Strategies for Secondary Social Studies by Alan S. Marcus, Scott Alan Metzger, Richard J. Paxton and Jeremy Dr. Stoddard addresses these vexing questions in a clear, systematic manner. The book emphasizes five distinct reasons why classroom teachers should use film to teach. The book itself presents convincing reasons, backed by specific examples, lesson plans and chapter reflections.

Each part focuses on a reason that film can teach history: for instance, Part I highlights its historical value while Part III focuses on development of analytical or interpretive skills. Though the overall theme in each part is applicable to a wide range of movies, the book provides a specific historical timeline or topic as well. For instance, to display film's ability to teach the "empathy for caring," the case descriptions, lesson plans and activities focus on Southeast Asian events, particularly the consequences of the Vietnam and Korean War, with films like "Gran Torino" and "The Killing Fields." At the end of each section, a "Reflection on the Case" follows to analyze and portray the advantages and drawbacks of using film to teach a particular lesson.

Yet the authors are careful to acknowledge the limitations to using film as a teaching tool, such as historical accuracy, film selection and passivity of watching film. In this manner, the book does not serve to prescribe that teachers follow its lesson plans exactly, or use film to teach every historical subject. Rather, its logical organization, balance of pictures and text and specificity of examples serve to supplement or guide teachers curious about using film in their classrooms. Consider me impressed on multiple levels.

I strongly recommend this careful, scholarly, and reflective book for high school Social Studies teachers - and some community college and university teachers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good Book 14 May 2013
By Theodore Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're wanting to incorporate film into teaching your history class, this book is a great resource. It even gives you some lesson plans already done!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good 27 Sept. 2011
By Sydney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The product arrives on time and the quality is excellent. I like the book very much.I am very glad that I purchase the book here.
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