Teaching Tools

Anatomy of a Media Arts Lesson: Viewing

Anatomy of a Media Arts Lesson: Viewing

Posted by: San Francisco Film Society

Viewing examples of existing media arts work—both professional and youth-made—is often the best way to get students to think more critically about their own work. Keep in mind that it is developmentally appropriate for young learners to imitate others as they work on developing their own unique approach. Understanding, and in some cases even recreating, the work of another artist is a key part of the process.

A viewing activity can be as simple as looking at still photographs to discuss framing or it can mean viewing and analyzing a feature-length film. Viewing typically goes hand in hand with the discussion portion of a lesson. The Media Literacy section of this guide contains more information about how to successfully incorporate viewing in the classroom. We also offer lesson plans for over a hundred independent educational films in our Study Guides section, where you can browse titles by subject area and grade level.

When selecting films for your students to watch, consider the formal elements of a film or a clip as well as its subject matter. To complement making lessons, you may design your viewing lessons to:

• illustrate a certain formal technique, such as editing or cinematography.

• demonstrate how different media makers have approached a similar subject.

• break down the production process by identifying what was done in order to complete the film.

• examine the way artistic choices created a certain aesthetic.

• debate what works and what doesn’t. This should go beyond personal taste, and students should be able to articulate and defend their reactions

• imagine alternate approaches to existing films (i.e. what would Do the Right Thing look like if it were set in the Bay Area?)

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