High School Lesson Plans



The AAHSFF Team is busy creating interactive, digital lesson plans for every official selection. The lesson plans focus on traditional literary elements such as: theme, conflict, character, and setting but will also explore visual literacy elements and film technique. This immersive, contemporary approach will be highlighted by the fact that the lessons are created by peers and represent relevant and appealing topics and trends.

Today’s students love interacting with video content. Our curriculum provides quality video content that covers a variety of genres and crosses a variety of disciplines. Units will be organized by common themes, techniques, and topics.

Meet our Educators:

Gaspare Perrello taught high school English for 37 years.  His experience includes grades 9-12, advanced placement, inclusion, and creative writing.  Mr. Perrello is currently working as an independent editor,  New York City art museum aficionado, and aspiring golfer.  

Tom Oliva taught high school English, Film, and Digital Editing for 15 years.  His experience includes grades 7-12, advanced placement, inclusion, creative writing, public speaking, theater, and coaching.  He is currently an English professor at Rockland Community College and Executive Director for the All American High School Film Festival.

Below, you will find a glimpse of our complete curriculum: two mini-units based on one of our student films.  We encourage you to use them in your classroom. We offer additional mini-units for $19.99 or a monthly subscription for $49.99. The monthly subscription entitles you to four units-- one per week -- throughout the month.   Please visit our store page to purchase additional units/lesson plans or to sign up for a monthly subscription.  Enjoy!

Cycle 2 Unit 1

Lesson Plans

Day One

1. Begin with a journal prompt.

  • Imagine you could travel back in time and leave yourself a note.  Where and when would you leave the note?  What would you write and why?  Draft a quick version of your letter.

Encourage students to share their responses with the class.

2. Build on the momentum of the journal prompt discussion. Ask students to answer the following anticipatory questions:

  • What is a cycle?  What examples of cycles can you think of?  What does the idea of cycle imply?
  • In which direction do cycles typically flow (think of the examples you listed)?  What if a cycle is reversed?
  • What significant cycles have you gone through?

3. Elaborate on the concept of a cycle.

4. Culminating Discussion Questions:

  • What does the video “Human Life Cycle...!!!” imply about the nature of human life?
  • How do simple, animated images help convey this message?
  • What does the video “The Holstee Manifesto: Life Cycle Video” imply about the nature of human life?
  • Carefully chosen visuals work to add substance to a story.  Explain how the filmmaker uses each of the following to enhance his message:
    • The bicycles
    • Facial expressions
    • Text

Day Two

  1. Review the previous day’s lesson concepts.
  2. Show the class the film “Cycle 2” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-gko2QPfBk
    • In small groups, the students will discuss their initial reaction to the film as well as how their ideas about cycles compared with the actual content of the video. 
  3. Show the students the film once more, this time asking them to take notes on several key elements as they watch. Students will be asked to cite specific examples for each element. Review the elements before screening the film.

Focus Elements:

  • How does the score or soundtrack influence the tone of the film?
  • To what extent does the editing help convey the passage of time?
  • What is the setting of the film?  In what ways does it enhance the overall atmosphere of the film?
  • How does the director create a realistic character?  What do we know about him?
  • What is the effect of the non-linear plot?
  • What symbols does the director include? 

4. Discuss the students’ responses and explain the concept of the storyboard and how directors use them to plan and execute their projects.  Explain that students will be working in groups to create storyboards for specific segments of “Cycle 2.”

5. Show students several Storyboard tutorials =

6. Discuss the storyboarding process and what we can gain from working in reverse: creating a storyboard based on an already existing film.

Day Three

  1. Briefly review the concept of the storyboard.  Divide the class into small cooperative groups (or have students work independently).  Handout specific time segment assignments:
  • Group One = 0.00-1.00
  • Group Two = 1.00-2.00
  • Group Three = 2.00-2.49
  • Group Four = 2.49-3:46
  • Group Five = 3.46-End

2.  Handout Specific Camera Shots (gathered from video #2 AFI Introduction).  Ask groups to search their segment for examples of these shots.  For each shot found, students should mark the time and write a brief written description of the action.  Specific Shots:

  • Establishing shot
  • Full shot
  • Medium shot
  • Close shot
  • Tight shot
  • POV shot
  • Two shot
  • Over-the-Shoulder shot
  • Pan shot
  • Tilt shot

