Vanguard Teaching

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Cinema and Media Studies

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My classroom of 12th graders watching “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” with Arabic and English subtitles while they take notes.

Media Literacy and Language Literacy via


Jacobs’ discussion on how we should use movie media in different ways to increase literacy altered my approach to presenting movies.   In the past, I would just go for basic language development by having students writing down new vocabulary words from the film.  However, I changed my approach to using films in the classroom through having high-level and low-level students pair up to take different roles in watching the film.  The movies I showed all had dual subtitles (I merged Arabic and English subtitles using this website) for the lower-level students to read the Arabic subtitles and interpret the movie from an artistic perspective while the higher-level students used the English subtitles to obtain more vocabulary words.  The two would share information they gained about the movie to produce a collaborative essay or Vine parody of the film.


Movie Notes Sheet for Gaining Language and Story Information on the movie

With this year’s 12th-grade theme is “Preparing for the Professional World”, we watched “The Pursuit of Happyness”, “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”, and “Creed”.  While the 11th graders watched “Up” and “Selma” to connect with the “Society and Citizenship” theme.  The discussions on history, self-discipline, future careers (in the post-oil Middle East) and other topics were really engaging.

This was the most difficult curriculum alteration I have had so far this year.  Unfortunately, the administrators did not understand why I was playing movies in class. They thought I was just wasting academic time showing films.  Even though I forewarned them about my intentions and actions dealing with films, the administrators still impugned the validity of my lessons.  There are always silver linings in my eyes.  I used this misunderstanding as a good conflict resolution experience in making sure that I could clear my name without shaming my superiors.

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