Calling all armchair travelers to our fall movie club, now boarding!

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

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Brave Writer Minister of Magic, Nancy GrahamNancy Graham joined Brave Writer’s fulltime staff this year as our Minister of Magic. She has been teaching with Brave Writer since 2011. We interviewed her about the upcoming Movie Club for Globetrotters: India.

How does Movie Club for Globetrotters: India differ from Brave Writer’s other movie clubs?

This will be the first in a series of movie discussion clubs devoted to movies from around the world. Another thing that will distinguish this club is the amount of subtitles, which is great reading practice!

What movies will the club be discussing?

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

Our first film, Pather Panchali, is considered one of the great classics of world cinema. It’s the first of a trilogy of films that follows a Bengali boy named Apu as he grows into a man. The images are so beautiful that watching is like stepping into a black-and-white version of Bengal in the 1950s. The director, Satyajit Ray, was an eloquent visual storyteller who showed great compassion for his characters. He was influenced by other world-renowned directors such as Jean Renoir and Vittorio De Sica.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

From there we will jump to Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, a more recent, more commercial Bollywood musical! Set before independence, Lagaan is about a cricket match between a British regiment and the local villagers that they are unfairly taxing. I think everybody will be cheering by the end.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

Our third movie, The Lunchbox, somehow manages to be a love story and a sociology lesson at the same time. In Mumbai, lunches are delivered by 5,000 dabbawallahs who rarely make a mistake. In this story, through a mix-up, lunches start going to the wrong man and he and the woman who prepares them strike up a correspondence. It’s a sweet story and I highly recommend anyone watching it have some dal, rice, and curry on hand because it will make you hungry. So does writing about it: my daughter read over my shoulder as I wrote this paragraph and we decided to break immediately and head for our favorite Indian restaurant.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India
Now that I’ve had my arugula dosa and chai, I’ll tell you about our final movie, My Name is Khan. This one stars Shah Rukh Khan, a major Indian film star, in a story that takes us from India to the US where its protagonist, a Muslim with Asperger’s traits, finds himself in the midst of tragedy and anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11. This movie is a great discussion starter and relevant to today’s conversation about appearances, immigration, violence, and kindness.

Why sign up for an online movie club class?

Here’s how Brave Writer Movie Clubs help kids develop as writers:

1. Movies are great writing prompts. Few if any of us can watch a movie without sharing an opinion. Typically other family members watch too, so discussions ensue that help prime the pump for conversing with other members of the movie club. This is writing-as-conversation rather than as a solitary activity, and it helps writers tune in to their inner conversations. This kind of dialogic writing gradually eases the second, solitary form of writing demanded by high school composition.

2. The movie clubs offer breadth and depth in terms of developing media literacy, a complex set of analytical and creative abilities essential to 21st-century communication. We consider shot composition, transitions, lighting, scoring, sound effects, narrative development, qualities of performance, camera movement, costumes—the list goes on and on. And these topics are rarely introduced by me—it’s the participants who generate insights; I elaborate and invite further exploration.

3. Movies begin as literature with a screenplay, novel, or short story. So discussing movies is often necessarily also a consideration of the art of adaptation from one medium into another.

4. Cinema writing shares much of the language of literary analysis. Thanks to the internet, many young people are now familiar with tropes, archetypes, and other elements of literature, and regularly apply them when discussing animé, manga, and games. Our movie clubs validate and deepen the application of this terminology to the works of popular culture. Participants come to view what they do for entertainment as existing on a continuum with what we think of as high art and literature.

5. We try to make the clubs a blend of commercial successes and movies that get kids’ feet wet with independent or lesser-known works. I hope that as they grow, their increased awareness of alternative film will lead to their having expanded taste and going off the beaten track to screenings at universities, community centers, and art house cinemas.

I hope you’ll join us for our trip to India on September 19th!

Movie Discussion Club


“The proof is found in our kids”

The proof is found in our kids

Brave Writer mom, Kim, writes:

What a difference Brave Writer has made for us! It is not just a writing curriculum, but an entire language arts philosophy and routine, one that we plan to stick with all the way through.

