John Golden offers middle and high school teachers a practical guide for using documentary film in the classroom to improve students' reading, writing, and thinking skills; includes discussions of over 30 films, step-by-step activities, and copy-ready handouts.


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Students today are asked to read and interpret an increasingly diverse variety of nonfiction texts. From science textbooks and standardized tests to the daily newspaper, students are constantly required to determine what is “real” and are asked to make judgments about validity, objectivity, and bias. Because nonfiction texts are read differently than fiction, students need to learn different skills for decoding and interpreting nonfiction works.

In this follow-up to his successful Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom, John Golden offers strategies for teaching nonfiction by demonstrating that teaching students to “read” documentary films can help them identify and practice the skills that good readers need when they encounter other nonfiction texts.

By tapping into students’ natural attraction to film, teachers can help students understand key concepts such as theme, tone, and point of view as well as practice and improve their persuasive, narrative, and expository writing abilities. Studying documentaries helps students learn how nonfiction texts are constructed and how these texts may shape the viewer’s/reader’s opinion.

With classroom-tested activities, ready-to-copy handouts, and extensive lists of resources, including a glossary of film terminology, an index of documentaries by category, and an annotated list of additional resources, John Golden discusses more than thirty films and gives teachers the tools they need to effectively teach nonfiction texts using popular documentaries such as Hoop Dreams, Spellbound, and Super Size Me, as well as lesser known but accessible films such as Girlhood, The Gleaners and I, and The True Meaning of Pictures.

285 pp. 2006. Grades 7–12. ISBN 10: 0-8141-3875-6; ISBN 13: 978-0-8141-3875-5.