Introduction to Media Arts/Media Literacy Standards
by Frank W. Baker (consultant, member of SCDE VPA curriculum writing team)
Link to Frank Baker's presentation materials at the 2010 SC Alliance for Arts Ed conference)

Today’s students are the visual generation: they’re learning more through the visual medium than from print, so it is important for educators to know how to teach both with and about the media.

Even though our young people are media savvy, they are not necessarily media-literate: they tend to believe everything they see, read and hear.  We know that many of them do not have the critical thinking (and viewing) skills they need to be competent communicators in the 21st century. Our students know how to upload and download photos, music, video and movies seamlessly using mobile devices which have not yet been allowed into the classroom, but that is slowly starting to change.

The new 21st century skills movement ( specifically references media literacy as one of the skills all students need to be attractive to employers in this new century. Several of its recommended activities are included in this document.  Media literacy is defined simply as the ability to both analyze and create media messages. Visual literacy has been defined as
"the ability to construct meaning from visual images." (Source: The Visual Literacy White Paper) So, in this document you will find activities which are designed to engage students in analyzing and deconstructing media messages, as well as creating and producing them.

Media arts/media literacy are not confined to the “arts” classrooms: every discipline uses photographs, videos, films, and music in some manner.  But using them is not the same as understanding how they were made. Our students know (and believe) what they see and hear on the screens (e.g. television, computer, videogame, mobile phone) yet they rarely think about, or have opportunities to learn, how a production gets onto the screen.

This support document is divided into three parts:
1. Visual Literacy (Images and Pictures)
2. Advertising & Commercials
3. Moving Images- Motion Pictures: Understanding The Language of Film

Each section addresses analyzing and creating media---through processes and techniques which will help students appreciate the production process. You, and your students, will be introduced to a series of media literacy concepts and corresponding questions, all designed as the starting framework for beginning to understand media literacy.

General Resource recommendations:
2010 SC Visual/Performing Arts Standards    See also:
Support Document for  ELA Nonprint (sources) texts

Media Literacy Clearinghouse,  a website with thousands of resources, readings, links to books, streaming videos and more.

Digital Media Arts (Introduction to Visual Arts & Digital Design) Curriculum

Media Arts- Minnesota:  another document with excellent ideas for schools

Special note about videos: In addition to the resources available via ETV's Streamline, many excerpts from videos
are now available via YouTube. We suggest you search this video streaming service for any of the titles listed in
the resources sections.

Note about copyright: In order to effectively teach media literacy, teachers need real world texts (television, movies, commercials, etc.)
to use in instruction. Despite the confusion about what is permissible, teachers now have more rights. I recommend you download and
read The Code of Best Practices In Fair Use for Media Literacy.



Visual Literacy (Images and Photographs)
Every day, we see and are exposed to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of images that pass through our radar screens. 
Unfortunately, not many of us know how to "read images.’
One of the ways to teach critical thinking and "media literacy"
is to start with the still image. In many arts classrooms, we begin to introduce the methods and techniques artists use to
create meaning: that knowledge can now be applied to photographs as well.

Resource recommendation: this visual literacy wiki has many valuable resources and ideas.

The following questions may be used as students consider various ways media messages are communicated.


Media Literacy Critical Thinking and Viewing Considerations:


Websites & handouts in support of teaching visual literacy:

Introducing Photography Techniques:  Some Basic Vocabulary for Teaching Kids   

Focus on Photography: A Curriculum Guide

Strategies for Analyzing Visual Images

Questioning Photos

Reading Photos

Photo Analysis Worksheet

Analyzing Photos Worksheet

Reading A Photograph or a Picture

Reading Media Photographs

Formal Visual Analysis: The Elements & Principles of Composition (ArtsEdge)


Kindergarten- Second Grade

Essential questions to guide instruction:

-what is media? 
-what is a still camera?
-what is a video camera?
-what do cameras do?
-who uses cameras?
-why do people use cameras?
-what are some special ways people can use cameras?

-what are signs?

-where do you find signs?

-what is the purpose of sign?;
-notice that billboards are also signs that advertise things

At this age, students could be asked to draw pictures of various signs and teachers can discuss who makes signs, how signs
are used and what purposes they serve.

Students at this grade level can be taught that where a photographer positions themselves (and their camera) has meaning. 

For example, using this image of the giant, from the Jack & The Beanstalk story, 
we can ask students: if you were holding the camera, photographing the giant, where might you be standing?
(The answer: you’d be low- shooting up, tilting your head and your camera up)

When we shoot up at someone, we make them taller (and more important).
This is one of the rules in the “language of photography.”

