We recently decided to show a movie to our 6th, 7th and 8th grade students on the last day of school. But when we started brainstorming ideas we had some difficulty coming up with movie titles that (a) the students would like and (b) we thought would be worth showing.
Listed below are the movies we came up with after consulting a variety of experts including: current middle school students, former middle school students, middle school teachers from across the country, lots of family movie websites, and random people on twitter and facebook.
Do Your Homework
Don’t Take My Word For It. Always preview any movie before you show it. Just because a movie appears on this (or any other) list doesn’t mean that it works in your situation. For instance, I included Stand by Me in this list and it is rated R. If I were actually going to show it, I would look for an edited for television version. If a movie is rated PG or PG-13, offer some guidance to the students before you watch it. Explain to them what good things they can take away from the movie even though there might be some language that isn’t appropriate at school.
Incorporate it into the curriculum. We’ve shown The Karate Kid when we’re talking about bullying as a school. One teacher shows Newsies in social studies classes when she’s talking about immigration and industrialization. I’ve shown Searching for Bobby Fischer before I teach students how to play chess.
You may be required to obtain a Public Performance License to show your movie. Movie License USA offers these guidelines for schools to use when determining if they need to purchase a license. Generally, you do not need a license if:
- A teacher or instructor is present
- The showing takes place in a classroom setting with only the enrolled students attending
- The movie is used as an essential part of the core, current curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall required course study and syllabus.)
- The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV
Movie License USA also serves a clearing house for many movie studios, so it is a good spot to look to obtain a license if you need one. They offer single license for $75.00 which is good for one showing of a single movie on a specific date.They also offer site licenses that are good for all of the studios that they represent for one year (as many showings as you’d like). Site license prices are based on the number of students in your school.
About the List
The list is sortable. Click on the heading to sort it by run time, rating and so forth. The title link goes to the Internet Movie Database listing for the movie and the rating link goes to the IMDb Parents Guide for the movie. Additions to the list are welcome. There aren’t actually 50 movies listed yet, so feel free to suggest some in the comments below. If you think a movie on the list is especially good or bad choice to show at school, lets hear that as well.
Click on the heading to sort the table by Release Date, Run Time or Rating.
What do you think?
- Suggest another movie? (what did we miss)
- Any poor choices on the list? (you can’t show that in school)
- What are your top 3? (two thumbs up)
Colleen Sullivan says
We just let our 7th & 8th graders watch The Day After Tomorrow. They LOVED it! We have a pretty tough group and it really kept their attention.
There are two reasons why I would hesitate to add The Day After Tomorrow to the list. One is that it is just and action/adventure movie. I tend to think that if I’m showing it in school that it should have some worthwhile message for the students.
The second reason is that I wouldn’t want to put myself through the wrath of our science teachers by showing a movie with such bad science.
thats very true
Hmmn, I think that it still has its merits. The concept of survival? The desire to live? What makes a life worth fighting for? Why did they want to survive?
Also, there is the idea of parental love. The lengths a parent will go to to help and protect a child (even though he’s of an age that he could take care of himself)
Mans relationship with nature. -- this could include discussion around hyperbole and why the science is so bad but also lead into ideas about climate change and environmental groups. (just because the science is atrocious doesn’t necessarily mean the idea is not valid)
I completely understand your point but it can be shown has a science movie with the point of view of find the vaults while they watch it. Making them think through the science of the weather and other strange things that happen….just a thought
Young Sherlock Holmes should be considered for 8th graders.
As a science teacher, I show Day After Tomorrow to open discussion about bad science. I ask them if this could happen and then why or why not. It spurs interesting discussion and debate.
And what would you consider the adventures of Baron Munchausen?
i am a 7th grade student and i would honestly prefer to watch The Day After Tomorrow,which,yes,is not educational, than watch an educational Bill Nye video.
I am an 8th-grade student and completely agree!
Fair point but as a science teacher what I like to do with this movie and my students loved it is I have them find the false or bad science and they have to defend what they find. I don’t know that I’d show this in another class but it work with my curriculum and is a fun break for the kids.
Kilmir Rogen says
Dude, by that standard, Back to the Future is inaccurate science too. WHO CARES! It fuels the imagination. Loosen up!!!!
Medicine Mad is great for science classes, as is Dante’s Peak and even Evolution.
As a middle school science and math teacher, I can honestly say that Dante’s Peak is one of the best movies ever. Students love it and it is probably the most geological correct movie about volcanoes out there. (of coure, besides a NatGeo or discovery film)
Ruth Veselka says
Since it’s based on the 1980 Mt. St. Helen’s eruption I use the documentary of that before showing the movie.
What can I show for middle school Spanish class??!?!?!
I showed Selena, La misma luna, and I am looking into previewing the movie about the little league baseball team from mexico that made it to the finals. I also would like to preview if it is out on DVD “The mystery of Spanish Harlem”. In other schoos they have shown La Bamba. I need to see it again.
Ms kim says
I saw that movie! Very very good!
Laura Som says
“I am looking into previewing the movie about the little league baseball team from mexico that made it to the finals”.
The Perfect Game is an excellent movie to show to middle schoolers.
Mr. Reyes says
For a Spanish class, if you can find it, Golpe de Estadio. It’s a comedy about a group of soldiers and insurgents calling an unofficial ceasefire in order to watch a soccer match together.
bianca cabrera says
I always show Book of Life during October to celebrate the Day of the Dead.
Aurora Salinas says
El Norte is a great movie
the chronicles of narnia
HI AND I AGREE ABOUT THE CRRONICLES OF NARNIA ITS COOL
It is awesome. i am a 7th grader and i know that i like the scooby doo movies. i mean who doesn’t!
la mis la luna (under the same moon) is a great movie that teaches about getting places and immigration.
Mrs. DeLaTorre says
Bajo la misma luna
Sherry LaClair says
I forced my sons to watch “Under the Same Moon” which was a modern day story about a Mom that came to the US from mexico, hoping to send for her son later. The boys ended up really liking the movie, and it gave us many different things to talk about. The movie was in Spanish with English subtitles. I believe it won an Academy award.
Any Disney movie in Spanish with subtitle. Have the kids write words that they know or can learn. great way to increase vocab without you giving it to them.
What kind of movie is perfect for a sixth grader and won’t be too kiddish and not too adult
You could show the movie Oz the great and powerfull
Stand and deliver--counsler and math dept will love you
McFarland USA shows a lot about Latin-American culture and my kids LOVE it. So inspirational too.
Agreed! Fabulous movie about grit/persistence/hope!!!
The Road to El Dorado….Spanish, History, Social Studies. Good movie for Middle School
I agree with this choice! Excellent movie.
Gnomeo and Juliet in Spanish or Spanish Subtitles,maybe create a worksheet or have them write down.vocabulary.words from the movie they didn’t know or worksheet depending on their level of skill your class
Try an old americano film
Or choose a few co ed movies (movies both guys and girls would like) like:
Gnomeo and Juliet
Prince of Persia
and other not stupid corny Disney movies
Elizabeth Green says
I’m looking for a movie that would demonstrate power/privilege (or the lack) in an urban setting for grade 8. I’m thinking Princess Diaries, or My Bodyguard. I previewed Big and it’s absolutely not appropriate. Any other ideas? Has anyone shown West Side Story? Is it too out of date for 8th graders?
What about The Outsiders? i haven’t seen it in many years, so previewing it would be a good idea. You could read the novel, too! 😉
That is an AWESOME idea!!! I’m a 7th grader and my English teacher made us all read the novel and showed us the movie last year and it is AMAZING!!!
I have taught very difficult 7th grade classes. We end the year with a book study of the Outsiders, and then “if they earn it” watch the film. We read the forward and the whole nine yards. Before beginning I ask if there are cliques based on socioeconomic status, if they know people that are struggling, if they know anyone in a gang type situation, have broken homes, etc. I explain that the book was written by SE Hinton after her friend was beat up. They are amazed that she was only 16. I then discuss how the book is considered a classic, because the same issues affect kids today. They just dress differently and have different language.
We read and discuss, the students fill out a book club packet, and at the end there are several projects to choose from. I have had amazing dioramas with class presentations, diaries from various character viewpoints, one student made an entire case history of each character from the viewpoint of a high school counselor, scrapbooks, and more.
When we watch the film the students are completely engrossed. They almost all say that the book is much better than the movie, because the details are so much better. It makes my heart sing each time!
The Outsiders is so well received by 6th-8th grades. I have taught it several times and they love the book and enjoy the film.
Just curious, I teach 8th grade ELA. Do you, or any of the posters, have parents sign a permission slip for, The Outsiders, as it is PG-13.
The Outsiders is great! I use it with grade 8, and after teaching film techniques, we can also talk about visual content as well as theme.
Check out Freedom Writers, we showed it to our 8th graders and they loved it.
Eunice Flanders says
Freedom Writers is a powerful film for showing power issues.
I have shown The Freedom Writers. It’s rated PG-13. it’s a powerful movie and really shows what you are trying to get at…there is also a study guide you can search that allows you to walk through the movie and discuss it with your group
Some 8th graders might find it interesting, but most students would talk through it… I’ve been there.
Actually if you are in an urban setting they love it. My inner city kids watched like hawks and afterwards they wrote journals and poetry about their own life. It was great.
West Side Story is so powerful. Too many kids miss out on the classics. They’re timeless.
Mr. Reyes says
I showed my 8th graders The Giver, and they loved it and it gave us a lot to talk about and it certainly has an element of power and etitlement
Audrey Valadez says
maybe the princess bride i think that would make a good one
We watch both versions of West Side Story to show how an initial concept can be modernize and made relevant to our present world. Also, that Spielberg was inspired to recreate a movie that had enormous influence on him is a lesson in itself!
Mrs. Bieber says
I am not a fan of this list im sorry. But it would be awesome if you added never say never! 😀 everything is amazing with Bieber <3 I GOT BIEBER FEVER other good movies are like what about harry potter or a movie that hasn't come out yet but i'm soooo excited for is the hunger games the books were amazing!!!!!!
The Mighty is also very good. Based on Freak the Mighty book
Yes it really is a great moving movie!
I have read “Freak the Mighty” and showed the film to my Grade 7s for a couple of years now. They still love it and it has wonderful resources. The Wave is also making an impression.
yall can do better and the goonies is inappropriate cause them lil kids be cursing
Amara cristian says
I love the goonies and im a 8th grader
Killa Gun says
Tried Goonies in 7th grade this year..
Very few kids showed interest…
I need a movie for year 5 that’s not too childish but not too much of adult themes
Linda G says
My students usually love Anime and we do a whole unit on comparing Disney and Miyazaki, especially the role of females. So we watch, “My Neighbor Totoro” And “Spirited Away”. There are a lot of resources online to support the viewing of both movies in class. We also watch the “Iron GIant” as well. I take my students all the way back to Silent Films watching such films as “The Kid” as well. Hope this helps. I have 7th and 8th graders.
The anime Fruits basket is also amazing.
Great list! What about A Knight’s Tale? It’s got fun music, is visually interesting, and has a good message. For the girls, there’s a romance, and for the boys, there are swords and jousting. Plus it’s got some great humor.
Oddly enough, I’ve never seen the whole movie. I’ve seen parts of it on several occasions, but not the whole thing. I don’t think it came up in any of the discussions we had. Probably an oversight. Maybe it can be one of the movies that round us out at 50.
Knight’s Tale is great, but the full rear view scene would have caused so much chaos if they showed it in my old middle school.
yes. i think so to in my old middle school any thing different that they saw the would just freak-out goof-off
The Knights Tale may be a little objectionable due to the naked Geofry Chaucer scene. Just a thought.
The Knight’s Tale is great for teaching the Medieval period, especially the social structure of the times. My grade 8s really enjoyed it.
Seriously? For the girls there’s romance? Can we get with the times please. Girls can enjoy sword fights as well.
