Sunday, February 08, 2009

WALL-E movie in the classroom

Movies are interesting for adults' discussion, and movies are popular with the students, too, for they break the routine of being in the classroom listening to the teacher and doing their normal classroom activities.

Earlier this week, I've used Pixar's WALL-E as a tool to practice several grammar structures that I've taught to my Elementary students, namely “have to”, adjectives, and comparative adjectives.

The lesson started with a general discussion on movies – the type of movies the students like and dislike. Then the students were introduced to the vocabulary describing the genres of movies such as romantic, comedy, action, horror, historical, cartoon and musical. The discussion became more exciting as the students provided their own examples of movies in each genre.

As the students have been taught “adjectives” in one of the previous lessons, it was natural to ask them to use suitable adjectives to describe the movies they cited. For example, a student described Titanic as “romantic and frightening”. Another student described Toy Story as “exciting”.

Moving on into the highlighted movie of the day, the students were asked to imagine being on earth alone – with no other living thing to accompany them. They were asked further, “How would you feel?” Some cheeky students said they would be very happy, but others said they would be very sad, and some said it would be boring.

That's when I disclosed that they were going to watch a story about a robot called WALL-E who was left all alone on earth for hundreds of years. However, before they were shown the movie, they were told that while watching, they would have to answer a few questions by paying attention to several details, including carefully observing the characters.

The first worksheet I prepared for them contained these “while-watching” questions:

1. What does WALL-E stand for?
W____________ A_________________ L_________ L___________ - E______________________

2. What does it have to do on earth?
It has to _____________________________________________.

3. What does EVE stand for?
E______________________ V_______________________ E___________________________

4. What does it have to do on earth?
It has to _____________________________________________.

5. Write five adjectives to describe WALL-E.

6. Write five adjectives to describe EVE.

(For the last two questions, I put a picture of WALL-E and of EVE so that the students could write the adjectives in the form of word-maps.)

Note: Reflecting on the lesson, I think I should have included a few more questions in the first worksheet:

7. WALL-E's pet is a ________________.

8. Write the names of at least three other characters in the movie.

When the first CD is over, we discussed the first four questions for these answers are available from the first CD. Then, we continued watching the movie in peace.

After they had finished watching, we discussed the adjectives that they had chosen to describe WALL-E and EVE for the two last questions.

Then, the students were given the post-movie questions in the second worksheet:

1. Write five sentences to compare WALL-E to EVE. Use the comparative adjectives.






2. Which robot do you prefer? Why?

In my opinion, if this lesson is used for a higher level of students like the pre-intermediate or the intermediate students, a suitable follow-up activity would be writing a comparative paragraph or a film review.

WALL-E proved to be a good choice as my students had never watched it, and nobody fell asleep during the movie. After the movie, they couldn't help joking and laughing about the characters, especially reciting WALL-E's dialogue: "EV-A? EV-A!".

I would be glad to receive feedback on this lesson in anyway that it can be further improved.


Anonymous said...

You are truly a teacher of great renown.

WiseDuck said...

Why didn't my teachers do this back in school? T_T

This is awesome!

baboucherouge said...

wow! i'm doing wall-e with my 11 year old class this week, as an ESL workshop. thanks for posting these ideas to do while watching the movie, especially during those first (silent) 40 minutes! I was also thinking to incorporate post-movie discussion questions about how they think the world will change in the future, and what we can do to prevent such an ecological catastrophe! an alternative is an art follow-up activity where they must design a robot with a special function, and present it to the class in pairs.

FoxFire said...

You are the greatest teacher ever.


Mima said...

baboucherouge... some insightful ideas you have there! I'm sure at the upper-elementary level, my students would be able to cope with a little group presentation on how we can avoid such catasthrope - and designing a robot of their own! We can use this robot design presentation to make them use the grammar item can/can't for abilities, for example. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, and to everybody here: thank you so much for your comments. I really appreciate it.

Diddlina said...

I used this movie as Portgual...:) with my 10th grade English students. First I was afraid they wouldn't like it, since it is an animation and these kids think they are already adults and so on...but I was really surprised and it was a good bet. They enjoyed it very much and were very active in doing the activities I proposed about the film...
It's really worth trying!!!

Karina said...

Thank you very much for such great idea! I was looking for some ideas to start our project, which is called "Terra ViVA" and I think this movie will help the students think about the importance of caring more about the ecological issues.

KArina Lourenço
Yázigi Internexus
Petrolina, Brazil

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Thanks for this as a spring-board. Due to a quirk of Russian holiday keeping, I have a bunch of teenagers in class on a Saturday and this is just perfect for them-- I promised we'd do something more fun since we just did a test.

They're upper-int, so I'm going to make it their level by having one set of students with their backs to the film while the others describe it, then switch, until more dialogue appears where we'll do noticing tasks. I was trying to figure out what I could do and Wall-E is both topical (our last module was environmentally focused) and fun..

Engin Uğurluoğlu said...

I have a final assignment about this movie to show 'How can I use this film in a course?' You post is really perfect, thank you :)