Syllabus coming soon. Some content may not be appropriate for all students. Selected films can be reviewed at Common Sense Media. See Required Texts tab for more details.
At the heart of a film is a good story. In this course, students will view a wide variety of classic and recent films to consider that question: What makes a good story? How do they help us understand the world and ourselves? In order to do that, we’ll tackle both the language of literature and the language of film. We’ll consider genre, theme, plot, characterization, motifs, allusions, metaphors, and other core elements of literary analysis. We’ll also look at lighting, sound, cinematography, acting, special effects, and other elements of film analysis. Topics will also incorporate film history and adaptation.
Discussion and writing are cornerstones of the course. In addition to guidance on writing, students should expect to learn tools for class discussion and enter into a lively discussion during most weeks. While the focus of the course is film, there are several readings, including short stories, articles, and two full books. Writing focuses on developing student voice and clarity of communication. Assignments include film reviews, thesis-based literary analysis papers, personal narratives, and creative writing.
Our course is broken into four units:
- Introduction to Film
- Coming of Age
- Speculative Stories
Each unit includes five films and one polished, longer writing assignment. Students read one book each semester: one in the Coming of Age unit and one in the Justice unit. Students should expect to watch a full film on their own time most weeks. All other readings and assignments are short.
Who should enroll?
Students in grades 10-12 who would like an alternative core English course or an English or film studies elective. At heart, it’s a course for students who like movies and enjoy discussing films.
Please note! I welcome students who struggle with reading and would appreciate an alternative English course as a result. I also welcome lovers of literature who want a different type of English class or an elective. All students should note that there are readings for class that include essays and two full books (audiobooks are acceptable). Students are asked to participate in discussions without exception (via chat or microphone are both acceptable). There are also several essay assignments and writing is a core part of the course.
This is a high school course for students grade 10 and up. All students should understand the basics of how to write an analytical essay.
- High-speed broadband Internet
- Sound card and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures and films
- Students may be asked to scan or take pictures of certain assignments for submission
Note that there is no subscription film service required for this course, but students must have access to all films. Additionally, we will do a group film watch over Watch Party once per semester and students are strongly urged to participate.
Evaluation and Feedback
My goal as an educator is always to help your student move forward in their skills with reading, writing, and critical thinking. Students start in different places. This is why I give extensive feedback on key writing assignments and make myself available to talk students through tricky assignments if they ask for help. The back and forth of the classroom is a big part of how we learn.
Classes are live and interactive. Participation is part of the grade for this course. Assignments are marked and returned in a timely fashion. I respond to student messages promptly and make myself available for students to schedule short help sessions for assignments and try to reach out to students who are struggling with work.
Rubrics are provided for all writing assignments. Grades reflect completion of all work as well as quality. Revision is a focus of the writing in this course and students will be expected to revise all major assignments.
I communicate with students via Canvas and email. I usually respond quickly to questions and I urge students to reach out any time they need help.