Friday, August 6, 2010

Trailers for English: the Batman lesson

I've been working all year with the English teacher who has a low-ability Year 9 English class.  All but one boys.  It's an interesting challenge to find material for them, that is within their scope, not patronising, not childish but accessible and attention-grabbing.  We've done a 'film trailer' lesson with them already, using 2012 (which a number had seen, and all thought RUBBISH) and The A-Team.  It worked out well, and they had lots to comment on and discuss in class.

Wanting to cover tone, colour and suchlike with them, we hit on using Batman as our example.  Contrast/compare can really help these kids see the differences and therefore be able to comment on them, and most have some idea of Batman based on the most recent films, so it gives them some secure ground under their feet/confidence to contribute.

Compare the 1960s Adam West/tv series Batman, not afraid of the daylight:
with more recent versions, usually shown at night, and in FAR cooler gear:

In showing trailers/clips from each, there's plenty to talk about - use of colour, tone/feeling, the way the stories are being presented, the characters are being presented, how music and voiceover are used.  Lots of obvious details that the kids could pick up on - the suit, the badge, two versions of the Joker etc etc - that could be used for discussion/elaboration.

Here's the list of trailers/clips I compiled for the lesson in the library - some we showed twice.  In their next classroom lesson the teacher has a worksheet prepared for them to work through as a class group, to make notes and discuss what they've seen.

Batman: Trailers and Clips

1960s Batman introduction (TV series)

1960s Batman shark scene (TV series)

1989 Batman film trailer (Tim Burton)

2005 Batman Begins film trailer (Christopher Nolan)

2008 The Dark Knight film trailer (Christopher Nolan)

2008 teaser

The boys said they'd MUCH rather wear the latest Batman's suit, not the stretchy purple number from the 1960s; but they found Heath Ledger's Joker much scarier than Jack Nicholson's (esp. since some of them recognised Jack from one of his more recent films, a comedy).

They also found the 1960s Batman corny (well it was...); and the two teachers' reaction to the shark clip (labelled Bat Ladder!  Helicopter that requires careful piloting until this inconveniences the plot! the shark! - we had tears of laughter!!) rather funny too.

I've created several lessons for English classes based on film trailers and clips - with YouTube, TeacherTube, direct projectors and computers, it's much easier to do than it once might have been (at the start of my teaching career one of my jobs was setting up the reel to reel film projector for colleagues, films out of big round tins...) and it's engaging for the kids, visual literacy...and fun.  Fun's good for learning.



PS if you reproduce this blog entry or list anywhere, can you please acknowledge the source?  Thank you.

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