And a stunning film to teach camera shots and angles with.
My vote is in.
It will rock (some of) them.
I don’t see “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on your list. I always get a good response with that one.
I know why The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t on the list. We were originally trying to come up with a movie to show on the last day of school, and so it just didn’t occur to us.
I would consider that a “standard” as well.
Trying to respond to beginning of thread, sorry this is in the middle.
August Rush is AWESOME.
August Rush is AWESOME! How about Napoleon Dynamite? Do you think middle school students get the whole irony and references to the Morman religion?
I would hesitate showing Napoleon Dynamite to middle schoolers because of the breast development cream and such.
I just didn’t like that movie…especially when my own kids were little…too creepy
How could Stand and Deliver not be on this list? Also does anyone know an Aztec/Maya movie. I don’t think Apocolyto is appropriate for grade 7. Is it? Keep in mind school should not be a Cinaplex.
Yeah, that’s a good suggestion. In fact, we don’t have any movies that are like it on the list. I wonder why that is. Are there any other similar movies that were missed.
I agree that Apocolyto wouldn’t be a good choice. Apart from the nudity, I didn’t think it was a good movie.
Killa Gun says
I’ve shown clips from Apocalypto in grade 6.
One of the greatest movies of the last 2 decades.
Kids loved it.
Andrew Ditlevson says
Every time I have an opportunity to show a movie as a reward or something like that I always bring in a few choices. By far the one that has stood as the “crowd pleaser” is Napoleon Dynamite.
I think I’d have a little trouble showing it to middle schoolers. It’s mostly harmless, but the breast enhancing cream bit just doesn’t seem like the right direction to go in middle school.
I showed Napoleon Dynamite this year, and my students didn’t really catch the breast enhancing cream part. It’s subtle (at least for my kids) and doesn’t last long, and they’re so distracted by the rest of the highly entertaining movie that they didn’t focus on that point exclusively!
My students loved Lean On Me!
Hey, that’s not me. Or is it? I do have dementia, y’know. Lean On Me is a great movie. A great song, too.
Mr. D. says
At our middle school, the whole eighth grade reads Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick…the kids love the book for it’s wonderful plot, excitingly characterized narration, and overall themes. The movie based on it, The Mighty, is also very well done…they love both!
We also read Freak the Mighty, but I have to disagree about the movie. This year I showed My Bodyguard and it led to a great compare/ contrast assignment.
is Nacho Libre safe?
I haven’t seen it, and I wouldn’t show anything that I haven’t seen. But judging from the parents guide at IMDB and parentPreviews, I don’t think previewing it would be a waste of time. Maybe someone who’s seen it can offer more specific advice.
I showed Nacho Libre last year to my 7th and 8th grade classes and they loved it. It’s harmless, but I would caution you to give a disclaimer about the religious views in the movie. Some of the content may be viewed as offensive to students/parents who have strong religious beliefs.
I wanted to show my students “Radio”.
Would that be safe and appropriate for middle school/
We show Radio as part of our “Celebrating Uniqueness” celebration. It provokes a lot of discussion on compassion and understanding.
I just showed Iron Will to my 7th graders and they enjoyed it. Most have never seen it since it was made in 1984. Being a period piece makes that immaterial.
There is a place in the movie where Will is a bar and the men in the race are plying him with cigars and alcohol which he doesn’t handle well. There are a few incidences of violence that are very much part of the rugged theme of the movie and necessary to the plot.
Our school has a policy of only showing G movies unless a note home is sent on a PG movie. When we send such a letter home, we go to the IMdb website to list what was determined to be the objectionable parts resulting in the PG rating so parents can decide.
I’ve never seen Iron Will. I’ll have to add it to the NetFlix queue.
Iron Will is a great movie. I recommend it.
its not my fav but i was looking for somthing for my birthday party but there is nothing good
I love showing Iron Will, especially as part of our Survival Unit. The bar scene and violence are not at all objectionable for my 7th graders- they see worse on regular televeion. Then again, our school allows up to PG without a permission slip.
Another suggestion, maybe for units involving environmental concerns, could be Hoot. Based on a book at the MS level and very well done- all about kids saving endangered owls.
Correction: Iron Will was made in 1994.
Akeelah and the Bee is fantastic for middle school students, especially in English/Language Arts class!
We use Akeelah too--love it.
Um, Lauren deleted your comment, but here’s the answer. The info in the Stay Legal section comes from the company Movie Licensing USA. Considering that they have a vested interest in teachers buying license from them, they provide a very balanced and concise summary of copyright law as it pertains to teachers. Their information corresponds with what Stanford says, except that they leave off the provisions for using television shows within 10 days of broadcast. If you can find a broadcast of Stand By Me within 10 days of when you need it, you’re probably fine.
I would also think it unlikely that you would get in any trouble if you bought a copy of Stand By Me and then showed the taped version instead. But keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, and taking anything I (a random person on the internet) say as legal advice isn’t a good idea.
Your safest bet (but not your cheapest) would be to purchase one of these Clear Play devices that takes a purchased DVD (which you would need a license to show in your class if your use wasn’t protected as fair-use under copyright law) and edits out any sort of content that you don’t want to see. Looks like they only cost around $100.00, but require a yearly subscription. I wonder if any schools buy these?
Also -- I am sorry.
Any ideas for an urban middle school Math Party? Our math team just could not think of any???
There’s a new version of Flatland that is well done. It’s only 34 minutes long, so it would fit in a period. It invites some nice discussion. It only covers portions of the book, so you could use it as a segway into the book.
I’ve never seenDonald Duck in Mathmagic Land but everyone who I’ve talked to who has seen it really liked it.
This probably isn’t what you’re after, but looks like it might be worth checking out.
I have shown Stand and Deliver to my intercity grade 7 and 8 students and they loved it. The math starts off with fractions, then moves to integers, later its into calculus. I thought the students may complain about the fact that its set in the 80’s but they thought it was fantastic and they’ve never seen it. I do feel its important to point out that there is a few questionable discussions in the movie but overal the kids didn’t seem to care. As for Donald Duck in Mathmagic land, it is classic Disney however after the initial excitment over reverting to childhood the movie gets a bit slow and boring, but since it’s about 40 min in length you don’t lose the kids completely.
Keren Lowell says
‘i just watched ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ with Charlie and Jacob. Very good movie for kids.
Beth Lovell says
We have shown Wall-E and the kids love it -- great for all areas of the curriculum. We worried a bit about the lack of dialoge but our kids were totally engaged. Also, our team just showed Up! Fantastic and the kids loved it!
Awesome list. I came across it while looking for some fresh ideas for movies to show on a week long road trip with our kids next month. Our school has a pretty specific ‘movie’ curriculum with films that correspond to different values and character themes that we spend a long time discussing. Basically the rule at our school is… if it’s not being shown for a deliberate reason, we don’t watch it (unless it’s for something special like our trips or for some relaxation after a long day of state testing) There are definitely some questionable films on the list, but with a lot of pre-teaching and pre and post discussion, we’ve never had problems or inappropriate reactions from our kids.
Not a complete list… but we show:
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the older one with Gene Wilder) (5th -- Good things happen to good people, mistakes can be learned from)
Akeelah and the Bee (5th -- desire and discipline)
Roots (5th -- during history class)
Radio (5th -- tolerance, differences)
Remember the Titans (6th -- teamwork, coming together to work towards a goal)
The Great Debaters (6th -- same as above)
My Side of the Mountain (6th -- self-reliance, independence, before 10 days of camping)
Rocky (7th -- desire, going the distance, defeating personal giants; before trip to Philadelphia and running the Rocky Steps)
Philadelphia (7th -- humanity, integrity, tolerance; requires parental buy in and lots of prep but has always been extremely powerful)
The Outsiders (after reading) (7th)
The Alamo (7th -- Texas History at our school)
Lord of the Flies (after reading) (8th)
To Kill a Mockingbird (8th -- integrity, doing the right thing because it is right)
Miracle (8th -- hard work and determination, defying the odds)
Pursuit of Happyness (8th -- self-determination, taking control of your future)
Dead Poet’s Society (8th -- self-reliance, standing for what you believe in, freedom of thought)
It is also tradition to show Stand and Deliver every year to the entire school right before we start state testing. (also perfect for the middle school math team question) Jaime Escalante is an icon at our school and we lead a whole school discussion on it before and after the movie. (This year we added an additional tribute as he passed away right before we showed the movie 🙁 )
I just realized how much I wrote. Apologies for the long-windedness!
Wow, lots of good options here. And you’re right, some of them would take a lot of prep-work. But since you’re using them as part of your curriculum, that’s all for the best anyway.
Hi Alison -- Do you mind if I ask you how big your school is?
Another inspirational one is Lean on Me with Morgan Freeman. Good for many themes and my grade 8 kids really enjoyed it. I used it to talk about authority but so many themes to pick!
Eight Below works for my students! They are riveted.
They also liked Where the Red Fern Grows.
How about the movie Goal?
I teach a high school current events or international affairs class. Any good suggestions on a movie to show? We talk about terrorism and Afghanistan quite a bit, but really any movie dealing with events that are currently happening would be ideal.
My co-worker often shows CNN Student News in class. It’s not a movie, but at least it’s video.
This is late, but how about My Name is Khan?
Absolutely, My Name is Khan. Beautiful movie. I used the essential question, how does our world view shape our actions. In our Humanities 8 class, we are looking at the crusades and the plague using the same question. Loved this movie, and think all should watch.
You should use the 30 Days episode where a Christian American goes to Deerborn, Michigan to live as a Muslim with a Muslim-American family.
How about “the kite runner”…..Apart from some scenes (can be edited with dvd cutter) and some dialogues (again can be edited) it depicts the difference of present and past Afghanistan.
I use CNN Student News in class pretty often. But I was just looking for a movie for the last couple of class periods of the school year that relates to something in the news such as terrorism, Taliban, etc.
How about Invictus with Matt Damon?
You ought to try “kite runners”…go and grab it NOW…..lol
Kenneth Lemon says
We can’t show CNN anything because it is “Fake News”, “Fake News”, “Fake News” as you know, lol. Even 8th graders are saying that. Argh!
We watch CNN-10 everyday. The newscast is current and takes my 8th graders around the world in 10 minutes. Try it.
First, thanks for a wonderful list. We invited over some friends and they have middle school aged kids and I thought we might want to have some movies on hand. This is a great list and brought back lots of memories.
A movie that made quite an impression on me when I was young was “The Point”. The movie was animated and had a great music score. The movie could generate a lot of good discussion as everything has a point.
What about the language…some of these movies are great movies but they have a couple words in them that I just don’t see how they could be shown in school….how do you get around that in your school?
If it’s only one or two words, I’ll warn the kids about them and tell them why it’s bad to use language like that. I also explain how bad words might be used in a movie to convey the idea that a person is crass, uneducated, or mean.
Before showing the movie, I practice using the mute button and a piece of paper to block the actor’s mouth. There is a single bad word in Edward Scissorhands and one interchange between characters that is questionable. I’m an expert at censoring them.
Rachael S. says
I would also suggest Bandslam (PG). Great movie- teaches tolerance.
Kim R says
I show Civics related films after school for extra credit to eighth graders. I have shown 12 Angry Men, Separate But Equal, and Legally Blond II. The first two relate directly to the judicial branch and the third (while a bit of a stretch) demonstrates how a bill becomes a law.
Any suggestions for films that deal with constitutional issues, political campaigns, or the executive branch?
You couldn’t show the whole thing, but there’s a scene in a Melanie Griffith movie about the amendments to the Constitution that’s hilarious and catchy.
Have you ever seen “The Ultimate Gift”? My grade 8’s loved it! It’s about a young man in his twenties who comes from a wealthy family. As the movie opens, they are all meeting to hear the reading of the rich grandfather’s will. Through a series of videotaped messages, gramps gives his grandson a series of tasks in order to earn a gift. There is not one swear word or inappropriate scene in this movie, and it has a great message. In the end, the young man learns a lot about himself, and what is really important in life.
