THEMATIC STRANDS AND OUTCOME LEVELS
The core academic-content standards have five thematic strands:
1.0 Film Language. Students learn to read and interpret visual text by developing a film vocabulary, identifying editing techniques, and analyzing film elements within selected scenes.
2.0 Historical and Cultural Contexts. Students understand that a film is both a historical/social document and a cultural artifact. Students analyze social issues presented in film and form conclusions about the ways in which film influences and is influenced by the society in which it is produced.
3.0 Production and Creative Expression. Students understand that film is an expression of a director’s personal vision produced through a collaborative process. Students understand and distinguish the various filmmaking roles that contribute to the final work of art.
4.0 Viewers’ Response and Aesthetic Valuing. Students understand that a film is a work of art. Students describe, interpret, and analyze a film’s visual design. They respond to and make informed judgments about film, deriving personal meaning from the work. They express their viewpoints through oral and/or written presentations.
5.0 Cross-Curricular Connections. Students first tap their knowledge of other disciplines to study a film. They then apply what they have learned about film to other disciplines, making connections between film and literature/language arts, film and history/social studies, film and other arts, and film and sciences.
The National Film Study Standards emphasize depth of knowledge rather than mere exposure to film clips. The curriculum program features three feature films for in-depth study over a period of four to six weeks each. These films are Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, directed by Frank Capra), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, directed by Robert Wise), and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, directed by Robert Mulligan). Each film focuses on significantly different subject matters—American government and media, war and the development of atomic weapons, and civil rights and family values. The study units are applicable across all three grades, rather than being grade-specific. To encourage flexibility in the classroom and to allow teachers to adapt materials to grade levels and student abilities, the content and outcomes described in these national standards are grouped into three competency levels:
· Level I = Basic
· Level II = Intermediate
· Level III = Advanced
The lessons and activities for each of the three film units bridge these three levels. However, some learning outcomes are film-specific. Examples include the following: Propaganda in moving images is taught only in the unit for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; characteristics of the science fiction film genre is taught only in the unit for The Day the Earth Stood Still; voice-over narration is a film-language term taught only in the unit for To Kill a Mockingbird. Nevertheless, teachers who complete the entire Story of Movies program for middle school over one to three years will touch upon all learning outcomes on all three levels.