We can also shoot down on Jack (as if the giant was holding the camera) and when we shoot down on people, we make them smaller
(and not as important).

Holding a Camera: at this grade level students could also learn how to hold a camera. They could be taught how to hold it level
and straight as they look through the viewfinder.  If a digital camera is used, they might even depress the shutter release and look
at the resulting photos to judge their composition.

3rd- 5th Grades
Students can learn how to use their hands to make a simple viewfinder.
This is an important step to teaching "framing" and what is outside the frame (not seen).

Activity: Students can also make a viewfinder.

Students can learn how to incorporate, or embed, an image into a Powerpoint, a Word document or other similar presentation.

Activity: Make a simple camera. Follow the instructions on this page to have student create a simple camera:

Another example of how to make a camera can be found on this page.


Introduce students to how digital cameras work here.

Analyzing photos: After students construct a simple camera, they're ready to begin looking at and studying
photographs. They'll need some guidance. You can begin to introduce simple terms and their meanings.
For example:

composition, focus, frame, horizon line, lens, light, out-of-focus (blurriness), rule-of-thirds, shadows

Here is a good site which explains many photographic terms.

6th- 8th Grades
Students could learn who owns images and how they should be credited when used in
student produced productions: this relates to ethical uses such as copyright and plagiarism.

Ready made lesson plan: Students will be introduced to the "manipulation of images," helping them to
understand the importance of questioning what you see and not to believe everything, even in a photograph.
The lesson plan "Is Seeing Believing?", previously written for the State Department of Education,
can be used here. This lesson involves viewing a seven minute video as background. In addition, it includes
a famous image taken during the Civil War and asks students to brainstorm questions about the image.
The lesson plan includes reading a background article about the photo in question.

See also: Introduction to Digital Photography.

9th-12th Grades
Students explore the process of how an image goes from acquisition to publication.
They research and investigate how a photographer gets hired; how they do their job;
what digital tools and techniques are used to produce an image; how it is delivered;

who sees it; and what the audience thinks of the image. Another key question here
might be: who benefits from the image?

Resources for locating/using images/photos online:

Awesome Stories Images

Caroliniana Collections (

Editor & Publisher: Photos of the Year

EduPic: free graphics/photos

History of South Carolina Slide Collection (
Image After
Jamie McKenzie's recommendations
LENS, NYT photojournalism blog
Library of Congress: Photographic Images from US History
LIFE magazine archives
March Of Time newsreel archives
National Archives
National Geographic
The New Eyes Project  (K-12 resources)
Pictures of the Year International

Picturing the Past (1840-1900)


Sources for Current News Images (Yahoo)


Elementary Resources
 Textbook Correlations

Recommended texts for Teachers

Student Text


Streaming Video

Art Connections
(SRA/McGraw-Hill, 2005)
Lesson 6 Value Contrast: Ansel Adams, pg 57

Art  Grade 4
(Scott Foresman, 2005)
Lesson 3 Photography, pg 128-131

Art Connections Level 5 (SRA, 2005)
Unit 1  Value Contrast
Photography pg 56

I See What You Mean, 2nd Edition (Stenhouse, 2012)

Teaching Visual Literacy in the Primary Classroom
(Routledge, 2010) 

Award Winning Digital Photography Projects (teacher's edition)

Picture This: Photography Activities For Early Childhood Learning
(Corwin Press, 2009)

Kids, Cameras and the Curriculum: Focusing on Learning in the Primary Grades
(Heinemann 2008)

Engaging The Eye Generation- Visual Strategies for the K-5 Classroom (Stenhouse, 2009)
Reading Photographs to Write With Meaning and Purpose,
Grades 4–12 (IRA)

Children Reading Pictures: Interpreting Visual Texts  (2002)

I Wanna Take Me A Picture: Teaching Photography and Writing to Children  Wendy Ewall

The Hole Thing, A Manual of Pinhole Fotografy, (1974), Morgan & Morgan, Inc.

