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Movies in English is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary, to train your ear and develop your listening skills. Here is a set of useful activities for students who want to advance in English and teachers of English who can use the activities for their classroom video lessons.
PRE-VIEWING WORKSHEET FOR DANGEROUS MINDS
«Dangerous Minds» is the story of LuAnne Johnson, a first-time high school teacher who is assigned to a class of difficult-but-smart students who live in a big city. When Ms. Johnson’s traditional methods to teach and reach her students fail, she decides to try unconventional methods. In the process, she doesn’t follow the school rules and she creates her own curriculum. While doing this, she gives her students a new sense of self-esteem and self-confidence and motivates them to reach their true potential.
This movie is based on the life of LuAnne Johnson. It stars Michelle Pfeiffer.
Task 1. Discuss the issues from the movie in pairs or small groups:
• «Teaching vs. Learning»
• «Education as a Cure for Social Problems»
• «Power vs control. Who has it — the teacher or the students?»
• «Rules. Are they to be followed or broken?
VIEWING ACTIVITIES FOR DANGEROUS MINDS
You will complete the Viewing Worksheet as you watch the film.
Task 2. As you watch this film, consider the ideas and concepts that appear: leadership, friendship, education, and life decisions.
As you watch the movie, you are going to focus on interpreting the events: why (or why not) does somebody do something?
Task 3. While you watch, ask yourself why the characters do the things they do and how they make their decisions. Focus on the scenes that are listed below and the main characters.
• Education and Humanity — What’s the connection?
• Power/Control: — Who has it in the film? — Why does he/she have it?
• Teaching vs. Learning.
• Are you taught something? OR Do you learn something?
• Poetry for Learning.
• Clash of cultures/worlds.
• Motivating students with “prizes” (candy, amusement park, dinner at a fancy restaurant).
• Education as a cure for social problems.
• Rules — to be followed or broken? (Miss Johnson vs. the school principal, who is her boss).
Scenes to Watch Carefully:
• Black and White turns to Colour at beginning of film;
• Miss Johnson’s First Day in the Classroom;
• Karate Scene;
• “We Choose to Die” scene;
• Miss Johnson’s visit to Raul’s home;
• the scene between Miss Johnson and Calle at Calle’s home;
• the students’ mother who removes her two sons from school because she doesn’t want her sons to study poetry;
• the scene at Miss Johnson’s house with Emilio.
Main characters besides Miss Johnson:
Watch how the characters interact, react, influence each other, change or stay the same. Which characters are leaders/followers? Which characters are positive/negative influences on their friends and classmates?
Task 5. Make and note down 8-10 questions by the time the movie ends.
These questions will be used as a basis for a discussion later. You are free to consider any scene, character, theme, etc.
POST-VIEWING ACTIVITIES FOR DANGEROUS MINDS
Task 6. Dangerous Minds Questions A. Explain your answers in 3 or 4 sentences each.