‘The Ultimate Gift’ is a great movie for discussions about the legacy you want to leave behind and how that is determined by the way you choose to live life…Of the 12 gifts, I think the gift of work is my favourite, and certainly illustrates the importance of the satisfaction of a job well done without being too corny about it… it touches on several of the big issues and themes found in literature and because of that it is helpful for unpacking a variety of these using one source. E.g. Love, broken/disfunctional relationships, death, survival, ethical choices, the value of friendship ….. too many to count. As Sharon says there is nothing really unsuitable in it (one very suitable, short and polite kissing scene and a bit of adult themes) -- it is a movie with a lot going for it esp. for upper middle school (years/grades 7&8)
Benny and Joon is a good movie
Here are some films that I’ve used with great success over the years with middle school and high school students. (Note that some use subtitles, but these were not too difficult for the majority of kids to follow.)
*Iqbal (there are two of these -- one set in India and the other in Pakistan -- and both are great)
*Rabbit Proof Fence
*King of Masks
*Children of Heaven
The Kite Runner
*Fly Away Home
*The Children of Hoang Shi (This had a moment of violence because it takes place during the Japanese invasion of China, but the kids totally love this film!)
*The Power of One (This one is for more advanced, at least high school level, kids.)
*The Chronicles of Narnia
*Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Thanks for your list. I’ll follow these comments. Anne in Portland
yeah i agree with “children of heaven” “the kite runner”……Try these “TAARE ZAMEEN PAR” (INDIA-HINDI),”ANJALI” (INDIA-TAMIL),”PASANGA” (INDIA-TAMIL),”NANDHALALA” (INDIA-TAMIL,”LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL” (ITALY) & “THE BICYCLE THIEVES” (ITALY)…..Also how about “HOTEL RWANDA” & “THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION”?
Where did you find Iqbal? We read the book set in Pakistan and I have searched high and low for a copy of the movie, but have not been successful.
Just thought of another: The Blue Butterfly. Kids liked it very much, although we’d have to say it was a bit on the predictable side. Good for a science bent!
What about A Walk To Remember … I show it to my students when we set life goals for ourselves. Also The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is excellent.
I was also thinking of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas before I discovered this list.
I will be teaching a film appreciation class once per week (extended period) this school year, and would love any recommendations for film appreciation lessons & movie lists (beyond just fun to watch or good for middle school students).
My school has students from grades 4-12, and I’ve been told i can put an age requirement on my class, so I’m thinking middle school and up.
Would love to show Stand by Me, too. Other than swearing and (gasp) showing a “dead” body, isn’t that movie pretty clean? Also considering (at this point) Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (OV, of course), and ET.
Thanks for the suggestions! Whale Rider, March of the Penguins & others are great! 🙂
How about foreign films? I remember films from my childhood, like “The Red Balloon” and others of that era. It is my earliest memory of a foreign film. It truly help with my cultural literacy and opening my eyes to a larger world, coming from a rural area.
Stand By Me is awesome -- except it has the whole discussion about Catholic girls being ‘prudes’ and that if you want to get past 2nd base to find a ‘Jew’…you know, mention of sexual activity with girls…pretty descriptive too for an educational setting…
I work at a middle school where we are able to show up to PG without permission slips, anything PG-13 and above requires a permission slip from home. I offer an after school class on Friday’s called the Friday Film Society, so not all of the movies on my list are strictly educational (the kids wouldn’t come if I didn’t show some fun ones). I used this list as a starting off point and then added a bunch of other good movies I thought of. The PG-13 rating wasn’t created until 1984, so some of the PG movies may still have strong language and would be good to watch beforehand and get parent permission for.
I uploaded the list to google docs, here is the link:
That’s a great list. It looks like you have the students take it home and say what movies they have seen already? That’s a good idea. It would be interesting to have them rate the movies that they’ve seen and have them compile the ratings.
I was actually going to use the “Watched” section to document which movies have been watched throughout the year, but it wouldn’t hurt to have the students go through and mark the ones they’ve seen already. My thought on deciding the movies would be to let the students rotate around choosing movies off of the list and then every couple of weeks I’ll choose a movie they might not choose to watch otherwise (you know, anything made before 1990). I also like your idea of having them rate the movies after we’ve watched them (I’m going to add that to the list), it will help to inform choices in the future.
mike sc says
Seriously? Simon Burch and Karate Kid remake are the two worst movies ever made. Many on your list are close behind. What are you thinking?
Luis V says
Thank you so much!
Here’s a list I made for students to mark what they’ve seen already and what they did and didn’t like:
I teach a social science class to 7th/8th graders and am currently teaching them a unit on economics. Does anyone know of a good movie for this age group that deals with money, business, and/or the economy, etc?
Killa Gun says
Did that a few years back in grade 6.. I forgot about how much JL Curtis liked showing her boobs back then…
Kids didn’t mind…
Does anyone know a good movie for 4-6 graders that would promote an anti-bullying message?
Sorry, other than Karate Kid.
What about The Goonies? Not overtly anti-bullying, but shows kids that are all different from each other as friends. I haven’t seen it in a long time, but would My Bodyguard be an option?
I wrote up a sheet of talking points that we used in 6-8th grade a few years ago when we showed The Karate Kid as an intro to a bullying unit. It’s here if you want to look at it.
I never saw My Bodyguard.
Not to be confused with The Bodyguard.
“And iiiiiiiiiiii-eeee-iiiiiiiii will always loooove, yoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu……”
The only one I can think of is Back to the Future, but there’s some stuff in it that might not be appropriate for younger kids.
Rock Willis says
Try Ant Bully. It is animated but will keep their interest and make a point.
My Bodyguard is a great movie about bullying. A geeky boy hires another student (who’s rumored to have murdered someone) to protect him from extortion from a teenage Matt Dillon). There’s a scene about peeping in windows using a telescope, but otherwise it’s pretty age appropriate and features a young Joan Cusack.
Also, Lucas with Corey Haim is about an intelligent misfit who just wants to fit in with the popular kids by playing football even though he is much too small. Check it out.
A Bug’s Life? They are bullied by Hopper for years and the main Ant is bullied for making inventions and being kind of different, but in the end his unique ideas and creativity save the day. Kids love a Bug’s Life!! It’s a Pixar film.
If you are considering showing The Goonies, preview it first. I hadn’t seen it in years either, and made the mistake of showing it without re-previewing. They swear a lot (mostly sh*t), and also the term “sexual torture devices” is used (spoken in Spanish, but written in clear English subtitles). I believe it would be given a PG-13 rating if it came out with this content now. I regretted showing it in school.
How about a biographical, entertaining type movie suitable for sixth graders? Some on the above list may qualify, but I’m not a big movie buff so I wouldn’t necessarily know.
Along with Apollo 13 try October Sky for 7th grade and up. There is some minor language but it fits the West Virginia coal mining setting perfectly.
I am looking for a mystery movie rated G or PG. Any ideas?
Rock Willis says
The ony thing I can think of is Hoodwinked. It is a spoof on little red riding hood. But it is nothing like the fairy tale. It is a real who done it.
Rock Willis says
Oh I just thought of Citizen Cane an Clue
I was thinking Clue too. But I couldn’t remember if there was an actual mystery that you could solve, or if it was just really, really funny.
We’ve been watching Ponyo a lot lately. My kids love it and I don’t mind at all when it gets watched over and over and over.
I teach a technology/career invetigations class to 8th graders. I am looking for a good movie to show that will inspire them to think about their future. Any suggestions?
Rudy has that “work hard, stay in school” type of theme going for it.
Rudy was my first choice, but due to the language, I am not allowed to show it.
I guess the only version I’ve ever seen is the one that they show on TV.
October Sky. Themes: Overcoming adversity. It’s cool to love math and science. The brainy kid attracts the girls. Believe and fight for your dreams.
how about a movie to finish up fossils for 7th grade? i want something fun that is still somewhat relating to the material…
“The Miracle Worker” is a great film that my students have always loved. I believe that Patty Duke won an Oscar for her performance of Helen Keller. The dinner table scene is incredible and the message for middle schoolers is great. It really shows the power of the teacher as well. It’s black and white, but my students didn’t care once they got into it.
“The Long Walk Home” is a good movie if you are studying civil rights. Whoopi Goldberg plays the maid in a home in Birmingham during the bus boycott (post Rosa Parks).
I would just like to chime in here and say that for Christmastime -- watch “Elf”. I don’t have any good tie-in to a lesson, I just think it is the ultimate CLEAN modern Christmas movie. (Maybe the lesson could be ’embrace who you are’.)
Polar Express is good for Christmas too.
Hi, does anybody know any good movies about the holocaust ??
I show “The Hiding Place” to my eighth graders every year. It’s got strong Christian themes. I don’t know if that would be a problem in a public school. I teach in a Christian school.
I haven’t seen “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, but the previews seemed to be pointing to a child’s-eye view of things.
Boy in the Striped Pajamas for sure -- harrowing!
If you are still looking for Holocaust movies- I showed “Anne Frank, the Whole Story” to my 8th graders after reading the play. Strong scenes of death in the camps, but they didn’t speak a word and many were in tears.
Did you have to do any editing when you showed “Anne Frank: the Whole Story”? If so, do you remember where?
When I show “Anne Frank: The Whole Story” to my 8th grade ELA class, I usually just edit out the part when the girls are first at Auschwitz because there is some nudity there. I just didn’t feel comfortable with my 8th graders seeing that. I did make sure that I told them exactly what was happening because I think it’s important for them to understand how people were treated. When they go to get their ID number tattooed on their arms, I skip to the next part.
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Devil’s Arithmetic
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Also a very good movie for the end of the year that my class enjoyed very much was “A Wrinkle In Time.” of course “call of the wild” 🙂
Pay It Forward when introducing service/charity
The Blind Side
Miss Debb says
I love Pay it Forward--it is such a marvelous movie. However, the bedroom scene--makes us eliminate it from our queue. I hate the way that movie-makes take movies that could have such great potential and spoil them by putting in inappropriate language and/or scenes that ruin them for wide-spread use by educations. Shame on them!
I’m looking for a Christmas movie, but something literature-based. I was thinking Little Women,l but am not sure how that will go down with the boys. Any suggestions?
What about A Christmas Carol. My students are reading that in their classes now and watching the movie too.They have a million different versions from the old one, to the new one with Jim Carrey, to the cartoon versions, and the muppet christmas carol too.
Ms. F. says
I’m looking for some sort of a cross-cultural/immigration story. I was planning on showing Bend it Like Beckham, but not having watched it in a few years, the specifics on the ratings make the content sound like a bit too much for my students (girls in bras & underwear, lots of language, etc.). Any other, cleaner suggestions? I thought this would be easy to find, but all the other titles I’m finding are for older audiences…
I’m looking for a movie about the Roman Empire for 9th graders. The ones I’ve found so far are either too racy or really boring. I’m especially interested in something set during the time of Julius Caesar or Caesar Augustus. Does anyone know a good one?
How about the original Spartacus or Cleopatra or Ben-Hur or soemthing like that…
I found some History Channel documentaries via Netflix that were awesome. The battle scenes were not gory and my middle schoolers enjoyed learning the History of the Roman Empire in the series. There are a few available with Julius Caesar, and I think Caesar Augustus. Good luck!
hey why not ‘ diary of a wimpy kid . its an awesome movie guys!!
I actually planned on redboxing it to show this week!!!
I thought the 7th graders would like it, but I am shocked how much the 8th graders love it. It is really a cute movie too!
