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The Best Places To Find Theatrical Movies On Science, Math, & History

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I wasn’t planning to publish this post quite this soon, but a new and very useful related site called Nanocrowd just went public. So it makes this list a bit more timely. You can read more about Nanocrowd in the last section of this post.

This list is a “companion” list to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.  That list is primarily composed of resources related to videos and movies I’ve used in my Beginning, Early Intermediate, and Intermediate English classes.  This list is also somewhat related to The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, , Book, Movie, & Music Recommendations.

I had included in that ESL/EFL list some movie resources I’ve found useful in my Social Studies classes where I teach English Language Learners, too.  I thought that I’d create “The Best…” list here focusing on those specific Social Studies resources and “throw-in” some math and science movie sites at the same time.

Before I share this list, I should make it clear that I very, very seldom ever show an entire movie to a class (on occasion, I’ll have a substitute teacher show one if I’m out that day). At most, I’ll show five minutes (ten in an unusual situation) that is related to the theme we’re discussing, and follow it up with a writing and/or talking prompt. With English Language Learners,  I’ll also sometimes use an instructional strategy called “Back-To-The-Screen” where half the students are watching the movie with the sound off and have to describe what they’re seeing to their partner (you can read more about that method in Zero Prep:Ready-To-Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess, which is on The Best Books For Teaching & Learning ESL/EFL list).

Here are my picks for The Best Places To Find Theatrical Movies On Science, Math, & History:

HISTORY:

The Internet History Sourcebook Project is an extraordinary collection of history resources.  I’m particularly impressed with their Modern History in the Movies, Ancient History in the Movies, and Medieval Movies. In those three collections, movies are categorized by era and described. It’s a gold mine for any Social Studies teacher, and especially for those of us who teach English Language Learners. I use very short clips of movies, following by a writing/thinking prompt, all the time.

American History Film Resources also offers a good listing of film resources for different periods of American history.

The History Place also has a good list of movies related to social studies.

MATH:

Mathematics In Movies has a list, and links to online clips, of math-related movie scenes.  Who knew Abbot and Costello could be used in teaching math?

Math and The Movies has a good description of movie scenes as well as printable worksheets that would go with them.

SCIENCE:

Here’s a list of one writer’s top ten science-related movies.

You might also find The Good And Bad Science In Popular Sci-Fi Movies useful.

“Science On The Simpsons” is a collection of video clips from The Simpsons television series that could be used by science teachers. They’re downloadable, but not set-up to stream on the web. Thanks to Beth Ritter Guth for the tip.

ALL SUBJECTS:

Teach With Movies is a good resource for finding movies connected to your subject area. It costs $11.99 to have a subscription that includes specific worksheets and lesson plans. But, for the purposes of this list, their free subject matter index that shares which movies they they are related to what subject or theme is helpful to all history, science, math and English teachers.

Movie Lens is a new recommendation/search engine for movies, and it’s by far the most effective tool — for teachers, at least – I’ve found to search for movies.  The other typical sites that let you search for movies do it by genre (adventure, romance, etc.).  Movie Lens is the first that I’ve found that, in addition to searching by genre, lets you search by what they call “tags.”  For example, I searched for “World War II” and got an extensive list of World War II-related movies — a list that I would not have found through Amazon, Netflix, or any other tool on The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, , Book, Movie, & Music Recommendations list.  This could be applicable to all subjects.

And, wouldn’t you know it, just as I write that Movie Lens is the only movie recommendation tool that has those capabilities, a new one just comes out! Nanocrowd has been written-up by Read Write Web, and their post is probably worth a look. Basically, you start typing in the name of a movie that’s similar to what you’re looking for (as you type letters, movie titles will appear). Click “enter” and you will be led to a page filled with similar movies and descriptive “tags” for those movies, too. Click on the tags, and you’ll see more of the same. Again, it’s applicable to all subjects.

Film Education is a UK site with tons of study guides and other resources on how to integrate movies into any curriculum. It also has some neat online activities.

Movie Sheets has a fairly extensive of worksheets teachers have created for many theatrical (and non-theatrical) movies. The site is divided into all subject areas.

Film Story is an interactive site where you can search for theatrical films by geographical location, history or science subject, historical era, and film type.

It seems like an exhaustive list and is very accessible.

The Fordham Institute has completed a useful listing of history, science and literature educational videos available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon. It’s organized by topic and is pretty comprehensive.

Some of the films they included are a bit bizarre (“Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving” in the unit on Native American Cultures? Really?), but most of them seem appropriate.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

8 Comments

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  2. This is a nice resource, I have bookmarked it. What I’d really like to see more though is a list of the best links that stream educational videos!

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  6. There are a few you missed.

    Teacher TV in the UK is great! (http://www.teachers.tv/). I also use YouTube a great deal with the younger ones.

  7. Thanks for this resource. I’ll be referring to it regularly, as my class continues its study of Westward Expansion. Of all the resources listed I like Nanocrowd the most. It’s simple to find movies, reviews, similarly themed movies, etc.

    PJVermont

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