1. Why did Miss Johnson come to school?
2. How did the assistant principal characterize the children at school?
3. What was the proposed salary?
4. How can you describe the teacher’s emotions during the first lesson at school?
5. What are the students’ names who played the leading roles in the film?
6. What was Griffith’s advice to Miss Johnson concerning the students’ bringing up?
7. Do you remember the title of the book Miss Johnson was learning after her first teaching day?
8. What did the book advise?
9. Why wasn’t Miss Johnson’s first day in the class successful?
10. What did the teacher do with her students on the second day?
11. What about the education? What was the first topic to teach?
12. How did the students behave? Were there those who wanted to study?
13. What sentence was written on the board first?
14. Why did Miss Johnson change it for another one?
15. What affect does the sentence “We choose to die” have on the class?
16. Had the students read any books before they met Miss Johnson?
17. What was the reason for Miss Johnson’s stopping by the principal’s office?
18. Did the students have any reward for their correct answers?
19. Who paid for the entertainment?
20. Who was Griffith’s favourite poet?
21. What is “the Flowering Peach”?
22. What is the Dylan-Dylan contest about?
23. What was every poem by Thomas Dylan about?
24. Who were the winners of Dylan-Dylan contest?
25. What was the reward?
26. Why did Miss Johnson give some prizes to the rest of the class too though they gave wrong answers?
27. Why was Raul going to cut school for a couple of days?
28. What was the teacher’s condition as for lending some money?
29. Do you think Raul kept his word?
30. What do you know about Miss Johnson’s family?
31. What happened to Emilio?
32. Who is “a tambourine man”?
33. What pedagogical methods did the teacher apply in order to draw (get) the students’ attention?
34. What is “clearview”?
|2.How did the assistant principal characterize the children at school?||(passionate, energetic, challenging)|
|3. What was the proposed salary?||($24,700 a year)|
|5. What are the students’ names who played the leading roles in the film?||(Raul, Emilio, Callie, Durrell)|
|6. What was Griffith’s advice to Miss Johnson concerning the students’ bringing up?||(to get their attention)|
|7. Do you remember the title of the book Miss Johnson was learning after her first teaching day?||(Assertive Discipline)|
|8. What did the book advise?||(“the first time he broke rule his name would be put on the board”)|
|10. What did the teacher do with her students on the second day?||(karate)|
|11. What about education? What was the first topic to teach?||(conjugation of verbs)|
|13. What sentence was written on the board first?||(We eat green beans for dinner)|
|14. Why did Miss Johnson change it for another one?||(We want/choose to die)|
|15. Did the students read any books before Miss Johnson?||(Callie – “My Darling, My Hamburger”)|
|17. What was the reason for Miss Johnson’s stopping by the principal’s office?||(Principal: ”Teaching karate is against school policy and can lead to the law suit in case of an injury”)|
|18. Did the students have any reward for their correct answers?||(parts of speech — a candy bar, reading poetry — amusement park)|
|19. Who paid for the entertainment?||(She said: ”Board of education”, but she really paid)|
|20. Who is Griffith’s favorite poet?||(Bob Dylan)|
|21. What is “the Flowering Peach”?||(the best restaurant in the town)|
|22. What is the Dylan-Dylan contest about?||(if you find the poem by Bob Dylan which is like Thomas Dylan poem you win Dylan-Dylan contest)|
|23. What was every poem by Thomas Dylan about?||(death)|
|24. Who were the winners of Dylan-Dylan contest?||(Raul, Callie, Durrell)|
|25. What about the reward?||(going to the restaurant with the teacher)|
|26.Why did Miss Johnson give some prizes to the rest of the class too though they gave wrong answers?||(Sometimes it takes a lot of wrong answers to get to the right one)|
|27. Why was Raul going to cut school for a couple of days?||(to pay back for a jacket)|
|28. What was the teacher’s condition as for lending some money?||(to pay back her money on the day he graduates)|
|30. What do you know about Miss Johnson’s family?||(divorced, her husband beat her, she made an abortion)|
|32. Who is “tambourine man”?||(drug dealer in the 60s)|
|33. What pedagogical methods did the teacher apply in order to draw (get) the students’ attention?||(rewarding, praising, visiting their homes)|
|34. What is “clearview”?||(mother-to-be-program)|
Task 7. Dangerous Minds Questions B. Discuss in groups.
1. Does Dangerous Minds promote or challenge stereotypes of urban youth? Give two reasons for your answer.
2. Why do you think this movie is called Dangerous Minds?
3. If you had to give the movie a different name, what would you give it?
4. Would you recommend this movie to a friend? Give two reasons for your answer.
5. How believable is this movie? Explain your answer with three good reasons why it is or isn’t believable.
6. Do you agree with one critic’s opinion the Miss Johnson “instills a new self-confidence in her students — motivating them towards their greatest potential”? Please explain using specific examples from the movie.
7. List two or three reasons why:
— Miss Johnson is effective with her students;
— Miss Johnson is ineffective with her students.
8. Dangerous Minds was shot 20 years ago. Things have changed over the past decades. How do you think LouAnne would be accepted today given her rather unconventional style. How would students, parents, colleagues, administration, and community members respond to her?
9. Was Dangerous Minds a “good watch?” Why or Why Not?
10. To whom would you recommend watching it?
11. What was your most (least) favourite episode in the film?
12. What is the most significant thing you have learned from watching the movie?
13.What is your reaction to the teacher portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds? Is she good at her job?
14. Do you think that a film like this should be used as a model for beginning teachers? If so, explain why? If not, explain why?
15. What does the film tell you about constructions of race and schooling in American culture?
Task 8. Quotable Quotes. Who said this? Why?
