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Movie Review Assignment!

We have just finished our unit on storytelling and different story mediums. For our
next assignment we will be focusing on one of the most popular modern forms of
storytelling: movies! Instead of writing our own movies, like we wrote our own
stories, we will be writing reviews of movies. After we have all written our reviews,
we will have a class movie party where we will share our reviews and watch our
favorite clips from the movie together in class.

To begin this unit, we need to choose movies to watch. There is a list on the backside
of this handout of pre-approved movies. If none of them catch your eye, you are
encouraged to choose a movie you will like. However, if the movie is not on the pre-
approved list, you will need to talk to me about it first. In order to have someone to
be a peer review buddy, we will have groups. These groups can have 2-5 people in
them. Although students may watch the movie together, these reviews are
individual assignments. Each student should turn in a 2-3 page review.

The purpose of this assignment is to reflect on how different techniques are used to
create a story, to write with an audience in mind, and to form and articulate an
opinion that may be unpopular. Your movie review should include a summary of
the movie’s plot that doesn’t give away the ending. The review should have a
summary, but not be just a summary. Rather, the review should build an opinion
about how the movie succeeds and struggles to tell the story successfully.

Don’t be overwhelmed! We will work through this process together and hopefully
have fun in the process. 

Movie & partner decided by: ___________________________
Movie watched by: ______________________________
Peer revision of first draft: __________________________________
Final draft: ___________________________________

Have fun!
Wonder (2017)
The Help
Inside Out
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Sixth Sense
Singin’ in the Rain
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Black Panther (2018)
E.T. The Extraterrestrial
Remember the Titans
The Hunger Games
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
A Quiet Place
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Earth to Echo
12 Angry Men
The Lord of the Rings

To some extent, everyone enjoys and watches movies. People have movie preferences
and often discuss with their friends why they liked/disliked a movie they watched.
Because students already enjoy and discuss movies, I think that teaching them
components of writing and thinking about movie reviews would capitalize on that interest
that is already there. Teaching students how to write movie reviews would help them
think about the different components of a story and what techniques a movie will use to
successfully convey a theme, message, or mood. By thinking about these components of
the movie and how they shape into the whole, students will be able to use that critical
thinking lens to determine why they liked or disliked a movie. They will be equipped to
form and explain their opinions based on evidence from the movie.

Movie reviews require the writer to summarize the plot. I think the skill of summarizing
is important for students to learn, and helps them develop cognitively as writers. By
summarizing, students learn how to highlight the most important ideas and how to ignore
irrelevant information. They learn how to quickly explain plot in a compelling way.
Another important part of writing summaries in a movie review is that it isn’t just a
simple plot description. The summary requires students to think about which aspects of
the story are important to their opinion and argument. This requires a lot of critical
thinking. The summary should support the theme the students wish to expand upon. Not
only the plot, but the other components of a movie (filmography, acting, character
development, etc.) should be discussed as evidence for the theme. Students should
already know how to identify and choose themes, but we will continue to discuss that
skill in this unit. Summarizing a skill movie reviews require that I think will be amongst
the most beneficial skills learned from this assignment. I also think it will be one of the
hardest parts to teach. Learning how to summarize in a way that is not too lengthy or too
concise will be difficult. Students will have to think in an objective way to not leave their
reader bored with every detail, or confused by the scarcity of detail.

Movie reviews also require that the writer knows their audience. The writer must
understand what the audience wants to hear and know about the movie. Movie reviews
include a rating and a recommendation to the audience of whether they should see the
movie or not. Understanding audience is an important part of writing anything, so this
skill will be very transferable.

This writing unit will be done during the second quarter of school, at the beginning of the
quarter. I think the movie aspect will make the assignment exciting for students and it
will allow students to feel comfortable disagreeing constructively with one another. This
unit could be adapted to any grade level, but I am planning on 8th graders. Because of the
intended student demographic, this lesson plan will include more scaffolding on ideas
such as the theme, components, summarizing, and analysis than would be necessary for
older students. I am planning on each class period being 60 minutes long. This plan can
be adapted for students of special needs: they could watch a simpler/shorter movie, write
a shorter review, receive more one-on-one attention, and possibly extend the due date if
necessary. This unit will fulfill several of Utah’s Common Core Standards including:

[insert standards]
I was interested in teaching movie reviews for my unit plan because I think that it is
something students could be interested in and I think the skills learned will be beneficial
to students as they continue to become writers. The skills learned in summarizing will
help students identify themes and think critically of narratives in future papers (and in
life). The skill of developing and supporting an opinion will help students find evidence
and use it in a way to form an evidence-based opinion, this will help students in any form
of persuasive writing they will do in the future. The ability to understand audience is a
useful skill as well because for any form of writing, audience is an important aspect.
Students will learn how to speak effectively to their audience.
Strategies and Reflection Questions