Hello! I teach in a middle school. I teach Spanish. Any good movies that I could show in Spanish language with English subtitles or vice versa…? Suggestions? I thought about “Casi Casi” but I heard it was more appropriate for High School. I recently showed Elf to my 7th graders in Spanish with english subtitles. Anything for 8th? Last year I showed “Viva Cuba” but (bras and going to the bathroom scene) didn’t go over too well.
I remember watching “The Milagro Bean Field War” in 7th grade in Spanish class, there were subtitles. I love Spanglish, but its PG 13…Also when I lived in Mexico, I watched Star Wars in the movies when it came out and the subtitles were cool because I learned how to say things like “may the force be with you” in Spanish, but that is also PG-13.
I would LOVE to be able to say “may the force be with you” in Spanish. Do you remember how?
Que la fuerza te acompania!!!!!!
May the force be with you = Que la fuerza te acompañe…I’m impressed
I thought of Spanglish as well but it is PG-13 and the ‘romance’ that goes on is probably not age appropriate, maybe high school. Any suggestions of English movies that have to do with Hispanic culture that I can use subtitles with???
I thought “Stand and Deliver” was a good option but definitely too much for middle school.
help! suggestions please?
How bout Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the culture portion is brief, but America Ferrera’s role does a great job with it…
I agree!! Another teacher said the “suggestive sexual” nature might be too much an dthat the boys would not enjoy it…what are your thoughts?
Maybe about the suggestive sexual nature, but it is PG and the boys may like it because of the “hot” (lol) girls in it.
Another option may be the cartoon, Road to ElDorado…
I was wondering what you all thought about using the movie My Name is Khan along with articles about tolerance, autism, bullying, world. Religion, family relationships,etc.? I teach 8th grade.
Wow, I never even heard of My name if Khan until tonight. It sounds like it would hit all the issue for the middle school population, but I think that despite the PG-13 rating, it still may be too much for middle school. As I was reading the synopsis on IMDB, I paralleled the movie with Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner. While Kite Runner has the same rating, I think some of the issues discussed conspicuously or inconspicuously are too much for middle school students and that the discussion to follow, if/when questions arise is too risky. But hey, this is just my opinion 🙂
Just showed in in Grade 8 -- kids were riveted. See my other comment above.
http://www.teachwithmovies.org/index.html Here’s a great resource for teaching with movies.
Thanks for the feedback Tamara!
What are your thoughts on showing Little Shop of Horrors? I have a co-worker who wants to show it to a group of urban 6-8th graders. I have a feeling the students won’t like it. Any thoguhts?
I don’t know if the masochistic dentist and his beat up girlfriend Audrey would be very appropriate for that age group. Check it out yourself first. It’s amazing how our favorite movies have some really bad messages underlying them, like Grease for suggesting that girls have to change and be slutty in order to get a guy.
A Far Off Place…story about poachers in Africa and it has teenagers having to cross the Kalahari.
I’m not a teacher, but a stickler for grammar and I must correct one of Caroline’s posts:
She says: I offer an after school class on Friday’s called the Friday Film Society, so not all of the movies on my list are strictly educational (the kids wouldn’t come if I didn’t show some fun ones).
NO APOSTROPHE IN THE WORD “FRIDAYS!!!” It’s just a plural.
Elizabeth -- I, too, see similar cases in public. Speaking of grammar, you might want to add a ‘comma’ after the word grammar in your post.
Don’t think it’s necessary in this case.
Grammer Natzi says
As a registered Grammar Natzi, I can assure you that you do, indeed, need a comma after the word grammar. In fact, you need it for two reasons:
1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of these seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.
2. Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
There are many more rules for commas here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/
Does anyone have a recommendation for a film to accompany the novel, The Giver? I teach 7th grade.
Suggestions for something that relates to the downfall of utopias or a film with a dynamic character who makes a sacrifice for society would be great.
Show the Truman Show to pair with the book, Giver.
Thank you! 🙂
They haven’t made a movie of The Giver yet? That’s so wrong!
Rachel C says
I’ve showed parts of Gattica after reading The Giver. A previous post suggested showing The Truman Show so it’s on my preview list.
Has anyone seen Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee? I am looking for a movie to show about the experience of Native Americans during the colonization and development of the United States. This is my only thought at this point, but I haven’t seen it yet. Any comments or suggestions welcome! 🙂 Thank you!
Continued from my comment above, what about Dances with Wolves? I saw it many years ago, and don’t remember it very well. I am looking for something that will show the experience of Native Americans, but will be interesting enough to hold my students’ attention (documentaries/PBS films can be a little dry).
Grammar Natzi — You don’t need a comma after the word “phrases.” The comma there makes for an awkward pause and the second part is not an independent clause.
Please stop usimg so many hollywood movies in school. You are all lazy! And you are making our kids stupid.
I don’t know that you can tell from what people have posted here how often they use movies or in what context. Personally, I’ve been teaching for a little over a decade and in the past two months have shown my first movie in class. It was a high school video editing class and we watched “The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing.”
We’ve also shown movies to the whole middle school to introduce or conclude special units.
I can see how you could read all of these comments and assume that teachers are showing movies all the time. But a more accurate conclusion might be that teachers are constantly looking for good ways to engage students in the topics that they are studying.
Sure, occasionally teachers show movies as a reward, but even then good teachers choose movies with ideas and themes that they can incorporate into the work that they do in the classroom.
I agree with you Lloyd, educators are not trying to make students into mindless drones. In fact most educators are trying to stimulate creative thought, and on that note the movies I would like to suggest are:
Mr. Holland’s Opus (only issue with it is the brief illusion to an inappropriate student/ teacher relationship)
The Point (Ringo Starr narrates)
The Dark Crystal
The Point is an awesome choice! It is an animated classic about love, acceptance, courage, and tolerance.
@Andrai: If you have suggestions for any of our requests for videos/films/non-Hollywood movies, please do share. It is not for lack of effort and energy that we are seeking advice from fellow educators on films that either fit into our curricula, or otherwise are otherwise suitable to be shown for educational purposes. I don’t think anyone has posted seeking “Hollywood” specific films. I, too, have not shown one movie in my class this year, and actually feel bad that I haven’t done so yet. Movies can be very engaging visual aids to the things we are teaching, reading, and learning about.
@andrai The only time I show movies, if at all, is at the very end of the school year. Grades have been completed and submitted to the office. Students are totally disengaged from learning and only thinking of summer vacation. If you have ever been in that environment then you would know the reason teachers are looking for something entertaining but has some educational merit.
Perhaps you should read the rest of the blog before coming up with any snap judgements or relaying your preconceived notions. Let’s talk about who is lazy.
@andrai Teachers have not made your kids stupid. You may want to take a look at your parenting.
I am a high school history/geography teacher who is very offended by the idea that showing films promotes laziness by us. There are few ways to make a student understand something that happened historically than by showing them a great film that depicts that event. It allows them to get an actual feel for the event, the same is true in teaching geography. Showing a film from China about life in China is more effective than most methods I know of getting that information to our students. I do many other things, like have guest speakers from the time or place we are learning about, field trips to museums or historical sites, but I have found if you really want a student to understand a time, place, event the worst thing I can do is stand up and lecture about it as there are few things more boring to our students. So, I use film, I use it a lot. I usually use more documentary style but films with stories are the most effective. But I can tell you about Greece or show you a film that shows it to you. I’m tired of films getting a bad name in education when every year the discussion we have as a result of watching “Hotel Rwanda” and reading some of the accounts of the people who lived through the violence is one of the most remembered and powerful lessons I teach. You can teach the students about the Holocaust all you want but until they see the footage of the survivors, and the camps it doesn’t seem real to them. So, back off!!! This is a great discussion about how to engage students in learning somethings you film is great at. Sorry for the rant:
A few I use (all PG-13 or less though depending on your school I would preview that because some of lots of language or violence) that I missed seeing (sorry if I am reposting):
Apollo 13 (HBO did a great series called From the Earth to Moon that my students love too!)
Empire of the Sun
The Blind Side
The Color of Paradise
A League of Their Own
Life of Pi
Turtles Can Fly
Joyeux Noel (It is rated PG-13 but there is a vivid sex scene that you can easily skip)
Flight 93 (United 93)
Iron Jawed Angels
Part of our 8th grade objectives involves the students comparing a written work to its filmed version. That’s not being lazy. That’s just following the curriculum. When my students read “The Landlady”, we watched a short film version of it that was maybe 30 minutes long. It didn’t even take up an entire class period. However, they were able to mention numerous differences between the short story and the short film version. It’s an important thing to be able to do.
Does anyone have other suggestions on films that would fit in with a unit about conformity versus individualism, or being an outsider? So far it looks like Radio might be good, but I’m wondering if there are others. I teach 9th grade at an inner-city public school. Thanks!
Speaking about outsiders, how about “The Outsiders” or “Tex”?
Caroline Fowler says
A wonderful film for middle schoolers showing individualism is The Ernest Green Story, about the Little Rock Nine, who in 1958 were the first African Americans to attend the all white high school, where Ernest was the first of the students to graduate. The story is inspiring, and teaches many lessons with regards to how to conduct oneself when you want to show that you are a person of high integrity and fine character. Sometimes people have to stand alone and stand up for what they believe, even though there are those who would try to disuade them. In the end great things can be accomplished if one keeps their eyes on the main prize, and often many learn valuable lessons from those willing to walk alone.
The Blind Side
The Truman Show
A League of Their Own
All are movies where someone is fighting against what is happening around them or what society says they should be.
Eilene Corcoran says
I love the movie Woder.
Eilene Corcoran says
thesse aer good movies
These truly are great movies!
I was surprised I didn’t see October Sky on the list.
It was truly inspiring and very interesting for that age group.
I’ve started showing my 6th grade World Geography class the documentary “God Grew Tired of Us.” My husband is showing it in his high school World History class towards the end of the school year. I also show “The Sound of Music” while we are studying WWII. And I always show movie with the subtitles on and, in the case of TSOM, the kids were able to sing along by the end of the move.
I really enjoyed reading all these comments. My school, a high school, has just run a riot with email about what movies when can and cannot show. our board policy only allows G movies unless prior approval is granted. This seems rather restrictive considering we teach high school students. Permission slips supposedly will not suffice either.
How do you get permission without permission slips? It seems like verbal confirmation would (a) be more of a hassle and (b) not as legally binding.
Permission must first be granted by the district via a committee composed of the person in charge of the district IMC, an administrator, and two parents, possibly a teacher as well. You submit a two paragragh rationale for the movie and the movie. The committee will view and approve, or not, the movie. Then a permission slip is sent out as well; most will attach the permission slip to their syllabus at the beginning of the year.
We are finishing the book Walk Two Moons. Does anyone have a good movie to show as a follow-up?
I have shown Ghandi for seventh grade Social Studies. It always provokes good discussion.
What can I show to a middle school Algebra I class?
October Sky is inspirational and has a science/math hook in that a group of kids are trying to create a rocket. Their teacher believes in them, but their families aren’t supportive. In the end, they succeed and many end up becoming scientists. (It is based on a true story.)
I recently showed Unstoppable to my Algebra 1 class. It has some great Uniform Motion scenarios in it, and the kids were way into it.
The Story of 1, with lots of fun follow up Math
Stand of Deliver
Life of Pi
Stand AND Deliver it should say…..
We are just finishing the book “Among the Hidden”. Does anyone know of any movies that would suit the theme(s) of this book?
What comes to my mind right away is X-Men: The Last Stand. They have a government registry and some of the mutants try to hide themselves. There is the question of whether change can be made by peaceful means (Professor X) or by forceful resistance (Magneto). Perhaps not a perfect match, but the themes are there…
Thanks for the idea…I should have mentioned that it’s for grade seven -- would it be good for 12-13 year olds?. I haven’t watched this one but I may have to rent it this weekend!
Actually, now that I think about it, this might be difficult to show at school. It’s got some sexually suggestive content and some language. Too bad, because I think it would have fit the discussion. Mabye there’s an edited version out there somewhere?
