In this unit I plan to view geography through film and relate it to my fifth grade curriculum. Films are awe inspiring. They can keep children's attention. The color, animation, excitement, and dramatization can hold their audiences captive. Visually geography plays a big part in film, from breathtaking, unparalleled, panoramas of disasters, to roaring, thunderous, deafening waterfalls or tumultuous, sinister, overcast skies. Geography through film can really show how enormous and boundless regions, locations or places are. Geography through film can also show the severity of climates and ever changing weather patterns. Through film and its' geography I plan to use
as my underlying theme
Scale in geographical terms means, "a certain area on a map represents a certain measurement on the earth' surface."
Film can view the universe at macro and micro levels. Non-feature films and feature films alike play with scale.
This year I showed the feature film,
The students had already read
and knew that their task was to locate and track twisters along Tornado Alley. Through film geography students learned more information than just reading the definition of a tornado and seeing a few black and white or colored photographs. Films can relate the scale of a tornado by showing how big and how fast a tornado is to its surroundings. The two films showed the following information and more through cinematography and sound.
A tornado can be a few meters to about a kilometer wide where it touches the ground, with an average width of a few hundred meters. It can move over land for distances ranging from short hops to many kilometers, causing great damage wherever it descends. The funnel is made visible by the dust sucked up and by condensation of water droplets in the center of the funnel. The same condensation process makes visible the generally weaker sea-going tornadoes, called waterspouts, that occur most frequently in tropic waters. Most tornadoes spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern, but occasional tornadoes reverse this behavior. The exact mechanisms that cause a tornado to form are still not fully understood, but the funnels are always associated with violent motions in the atmosphere, including strong updrafts and the passage of fronts. They develop within low-pressure areas of high winds; the speed of the funnel winds themselves is often placed at more than 480 km/h (more than 300 mph), although speeds of more than 800 km/h (500 mph) have been estimated for extremely strong storms. Damage to property hit by a tornado results both from these winds and from the extremely reduced pressure in the center of the funnel, which causes structures to explode when they are not sufficiently ventilated to adjust rapidly to the pressure difference. Tornadoes are most common and strongest in temperate latitudes, and in the U.S. they tend to form most frequently in the early spring; the "tornado season" shifts toward later months with increasing latitude. The number of funnels observed each year can vary greatly in any given region.
The purpose of finding these notorious phenomena was to collect data to tell temperature, speed and direction. This information would be used to forewarn residents of tornado paths. Geographers are concerned with meteorology in order to forecast weather conditions better. Without warning hundreds of people have lost lives in the past from unannounced tornadoes, while with warning the numbers were cut to a small few.
Prior to viewing the feature film, a documentary, was shown on storm chasers. The surreal adventures of the non-fiction documentary were not as well choreographed as the fiction feature film with its high escalating, riveting scenes as well as some computerized and actual footage from tornados. My 5th grade audience was intrigued by the destruction that the tornado left in its course in both the films, but they were more involved in the glamour of the feature fiction film than they were during actual shots of the team chasing the real storms. The feature film had more presence, for the children could see the tornados clearer and for longer intervals. The footage from the actual chasers had unfocused shots that were irregular and unsteady at times from the exact accounts of the science crew. Unanimous bellowing rang out when the students saw the scene in the feature film when the twister picked up a cow. The cow was whipped around in the sky caught up in the whirling winds of the tornado. Even though the actual documentary was thrilling, the film
undoubtedly provoked more exhilaration and concentration.
What does feature film have that real documentaries (non-feature films) don't? In writing it could be compared to expository versus narrative, reading a book yourself or having a story teller engage you the listener, studying a textbook versus envisioning Michelangelo's
. For the visual learners this may be in fact a wondrous way to accumulate and maintain knowledge. If most children in my class need to be highly motivated it may be because I am the only one in their lives that sees education as their way to survive now as well as to foresee that a strong education builds a sturdy foundation for a prosperous future. Film and geography together can be useful to invoke imagination as well as the reality of facts. Films based on events can expose a variety of information to its audience.
Why not add cinematography to our tools? Many school workshops are telling us how to stimulate or captivate or hold a students attention. One way is by using an assortment of colored chalk on our boards for the different subjects. We are told to use different colors for different subjects and to use visuals in colorful clouds that can be color coded and read for the:
the objectives, goals, and the homework (home studies). Often there is a better chance at notices being brought home by students and read by parents if they are on colored paper. Teachers are taught to display students' work on bolder, brighter back drops. And lastly we are asked to embellish our rooms with a motley array of colors, themes, and written methods. Just as colors stimulate and captivate so can film with its colors (cinematography).
Most important we are no longer teaching only mental cognitive pathways, but we are to teach to the child's social, physical, psychological, ethical, and emotional pathways too. More and more educators and administrators that practice Comer Schools believe that if you involve or address all the students' pathways you can better teach or facilitate students' learning.
If lessons could ever teach every pathway at once you could possibly do it through film and geography. Film and geography display the setting (where the story takes place) and introduce you to the main character(s) (who the story is about). In the environment interaction takes place. Films show where people live (place, location or region) and how they interact with their environment or changes made over time. Films can be engaging and a very useful tool (as scale) for learning.