Strategies for Inquiry

Strategies for Drafting

Strategies for Product

Reflection Questions

Which strategies did you use on this paper? How did they help or not help?
Did you have a favorite strategy? How could you use this strategy for a future writing
Did you have a least favorite strategy? Why did that strategy not work for you?
How could you alter that strategy so that it would help you in your writing process?
You may not write many movie reviews in the future, what skills and strategies did you
learn from this assignment that you can use in the future?
Is there a strategy you did not try this time but would want to try next time?
Unit Timeline

Day 1-5: Inquiry

 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Write about a movie you wish you could live in
 Introduce assignment
 Group Share: Students discuss their favorite movie and what they liked or disliked
about it. Students also discuss their least favorite movie and what they liked or
disliked about it.
 Discuss what makes a movie good. (Talk about different components of a movie.)
 Show them the list of movies I have and ask if there are any movies that should be
 Students can read a little bit about the movies and choose one with a partner to
 Homework: watch the movie trailer for the movie they chose.
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: What is your favorite smell? Does that smell remind
you of any memories?
 Mini-lesson: Components of a movie – make a list of the characteristics movies
have but books don’t (i.e. actors, we see colors, hear sounds, they are shorter
usually, filming). Talk about different pros and cons of these.
 Inquiry Strategy: Annotate a movie by pausing it. Analyze the still image by
writing down feelings/thoughts about what is happening on one side of the paper
and what is producing that feeling on the other side of the paper.
 Activity: Flip the images and see what the new tone would be. Did those things
(blocking, colors, angles, etc.) change the connotation of the image?
 Homework: Watch the movie trailer again and make predictions about the
characters, plot, theme, etc.
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: What character from a book or movie do you most
relate with and why?
 Inquiry Strategy/Activity: Annotate different movie reviews making note of what
works well and what doesn’t work as well.
 Skill mini-lesson: Identifying a theme
 Activity: Watch clips from a movie identifying how the angles of the filming add
different dynamics to the movie.
 Homework: Watch the first half of the movie
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Who is someone that inspires you?
 Inquiry Strategy: Discuss the movie with a partner
 Inquiry Strategy: Look at mentor texts again
 Activity: Watch a clip from a movie with no sound. What does the sound add to
the movie? Write in notebooks the difference the element of sound adds
 Homework: Make a list of questions you have about the movie (What will
happen? Why is that character like that? Etc.)
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Watch the youtube video “Everything Wrong With
Star Wars” write about a movie pet peeve (or just a regular pet peeve)
 Reminder that movies need to be watched by the next school day
 Activity: Movie posters
 Skills mini-lesson: Audience
 Skills mini-lesson: Voice
 Homework: Finish watching the movie
Day 6-8: Drafting
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Scariest moment of your life
 Quiz on movie they watched
 Skills mini-lesson: Summarizing
 Activity: Watch movie trailers observing how they explain the essence of the plot
without giving any spoilers
 Drafting strategy: Observe mentor texts looking at summaries of movies
 Time for drafting
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Most embarrassing moment
 Drafting strategy: Review product goals
 Skills mini-lesson: Use evidence from movie to support opinion
 Time for drafting
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Write the origin story of a weird law
 Drafting strategy: Organize/Structure
 Drafting activity: Revisit mentor texts observing different structures
 Time for drafting
Day 9-11: Revising
 Draft due in class!
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: Your favorite place in the world
 Revision strategy: Peer Revisions
 Skills mini-lesson: Using evidence from movies
 Revision strategy: Use different colored highlighters to highlight the opinion and
the evidence for the opinion.
DAY 10
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: What superpower would you want to have? What
would you do with that power?
 Strategy mini-lesson: Fat drafting
 Revision strategy: Fat drafting
 Strategy mini-lesson: Counting words in sentences to revise for sentence fluency
 Skills mini-lesson: Sentence types can establish a tone
DAY 11
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: If you could win any award, which award would you
want to win?
 Revision strategy: Read out loud
 Revision strategy: Peer feedback, praise and push
Day 12-13: Editing
DAY 12
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: What is the best thing that has happened to you all
 Skill mini-lesson: Subject-verb agreement
 Small peer review groups to look at grammatical conventions
DAY 13
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: What is a lesson you have learned because of a
 Skill mini-lesson: Passive voice
 Time to polish writing – meet with me for teacher conference
Day 14: Publishing
DAY 14
 Writer’s Notebook Prompt: What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Who gave it to you? Why did it mean so much?
 Movie reviews are turned in! Yay!!
 Movie Club: Meet with peers who haven’t seen the movie and share
 Movie day: Watch a favorite clip from each movie the students reviewed
 In-class reflection. Turn in portfolios.