Wikipedia has a list of movies where the government is controlling:
Titan A.E. is on the list. It’s animated. I haven’t seen it in a long time, so I don’t remember it well.
I’m sorry I don’t have more suggestions. I enjoyed “Among the Hidden” and think there are some great discussion opportunities there. Maybe a movie about racial inequalities could apply?
Someone else has suggested a 1999 movie called “The Basket” and so I’m going to watch it tonight and see how it is. Apparently it has won awards for “family viewing” and is about a farming community after WW1 and struggles with racial tensions and family ties.
What, if anything, was said about the movie, “Jack,” with Robbin Williams, Diane Lane, and Jennifer Lopez? It has a good story and is set in a school for a good portion of the movie. It shows perseverance and embracing uniqueness. I have seen it many times, but would watch it again as though I were 13 years old so that I can gauge how my students would receive it.
I’m trying to wrap up my Tecnology Applications class. Are there any good movies that show the importance of technology knowledge in the real world. I still have a hard time convincing my students that they will actually NEED to know anything about technology after high school!!
We show “Wargames” to our 9th grade computer science class. Also “Sneakers” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”
You also might want to look at the Nova documentary “Smartest Machine on Earth”, which is about the computer who took on the Jeopardy champions. Might spark some of your technology application students to want to take computer science.
My question is why do you feel the need to show a movie at all. I know that because it is the last week of school that it is difficult to teach anything -- but don’t teachers have an imagination anymore? I would rather take my kids out of school the last week then have them be subjected to watch movies all day long.
Take them out then. Who is stopping you?
What I was implying is that the teachers should do a better job teaching rather then entertaining. If they were I wouldn’t have to even consider taking my kids out of school. Is it possible to get a refund for the last week of school of the tax money I pay towards the public education system. The answer is an obvious no.
And frankly, the way that attendance records are taken, I can’t take my kids out of school for more then three days without having a doctors permission, otherwise my kids are considered truant and I am labeled the bad parent.
Well with all of the work that the students have to do throughout the year, I don’t see anything wrong with generating a thought provoking lesson around an inspiring movie. Broken up into segments, discussed, analyzed, etc. I have never seen a teacher at my school show a movie that did not have a lesson to go a long with it. No offense, but if you don’t think your kids deserve an entertaining, but analytical lesson that requires viewing a movie…then don’t let them participate.
Have you ever seen a school during the last week or two of the year?? It is chaos. Teachers do the best they can to keep the kids behavior in line….seriously, before you judge what is being done, maybe you should take all things into consideration. Your kids may be well behaved enough, but a teacher has to deal with 25+ in a classroom at a time- and I guarentee that during the last couple weeks of school that 25 feels like 50. A lesson revolving around a movie may be the only thing that can keep them from running up the walls during these last few days before SUMMER!! Not to mention the awards ceremony’s, field days, athletic events, NJHS happenings,etc. that they are being pulled out of class for every other day.
Good job teachers! Thanks for all that you do despite unappreciative students AND parents!! Keep it up.
My husband is a teacher -- we were just talking about this matter the other day. He teaches history and social studies for 5th -- 8th grade. Do you remember how boring those classes were when you were in grade school? Guess what? They’re just as boring when you’re the teacher. He said that if he were teaching about ancient China and found a movie that showed what things were like in a fashion that the kids learned something and their attention were held, he’d use it in a heartbeat. They would get more out of it than just listening to him lecture.
My, have I hit a nerve. The movies I am talking about are generally PG rated without parents being notified or having their approval. The movies are shown in its entirety (usually over a two day period). They are even shown in classes where there is no excuse to have to play a video. Do we really need to show a video in gym class? Do the kids really have a hard time coming up with games to play on their own?
I also have to laugh at the way that some, not all, teachers try to take a film and make it correlate to their subject matter. For example, when I think of life cycles the Lion King doesn’t readily come to mind in comparison to some of the vintage Disney movies used in the True Life Adventures. I have yet to see a child dislike any of those videos even though they were done many years ago. Why not use something from Discovery Channel or National Georgraphic which is truly educationsl? Tomorrow my son’s class is going to watch “Toy Story 3” because the teacher says that it “ties into recycling” because the toys are recycled. “Really?” I think that is a stretch so I have chosen to spend some one on one time with him and take him out of school early. I think the kids would more fascinated by something on Dirty Jobs or how garbage companies sort and recycle. All of these things can be found easily online and reviewed by the media specialist and principal. I wouldn’t show Marry Poppins to teach about England but perhaps todays teachers would if it meant the kids would behave.
All in all, I am not against showing movies in school if they actually have some educational merit. In my children’s experience movies are not done in a teaching fashion where they show segments and talk about the movie during class. But I am against showing movies in school merely for entertainment purposes or to kill time such as the last week of school.
Don’t you think they get enough entertainment outside school as it is? Granted kids are not as well behaved as they once were but perhaps that is because they are already watching too much media and teachers just appease them by giving them more. Let the parents entertain them -- it is not a teachers job.
Yes! Let the parents entertain the children and then let the teachers deal with their behavior! Perfect. I have no idea what type of school district you are in, but the movie policy at most schools clearly states that the movie being shown must be district approved, educational, and class content related. Students must be taking notes and/or writing/discussing/drawing reflections.
I haven’t shown a movie in my class all year long, but I am considering showing one week after next, which is the last week of school here. Half of my students will be pulled out for external activities during that week and if I can find a good movie to keep them thinking- when nothing else at this time of year seems to do that- then I am going for it! Any suggestions?? 🙂
A-26 Invader says
PG Rating… “PG” Means “Parental Guidance” Which means if you are not the parent than you DO HAVE To get parents permission! What the hell do you think “Parental” means…? PARENT? and What the hell do you think Guidance”means…? TO GUIDE OR MAKE DECISIONS! In other words…. “PARENTS DECISION”
“R” rating means “Restricted” to people 18 or over unless accompanied by an adult.
NC-17 means no-one (regardless of permission/accompanied from a parent or adult) is admitted under 17 years of age.
Ref. Source: National Movie Ratings Commission.
PG actually means “Parental Guidance Suggested” not required.
Source: Motion Picture Association of America (the people who created the rating system) http://www.mpaa.org/ratings/what-each-rating-means
Allison -- PG also means Proylene glycol in chemistry. You are trying to stretch guidelines for showing movies to fit your needs. Whether you call it PG rating with Parental Guidance or Parental Guidance Suggested…guess what -- the word “Parental” is still there. It does not say Teacher or School Counselor, Coach or even Principal Guidance. It is Parental guidance, period.
From the website that you cited it says the following which your failed to leave on your post.
PG — Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children. A PG=RATED MOTION PICTURE SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY PARENTS BEFORE THEY LET THEIR YOUNGER CHILDREN ATTEND. The PG rating indicates, in the view of the Rating Board, that PARENTS MAY CONSIDER SOME MATERIAL UNSUITABLE FOR THEIR CHILDREN, and PARENTS SHOULD MAKE THAT DECISION. The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated motion picture.
Have a nice day! 🙂
Let’s just ignore this commenter. I am a parent and I appreciate that teachers are teaching my kids how to watch a movie discerningly. Parents often do not do that. We do not analyse and bring the background of the movie to our kids. I am not lazy, I just did not realize that because I do not watch enough of movies myself. So thank you teachers!!
I need opinions about showing Ever After: A Cinderella Story to sixth graders. I’ve read that some video versions are PG. I haven’t seen it in a long time but don’t recall anything terrible. We are reading Ella Enchanted and writing fairy tales and I want to show different versions of Cinderella, other than the movie version of the book.
Isn’t there an Ella Enchanted movie?? Also, we are doing an interdisciplinary unit on Fairytales and Creation Myths and the Science teacher showed Tangled and they investigated some of the scientific components. can hair really be that strong, can a plant enhance human features as such, etc..
Joyce Hoagland says
Where the Red Fern Grows is good for middle school, and so is Eight Below!
This is a great list. I have two comments:
Regarding films that I sometimes show to my core class:
Rabbit Proof Fence -- in the Fall of the year
Where the Wild Things Are -- to teach compassion and the power of friendship and family
A Christmas Carol -- following the reading of the original text
The Story of the Weeping Camel -- following our study of Mongolia
God Grew Tired of Us -- to remind my students that we can accomplish great things if we set our minds to it
Regarding teachers using films in school, I never use a film as a babysitter. Every film that I use is for a specific educational purpose. In addition to running films occasionally with my middle school students during the content portion of our school day, I also tean a class that specifically uses film as a vehicle for relaying content. I choose one character trait from the Character Counts list each year to build my class around, last year was “respect”, next year is “caring.”
Students write a prediction each day for the film clip. Then we watch a portion of the film. Next, we use Thinking Maps to reflect on the day’s viewing. Students sequence what we watched on a sequencing map. Then, they add traits to their classifying map which show how the characters in the film exhibited the focus trait. After we have watched the entire film, students have two days to complete a movie response package which includes a movie poster that they design which advertises the film, a sequencing map for the entire film, a classifying map for the film, a third map which we create specific to each film, and an essay of not less than 300 words which illustrates how the film connects to the theme for the trimester.
At the end of the twelve weeks, students write a summative package to me which includes a poster for the theme of the class and a letter to me which indicates what they learned about the theme during the course.
This class requires students to think, to work collaboratively, to be creative, to write, and to analyze what the mainstream media is trying to show them.
I am not using film to pass time while I wait for the school year to end. My students are learning, are growing as people and are accumulating academic skills that transfer to their other content areas.
The movies are just a spoonful of sugar!
Rachel S says
I like your ideas and the format you use for watching your movies in class. WOuld you have any suggestions for documentaries to show my middle schoolers for a Documentaries Club that I’m in charge of this quarter? Each child will be needing a PG-13 permission slip signed by their parent. One teacher suggested Supersize Me and Hotel Rowanda, also a spelling bee movie.
Caroline Fowler says
Whenever I show the Henry Fonda version of 12 Angry Men to my 8th grade Civics students, they moan before it starts because I let them know that it is in black and white. At the end they are applauding and saying that it was such an “awesome” film, amd that they “loved it!” This film’s plot teaches our young citizens that we have a very serious job to fulfill when we are asked to serve jury duty. I have been showing this film for 12 years now, and every year my students give it 5 stars! I cannot recommend this film enough. One of the best for this age group.
Caroline, I can relate. My kids do the same ting with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington!
I don’t believe in the notion that older movies are too out of date for kids. Most of the older movies are far better written, have better actors and better directors then most of the drivel that is putting put out on the screen today. 12 Angry Men is a perfect example of that. Imagine, a movie that only takes place in one room; has no special effects, no profanity, no innuendoes and it has the power to get middle school age kids to really pay attention. I subscribe to Netflix and my kids love watching the old movies because of the elements that I described above. They could care less about when it was filmed.
Any recs for movies to follow the book Hatchet? My initial thought was Into the Wild, but after being reminded of the content and rating, I know this one won’t work. Any recs appreciated! Thank you!
Does anyone know of movie to use for Gr. 6 Social Studies focusing on democracy or equal rights?
My friend Martin, about Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are some movies that I’ve used with my 6th graders that haven’t been mentioned. I only show movies in connection to units and themes in the curriculum.
Gandhi -- a little complex, nonetheless kids understand why and
what Gandhi stood for
mardi utami says
I need this film could you sendme this movie. I want it for teaching English in my classroom with 36 up to 40 students in one clsses. I teach in IX and VIII grade. My school is so far from the big city. it is about 17 kms from it and also of my home.
Would send me two or three films to my school.
The address: SMP NEGERI 2 Tembelang.
I consider it a travesty that Meet the Robinsons isn’t on here. A great movie with the main message that failure happens, is to be learned from, and we should always keep moving forward. Plus it’s a Disney cartoon, and that still goes over pretty well with just about any age.
