7th Grade ELA : Unit #11 - Comparing and Contrasting Tom Sawyer to its Film Adaptation : Lesson #2

Is the Movie Better Than the Book?

Objective: SWBAT produce clear and coherent writing based on the novel and film of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Standards: RL.7.7 W.7.4
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Starter - 5 minutes

To begin today's lesson, I will take a few minutes to have students share some of the similarities and differences they found between the novel and the film during yesterday's viewing.  This is a simple, teacher-led discussion meant to get everyone's head back into the game.  Twenty-four hours is a lifetime when you're in middle school!

2 Getting Down to Business - 35 minutes

For the remainder of this class period, I show the second half of the 1938 version of Tom Sawyer OR I show the following:

  • Disney's "Tom & Huck": Tom's Funeral through the end of the courtroom scene.
  • 1973 Musical: It's a Miracle through the end.


As they watch, students are to continue filling out the graphic organizers.

3 Did They Get It? - 10 minutes

During the last few minutes of class, I hand out the writing assignment based on the film(s).  This is a homework assignment, and I remind students that they will need to staple their graphic organizer to the paragraph.

Before they leave, I draw their attention to the grading rubric on the back of the sheet.  I ask them to make sure they're doing their very best work.  I remind them that the need to provide me with enough evidence to be able to mark a "4" for every category!

Lights! Camera! Show that movie!
Adjustments to Practice

I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of showing a film to my students.  There is an unspoken (and sometimes spoken by the more tactless of our peers) notion that showing a movie in class is taking the easy way out of a lesson plan.

We all have those in our buildings who use films for this purpose, and they seem to ruin it for the folks who have an educational purpose for showing a movie and who show them sparingly.  As teachers of literature, we know that there is value in showing a filmed adaptation of a book or story, but we're worried that we will be perceived as lazy for "just" showing a movie.

Enter Common Core State Standards.  Now we are obligated by the standards to introduce our students to filmed versions of books, stories, and plays.  Hallelujah!  However, this is not an obligation to be taken lightly.  This standard is not a free pass to show movies willy nilly.

I now show films proudly, but I choose them with care and make sure they are accompanied by a Common Core aligned assignment.  My literary soul is at peace.