1. “I like to hit people.”
2. “He’s first in our family to maybe graduate high school.”
3. “I guess it’s just you and me, handsome.”
4. “My head will be high…”
5. “There are no victims in our classroom.”
6. “I’d have a chicken. A whole one.”
7. “Because he didn’t knock.”
8. “It’s easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
9. “Teachers are poor. Everyone knows that.”
10. “You’ll kill yourself keeping the word.”
11. “Pregnancy is contagious.”
12. “He isn’t worth your spit.”
13. “Each new fact gives you another choice, each new idea builds another muscle”.
14. “If at the end of the term you are not faster, stronger and smarter, you will have lost nothing. But if you are… you’ll be that much tougher.”
|1. “I like to hit people.” Emilio|
|2. “He’s first in our family to maybe graduate high school.” Raul’s mother|
|3. “I guess it’s just you and me, handsome.” Miss Johnson|
|4. “My head will be high…” lines from the poem ‘To die with pride’|
|5. “There are no victims in our classroom.” Miss Johnson|
|6. “I’d have a chicken. A whole one.” Raul|
|7. “Because he didn’t knock.” Principal to Emilio|
|8. “It’s easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” lines from the poem|
|9. “Teachers are poor. Everyone knows that.” Raul|
|10. “You’ll kill yourself keeping the word.” Miss Johnson to Raul|
|11. “Pregnancy is contagious.” Assistant principal|
|12. “He isn’t worth your spit” Griffith to Miss Johnson about her husband|
|13. “Each new fact gives you another choice, each new idea builds another muscle”. Miss Johnson|
|14. “If at the end of the term you are not faster, stronger and smarter, you will have lost nothing. But if you are… you’ll be that much tougher.” Miss Johnson|
Task 9. Fill in the gaps with the words given in the box, read the text and compare the author’s thoughts about the movie with yours.
These are the words to choose from:
Some time in the middle of the film, the audience for the first time had ____ (1) to hear Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise» — song that had flooded the world’s airwaves for the ____ (2) of movie’s promotion. Upon hearing ____ (3) words and music, almost every young girl in the theatre started to sing that ____(4) with the fervour and passion you could expect only from the fanatical followers of an obscure religious cult. This event ____ (5) both strength and the weakness of DANGEROUS MINDS. Although based on the true story, described by former Marine lieutenant Louanne Johnson (played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the film) in her book MY POSSEE DON’T DO HOMEWORK, the ____ (6) is nothing new. Our ____ (7) takes the job of an English teacher in East Palo Alto high school, place where the majority of students are Latinos and blacks from troubled inner- city ____ (8). Her class is ____ (9) of them all, made out of hopeless students. Louanne, however, notices hidden potential among them and devises successful strategy to win their ____ (10) and minds and thus incite them towards learning and getting diplomas. Unfortunately, conservative school ____ (11) shows little understanding towards her ____ (12) methods, while one of the students, Emilio Ramirez gets involved in a conflict that could get tragic consequences.
DANGEROUS MINDS is just another standard story about noble teacher who rescues unprivileged children by showing them the world that exists ____ (13) their ghetto walls. As such, it was more suitable for television, yet the well-oiled hype machine of legendary producers Jerry Bruckheimmer and Don Simpson, not discouraged by the lack of chases, explosions and «cool» CGI effects turned it into full-blown summer blockbuster. This ____ (14) of hype is, of course, unmatched by the achievements of filmmakers. Ronald Bass’ script is formulaic, with cliché characters and ____ (15) situations and plot points. The film is rescued solely by the good acting. Michelle Pfeiffer is truly impressive in one of her «meatier» roles, and her ____ (16) are aided by good work of George Dzundza who plays her friend, colleague and ____ (17). John Neville (best known as Well-Manicured Man in X- FILES) also makes a memorable cameo as waiter. In the end, ____ (18) would have little reason to be disappointed, but the author of this review still believes that DANGEROUS MINDS didn’t belong to the big screen.
|1. opportunity; 2. sake; 3. familiar; 4. tune; 5. describes; 6. plot; 7. heroine; 8. neighbourhoods; 9. worst; 10. heart; 11. establishment; 12. unorthodox; 13. beyond; 14. triumph; 15. predictable; 16. efforts; 17. mentor; 18. viewers.|
Task 10 . Provide as many examples as you can to illustrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions that comprise LouAnne Johnson’s teacher knowledge base and skills.
|Student||Issue or Challenge||How does Miss Johnson “deal” with it?||Is her approach successful?||Other approaches|
Task 11. Make a list of “Teaching Dos and Don’ts” according to Louanne Johnson.