Mrs. B says
LOVE Meet the Robinsons, both for entertainment and education.
“Mean Girls” is a great film about social hierarchies in school.
I’m trying to thinbk of good mystery/murder movies to show my middle schoolers. any sugggestions?
A great film to show for a murder/mystery is Sorry Wrong Number.
Mrs. B says
This isn’t a movie but I SO WISH someone would make a film out of “The Westing Game.” You can also try some of Masterpiece Theatre’s Agatha Christie films -- I think Poirot is fantastic, and my own 7-yr-old son likes it (granted, he is autistic, but he loves the mystery).
There is a 1997 movie of “The Westing Game”. It’s PG, and didn’t get great ratings, but looks okay.
No commonsensemedia.org review
I’ve been reading through the differences in opinion about showing movies in class as an instructional tool and I’d like to point out that in some school boards, it is part of the school curriculum to teach media literacy. And part of the mediums we have to use is movies. As such, it’s at the teacher’s discretion to select movies or films to teach elements of a movie. In fact, our ministry document curriculum outlines what we need to cover, eg. movie reviews. So to a non-educator, it might look like teachers are just trying to kill time by showing kids hollywood movies and being lazy, but there is a huge error in making that assumption because there are critical skills that the students are learning.
Much Ado About Nothing
Lord of the Flies?
do you know any movie about developing self-discipline? TY!
I am a Teacher in Australia. I teach English. Part of our curriculum is the teaching of film as text. I came upon your website in order to gather some ideas about a 8th grade film. I must say that I am not as restricted in ratings as many teachers are in your country. Yes, if I decide to teach a film which is M rated then I must seek permission from parents -- but rarely do I get the sort of grilling from parents that I have seen here! I have shown Rebel without a Cause, The Wild Ones, and Cool Hand Luke all in relation to the novel The Outsiders and have had parents asking to join my classes. At the end of the year when things are winding down Gone With The Wind is shown -- again in relation to The Outsiders. Many of my students have then gone on to read the novel. I also teach 7th, 9th 10th and VCE English. Film provides context and a richer conceptual understanding of many skills and experiences. As a parent I encourage my children to watch films with me to gain this understanding and appreciation of all things great in this world. The narrow mindedness of the parental views expressed here saddens me and my thoughts flow to my hard working colleagues who so obviously strive to provide the best for their students. Well done guys! May I suggest a film called The Triplets of Belleville as a fantastic animated film for 8th graders? Oh and thanks for some ideas -- I am still thinking about a film as text for a particular difficult class and you have given me some food for thought. One last suggestion to that parent who thinks it is just baby sitting -- ever heard of home schooling? I am sure you will succeed where others have failed. Do you guys have parent/teacher nights? What fun to be had by all!
Your definition of great films for school aged children is not the same as mine. I am not narrow-minded because my children have seen many films that most children and adults have not. Good grief, what are parents for if not to guide their children in growing up…am I not suppose to not care what goes into their heads…you would think I would be narrow minded because I insist that they eat their vegetables…..No, you would be saying…let them have all the junk food that they want…..don’t be so narrow-minded!
Well, in my opinion most, not all, of the movies that have been listed on this website are not appropriate for children to watch without their parents presence. That is a parental right. I shouldn’t have to resort to home schooling….I am a taxpayer and I have as much right to voice my opinion to the school boards over issues regarding my children. To be frank, your kids are forced to watch the movies that you select. They are forced to watch them for a grade, not because they are interested in the film. So do not always assume that they like the movies that you do. Are not you the one being narrow-minded….my kids get to select from a wide range of movies. Oh by the way, Triplets of Belleville is PG-13…you’ll probably have to get permission slips from the parents to show that movie…at least half of your class will still be age 12.
I’m looking for a movie that references or refers to year round school or year round education in some way. Does any one know if such a movie exists?
Rachel S says
I need some suggestions for some documentaries to show to my middle schoolers. Some ideas were Supersize Me and Hotel Rowanda. Anyone else have any other suggestions? Parents will have to sign a permission slip for their child to watch a PG-13 movie.
Food, Inc. is one I recommend. I think it would be appropriate for MS, but you should preview it to be sure. March of the Penguins is also excellent (in my opinion).
Kristin T. says
Paper Clips is a very powerful documentary and perfect for middle school because it is about middle school aged children. Here’s the synopsis from iMDb:
As a part of their study of the Holocaust, the children of the Whitwell, TN Middle School try to collect 6 million paper clips representing the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis.
Rachel S says
Thanks for all the ideas for documentaries guys!!! Those sound great! I will check them out!
check this list:
1. THE BICYCLE THIEVES
2. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
3. COLLEGE ROAD TRIP
5. THE KITE RUNNER
6. HOTEL RWANDA
7. THE PIANIST
8. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
9. CHILDREN OF HEAVEN
10. TAARE ZAMEEN PAR (HINDI/INDIA)
11. ANJALI (TAMIL/INDIA)
12. NANDHALALA (TAMIL/INDIA)
13. MYNAA (TAMIL/INDIA)
14. AADUKALAM (TAMIL/INDIA)
15. PASANGA (TAMIL/INDIA)
17. URUMI (MALAYALAM/INDIA)
18. ADAMINTE MAKAN ABU (MALAYALAM/INDIA)
19. SWAAS (MARATHI/INDIA)
20. GAJA (KANNADA/INDIA)
21. TINGYA (MARATHI/INDIA)
22. BOMARILLU (TELUGU/INDIA)
23. KAAL PURUSH (BENGALI/INDIA)
O and did I miss out TEMPLE GRANDIN,PARZANIA (INDIA) & BLACK (INDIA)
My daughter’s history teacher (8th grade), showed the moved “Glory” the other day andthe class is scheduled to view the movie for the next several sessions. I’m uncomfortable with that. It’s rated Are. My daughter said she had her head down for much of the viewing. He said it was extremely violent and the language was much to much for her to handle., especially coming from a home where there’s no cursing. Can any educators comment on this.
I would never show Glory in it’s entirety. I would show scenes of it to discuss some aspects of the Civil War (Iteach 8th grade U.S. History), but the movie is totally inappropriate for 8th graders. I personally, not from a teacher viewpoint, but from a parent, I would complain about that being shown without permission from parents and/or notification.
Thanks Tamara! I’ve already typed and signed a letter to be handed to the teacher tomorrow. I wanted to send a CC to the principal and AP but my sister who’s an educator as well said not a good idea. I She said I should address the issue to the teacher first and if I don’t get a positive response, I should then contact the principal. She feels the teacher may feel threatened and may act negatively to my daughter if I handle it that way. I though since this was not a simple issue of missing homework or classrm chatter that it would be ok to CC the letter. Any thoughts?
As a parent, I would address it to the AP or Principal. The parents at my school go to the board oftentimes skipping over me and the administration. On the contrary, I think your sister may be right, but because this could also cause a problem not only to your child but other children in the class, I would go ahead and CC the principal. My county has an approved movie list and I can almost guarantee that if your district has one, Glory is NOT on there. Also, if other students spoke up as your daughter did, other parents could be complaining just as you are.
From a teacher standpoint, if you were the parent complaining about me, I wouldn’t treat your daughter differently or negatively, but I’d walk on eggshells as to not have to receive negative feedback from you in the future. I hope that helps.
Yes, there was another student who kept his head down as well for the war scene and my daughter also said after class most students said, “wow we were watching a movie with cursing, I can’t believe it.”
I will definitely follow my first mommie-instinct and cc the principal on this.
Thank for your insigt.
Have a great week!
Kristin T. says
I believe that there is an edited version of the movie Glory made to be shown in schools. Maybe you could suggest that the school look into purchasing that version.
I teach high school and we aren’t even allowed to show R rated films without parental consent. However, there are edited versions for educational purposes of many rated R films like Schindler’s List, etc. Glory is a film our district has in an edited format. I still don’t think I would show it to anyone younger than 13.
On the subject of ratings the parent who thinks they get to be around for any PG movie is just wrong. Sorry, but even a Discovery Channel explanation of the Holocaust is going to horrifying that is the point.
Sorry, but as a parent if you really do have a problem with anything a teacher is doing in the classroom they are always going to be less defensive, more willing to work with you, and in a better position to do so if you don’t involve their boss from the start trying to get them in trouble.
I always have alternative assignments, movies kids can watch individually on a computer in the library etc. available if a student is uncomfortable and I generally tell them to expect violence etc if there is going to be some but that I am showing them the film because I believe it is important to their understanding of events including sometimes how horrible they were, but that if they don’t want to see that they don’t have to do so. I think that giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt that she/he may be doing something you don’t agree with but they have their reasons for, is always a good idea and discussing it with them before they are feeling threatened with their boss there you will probably have a much more productive conversation about it.
Laura Burns says
My daughter is an innocent 12-year-old (6th grader) who has not viewed many movies (long story). She brought home a permission slip from school requesting permission to watch “Twister” rated PG-13 in her science class to demonstrate what tornadoes are like. I am conflicted…my husband said it’s fine and doesn’t want to ostracize her from her classmates…I think there’s too much that’s negative (cursing, scary and intense scenes, violence, etc) My plan is to watch it on my I-pod tomorrow, but I am interested in hearing others’ views on the movie, especially teachers. Thanks!
I haven’t actually seen “Twister”. But it’s a good idea to view the movie first You should also check and ee if it’s an edited version. If you have contact numbers or emails for other parents, you can see where they stand in regards to the viewing of this movie. It helps to know you don’t stand alone with your concern. It seems as though your child’s school has followed the appropriate procedure. Iam a teaching artist and work in schools as a consultant through an arts education organization. I don’t work in schools 8hrs aday but I am aware of some of the policies and the power of parent participation and opinions. Do what you feel I best for your child! But make sure you check and see if they will be viewing an edited version, that may solve all your worries.
All the best…
Your husband is right. I was kept from seeing a lot of films when I was young(er than your daughter by a lot) because I was scared of everything and my parents didn’t want me to have nightmares. But I still have memories of feeling horribly left out (my teachers thought the best way to deal with me was to leave me to literally play all by myself while EVERYONE watched the movie…in the same room…). I say talk to your daughter ahead of time about what you/she might find objectionable, but then sign the form.
Laura, I can understand your concerns about the movie. There is a lot of profanity and adult topics in the movie that have nothing to do with tornadoes. In addition, if you live in a tornado prone area, this movie will make your daughter more fearful for her safety. If the goal of the class is to learn about tornadoes…how about watch an educational show about tornadoes….hey, that’s a new concept! I feel that the teacher is just using “Twister” as a cop-out because she is not willing to do a little research on her end. Just with a few key words on Google and voila….this is what I found: http://www.brainpop.com/science/weatherandclimate/tornadoes/preview.weml
My daughter, who is also in middle school, loves science and she loves these programs. I would ask the teacher what she would have against a program like this in lieu of watching Twister. If her intention is to teach and not entertain, you know which one she/he will select.
Jane George says
You Again is the best movie ever for kids middle school and i’m 13, I didn’t think it was going to be very good but it was funny, witty, and has a great plot. Definitely a must watch!!!
Rachel S says
Is You Again a documentary? What is it about?
Update re the showing of the movie “Glory”, to my daughter’s 8th graade class.
I did submit a letter of grienvance to the teacher and cc’d the principal. I got a phone the same morning from the Principal, he said that he put a stop to the viewing of Glory and that the movie should not have been shown. The teacher previously showed the movie to a senior class and I’m asuming she thought it was appropriate for 12/13yr olds.
The principal was extremely apologetic and said my daughter’s class would be watching a documentary instead. A much better showing for my daughter’s age group. My daughter said all I well in class and the teacher is not treating her any differently. Whether the teacher was reprimended or not, I don’t know but parents should always speak up if you have a legitimate concern about your child’s education and well being. You are your child’s strongest advocate! Thanks for the advice.