Start With Art: Photographs
Heinemann-Raintree, 2012)

Photography for Kids!: A Fun Guide to Digital Photography
(Rocky Nook, 2011)

Photography (Culture in Action)
(Raintree, 2010)

Digital Photo Madness
(Lark Books, 2010)

Photography (What is Art?)
(Raintree, 2009)

Cameras for Kids: Fun and Inexpensive Projects for the Little Photographer
(Volume 1) CreateSpace 2009

(Kids Discover magazine)

The History of The Camera
(Heinemann Library, 2008)

The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography
(Lark Books, 2004)

Picture This: Fun Photography and Crafts (Kids Can Do It) (2003)

Photography Guide for Kids
(National Geographic, 2001)

Take a Look Around: Photography Activities for Young People
by Jim Varriale (Millbrook Press, 1999)

Make It Work! Photography
(Action Publishing, 1996)

How it Works  Cameras

Focus On Photography: A Curriculum Guide

Photography 101: Tips From the Pros

Visual Literacy and Picture Books:
An explanation of how visual literacy can be used to enhance classroom literacy programs

Reading Picture Books

Word and Image
(TIME Magazine Teacher Guide:
The Language of Photography)

Photography (Activities) For Kids

Visual Literacy
(Media Literacy Clearinghouse)



Pinhole Photography for Kids

See more visual literacy videos listed


Middle School Resources

South Carolina

Textbook Correlation

Teacher Texts

Student Texts


Websites /Videos

Exploring Art
(Glencoe, 2007)
Chapter 10 Photography
pgs. 182-197

Art 6th Grade
Scott Foresman (2005)
Lesson 9
Still Photography
pg. 144

Art 7th Grade
Scott Foresman (2005)
Unit 6  Lesson 4
Photographer pg 260

Art 8th Grade
Scott Foresman (2005)
Lesson 9
Photography & Videography  pg. 140-142

ArtTalk (Glencoe, 2005)
Photography: pg 57-58;
pg. 394-395

The Visual Experience
Davis Publ (2005)
Dorothea Lange pg 154
Photography & Film
(pg 230-233)

Art and the Human Experience A Community Connection, Davis Pub (2001)
Photography pg 236-237

Award Winning Digital Photography Projects (teacher's edition)

Mediapedia (KnackBooks, 2009)

How To Read A Photograph
(Abrams, 2008)

Visual Arts Units for All Levels
(ISTE, 2007)

Guide to Photojournalism (2nd Ed) McGraw-Hill (2001)

Other recommendations here


Click: The Ultimate Photography Guide for Generation Now
(Random House, 2009)

Photography (Media Sources) (2009)

Digital Photography for Teens  (2006)

Picturing Lincoln: Famous Photographs that Popularized the President
(Clarion Books, 2000)

Portraits of War--Civil War Photographers and Their Work
(Twenty First Century Books, 1998)



Focus On Photography: A Curriculum Guide

Teaching Digital Photography: Showing
Kids How to See With the Camera's Eye

Lesson Plan: Digital Photographers

Lesson Plan: Images of Children in Dorothea Lange's Photographs

Teacher's Guide for Photo Discourse

Visual Literacy
(Media Literacy Clearinghouse)

Images of War
(Media Literacy Clearinghouse)

Is Seeing Believing? (Learning to Question Images) (This site includes famous Civil War photographs and background)

Photography: Be A Media Critic (

See a list of visual literacy videos

High School Resources

South Carolina

Textbook Correlation



Teacher Texts


Student Texts



Gardners Art Through The Ages (12th ed) Thomson/Wadsworth (2005)
Chapter 33 The Early 20th Century
The Depression and Its Legacy
pg 1023-1024

Gardners Art Through The Ages A Concise History
Thomson/Wadsworth (2006)
Chapter 13
The Great Depression
pg. 398-399

Art History (3rd ed)
Pearson (2008)
Art and its Context
Federal Patronage for American Art
During The Depression
pg 1116

Focus on Photography
(Student Book) 1st ed.
Davis Publishers

Photography, 9th ed
Pearson (2009)

Focus On Photography: A Curriculum Guide

Lesson Plan: Analysis of Dorothea Lange's Photographs

Lesson Plan:
Image as Metaphor

Lesson Plan: Digital Video Photographers

Lesson Plan: Make a Novel Movie

Lesson Plan:
Exploring Photographs

Teacher's Guide for Photo Discourse

Critically Viewing Photographs
(SCDE Lesson Plan)

Teaching Strategies: Photography Project (Part of the series: Teaching Multicultural Literature)

How Framing Affects Understanding

Documentary Photography and Film
(From the Series: American Passages:
Unit 12 Migrant Struggle)

Award Winning Digital Photography Projects (teacher's edition)

(KnackBooks, 2009)

How To Read A Photograph
(Abrams, 2008)

Visual Arts Units for All Levels
(ISTE, 2007)

Ways of Seeing,
John Berger

Reading Images (Chapter 7), from Illuminating Texts: How To Teach Students to Read the World, by Jim Burke, Heinemann

