Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Zeezok Z- Guides to the Movies- TOS Review
I'd heard of people studying literature with movies, but had never actually tried it in our homeschool. I was excited to learn that I would get the opportunity to finally try it out! Zeezok Publishing has literature guides called Z Guide to the Movies.
The Z- Guides are a recent addition to the Zeezok product line up. From the Zeezok website:
Each guide starts out with a topic overview. This overview provides the student with more information regarding the specific time period in which the movie is based. Next is a movie synopsis. The synopsis will assist the student in understanding what is going on in the movie and how relationships, situations, and events all relate together.
I chose The Count of Monte Cristo for our movie study. It was readily available from Netflix, as are many of the movies that have Z-Guides. You can check out a sample of a Z-Guide HERE. It just happens to be The Count of Monte Cristo. Through our Tapestry of Grace history studies this year, we spent quite a bit of time on the French Revolution and Napoleon. This movie and guide helped things come alive for Bear, who admittedly does not enjoy literature guides. He just wants to read books and be done with it. I'd like to say that the Z-Guides changed him, but they didn't. That said, take what Bear says with a grain of salt since he doesn't like lit guides. I on the other hand, a lover of literature and an enthusiastic homeschool parent, loved the guide!! I will likely use more of them, not just with Bear, but in the future, with Noodle. Top on my list of next to try are Les Miserables, and The Red Badge of Courage.
Before Bear watched the movie we read the Topic Overview and the Movie Synopsis. Several of the activities are built around the historical time period of the movie. We read over the Activity 1 questions, which pertain to the movie and characters. Bear answered them during and after the movie. For Activity 2 Bear needed to answer questions about Napoleon Bonaparte and Nineteenth Century France. These questions weren't related to the movie and needed to be researched with the Internet and our history resources from TOG. There continued to be several interesting activities such as "If I had to do it all over again" which required reflecting back on life experience so far, and also an activity called "What would you do with unlimited wealth?" Are you intrigued yet??
In our guide there was also a word search which I feel could have been left out, but for teens that enjoy that sort of thing it's probably nice to have it in the guide. Bear, who is a hopelessly serious 15 year old said, "Really? A word search?" My Noodle on the other hand LOVES word searches so helped his brother find the words. I really liked the activity that addressed literary terms - such as foreshadowing and irony. An answer key was also included for all the activities.
By far my favorite part of the guide was the Worldview Activity. According the to the Zeezok website:
The worldview activity helps the child to understand the movie’s worldview. This activity is not to impress on the student our personal worldview, but to get the student to think critically through what he believes and what is being presented in the movie. Family discussion questions also develop this critical thinking from the worldview promoted within your family.
The Filmmaker’s Art activity helps the student recognize the tools being used to influence the viewer. The various guides discuss how filming techniques, music, lighting, humor, character development, irony, foreshadowing, and even character names are used by the director and producer to influence the viewer to get their agenda across. We want the student to be able to discern not only the agenda of the movie, but also how they are being influenced by it. The goal is that when the student goes to the theatre and watches Harry Potter or Avatar or Happy Feet, he walks out not thinking it was an entertaining movie, but understanding the bigger message behind each film.
Our guide also had a section "For Family Discussion" which I find to be a fabulous feature! Noodle couldn't watch the movie because of mature content, but it was alright for the rest of us.
The goal of the guides is to have the student be an active learner instead of a passive learner. The student becomes an active learner right off the bat by answering review questions during the movie, which requires them really engaging in what they are viewing. The Zeezok guides focus on comprehension, critical thinking, research skills, writing skills and all have at least one hands on activity.
Zeezok has Movie Z-Guides for topics ranging from Ancient Civilizations to Post WW II. There are guides available for Elementary through High School. The guides can be purchased for $12.99 either in PDF (immediate download) format or a CD which is shipped via Media Mail for a flat $4.99 charge.
Also available from Zeezok Publishing are Government and History Resources, the Great Musician series, lit study guides, Presidential Penmanship and several e-books and audio books.
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For the purpose of this review I received the PDF format in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.
If you'd like to see what others thought of Zeezok Z-Guides to the Movies click HERE.