WOW! Thanks for the update. I am glad that all is well and that movie has not been and won’t be shown to that age group! Yes, speak up for your children. Even if there are problems that you may not realize are problems, like class sizes, or accommodations, or response from teacher, or turnaround time of graded assignments. Us teachers, well, I am overwhelmed. I am unsure if I can make it to June with these extraordinary class sizes…. 🙁
I suggest these says
The list is crap, other than pirates of the Caribbean there are no good movies on here. And middle schoolers will think this is babyish. The movie has to be at least rated PG for them to watch it, anything rated G forget it. And I’m in middle school too. How about these.
Black Hawk Down, Saving private Ryan, Windtalkers, 300, Diary of a Wimpy kid, Diary of a Wimpy kid Rodrick Rules, Thirteen, Cyberbully, War of the Worlds, Millers Crossing, lots of middle schoolers I know like gangsters, Robin Hood, the Patriot, Harry Potter series, and Pirates of the Caribbean is good.
Laura Burns says
Perhaps you ought to add to your list some old School House Rock movies to expand your vocabulary; surely there are other adjectives that would convey your point with a tad more civility. If you want to be taken seriously, please don’t use the word “crap” to describe someone’s suggestions. Thanks.
I suggest these says
So you want me to use the other word?
Mrs. B says
I get that the young man’s use of the word “crap” is not the most appropriate, but give the guy a break. He’s trying to tell us adults where middle schoolers are, what their preferences are.
Dear I suggest these -- of course, you see, that teachers have to use movies as part of a lesson. Which of the movies you suggested do you think would be most effective in school? Keep in mind, we can’t just show something for your entertainment (like, we literally can’t. We have to explain ourselves and justify our choices to school boards, parent boards, etc). Help us be able to do that!
I suggest these says
Black Hawk Down, Saving private Ryan, Windtalkers, 300, Diary of a Wimpy kid, Diary of a Wimpy kid Rodrick Rules, Thirteen, Cyberbully, War of the Worlds, Millers Crossing, lots of middle schoolers I know like gangsters, Robin Hood, the Patriot, Harry Potter series, and Pirates of the Caribbean is good.
Black Hawk Down explains the battle of Mogadishu which can be used in history class. Saving Private Ryan has the Omaha beach scene. Windtalkers is about the secret code used to fight the Japanese by Navajo indians. 300 is about the battle of Thermopylae, Diary of a Wimpy kid could be used in English class, to show students how the directors and script writers use humor to help people get the story well. Thirteen can be used in Science class to show the dangers of doing the things those girls did. Cyberbully movie can be used to teach kids why they shouldn’t bully, and how serious it is. And what to do in a bullying case. War of the Worlds can’t really be used in school, since it’s science fiction. Millers crossing can teach kids about the mafia in history class. Robin Hood can be in history class also to teach them about Robin Hood, history class needs some world history in it too. The Patriot is about the Revolutionary war. Harry Potter could be used to show the connection between the books and the movies. Using the books description and putting it into movies.
Actually, I often use War of the Worlds when we discuss that historically what happened was that this story was broadcast over the radio and people thought it was real and panic started across the country. The kids love that unit.
Rachel S says
Well I’m looking for documentaries only. But it’s good to know what movies middle schoolers like too.
I suggest these says
Glory can easily be shown to middle schoolers! I watched it when I was in 6th grade and thought it was awesome!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The best series of movies that accurately depicts middle school and there is a moral to the story. Even my 8th graders are quiet while watching them.
I suggest these says
Diary of a Wimpy Kid was fantastic.
I am not a teacher but I am wondering if anyone knows where I can find a particular movie I watched in 5th grade. I do not know the name of it. The only thing I remember is the Nazis had the Jews on trains, transporting them to concentration camps. Then the Jews were standing in lines waiting for the ‘death shower’ and a little girl took off running, only to be attacked by a dog.
Does anyone have a clue what movie this is? I watched in in 1989/90.
“Escape from Sobibor”?
this is not not agood list.
I suggest these says
I agree. As a middle schooler I know people my age would hate these movies. People my age want movies with violence, or something about school, since they can relate to it.
I agree with you, but I think you are looking for a different list. The list you are looking for is, “Movies that middle schoolers like the best.” But that list has a lot of movies on it that your teachers wouldn’t want to show in class.
Just out of curiosity, which movies on this list have you seen and hated? I’m talking really disliked here. Not just the movies that were not your favorites. It would also be useful to know if you are a guy or a girl.
I am a guy, and the ones I hated would be how to eat fried worms. Ok seriously that was disgusting. I can handle guts and gore, but for goodness sake don’t put a worm in your mouth. I also hated Enchanted, It was the worst I personally have seen. I’m not sure if your talking about Enchanted or Ella Enchanted here. Haven’t seen Ella but have seen Enchanted, my parents forced me to go, because I was only 11, and too little to be left at the house alone. I thought it was horrible.
I’m sort of surprised that nobody has mentioned Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org). Our school has bought into this web site and its advice (metaphorically — it’s free), and I check for movie ratings from there when considering a movie. The reviews address the following categories: educational value, positive messages, positive role models, violence & scariness, sexy stuff, language, consumerism, and drinking, drugs & smoking. It also gives recommended ages for each movie, not just PG, PG-13, etc.
I print out the Common Sense Media review for each movie my department acquires and tuck it into the DVD cover; that way if there are any questions, I can point to the review as backup.
Tom Triumph says
I, too, recommend the site. I’m always wary of censorship or overly judgmental lists and sites, but Common Sense Media just gives information and examples. Then, judge for yourself.
As a teacher, my one recommendation is to create a permission slip with all of the movies for the year, a brief description of a) purpose, b) concerns a family might have--a sentence or two in all. Parents then raise concerns, if any. I get one or two, and they are really food for thought. One was about a kid who gets upset about horror, so I touched base a lot. Another was concerns about bias, which was easy to address. Then, all year, parents trusted me to do what was good for their children.
Common sense media is brilliant. I use it all the time as both a parent and a teacher!
Mr. Ross says
If it has already been mentioned I apologize, but the National Treasure movies are great. My students love these films.
Tim L. says
Labyrinth is great, but WAY too many disturbing shots of David Bowie’s “parts” clearly visible through his tights. Middle school girls pick up on it IMMEDIATELY.
I’m thinking of showing The invention of lying for an ethics discussion on lies… How appropriate would it be for high- school?
How about October Sky? So many great themes in this one!
Forgot to mention To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic not to be missed.
Wow, one more….The Sound of Music. In my college class of future teachers to be, only two students out of 35 had seen this movie, now that’s sad.
I saw mentioned quickly Blackboard Jungle. I was thinking of showing that the last week of class to 6th graders in an inner city school. Do you think this would be appropriate? I saw the movie in college and thought it was exceptional. I think it would be good for students at their age to see that teachers really do want to help them and guide them in the right direction. All that the student has to do is work with them. Any thoughts???
Mrs. H says
The film Glory Road is fabulous! It is the true story of the 1966 NCAA tournament. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, the Texas Western Miners were the first college basketball team to start 5 black players. The film deals with tolerance, respect, perseverance, hard-work, and overcoming fear. It is similar to Remember the Titans, but much better, in my opinion.
Cyberbully was great too. It hit home. Then we watched the 90 minutes special on bullying. Words can kill.
I need a great movie to show my 7th and 8th grade art class. Suggestions?
heres 2 suggestions
1. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
2. The Da Vinchi Code (2006)
i definitely suggest The Da Vinchi code because its ver well made and i’m sure your class will enjoy it.
Anita B says
My urban 8th graders loved “A Good Life”. There was a little cursing, but they were all entranced and they had a lively discussion about immigration afterward.
Anita B says
They loved October Sky as well.
Mel B says
I am looking to show a mountaineering movie to my grade 8 english class. Can anyone comment on either K2 or Vertical Limits with Chris O’Donnell? Any other suggestions? I would like to make a parallel between the chosen movie and the latest Everest expedition (Spring 2012).
Tom Triumph says
Some of it depends on intent. Straight mountain, those two movies aren’t very memorable. The documentaries on Everest are a bit more stirring, though.
Could a larger theme work? Many kids love the classic My Side of the Mountain, although it is certainly not Everest or climbing it is the human side.
Tom Triumph says
The advice about movies being part of the curriculum is one of the most important things here. Reading some of the suggestions in the comments, they seem to be a) time fillers that keep the kids quiet or b) one-shot deals (let’s watch a movie about tenacity and move on. Nearly any movie can be part of a curriculum, but it needs support both before and after showing.
Two odd choices that kids LOVE.
1. My Neighbor Totoro. It was mentioned as the #1 movie kids should see before age 13, but I didn’t think my students would go for it. They LOVED it, demanded to see it again, and adopted Totoro as our class’s t-shirt design.
2. Lagaan. Nearly 4 hours, in Hindi and about a 19the century cricket match between villagers and a British army contingent, it is really engaging. Oh, and it has musical numbers--I cut out all but one (training montage) and a few scenes in the first half. If you can get a copy, it’s something they’ll have never seen otherwise.
I have several kids who are inspired by Ghandi. Another teacher swears by Sandlot and West Side Story, the latter he shows while reading The Outsiders. Our guidance counselor uses Stand By Me and we do an afterschool showing of Speak.
A Dolpin Tale and the Rookie
I haven’t read through all of the comments, but thought of two that I would add to the list.
1. Akeelah and the Bee
2. Never Cry Wolf
I agree 100% about the films used in class needing to be shown with intent. I’m a bit annoyed when someone bothers to come to a thread like this to post something along the lines of “all teachers are lazy and they just show movies as filler.” Most of the teachers here seem to be approaching film as text. They are seeking meaningful films that will promote thought and discussion. It’s not like showing a movie is no work. When I show a film a have to: a) preview it, then b) watch it again to identify key points I want to discuss, places to pause, etc., and c) prepare any materials and assignments to go with the film. Personally, I’m looking to use film as part of a visual and media literacy unit in my class. The unit will also include texts such as graphic novels, picture books, posters, and advertisements. Not exactly lazy filler!
Jeff Magdziarz says
For my 8th Grade Social Studies classes, I show The Patriot for the American Revolution and Glory for the Civil War. Both are rated R, so you’ll need to find an edited version. Students absolutely love both movies; I get applause, laughter and tears; the students get completely absorbed in the movies! I show the films before the chapter, so I have a “frame of reference” and I refer to the movies often when discussing the history. It allows the students to not just learn facts, but really involve themselves in history.
Judy Carlisi says
Thank you! Running into the same problem choosing!
I might have missed it on the list, but Rabbit Proof Fence is always a hit with my 7th graders.
does anyone have anything in mind for a middle school health class dealing with decision making and goal setting?
Believe it or not, I show “The Miracle Worker” during March for women’s month and biography month. It’s the Helen Keller story with Anne Bancroft as the Teacher and Patty Duke as Helen Keller. The middle schoolers are RIVETED, even if it’s in black and white. (conversation topic: takes place in the South, small black children are servants that are bossed around, might talk about how that’s not true anymore, (thank God) but it was true for the time)
It’s a great movie! Shown it for 7 years, every year the students loved it. (I now teach ESL, so I don’t show it.)
Also, I know this a movie list, but I would love to add the Twilight Zone. The kids love those. They are short and always have a message. Plus they are a great way to teach a lot of English literary terms, especially irony.
Miss Debb says
Part of or 7th grade English curriculum is to read “Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, which is one of the highest rated Twilight Zone episodes. After much analysis of the teleplay, students watch the original [black and white] version and write a compare/contrast of the written text to the video. They were spellbound when watching the video and it really helped my lower readers to better understand the content.
