Short, precise and well thought out documentaries can be more useful and efficient alternatives to time sucking films, according to the NYT‘s “Film Club”, which produces 8-12 minute long mini-documentaries that are aimed at adding onto how students take in and reflect on various subjects. I love the article’s emphasis on critical thinking skills. Each mini-documentary comes with supplement materials that help facilitate a conversation about topics such as the documentary’s purpose and individual student’s personal reflection and reaction to a documentary. But, what I think is more important is the encouragement for students to write down quotes or note parts that stood out to them. I think this is a great opportunity to allow students to pay attention and find what appeals to them (or what doesn’t) and then try to articulate (either orally or writing) why they feel the way they do. Rather than watching an hour long film, students can spend the class period watching a ten minue mini-documentary, five minutes on individual reflection, then break out into mini groups discussing their thoughts and answering questions tailored to provoking critical thinking skills. The teacher would pop-in on each group’s session, taking note of each students oral articulation skills and provide feedback to the student on a one-on-one basis at some point before week’s end.