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Using film in the classroom

by Dominic Traynor, Literacy teacher & lead trainer at A Tale Unfolds

Having worked almost exclusively with film and filmmaking in the classroom for the last five years, I am still surprised by how it is seen as transformative by some teachers and yet so often ignored and even dismissed by others. For those teachers who are yet to feel the magic of film, there is a general sense that film is the enemy and that filmmaking is a distraction from the business of teaching and learning. I’ll attempt to outline some ways to look at film and filmmaking that will get us all thinking about this genre in the same way.

The children we teach in today’s classrooms are different to us teachers and we need to work with the kind of media that interests them, not us. If teachers are looking to hold the attention of the YouTube generation, then film in all its forms is the way forward. It is also crucial to understand that, even with the rise of video, our students are reading more than ever. YouTube’s Zoella smashed the record for the fastest selling book ever for a debut author. Young people couldn’t read enough of it. The record was previously held by none other than JK Rowling. The conclusion? Film is not the enemy. Instead, it is the perfect medium for all students to access learning regardless of ability and the perfect way to stimulate interest in reading and writing tasks around the same subject matter.

With regards to filmmaking, nothing I have ever seen in the classroom is as effective in improving levels in English and beyond. We have worked with schools who have tripled their rates of progress by using filmmaking as the outcome for writing and reading tasks. As mentioned previously, today’s students are so enthralled by creating their own film footage that it engages them like nothing else. Check out this simple video produced using the Frightful Film Trailer resource.

Tablets and iPads now make the filmmaking process so easy that producing high quality videos is incredibly straightforward. One device and a simple video-editing app is all you need to bring their work alive. Even things like green screening are now so simple that you can transport your students to anywhere in the world with the touch of a button.

To get you started, here are my top six tips for teachers looking to use film & filmmaking in the classroom.

  1. Use First News stories as the initial stimulus for producing your own news reports using green screen, not only to create your news studio, but also to send your reporters off to faraway lands!
  2. Use the DoInk Green Screen app or WeVideo with a simple green backdrop to explore new locations.
  3. Improve English progress using these primary literacy and film projects which satisfy the National Curriculum and bring the classroom alive with writing and filming adventures.
  4. Check out The Literacy Shed or IntoFilm for a range of different ways to use film in the classroom.
  5. Download the WeVideo app, free on all platforms, or iMovie for iPad in order to piece video footage together into a finished film.
  6. Download BookCreator to combine writing, images, sound and filmmaking on one, easy to use platform.

For more information on filmmaking resources for the classroom, visit

About the author

Dominic Traynor is an outstanding literacy teacher who believes that combining the best of traditional teaching with simple technology is the ideal way to engage and motivate our digital native pupils. As the founder of A Tale Unfolds, he has delivered teacher training at hundreds of schools and spoken at conferences for various education institutions and education CPD providers. Follow him on Twitter @ataleunfolds