Task 12. Make up character sketches of: Emilio; Callie; Durrell; Raul; Angela. Pay attention to how their views, values, attitudes change during the film.
Task 13. Choose any character of the film and comment on his/her appearance and personality using adjectives only.
Task 14. Read the short film reviews by my students from Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University (2005). What would you like to add to their opinions?
I appreciate deeply and respect Miss Johnson a lot, especially her psychology. I admire such people. She is kind and strict at the same time. But the most unusual thing is that she is a former marine. She is one of those teachers who make their students interested in studying with the help of different games, tasks. I suppose she is a really good teacher and a good friend.
By Inna Lutsuk,
the 1st year student
Miss Johnson is a very smart and well-educated woman. She pays a lot of attention to her students and makes them interested in poems, in studying. I like the way she behaves with these difficult teenagers. I think she is a respect worthy person.
By Luda Melnik,
the 1st year student
The principal is a very self-righteous man. I think his part is the worst one. He is really one of the reasons of Emilio’s death. The principal is selfish and too polite – he didn’t want to speak with Emilio because the boy didn’t knock. Well, one should think before doing something.
By Alexandra Myronenko,
the 1st year student
Callie is a smart and pretty girl. She wants to study and that is why she tries to help Miss Johnson. Callie prompts the teacher to get Emilio in order to get the whole class. The girl has a lot of own problems and she is ready to give up but Miss Johnson helps her overcome the difficulties. The teacher doesn’t let Callie ruin her life.
By Inna Ohorodnyk,
the 1st year student
Best of all I like Emilio. May be it may seem rather strange because he plays a bad character, especially at the beginning of the movie. He is one of the main characters and, besides, Emilio is the leader of the class. I don’t condemn his rudeness – he was brought up in a poor family and had a lot of hardships being a child. Emilio is a self-righteous boy, he doesn’t think about other people. The exception is Angela, his girlfriend. Friendliness and warmth are concealed behind his cruelty. He just tries to survive.
By Kate Syomaka,
the 1st year student
I like Emilio best of all ‘cause his actions are strict. He always tries to tell the truth. Sometimes he looks like a weird but, actually, he is merry and naughty.
By Lesya Kozlovska,
the 1st year student
This film is closely connected with teenage problems. But these problems aren’t big complications for a new teacher. This woman shows how the core curriculum can be changed for profit. The teacher tries to do everything to solve the problem and give her hand. She uses all the possible methods. By the way, a viewer has a chance to emphasize for himself/herself all the troubles which a teenager can face with.
This film shows the limit between childhood and maturity. We see young people who don’t want someone to interfere in their lives. You can notice some moments when the teenager breaks with their good friends and fellows.
During the film I was deeply concerned for a girl whose life was swallowed by her own mistakes. I was touched after the moment when the pregnancy was characterized like “contagious”. I felt pity for that pregnant girl.
But the teacher plays the most serious role in this film. She understands high-strung and self-righteous people. She doesn’t press for the necessarily of the curriculum. Using the educational plan she wants to open blind eyes of her students. She is possessed by a wish not to hurt anyone.
By Irina Lysenko,
the 1st year student
If you don’t want to die remember to knock
Teaching is a great challenging work which deals with the passionate desire to teach maturity and proficiency to find new gimmicks for each student. So, I was really impressed by Mrs. Johnson, who was a Real Teacher, I suppose.
This film is like a reference book for the beginners in teaching. There are lots of great quotations that are connected with this profession. One of them is a phrase said by Hal: “All you gotta do is get their attention”. But it’s easier to say than to do. Her profession of marine helped her, because she made a right decision: “Desperate diseases must have desperate remedy”. As you’ve already seen the bunch was surprised, shocked, she got their attention.
The problem of choice exists during the film. She teacher got Callie’s attention by the sentence: “I want to die”. She said that everyone had a choice, choice either to live or to die. I suppose she was right, because everyday we make our choice to be or not to be, to do or not. May be all these words are only whatnots, but, I think our life consists of such little ones.