Rina Najman says
I was given this wonderful, if incomplete, list from a fellow teacher and it prompted me to reflect. There are two trains of thought I have about films in the classroom. One, they are a powerful tool and second, they help teacher’s connect to the social side of their students in a way other things don’t.
In the beginning of my career, 30 years ago, I used media a lot to tie into the themes I was teaching. Visual learning is one of the intelligences,and it made those who rely on sight more than any other intelligence feel a true part of the lessons. For the students whose intelligences could be reached through kinesthetic or auditory, etc., means, I found other ways of connecting for them. As years went by, and more and more perceived important curriculum has been hoisted on us, my times was greatly limited, and I could only show snippits of films that would help my visually intelligent students connect with content. More’s the pity. In our world today, our students are mostly all visual, being surrouded by that form of media constantly, from texting to movies. Now that we’ve had the Common Core curriculum scripted for us, finding time to show visual aids will be harder.
As to my second point, I remember, back in the day, having Friday Fun, from 2 -- 3 pm. Most times we’d play games, where I could use the time to help students learn social skills. Every once-in-awhile I would show a movie, in a “serial” manner, parts each Friday over time. Those times were precious. We’d talk about what we’d view. We’d make predictions, study characters (analysis), ask and answer questions about why they felt the director chose to show a particular scene in the way s/he did, etc. What a fun way to learn about each other and get closer.
I read through this entire comment section, marveling at the opinions, and the professionalism shown when someone, not a teacher, touched upon sensitive areas. I also gasped, several times, at the lack of grammatical accuracy that reigns in America.
We teachers, loved at times, detested at others, are forever defending our choices. Either to the Board or to the public. I applaud you professionals for keeping this site clean and respectable. I’m not done teaching yet, still have a few more years in me, I think. I will use this site and recommend it to others.
Now, don’t forget, The Neverending Story, Part 1 (bullying, staying true to who you are, using imagination), Good Morning, Ms. Dove (classic on how teaching was then as compared to now, lifestyles), definitely A Far Off Place (poaching, hidden enemies, greed)and It’s a Wonderful Life (to quote a student of mine when asked what he thought the movie was about. After he’d heard the rest of the class, his comment was, “‘nuf said.” And I agree).
And remember, summer vacation is to remind parents why teachers need summer vacation! Rest well.
I like to read Freak the Mighty with my students and then watch the video Mighty. It not only deals with bullying but a slew of other subject and the kids love it.
My students are asking for either “The Goonies” or “Men in Black III” as a reward movie. The eighth grade team typically does a multiplex kind of thing, where each of the four teachers show something different. The other teachers are showing really young movies- “The Lion King,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Freaky Friday.” However, I wanted to show something a little bit more…well, not Disney. Although I thought of “The Goonies”, would “MIB III” be more appropriate? I keep thinking of Mouth’s scene in “The Goonies” where he is talking to the Spanish housekeeper….not really school appropriate. However, there is some mild stuff in “MIB III” too. Please help…we show this on Wednesday.
Definitely MIB III. its a well made movie with some humour and a few life lessons like: friendship and being trustworthy.
Thank for the list! When I taught 6th grade I tried to show movies that the kids might not otherwise watch. I was surprised at how attentive they were when I showed ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ and of course, after reading To Kill a Mockingbird, we watch the old Gregory Peck version of the movie.
Thanks for the list!
National Treasure (2004) from Disney starring Nicolas Cage is a great resource for making some connections with US History. Appropriate for grades 4-8 and there are a number of study guides available online (official and teacher-made).
Hotel Rwanda is a wonderful Humanities study appropriate for older classes (6-12). This film also has study guides available online.
I also created a documentation sheet that mirrors Literature Circles — I use it for a grade and the students are to record their observations and thoughts (Character Description, Setting, Connections, Interesting/Funny, Confusing/Questions, Important Details/Facts, Predictions w/ Support & Clues).
This also allows me to support my purpose for using films/movies/videos for their educational/literature value … for parents, fellow educators, and administration.
Tricia Hozie says
I shared this info with some of my fellow teachers. Thanks for posting it.
I want to show a film to 7th graders that is about diversity and tolerance. I am showing Remember the Titans, so diversity other than race would be great. Any ideas?
I also like Radio, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris. Gooding plays a special needs person in the community--also sports themed. Rated PG & runs 109 minutes.
Linval Kingston says
I got a good laugh from the licensing talk. Never one to decry obtaining more knowledge but, in my opinion, it was a waste of space in an article regarding educators. Thinking of my seven periods, that’s $525 per movie. LOL. Then ROFLAO. Without so much as a Google search I’m betting it’s safe to say the authorities will not raid your classroom for showing Matilda for the 5th time in one day.
It’s mid-2014 time to update your list Lauren and Lloyd!
Another movie that I like to show is The Truman Show. It is the precursor to reality TV. Jim Carey plays his first semi-serious role. It’s filled with the ethical issues of invading privacy for the sake of ratings on TV.
I’ve been showing The Rookie to my classes for about 3 years now. All 7th grade teachers now own a copy. If we aren’t able to watch the movie all in one day, the students beg to stay and watch it or the next day immediately want to watch it. They really love it!
I suggest you should add the movie “42”
Selma, Lord Selma (Civil Rights)
Helen Keller (Disney recent version)
Hidden in Silence(with Kelli Martin, World War 2 & Nazis)
Little Giants …. what are your thoughts
Is Paulie appropriate? It’s about a talking bird. Very adorable. Perhaps a little “too babyish” for Middle School? I thought it was well written and well acted, and it was very poignant and simple in its delivery.
What is a good movie to show 8th graders on the subject of Matter, Atoms and Periodic Table?
Remember the Titans is the by far the best movie to show to your middle school students. It teaches about many life lessons like: teamwork, friendship, racial differences and my favorite: coming together as a team.
Ruby Bridges would be a good film to add for teaching about Civil Rights. I have had students watch it before as a multicultural lesson during Black History Month, and it was very powerful. I used to teach in an area where there wasn’t much diversity, so the movie was really an eye opener for my students.
I happened upon this page while looking for new movies for my kids and me to watch together…. I’m sick to death of animation and/or pratfall, pie-in-your-face humor. 🙂
These are some great suggestions and I think they’ll spark some good conversation for me and my 10- and 12-year-olds.
I do hope the list is updated soon, though — a lot of movies have been released since 2009! 🙂
Thanks to all the teachers who’ve added their thougths.
Gayla Ludlum says
The Pistol--Pete Maravich story--Believe in yourself, never give up.
Daryl--What is being human? When does artificial intelligence deserve to live?
Any PG movies about anti-bullying that have a run time of less than 60 minutes?
Would “I am Legend” be a good an appropriate movie for 8th Grade Science? It deals with Microbiology, cells, epidemics, biotechnology. I am considering but I would like to have a couple other opinions. && suggestions
Great movies I have shown in class have been “McFarland” -- migrant workers and cross country running, “Standing Up” being the outcast and overcoming, “Soul Surfer” overcoming obstacles, “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” with Don Knots is great for Halloween, “From Above” with Danny Glover about Native American Culture and lasting love.
Sorcerer’s Apprentice…we discuss Tesla and early contributors and the battle between them. Then we talk about electricity, the tesla coil, etc…Kids love it and get very interested in the movie as well as the “fight” for the rights to claim the inventions of all time back when
Aadit Arora says
How about Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens??
Hey, I need a movie about economics that is grade 9 appropriate…. any suggestions?!! thanks
I’ve shown Labyrinth in my class. Kids loved it because it was so bizarre. I then showed The Dark Crystal. It was so weird that they loved it too. The Lego Movie is a good one as well or Space Jam.
I teach newcomer middle school meaning my students are from all around the world. I think it is important to highlight all races, genders, creeds, so although I like your list, I was hoping to see more people of color. Its simply just harder to find movies with people of color as leads though, I know! I’d like to suggest Selena for your list!
Could you put “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” or “Finding Dory”?
What can I show to Middle school for Business Class?
Also put “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”?
I show my grade 8s “Hugo” -- after getting them to do a webquest on Georges Melies, the zoetrope, and the first moving picture. I also talk about the techniques used in the filming of the movie, and all the allusion in the film. It’s pure gold! There’s a great article on http://www.cinemablography.org/ about the movie that I share excerpts from.
I check Feature Films for Families. They have many original movies and edited popular ones. All are edited or made with a G rating. Teacher guides can be purchased also. The movies all have at least 5-6 questions on the back of the case that relate to morals, values, or doing the right thing. I have written them about showing their movies at school, and they sent me a list of ones that I was able to show.
Joe B says
I liked Over the Edge and The Cheerleaders when I was a young teenager.
Carri Rhynes says
If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on. -Alfred Hitchcock
I realize that this list is a few years old, but there are some great movies that have come out recently that could be added to this list.
Wonder (teaches about bullying and being kind to everyone regardless of what they look like)
The Greatest Showman (teaches acceptance of people who are different, also it has fabulous music)
Coco (teaches Mexican culture and the Day of the Dead, and the importance of family)
Hidden Figures (history and math)
The Lorax (environmental responsibility)
Wall-E (environmental responsibility)
Also, there are many books that have been made into movies that you could do as a whole unit where the students read the book first, then watch the movie and write a compare/contrast literary analysis essay. I have done this with 8th grade language arts. My regular classes read/watched Murder on the Orient Express (we watched the old version of the movie not the one from 2017 with Johnny Depp) and my advanced class read/watched/listened to The War of the Worlds, they compared the book, Orsen Wells radio program and the film from 1953, which they got a chuckle out of because the “special effects” are so cheesy compared to what they are used to. The essay they had to write was not a simple compare/contrast essay, they had to analyze the choices the directors made and what impact those choices had on the audience. It was not easy for them.
There are so many movies out there that are great for teaching respect, kindness and acceptance, as well as many movies that teach the importance of the core subjects.
Thanks for stopping by my page! I’m Keiren.
Even though I jokingly credit my mother for my writing talent, I know that it is a ability I have fostered from childhood. Though my grandmother is a writer, I also started out young.
I’ve always had a way with words, according to my favorite professor . I was always so excited in science when we had to do a research writing assignment.
Now, I help current pupils achieve the grades that have always come easily to me. It is my way of giving back to communities because I understand the troubles they must overcome to graduate.
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You should add”A little princess,” I cried over it and it is a very good movie.
I have been teaching Film Appreciation at a middle school for 8 school years now. I like to show a mix of fun and challenging films. Here is a list of films I have shown over the years:
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
THE DEFIANT ONES
STREETS OF FIRE
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
ON THE TOWN
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
A QUIET PLACE
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
THE KING OF COMEDY
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
GOOD BAD AND THE UGLY
THREE O CLOCK HIGH
TRUE GRIT (COENS)
FORD VS FERRARI
STAN AND OLLIE
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
NUTTY PROFESSOR (LEWIS)
CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON
KRAMER VS KRAMER
PEE WEES BIG ADVENTURE
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
TWILIGHT ZONE THE MOVIE
HARD DAYS NIGHT
This past year, I polled my students to see what their favorites were. The top 5 were THE Apartment, Adam’s Rib, Cleopatra Jones, Killer Klowns, and The Conversation.
My advice. Don’t under estimate the students.
Jaws tomorrow 😉
Top 3 best Summer Movie in history…
Did anyone mention October Sky? My science students enjoy that one and it is inspiring for kids who are not well supported in education at home.
A. Snigtha says
The Secret Society of Second Born Royals -- an amazing movie not listed here
Looking for good movies to show at the end of the year for study hall kids. I have to stay PG. Any thoughts?
Try Alabama Moon -- not sure where all you can get it, although I streamed it for my classes from Amazon Prime.
I just showed my students “Alabama Moon” -- my students 6th, 7th and 8th grade loved it -- honestly the room was totally silent. The book is very good!
April Love says
More Diversity for your list.
You left out 42, Queen of Kwate,
McFarland, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and even any version of The Miracle Worker.