Media Literacy; Reading the Visual and Virtual Worlds (Chapter 13, pp 336-349), in The English Teacher's Companion A Complete Guide to Classroom, Curriculum, and the Profession (3rd Ed) Jim Burke, Heinemann

Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn, Lynell Burmark (ASCD)
Photos That Changed The World (Publisher: Presetl)

100 Photographs That Changed The World (Life Magazine)


Moments: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs: A Visual Chronicle of Our Time (Tess Press)

SnAPPshots: How to Take Great Pictures with Smartphones and Apps (2012)

Photography for Teens
(Capstone Press, 2011)

Click: The Ultimate Photography Guide for Generation Now (Amphoto/
RandomHouse, 2009)

Digital Photography For Teens (2006)

ETV Streamline:
Introduction: Photography and Visual Images (00:54) Segment from the Series: Lights, Camera, Education

Other videos:

Ways of Seeing (four parts)

Documenting The Face of America (PBS Special)

American Photography: A Century of Images (text and DVD)

Language of Photography (Films for the Humanities and Sciences)

See also the visual literacy videos listed here

Studying advertising (in print) is a natural next step after students have studied photographs, because print ads incorporate images along with words. Commercials are part of the moving images and students will need to understand the codes and conventions, also known as the "language of the moving image." (listed below) before starting to analyze and deconstruct these unique messages. Moving images, such as televised/web streamed commercials, offer rich material for young people to study. They contain “techniques of persuasion/propaganda” which are also found in everyday life, not just advertising. Every day, we are exposed to literally thousands of messages, many of which are advertising and marketing. From toy ads to political candidate messages, to car and food ads: all are easily accessible via television and the web. These ads can be analyzed (read) and created (produced) by students. Like print advertisements, commercials offer teachers a chance to help young people better understand “visual literacy," and "media literacy” as well as the “techniques of persuasion/propaganda.” If your school has the equipment and your students have been trained, they can also be encouraged to create actual commercials and Public Service Announcements (PSAs). If you don’t have the equipment, students can still create their own scripts and storyboards.

Teachers should introduce the codes and conventions (aka “language of moving images.”) (below) These languages involve tools and techniques that help create meaning. The people who make media have specific expertise and equipment which they use to tell a story. Each tool and technique is something for students to understand and analyze.

THE LANGUAGE OF MOVING IMAGES (video, television and film)
a. camera position:  far away; close up; up high; eye level; down low
b. camera movement:  pan; tilt; truck
c. camera lens:   wide angle; normal; telephoto
Good explanations of above can be found here
Good explanations can be found here
SOUND (including music)
Good explanations can be found here
Another good explanation here
EDITING (and other post-production techniques)
editing glossary here
full explanation found here
a. wardrobe- the clothes they wear  (Costume Designer)
b. expressions- what their facial expressions say
c. body language- how they hold themselves, sit or stand
d. makeup

For more on the “languages of moving images” download the documents found here.

Another excellent document can be found here

Grade K-2
Have students ask their parents to help them select ads from magazines that target young people.
Teachers can help students of this age understand that in order to sell something, people have to get
the attention of those most likely to buy, and one way to get their attention is to advertise.
Teachers can begin by focusing on the words, images and colors used and the fact that oftentimes,
ads features kids, because they want to sell to kids.

Grades 3-5

This activity is perfect for the holiday time of year, but it can be used anytime. It explores the
techniques of persuasion AND the techniques of production used to influence young audiences.
The lesson plan includes a YouTube video of a popular toy that promises more than it delivers.
While students will think the toy is appealing, the video reveals that the toy fails in a test by
some young people. The lesson plan should be used to create some "healthy skepticism" on
the part of young viewers. Buy Me That: How Toy Commercials Influence Kids (lesson plan)

Make a record of commercials aired during Saturday morning cartoon programming. Categorize
and tally such details as the kinds of products advertised, the method(s) the ad uses to attract younger
viewers, the gender the ad seems to address, and estimated ages of children appearing in the ads. Select
several of the ads and survey schoolmates about which ads are
favorites. Analyze the survey for
patterns of popular appeal. What are “patterns of popular appeal?
(Source: pg 1, ICT English Map)
See also this website: Buy Me That: How Toy Ads Influence Kids.

Grades 6-8
Students at this age can be introduced to the popular Flip Cam and be engaged in any number of
activities. They can create their own commercials or PSAs. See:
Many Ways to Use FlipCams in the Classroom

Lesson Plan: Deconstructing a TV Commercial:
uses a cell phone commercial to help students
appreciate how commercials are constructed. In this one, fear is used to market cell phones.
Special attention is called to scriptwriting, as well as the various visual or aural techniques used
by the producers of the commercial. Another resource is the website
Scriptwriting In The Classroom.