3. Handout the storyboard template: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://dstmoviemaker.wikispaces.com/file/view/storyboard.gif/152131273/storyboard.gif&imgrefurl=http://dstmoviemaker.wikispaces.com/05%2BStory%2Bboard%2Btemplates&h=215&w=300&sz=3&tbnid=9wyxxp46F4vOeM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=126&zoom=1&usg=__tsRI8Y150mWOhGCCwQf9J8DYfvw=&docid=lbNk911cZdbIzM&sa=X&ei=LEhLUfb9Dqio0AHp-oCgAg&ved=0CDsQ9QEwAw&dur=483 Student groups should work within their time segment to complete approximately ten storyboard slides.

4. Have student groups report back to the class about things they noticed about the film based on the reverse-storyboarding process.

Day Four

  1. Watch the film sequences from The Graduate.  Discuss how the director of “Cycle 2” was influenced by the film techniques portrayed in the Academy Award winning film.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSyFNvdp-Rs ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh7H6XC11P8 (3 min. mark)
  2. Continue the discussion with the flowing critical analysis questions:
  • How do you interpret the title of the film?  In what ways is the title a reflection of the content and overall message?
  • What symbols did the filmmaker employ?  How are they embedded in the texture of the story?  What do they ultimately suggest?
  • How does the story order affect your response to the action?
  • Why is the urban setting particularly effective?  In what specific ways does the setting influence the behavior of the central character and his actions?
  • Who or what represents the antagonist of the film?
  • How does the soundtrack influence the emotional impact of the film?  Cite specific examples.
  • In addition to the soundtrack, a filmmaker uses post-production editing to enhance the dramatic narrative.  In what ways does the editing affect the pacing of the film?
  • How would you describe the tone of the film?  What specific techniques contribute to the tone?
  • Where would you pinpoint the climax of the film?  Why does the moment you chose represent the height of dramatic tension?
  • To what extent does the medium of film help communicate the story in ways that traditional literature could not?

3. Conclude the unit with an essay prompt:

  • During the opening voiceover, the narrator states, “Logic is an enemy; truth is a menace.”  Using specific references to the film, explain how this statement represents the central idea or meaning of the film. 

Cycle 2 Unit 2

Lesson Plans

Day 1

Introduce the concept of “doppelganger” with the following methods:

1)   Dictionary definition and discussion of what shapes the concept could take in literature, film, etc.

2)   Show examples in film clips:  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+find+your+doppelganger&oq=how+to+find+your+doppel&gs_l=youtube. (“How to Find Your Doppelganger” from Urban Dictionary 1:02) 


            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN6XPoMD7hk (The Ricky Gervis Show-Doppelganger 2:11)

            Discuss each individually.

3)    Hand out short story “Memento Mori” :  http://www.impulsenine.com/homepage/pages/shortstories/memento_mori.htm

Begin reading in class while targeting main concepts introduced above.  Students will complete the story for homework.

Day 2

1)   Review yesterday’s lessons and concepts.

2)   Discuss “Memento Mori.” What form did the doppelganger take in the story? What were the forms in the two film clips from yesterday?  What other forms might a creative writer or filmmaker possibly come up with?

3)   Short writing exercise—dialogue in which you give advice to a younger You or in which an older You dispenses advice to you.  Ask for volunteers and discuss responses.  Expand discussion to fictional possibilities beyond the two examples of Day 1.

Day 3

1)   Show the student video Cycle 2

2)  Divide class into groups of 3 or 4 and hand out discussion guides to each group.  All groups will discuss the doppelganger function in the film.  Some groups will discuss cinematography aspects, some groups will discuss setting, some groups will discuss character.  Have each group report orally.  Entertain any discussion which ensues.

Day 4

1)  Show Cycle 2 again.  Hand out the following assessment questions and allow the period to complete the questions.


·Write the note which was left in the hole in the road.  Be sure your response fits into the context of the film.


·Carefully chosen visuals work to add substance to a story.  Explain how each of the following serves that purpose:

a)    The road signs

b)    The roads themselves

c)    The placement of the characters in two specific scenes


· Using what we have learned in the last three days, explain in a coherent paragraph the type of doppelganger this young filmmaker has employed and what meaning we are intended to infer from his work.