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Friday, February 22, 2013

And Action! Motivating Reluctant Readers with Movie Scripts


I'm a huge believer in using nontraditional materials to get kids reading in the classroom. It's no secret that I totally dig picture books for all grade levels, and I also feel that appropriate graphic novels can serve young readers.

Another way to motivate reluctant readers is through the use of movie scripts. For many students, scripts are both engaging and nonthreatening, since the overall plot lines are already familiar (and don't be surprised if students know whole scenes by heart as well). The Internet Movie Script Database features dozens of scripts from current movies and television shows, categorized by genre and fully searchable. From classics like The Breakfast Club to newer films like Lincoln, you'll find tons of gems here! The scripts can be read right online, with no download or additional software needed.

Simply Scripts features a larger assortment of scripts, from movies, television, radio, stage, and more. Several other sources are available through Google, but I've found these two to be most reliable.

These scripts can be used in other ways as well:
  • Students attempting to write scripts can use these as models for conventional formatting.

  • Teachers working on proper use of quotations can assign a portion of a script to be rewritten as traditional dialogue.

  • Oral expression can be examined through multiple readings of sections, emphasizing different words and varying rate and pitch. For example, how many emotions can be expressed by rereadings of the simple question, "Really?"

  • Students can discuss the use of flash forwards and flashbacks as vehicles for advancing the plot.

  • Speakers of English as a second language can practice reading portions, comparing their diction with that of the on-screen actors. (I suppose you'll have to be careful which scripts you choose for this purpose. Having a classroom full of Nathan Lanes or Robert DeNiros is probably not a desired outcome of instruction).
Some disclaimers:
  • Movies rated R appear here as well, so proper guidance on this site is needed.

  • I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but my guess is that printing off entire scripts from this source or any other is probably not legal and should be avoided. Snippets of the scripts might be okay, but don't take my word on that.

  • Although the scripts I viewed seemed true to the movie versions, it's possible that some vary from the final theatrical releases.

  • These script sites exist to sell movies, books, DVDS, etc. For that reason, some schools are likely to block them! I recommend you search about a bit and you may be able to find the desired script on an unblocked site.
Have some other uses for online scripts? Email me or leave a comment below.

3 comments:

Dena McMurdie said...

Interesting idea. Although some could argue that most English teachers have the same idea when they assign a Shakespeare play. But I think most students would much rather read a more current script. ;)

Keith Schoch said...

I agree with you, but would counter that most students probably haven't seen the stage production of the Shakespeare play that they're muddling through on paper. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey just visited my school and in their after-perfomance visit with students noted that Shakespeare is meant to be performed, not simply read, due to the nuances of the language and the physical interpretations of the scenes. I would love for all kids to experience the plays before they read, so perhaps movies are the next best thing. Thanks for the comment!

Denmark Aleluya said...

I guess reading portions and parcels of movie scripts from renowned filmed novels sound extremely nontraditional and engaging. The senior batch under the Education Department (where I am included) is actually doing a Shakesperean play that will be presented before a large mass of crowd. I use No Fear Shakespeare when reading Shakesperean Drama.

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