Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Review: Zeezok's Z-Guides to the Movies
My family loves watching movies, but I rarely think to show a movie that will correlate or enhance our school studies. If I do show a relevant movie, we might discuss the film a bit, but I don't take the time to dwell on the lessons that a good movie can teach.
Zeezok publishing has developed their Z-Guides to the Movies so that teachers (and parents) can more easily incorporate good movies into their curriculum.
Each Z-Guide contains a topic overview for the corresponding period in history and a movie synopsis. It also includes ten activities to build on the educational content of the movie. Zeezok suggests completing two activities per day so that you spend an entire week working with the movie.
I chose to review the Z-Guide to the movies that corresponds to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I remember watching the movie when I was in school, and I was eager to show my children a bit more about the inner workings of Congress. It's been a while since we discussed American government, and I knew we could use the review. This particular guide is available in both an Elementary/Junior High level and a High School level.
I have mixed feelings about how this product worked for our family. My older daughter (8th grade) enjoyed the movie and did well with the activities that I chose to assign. My son (5th grade) struggled with the movie. When I picked this movie, I did not anticipate that he would have a hard time following along with a movie that relied more on dialogue than it did on action. He required quite a bit of help to complete the activities.
From a teacher standpoint, I found that the Z-Guide activities included more composition activities than our family could handle. Out of ten activities, five of them were writing assignments -- two one paragraph assignments, a newspaper article, a letter to our Senator, and a page with four questions that each required several sentences to answer. We chose to complete some of the assignments orally and eliminated a few of the others. Typically, I only assign one or two writing assignments per week.
Zeezok's Z-Guides to the movies would be a good fit for families that enjoy movies and that would appreciate learning activities to correspond with them. My oldest daughter thinks that several of the writing assignments would have been good to assign as extra credit for a High Schooler.
Zeezok Publishing has an information sheet about the Z-Guides to the Movies on their website here, if you'd like to read more about them. There are about 36 different titles, some appropriate for elementary or junior-high students and others more appropriate for high schoolers. Each Z-Guide costs $12.99 (for either an ebook or the digital file on CD), and Zeezok also sells many of the corresponding movies.
If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about the Z-Guides to the Movies, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.