Activity: Students conduct a content analysis of their favorite TV programs, making note of all of the products advertised.
Some students should be assigned to watch programs that their parents, and/or older and
younger siblings watch.  Building a wiki, Excel, or similar database, they input information about their programs'
demographics (who watches) as well as a list of all of the products advertised.  The ads can further be
divided into types. Students analyze the data, doing compare-and-contrast activities.

Activity: Using print ads found in magazines, groups of students create the 30-second commercial script
based on information found in the print ad. See an example of a two-column script here. If possible,
they use iMovie, PhotoStory, Windows Media Maker or Final Cut Pro to create the video commercial.
iMovie Tutorial, Photostory 3 Tutorial, Windows Media Maker Tutorial, Final Cut Pro Tutorials
(NOTE: Some DELL computers come pre-loaded with Roxio Movie Creator software)

Activity:  Students review a variety of political  or commercial video messages to consider how particular types
of music are used to elicit or manipulate emotional response. They are then presented with a new silent video
clip, collaborate to identify alternative meanings, and work together to select one that they underscore by
creating a soundtrack that reinforces that meaning.

(Source: pg 9, P21 ICT Curriculum SKills Map, ARTS )

After a teacher-led discussion of target markets and consumerism, students collect examples of print,
TV, or internet advertising targeting teens that promote excessive and irresponsible consumption. Students discuss
the hidden messages of these advertisements and vote on the one with the most negative message. Students then
write letters or emails to the company explaining the students’ findings and asking for change in future advertisements.
(Source: Media Literacy, page 10, ICT Curriculum Skips Map, ENGLISH)

Grades 9-12
Idea/Suggestion:  Students explore the concepts of "product placement" in TV shows and movies, and reasons why products
have migrated inside the plots of programs and movies, instead of as traditional commercials.  Who benefits
when products are placed inside a movie or television show?

Students use current technologies to produce an advertisement or Web page that demonstrates their
understanding of media’s ability to influence the viewer’s perception of a social issue of their choice, such as
environmental awareness, mass transit, or the economy.

(Source: pg 9, P21 ARTS ICT Curriculum Skills Map)

Activity:  Students survey people in their community, interviewing residents about the presence of tobacco marketing.
Using digital cameras they document which ads are located at which stores, locations, and communities.
After downloading their images, they create an online map of where "tobacco advertising" can be found.
After analyzing their interviews, images and their online map, they draw conclusions about how the tobacco industry
targets its customers. See also this website on Tobacco ads & Media Literacy

Elementary Resources

Teacher Text/Reading

Student Texts



"Critically Reading Advertisements: Examining Visual images and Persuasive Language" pg. 233-244, Chapter 18, 
Teaching New Literacies in Grades K-3: Resources for 21st-Century Classrooms, (Guilford Press, 2009)

Current event news stories
about advertising

The Berenstain Bears and the
Trouble with Commercials (HarperCollinsChildrens)
(April 2007)

Buy Me That: How TV Toy Commercials Hook Kids
(SCDE Lesson Plan)

Food Ad Deconstruction
(Learn how to read, analyze, and deconstruct print ads from magazines)

Lesson Plan: Food Ad Tricks (How food stylists make food look good for TV)


ETV Streamline:
Buy Me That: The Powerful Influence of
TV Toy Commercials (workshop)

LifeSkills 101-Media Wise
(Slim Goodbody)

See more advertising videos listed here

Other videos
(Available for Purchase)
TV Planet


Middle School Resources

Student Texts



Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka (2010)

Advertising (BrightPoint Literacy)

Made You Look: How Advertising Works And Why You Should Know (Annick Press)

Advertising: Technology, People, Process

(Media Wise), Smart Apple Media, 2003

Don’t Buy It Get Media Smart (PBS Kids) (Federal Trade Com.)
online video game designed to teach advertising literacy to tweens
(accompanying teacher activity guides with lesson plans)

Seven Visual Elements of Art Used In Ads

Critical Viewing: Cigarette Ads
(Artopia )

Ad Council (PSA website)

Digital Storytelling with Photostory

ETV Streamline
Advertising (4:23) segment from Discovering Language Arts: Viewing
This segment presents a student-made cereal commercial and analyzes the commercial's advertising techniques. A follow-up activity asks students to create a commercial about a food or clothing item they enjoy. (Teacher Guide Available)

Cracking the Advertising Code

Advertising: The Hidden Language

See more advertising videos listed here

High School Resources

Teacher/Student Texts



Advertising Opposing Viewpoints (2010)
Greenhaven Press

Advertising: Media Wise
 (Smart Apple Media)
Lesson Plan
Deconstructing a TV Commercial: this lesson plan uses an ad for cell phones to teach students about scriptwriting (audio/video) as well as the production techniques.

