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Teachers' Notes

Why Film?

Films are powerful tools that can support students’ understanding and access their own world and the worlds of others: historical and contemporary, real and imagined. Part of Film Education’s remit is to encourage young people to be active viewers and critical consumers of what they see. An ability to appreciate and interpret film is an empowering skill and one that is increasingly important for young people.

The combination of moving image and sound in a feature film is a familiar format for most students and one that can help bring to life characters in new and vibrant ways. Through a combination of live action and Jeff Kinney-style cartoons, comedic characterisation and mise-en-scène the film ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ provides an innovative, contemporary interpretation of a well-known character from a best-selling children’s novel. The on-screen portrayal of Wimpy Kid Greg and his loyal friend Rowley, opens up discussions about surviving school, characterisation and the book to film adaptation process.

Where in the curriculum?

This interactive teaching resource, aimed at Literacy / English learning for KS2 and KS3 students, provides teachers with pedagogical tools to explore this highly original interpretation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In keeping with the Wimpy Kid’s ‘Survival Guide to Big School’ style, the materials are designed to encourage the students to develop a similar skill set.

Pedagogical approaches

Most activities lend themselves to being worked on collaboratively in groups or pairs, thus providing excellent opportunities for teachers to assess students’ speaking and listening skills.

The CD-Rom

The disc is organised into five main sections each covering a range of key skills relating to the Film Narrative Unit of the Primary Framework at Year 5:

The Journal
From the birth of the wimpy kid, to the initial ideas for the film

  • Storyboard own journal
  • Create a multimodal presentation
  • Present an oral re-telling of the story of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ in the style of the film clip
Learning objectives:
  • Reflect independently and critically on their own work and edit to improve it
  • Experiment with different narrative forms and styles in story creation

Book to Film
Casting the Kid, turning the book into a film

  • Watch clips from the film and discuss its features and themes (likes, dislikes, patterns, puzzles)
  • Explore the approaches made by the filmmaker to create moods (e.g. pace, viewpoint)
  • Discuss the film’s ‘metalanguage’ and how it comes together to create meaning on the screen (colour, light, sound, camera angles, setting, symbolism, sequence; story)
Learning objectives:
  • Infer filmmaker’s perspectives from what is seen and what is implied

The Wimpy Kid’s take on popularity and on his two ‘chums’: Rowley and Fregley

  • Explore characters through watching the clips, interview footage and background footage. Freeze-frame key moments
  • Hot seat a chosen character
  • Work in role: explore complex emotional issues
  • Write a short conversation using speech punctuation
Learning objectives:
  • Watch clips to analyse how working in role helps to explore complex issues
  • Visualisation, prediction, empathy, comparing usefulness in exploring meaning in texts

The Art of Cool
The lowdown on how to be cool: including advice on which school clubs to join, and the dos and don’ts of the school disco

  • Critically reflect on Greg’s ideas of ‘cool’ and how to be popular
  • Make own ‘steps to coolness’
Learning objectives:
  • Develop skills of critical reflection
  • Evaluate outcomes
  • Build on knowledge of text types and language choices to edit and improve writing

The Cheese
All you need to know about the Cheese Touch, plus background footage showing how the ‘Cheese Scene’ was shot

  • Adapt the sequence to suit different purposes, audiences
Learning objectives:
  • Write in style of the filmmaker / author
  • Through shared composition, write opening lines of a narrative that combines images and words
  • Construct complex sentences that work effectively together with visual images