We found Brave Writer after our daughter’s first grade year. In first grade, we followed the language arts recommendations of another curriculum we were using and were sorely disappointed. Our daughter, who loved to read and didn’t mind handwriting, began to hate language arts. It was her least favorite subject. We knew something was wrong and began searching for an alternative.

We are so grateful that we found Brave Writer! We have used it for 2nd and 3rd grade now, and will use it for her upcoming 4th grade year along with the Quiver of Arrows for our son in 1st grade.

Over the years, we have purchased the Writer’s Jungle (fantastic resource!), Jot it Down (really helped me get the feel of an effective language arts routine & writing projects for lower elementary), many individual Arrow guides (we typically use 9 per year), and new this year, the Quiver of Arrows for 1st-2nd graders.

Being a speech therapist on the side when I’m not teaching my kids, I know a thing or two about speech and language development. I know that kids learn to speak well when they are exposed to good speech models and a rich language environment. And so Brave Writer’s natural approach to writing makes so much sense to me. Children will learn to be great writers when they are regularly exposed to models of great writing and a language rich environment.

Reading great writing (exemplified by the book titles chosen for the Arrow of Boomerang guides) and following the routines of copywork, dictation, French dictation (copy work that is fill-in-the-blank style in places to target tricky spelling words or punctuation), and reverse dictation (unique editing exercises), weekly Freewriting exercises to get their ideas flowing on paper, monthly writing projects, and our favorite, weekly poetry tea times, are the backbone of this approach.

Julie Bogart has so much wisdom to impart, and what makes her approach unique is that she herself is a professional writer. She gets what it takes to be a great writer in the real world, and rather than bogging kids down with worksheets and endless grammar exercises, each Arrow guide comes with grammar notes for each copy work/dictation passage, so you can address grammar naturally as it comes up, and each Arrow guide focuses on a key literary element that makes great writing—similes and metaphors, imagery, viewpoint, alliteration, etc.—and has a writing exercise to allow kids to practice it in their own writing.

But the proof is found in our kids. This will be our second child’s first year with Brave Writer, but all 3 of our kids have benefited from our language arts routine—even our youngest, having just turned 3, has been known to wander the house reciting bits of poetry she heard during poetry tea time. Language Arts may not be our daughter’s favorite subject yet—she loves history, science, & art—but she still loves to read, willingly participates in writing, and is able to effectively express her ideas through writing. And she’s learned to love poetry and even write some original poems on her own just for fun.

I’d call that a success.

Kim


Learn more about Brave Writer


How to Bring Feeling into Writing

How to help your child bring feeling into writing without asking for writing that shares feelings.

I tell parents not to ask for feelings in writing. We don’t actually want feelings (these are usually label words that don’t get at the heart of the experience). We usually ask for feelings because what we are reading feels wooden or dry. What leads to better writing is a more expanded address—addressing the topic by showing, rather than telling.

So instead of “It makes me feel sad to think of Jews being killed in concentration camps,” write about the conditions of the concentration camps so that the reader is moved to sadness—to the experience of sadness.

What mostly happens is that a child will write: “6 million Jews were killed in World War 2” and a parent will say, “Write more about your feelings” because what the parent really wants to read is writing that evokes feelings (totally reasonable).

So to get there, a better set of questions might be:

  • Tell me more about these concentration camps.
  • Can you describe the conditions?
  • Can you explain how the killing took place?
  • Can you write from the point of view of a person standing in line for a shower?
  • What might that person be thinking, wondering?

Like that.

This is how we bring feeling into writing without asking for writing that shares feelings.


Kidswrite Intermediate helps students apply their unique flair to the academic task.

Brave Writer Online Writing Class Kidswrite Intermediate


Friday Freewrite: Favorite TV Show

Friday Freewrite

What’s your favorite TV show? Compare the episode you like best to the episode you like least.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.


Are you one big happy family?

Are you one big happy family?

Practical Homeschooling Advice for the Frazzled!

You might be running yourself ragged trying to teach to four or five grade levels a day! Pulling out workbooks for four subjects times five kids, leads to math I can’t even do! (Well, okay, I can do it, but it’s too many workbooks!).

What does it take to be one big happy family and homeschool at the same time? We tackle that ginormous subject in the following video!

More Help for BIG Families

If you’ve got a passel of kids

Managing Multiples

Image of children © Oneblink | Dreamstime.com