Seven Visual Elements of Art Used In Ads

Digital Storytelling with Photostory

Ad Council (PSA website)

ETV Steamline:
The Role of Media In Elections: A Media Literacy Workshop

Art  & Copy: Inside Advertising's Creative Revolution

Captive Audience: Advertising Invades the Classroom

Merchants of Cool (PBS/Frontline)

The Persuaders (PBS/Frontline)

See more advertising videos listed here

Motion Pictures: Understanding The Language of Film

Students love the movies and for the most part can talk intelligently about them. But many students don’t fully understand that films are
also texts, which need to be read too. Films are rich texts with many layers to study and appreciate. Even elementary students should be
asked: do you know how films made. Filmmakers have at their disposal a number of technical/production tools that comprise the language
of film: cameras, lights, sound/music, editing, set design, to name a few. These are part of the codes and conventions described in the
standards. Students should be encouraged not only to analyze (deconstruct) films, but also to create and produce digital stories as well
as their own PSAs, videos, or films (provided your school has video production and editing capability.) Photo Story 3 (Windows) is free,
user-friendly software that allows students to create their own productions by adding narration or sound to their images—thus making a
“movie.”  iMac computers come fully loaded with iMovie, easy-to-use movie creating software. If you don’t have access to software,
students can still create scripts, screenplays and storyboards for visual productions.

NOTE: Here is a list of DVD movie titles that include "extras" which could be used to help students understand "the language of the movie image."

Grades 3-5
Using the book “Coming Distractions: Questioning Movies” (2007, Capstone Press) the teacher introduces students to the five media literacy
“critical thinking/viewing” questions. The questions are:
1. who made the message and why? (author and purpose)
2. who is the message for? (audience)
3. how might others view the message differently? (audiences negotiate meaning; point-of-view)
4. what is left out of the message? (omissions)
5. how does the message get and keep my attention? (techniques)

NOTE: The author, Frank Baker, is from Columbia, and he can be invited into classrooms to help your students understand how movies are made.

At the early grade levels, students can be engaged in creating animation “flip books,” which helps them to understand
the process of animation, persistence-of-vision and more. See these websites:

Students at this stage can also read a short story and draw pictures on a storyboard template as if they
were going to make the movie. Using storyboards helps them to understand shots that used by people who make movies.
Download a storyboard template here.

Students can also be introduced to some of the “languages of moving images.”  Using the animated film “Over The Hedge”
teachers can begin to teach point-of-view. In the "making of" short listed below, the film's animators discuss how they
had to get on the ground to see what life looked like from the animals' POV, before they began their work on this film.

Watch the trailer for the film here; see also Point of View: Over The Hedge;  see this "making of" short

The book “The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary” details everything that went into making the recent motion picture.
The book is very kid-friendly. The book can be used by the teacher and the students in an introduction to how a movie is made.
See also: The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary Teacher Guide

Students can be introduced to the “screenplay” format.  See “Scriptwriting In The Classroom”
Using several pages from a novel, or even a chapter, students can work in groups to create the “screenplay” of a scene.

Students can also work in groups creating the “storyboard” from a scene.
A storyboard is a visual representation (drawing) of the action and dialogue found in the screenplay/script. 
A good storyboard explanation can be found here.


Grades 6-8
Introduce students to codes and conventions (aka "the language of the moving image.")  They should understand that making a film is
a long process that involves many people with specialized skills.  The teacher should tell students that before a film is "shot,"  a script is written,
called the screenplay, and that "storyboards" (visual representation) are drawn of every "shot" and "scene" so that the director (and others)
get a clear understanding of how to shoot the film.

Activity suggestion:  Have students read the first two pages of the novel "Because of Winn Dixie." In it, a little girl goes to the
grocery store to pick up food, and when she gets there, she discovers that the store manager and all of the store employees
are trying to catch a dog that is running loose inside the store.  Dividing students into three equal groups, and working at tables,
students can work to create a storyboard.  Each group is assigned a different point-of-view: so one group storyboards the
scene from the POV of the store manager, another group from the POV of the little girl, another group from the POV of the dog.
Blank storyboard forms can be downloaded here.
Read Frank Baker's interview with the storyboard artist and see actual storyboards
from the film here.

