1.15 – Movie Posters: Slide Deck (English Lesson)

Movie posters are incredible media texts, because they combine both art theory, and advertising. They can be appreciated as pure visual texts, but also as media texts that demand a call to action – buying a ticket to a show.

Having already taught a strong foundational understanding of Literacy Skills, and provided students with the Media Triangle as a tool to analyze texts, they are ready to start putting their learning into action.

And what better way to do that than with something accessible, something delightful, and something that sparks ongoing conversation that – even when off-topic, can be pulled back to curricular connections without anyone noticing that authentic, enriching learning is happening.

English Course Pack: Unit One – Literacy Skills

This assignment is part of the The Full English Course Park. This piece is part of Unit One: Literacy Skills, which focuses on creating a strong foundational understanding of literacy skills, PEE paragraph writing, and embedding quotations as textual support.

If you would like to say thanks, consider buying me a coffee. But that is neither required, nor expected.

1.15 – Movie Posters: Slide Deck

Step One: Learning about Movie Posters

On Slide two there is a short five minute video that provides an equal foundation for all students as you head into the discussion on movie posters. It raises the concept of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). The four things that all marketing tools are trying to accomplish.

The video also looks as some styles of movie posters that were as popular when the medium was invented, as they are today. Students will instantly recognize some of the styles and be able to compare them to posts for their own favourite films.

Prior to showing the video, I like to ask each student to take two point-form notes about anything that stood out to them. By encouraging notetaking, even if notes are not actually taken, you have changed how students view the short clip, turning it into passively absorbing or ignoring, to actively looking to engage and learn from it.

Step Two: An Optional Pause

Now is the time you can provide your students with an optional pause to take out their personal devices, look up their own favourite posters, and point out how they accomplish AIDA, or what style of poster they are using. Is there a reason collage style was used? Was the choice to rely on single image style effective?

Once students have engaged in their own self-directed learning through small groups, or whole class discussion – or if this step was skipped altogether – it’s time to move on.

Step Three: Analyzing Exemplars

Slides 3 to 7 feature some of my favourite movie posters of all time. I use these as an opportunity to (A.) talk about my favourite movies – or least favourite movies, as is the case with Halloween – it just happens to be an amazing poster – and (B.) reinforce the prior learning.

More often than not, when a poster is shown, and students are asked to point out why it’s effective, they cover all the information I had pre-written on my slides.

Don’t rush through these slides. Allow them to act as good, authentic discussions that pull discussion from the quietest voices in class. This is a great time to fill in some oral evaluation gaps through informal observation of skills.

Step Four: Seeking Symbolism

Slides 9 – 11 bring up the idea of looking towards symbolic representation on the movie posters, rather than just the style. A quick look here, will allow you to teach about symbols, the different meanings they can convey, and how it all relates to movie posters. Take as much or as little time as you think is required here, before moving towards the end of the slide deck..

Step Five: Teaching Creation

The very short clip on Slide 12 will allow you to leave students with a basic understanding of Title, Image, Tagline. Slides 13 – 14 will show a variety of different styles, and templates students can use if they want to create digital posters. It also highlights that we can identify a movie poster even if it’s not a “real poster”.

Slide 15 provides a final clip that asks students to consider why so many posters look the same (building upon the prior templates).

If you skipped the optional Step 2, you can use any remaining class time to go through that piece now.

Step Six: Examining an Exemplar

The last slide, Slide 16, presents a digitally created movie poster, and highlights the importance of the visuals, the tag line, and the symbols.

If you can believe it, this will serve as an exemplar for the next lesson – where students create a movie poster, focusing on those elements.

The Impact

Your students now have a strong understanding of their literacy skills, and of the media triangle. They’ve put those pieces into action as they looked at and analyzed posters. They’ve had great, rich discussions.

Everything is looking towards the final culminating activity for this unit: The creation of the movie poster. And now, your students are prepared for it.

English – Unit One: Literacy Skills

English Course Packs: Full Units

Unit One: Literacy Skills
Unit Two: Poetry (In Progress)
Unit Three: Literature Circles (In Progress)
Unit Four: Creative Writing & Choose Our Way Tales (In Progress)
Unit Five: Essay Writing (In Progress)
Unit Six: Culminating Tasks (In Progress)

Written by…

Michael Barltrop has been teaching since 2006, integrating comics, video games, and TTRPGs into his classroom. He has been the head of English, Literacy, Special Education, and Assessment & Evaluation and Universal Design. Feel free to reach out through Twitter @MrBarltrop!

Feel free to support the website hosting by buying him a coffee or sharing this post on facebook, twitter, or whatever social media is trending these days.

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