One of the most extreme points is the Callie’s phrase: “If you want to get a class to listen, get Emilio”. And the teacher did at the end of the film we saw Emilio listening to Miss Johnson’s words about help. May be she was right saying to Emilio: “You, are too proud to hide?” he accepted her help, but forgot to knock at the principal’s door. At it was already mentioned, our life consists of sometime so stupid whatnots as to knock.
I’d advice every person to watch this film with such deep reflection and passionate emotions. He makes people think in a different way.
By Angelica Bogoliy,
the 1st year student
Real life is never predictable no matter how strong our desire is to believe it. It won’t always put you on the head and cheer you up at the moments you need it most. It’s like a “tambourine man” from the song by Bob Dylan, who teases you with the thing you need most and then takes it away, because the price is so high you can’t afford it. But you’ve got a choice. You can choose whether to take part in this game with the conditions offered by her Majesty Life or to set up your own rules like almost every character in the film did. Emilio is lost in this game, but no one can blame him in giving up or saying that “he chose to die”. To my mind the main thing is to live with honor so that after your death people would remember only your good deeds. I think a human’s life, like in Bob Dylan’s poem, can be called “the way to the grave” and the main duty of every teacher is to teach the pupils, like Miss Johnson did, to keep their heads high in spite of everything.
By Kate Kozoriz,
the 2 nd year student
When I watched the film “Dangerous Minds” I caught myself on the thought that Louanne Johnson is a perfect teacher and she must serve as a model for teachers in modern school. Nowadays it’s very difficult for teachers to arise students’ interest but this teacher finds the way to the children’s hearts, who are considered to be hopeless. Maybe her lessons of karate and the sentence “We choose to die” are too cruel but isn’t our world cruel as well? She gives them hope, makes them believe in themselves and their future, she kindles the light in their eyes. Miss Johnson sees something special in every student and I think that it’s the most important thing. At first she has to win their attention and make them listen to her, then step by step she earns their trust, respect and, finally, love.
This film is very emotional. The actors are so talented that their feelings, emotions and thoughts become very close to a person who is watching the movie; the feelings don’t need any translation. My brother and mother watched the film with me and understood everything though they don’t know English and I refused to translate it.
Louanne Johnson tried to see only good in her pupils and owing to this they became better. And one more thing – sometimes stupid rules can kill and not only figuratively.
By Alexandra Kirilenko,
the 2 nd year student
Dangerous Minds Vocabulary
Accomplishment — исполнение
Aisle — проход
Appetizer — закуска
Applicant – претендент, кандидат
Assistant principal – заместитель директора
Bastard – внебрачный ребенок
Boo – неодобрительно выкрикивать
Breakdown – полное изнемождение
Bullshit – глупости
Bunch – связка, пучок
Challenge – вызов, проблема
Chant – монотонно рассказывать или петь
Cheer – одобрительное восклицание
Chuckle – посмеиваться
Condemn – осуждать
Conjugate – спрягать (глагол)
Credit – похвала, хорошая репутация, кредит
Curriculum – курс обучения, учебный план
Detox – лечение алкоголиков та наркоманов
Flavouring – приправа, специя
Grumblе – жаловаться, ворчать
High-strung – чувственный, нервный
Inductee – призывник
Jail – тюрьма
Jeer — глумиться
Juvenile — юношеский
Kick – бить ногой
Knock down – сбить с ног
Lobster — омар
Long-winded – многословный, скучный
Marine – морской флот, солдат морской пехоты
Maturity – зрелость
Nutrition — питание
Pigsty – хлев, свинарник
Rap – легкий удар, резкая критика, рэп
Rat – крыса, предавать, выдавать (кого-л.); доносить на (кого-л.)
Read up on smth – углубленно изучать
Schedule – список, план, расписание
Self-righteous — самоуверенный
Shrimp — креветка
Spray – разбрызгивать
Stardom – мир звёзд (театра, кино и т. п.)
Substitute – заменять
Trigger – курок
Tripping – заблуждающийся, ошибающийся; грешный
Weed out – удалять, искоренять, устранять; отсеивать
Weird – странный, чудной
Yell – вопить, кричать
Watch movies in English — «Dangerous minds», do the tasks — enjoy learning English in videos.
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