Creation Tools: At this age, students can begin using tools, such as PhotoStory, iMovie, Windows Media Maker, or Final Cut Pro
to create and edit their productions.
iMovie Tutorial, Photostory 3 Tutorial, Windows Media Maker Tutorial, Final Cut Pro Tutorials
(NOTE: Some DELL computers come pre-loaded with Roxio Movie Creator software)

Survey and compare movie viewing habits and popular types of movies and titles with a partner class in
another region or country. Include a well formatted bibliography of the most popular movies. Analyze
the results for trends or conclusions. Compare the results with national surveys. (Source)

Grades 9-12
Activity Suggestion: 
In addition to reviewing the Academy Award for best foreign film, students research other international film awards. In small groups, they research, select, and preview an award-winning international film. The groups connect via email, a blog, social network, or videoconferencing with students from the film’s home country to discuss reactions to the film. The students write a critique of the film that includes a recommendation whether or not to view the film as a whole class.
(Source: Media Literacy, page 10, ICT Curriculum Skips Map, ENGLISH)

The director of the first film in the Twilight series, has written a very good book that helps teachers (and students)
understand not only how movies are made, but also has good explanations of the movie-making process. It covers set design, costumes,
set locations, scriptwriting, storyboards and more. The book title is:
Twilight: Director's Notebook: The Story of How We Made the Movie
Based on the Novel by Stephenie Meyer.

Activities at this age can involve:

- having students create script and storyboards from parts of a novel (Resource: Scriptwriting in The Classroom

- having students use Photostory 3, iMovie, or Windows Media Maker to produce PSAs, book trailers
   iMovie Tutorial, Photostory 3 Tutorial, Windows Media Maker Tutorial
(NOTE: Some DELL computers come pre-loaded with Roxio Movie Creator software)

- have students use Glogster to create an interactive online film promotion poster

- view segments from documentaries to analyze for persuasion techniques, point-of-view, etc.



Elementary Resources

Textbook Correlation


Student Texts/Periodicals


Art (Grade 4) Scott Foresman, 2005
Lesson 4 Moving Pictures, pg 134-137, includes building a zoetrope

Teacher Text Recommendation
Make Me A Story: Teaching Writing  Through Digital Storytelling, K-5
(w/CD-ROM, Stenhouse, 2010)

Teacher’s Guide to Making Student Movies (Scholastic)

The Language of film

Teach Animation

Six Free Sites for Creating Online Animations

How Movies Are Made
(Facts for Kids)

Making Movie Storyboards
(lesson plan)

How We Make A Movie
(Pixar Animation)

Media Arts Studio (Knowitall)

Shorts Film Resources

Moving Images Archives
This library contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts.

Art That Moves Animation Around The World (Raintree, 2011)

Movie Special Effects : Culture in Action (Raintree, 2010)

On The Film Set (Raintree, 2009)

Camera Operator (Cool On The Go Careers) Gareth Stevens Publishing (2009)

Coming Distractions: Questioning Movies (Capstone Press: 2007 FactFinders Media Literacy series) 

Reeling With Words
(Writing Magazine, Feb/March 2007)
available via Academic OneFile (Infotrac)

What Is Art? Movies
Barron's Educational Series
(February 2004) 

That's A Wrap  How Movies Are Made (Simon & Schuster, 1991)

Movie Magic A Star is Born
(Eyewitness Readers)

See the list of streaming videos listed here

Available for purchase:

Making Grimm Movies (Companion to From The Brothers Grimm series by Davenport Films) 60 minute video divided into three parts;
also available on YouTube


Middle School Resources

Textbook Correlation


Teacher Texts

Student texts


The Visual Experience,3rd Ed (Davis Publ, 2005)
Video and Computer Art,
pg 234

Art and the Human Experience
A Community Connection
(Davis Publ 2001)
Making A Videotape, pg 294
(includes storyboarding)

Art and the Human Experience
A Personal Journey
(Davis Publ, 2002)
pg 23 Photography, Film & Computer Art

Art (Grade 8)
Scott Foresman (2005)
Lesson 9 Photography and Videography, pg 140-142

Unit 6 Lesson 2  Animator,
pg 256-259, includes storyboards

Lesson 3 
Special Effects Artist,
pg 260-261
Studio 3 
Models and the Movies
pg 262-263

