M a t h                                     and the                     Movies!                    MathBits.com

C O N T E N T S

Introduction
Movie Clips in the Math Classroom

What are Movie Clips?

Using Clips

Math and the Movies Clip descriptions
& worksheets

Clip descriptions
& worksheets

Movie Clips in the Mathematics Classroom

Many of the students in today’s secondary (and college) classrooms grew up watching attention-grabbing, action-packed educational programs.  These students now spend more hours in front of a video screen than they do reading books.  No wonder students may find traditional mathematics education to be dull and boring.

So, what can mathematics educators do to compete in this exciting and captivating world of technology?  The answer seems to be simple:  embrace technology in the classroom.  Rather than lament the disinterest of students, use any and all forms of technology to grab and retain their attention.  Consider presenting mathematical content (not watered-down content) in a variety of educational styles.  Pedagogical variety will help to ensure students’ interest as well as maintain teacher enthusiasm and excitement for mathematics.

What is meant by movie clips?
The key word is “clips”.  Clips are short excerpts from movies, television, or educational videos that focus on a particular issue or concept.  Very few mathematics teachers can afford the time to play a 30, 60 or 120 minute video during class.  (Also, playing entire movies in the classroom is often legally questionable.)  “Clips” of three minutes or less allow the teacher to obtain the benefits of a longer video without the intrusion upon class time.

 Clips fall into two main categories: (1) Math in the Movies – clips that demonstrate the actual mathematics at work, such as seeing Abbott and Costello describe how 28 divided by 7 is 13. (2) Math and the Movies - clips that are used as a hook or humorous introduction to a topic, such as watching Lucy and Ethel wrapping chocolates on a conveyor belt prior to solving problems relating to conveyor belts and sequences.

Using Clips - things to remember:

(1)  Purchase the movie/video that you will be using rather than using a copy.  Using a copy violates international copyright laws.  You may even wish to show the VHS or DVD package to the students to impress upon them that a purchased original is being used.  Using clips that are viewable from a web site, assumes that the web site owner has obtained legal permission to post such clips. (This may or may not be true.)

(2)  Always preview a clip before showing it to your class.  While a colleague may find the clip useful, you are the best judge of what will be appropriate and useful for your students.

(3)  As with all educational materials, choose clips that are tastefully done and are age appropriate.  Avoid any clips that contain profanity, nudity (regardless of the degree or length), or are insensitive to the diversity in your classroom. Such characteristics will distract from the objective of using the clip and may spur unwanted discussions.

(4)  Limit the clip to showing only the information that is relevant to the mathematical concept you are trying to develop.  Do not give in to students’ begging to see more of the video.  Showing more of the video than is needed to make your point will cause students to lose their concentration on the task at hand.

(5)  Before class begins, be sure that your equipment is working properly and you know how to adjust the settings. Do not assume that equipment will always operate properly.  Equipment left in classrooms often falls prey to re-adjustments by idol fingers.

(6)  Before class begins, fast forward the DVD/tape to the location of the clip.  Prior planning will save class time and avoid students’ attention from wandering while you fiddle with the equipment.

(7)  Set the stage for the clip.  A brief description of the story plot may be needed prior to the clip to give meaning to the clip.  The students may need to be directed as to what specifically to watch for in the clip.  A question sheet may be handed out prior to the clip to direct student viewing.  Certain clips may be shown without an introduction, for their affect, and then re-shown for focus.

(8)  As with all educational tools, do not overuse clips.  Intermingle clips with your other teaching strategies in a manner that will remain stimulating to your students.