Exploring Art
(Glencoe, 2007)
Chpt 15 Film, video, digital art
pg 264-276

Making Music
(Silver Burdett, 2005)
Unit 9 Music in the Moves, pg 344

Music Its Role & Importance in our Lives (Glencoe, 2006)
Chapter 16 Music in Film,  pg 360-378

The Stage and the School
(Glencoe, 2005)
Ch 14  Theatre and Other Media,
pg 537-561

Exploring Theatre
(Glencoe, 2005)
Ch 12, Lesson 3
Comparing Theatre With Other Media, pg 234-238

Lesson Plan: Lights, Camera, Action...Music: Critiquing Films Using Sight and Sound (Read, Write, Think)

The Language of film

Teach Animation

Six Free Sites for Creating Online Animations

Guerrilla Guide to Animation
(book companion site)

Shorts Film Resources

Digital Video In The Classroom

How to Create A Digital Story

Many Ways to Use FlipCams in the Classroom

Moving Images Archives
This library contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts.

Scriptwriting In The Classroom
(Resource covers Scriptwriting and Storyboarding of PSAs, Commercials, News, Film)

Teacher’s Guide: Academy Award Series

Film Production: Be A Media Critic

Cinema: How Hollywood Films Are Made (Annenberg)

The Teachers' Animation Toolkit
(Continnum Books)

Guerrilla Guide to Animation
(Continnum Books)

AFI's Screen Education Handbook (correlates to
"Lights, Camera, Education" videos)

The Director in the Classroom
How Filmmaking Inspires Learning

Teaching With Digital Video (ISTE)

Digital Storytelling Creating an eStory Linworth Publishing (2003)

Making Short Films

(includes DVD) Allworth Press


Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts (2nd edition)
by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols Michael Wiese Productions

Girl Director A How-To Guide for the First-Time, Flat-Broke Film and Video Maker, Ten Speed Press

Film (Media Wise)
(Smart Apple Media, 2003)

Lights, Camera, Action
(Making Movies and TV From the Inside Out) Firefly Books, 1998

The History of Moviemaking
(Scholastic, 1994)

Movie Magic: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at Filmmaking (Sterling Publishing Co.)

Lights, Camera, Education (AFI)
(also available via ETV Streamline)

High School Resources

Teacher Texts

Student texts


Video Resources

The Teachers' Animation Toolkit (Continnum Books)

Guerrilla Guide to Animation
(Continnum Books)

AFI's Screen Education Handbook (correlates to
"Lights, Camera, Education" videos)

How To Read A Film,
James Monaco

How to Read A Film (DVD)

Reading in the Reel World:
Teaching Documentaries
and Other Nonfiction Texts

Great Films and How to Teach

Reading In The Dark: Using
Film As A Tool in The English
Classroom (NCTE)

Reel Conversations: Reading
Films with Young Adults

Student Filmmakers

Total Film

Script Magazine


American Cinematographer 

Screen Education (Australia)



Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts
by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols Michael Wiese Productions

Girl Director A How-To Guide for the First-Time, Flat-Broke Film and Video Maker, Ten Speed Press


Screenwriting for Teens
Michael Weise Productions

Many Ways to Use FlipCams
in the Classroom

The Language of film

Lights, Camera, Education (AFI)
(also available via ETV Streamline)

Introduction to Film Editing (lesson plan)

Digital Video In The Classroom

Guerrilla Guide to Animation
(book companion site)

Six Free Sites for Creating Online Animations

Shorts Film Resources

Moving Images Archives
This library contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts.

American Cinema
(Multi-part series streamed on-line)

Documentary Photography & Film
(from the series American Passages:
Unit 12 Migrant Struggle) 

The Story of Movies

IFC Film School  

Writing About Film 

How to Write A Movie Review

Movie Trailers as Persuasive Texts

Using Documentaries in The Classroom


ETV Streamline

The Power of Film; Visual Literacy (Two segments from the series Lights, Camera, Education (Background on this series can be found at the American Film Institute’s website)

Fear Factor: Film Techniques;
The Medium is the Message: Film Style and Subject MatterSegments from Discovering Language Arts: Viewing (Grades 9-12)

A Movie Lover's Guide to Film Language (First Light Video)

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (stream)

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography

iMovie: Basic Editing (stream)

A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through
American Movies


See a list of more streaming videos listed here

A note about hyperlinks: oftentimes, after a document is published, the URL for a particular page will have changed.
If you come across a broken link, please do the following: copy and paste the broken link into the toolbar located here.

It will search, going back to the last time the page was available. You will be able to click on that link and find the source.