Syllabus--The Story of Movies

Mr. Tolley, B & E 204


The Story of Movies is an elective course open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. This class is designed to help students understand the history of film throughout the world, how it has evolved over its history, common themes/characters explored in the cinema, cinematic techniques (editing, photography, writing, etc.) and how they have evolved over time, and how film has reflected our society through time.


Some themes to be explored are:

  • The Silent Era
  • The Evolution of Comedy in Film
  • Film as a Reflection of Society – War, Morals, Popular Tastes
  • Women in Film – Heroines, Victims, Tough Broads, and Babes
  • Crime and the Cinema
  • American Classics
  • Alfred Hitchcock – The Master of Horror and Suspense
  • A Unique Art – The American Musical
  • Documentary in Cinematic Form


Materials and Supplies: Students will need:


•black or blue ink pens for final writing drafts

•red pens for peer review and editing

•spiral notebook for taking notes, including Reader-Writer Notebook notes

•loose leaf paper for submitted assignments

•a three ring binder. Dividing tabs for the binder will be labeled at the discretion of the student, but I suggest "notes", "work to be turned in", and "graded work". Students are encouraged to use additional tabs that will help them to be organized.

            •A box of tissue for class use is appreciated


Absences/Attendance: Students are expected to be present and on time to class every day. I usually take attendance by sign-in sheets and then I match the sign-in with the physical student count. Students will be marked tardy when they are not in class and ready to participate when the bell rings. Students will receive a discipline referral for leaving class without permission if they leave the class before they are dismissed at the bell.


Make-up Work: I follow the Rio Rancho High School policy on make-up work. Students have the same number of days they were absent to complete and turn in homework and in-class assignments. For example, if the student is absent for an assignment on Monday and the student returns on Tuesday, the assignment is due for that student on Wednesday. In the event a long-term assignment or project is given, the due date will stand. For example, if a project is assigned on March 1 and is due on March 10, the student is aware of the due date and the expectations for the assignment. If the student is absent on the due date the project is still due and the student should make arrangements to have the project turned in. Of course, I will always work with students who have difficult circumstances. The key is communication. Students are responsible for checking in with the teacher when they return from an absence for all make-up work.


Missing Work: The worst academic decision a student can make is to take a zero on an assignment. High school is not only about putting numbers in the grade book; it is vitally important that students build skills and then demonstrate that they have mastered those skills through the successful completion of Embedded Assessments (to use the Springboard terminology). Skill building and demonstration of mastery are key components of a growth mindset.

When a student does not turn in an assignment when it is due, the student's assignment will be marked as "missing" in the grade book. "I forgot", "It wasn't done", and "I didn't understand" are not acceptable excuses. The zero will stand as missing work until the assignment is complete. Students will have until the day the Embedded Assessment starts to turn in missing "Practice" assignments. If a student turns in an assignment that is partially complete and the student has been making a legitimate effort to finish, they will be allowed to finish. Be careful not to take advantage of this. Having unrelated conversations with classmates, sneaking time on a phone or game, and sleeping and then rushing in the last few minutes to get something done does not constitute a legitimate effort.

Under no circumstances will a student be allowed to make up multiple zeros at the end of a grading period to save a grade. Grading periods are nine weeks long and students are expected to recognize the importance of every assignment. 


Behavior: High school students are old enough to be held accountable for and police their own behavior. A few things that will likely bring unwanted attention to students are:

--Foul and abusive language.

--Demeaning, bullying, and any sort of harassment.

--Eating/drinking around any computer.

--Using personal technology during class.

--Habitual tardiness/absences.

--Distracting other students.

Students should be aware of proper behavior in an academic setting. 


Classroom Norms: Students should:

            •Listen with respect when someone else is speaking, including the teacher.

            •Contribute positively to conversations and activities

            •Tolerate all beliefs and points of view, even if they do not share them.

            •Use differences of opinion as vehicles for learning.

            •Avoid distractions such as electronics, conversations unrelated to class, and others.

            •Respect the schedule: Be on time, meet due dates, don’t leave early.

            •Use time out of class wisely—missing instruction is not a good idea.


Grading: Embedded Assessments and other formal assessments are worth 80% of the student grade. These are essays, projects, and presentations and quizzes. Practice such as classwork and homework grades are worth 20%. The semester final exams are worth 20% of the semester grade.

            90 - 100 = A

            80 – 89 = B

            70 – 79 = C

            60 – 69 = D

            59 and below = F


I do not offer extra credit work, but I encourage students to re-write assignments for the higher grade within a reasonable period of time.


Chrome Books: Each student will have an assigned Chrome Book (laptop) for in-class use. Students are responsible for their assigned computer, and should bring any problems to my attention immediately.


Google Classroom: The majority of assignments will be completed digitally, submitted digitally, and graded digitally. If you're not used to this manner of work flow you will discover that it is preferable to paper copies. Here is the code for The Story of Movies: 1jv9lm8


Thursday, August 9: Introduction, Overview of the Silent Era. View: The Great Train Robbery (1903).


Friday, August 10: Assign Chrome Books, Introduce Google Classroom. Highlight the article, "The History of Silent Movies and Subtitles. View: A Trip to the Moon (1902). 


Monday, August 13: Digital vocabulary scavenger hunt. On Google Classroom.


Tuesday, August 14: View: Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film.


Wednesday, August 15: Jigsawing the Article "The End of Silents"


Thursday, August 16: Introduce and begin reading "All Quiet on the Western Front. Chapter 1, quiz.


Friday, August 17: "All Quiet on the Western Front". Chapter 2, quiz.


Monday, August 20: Chapter 3, Quiz


Tuesday, August 21: Chapter 4, Quiz


Wednesday, August 22: Begin the film, "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930). introduce companion assignment.


Thursday, August 23: Continue "All Quiet on the Western Front"


Friday, August 24: Continue "All Quiet on the Western Front"


Monday, August 27: Finish "All Quiet on the Western Front"; begin Q/A assignment


Tuesday, August 28: Continue Research, Citation, and Answers. Assignment due.


Wednesday, August 29: Introduction to Fairy Tales


Thursday, August 30: Begin "Princess Bride"


Friday, August 31: Continue "Princess Bride"


Monday, September 3: Labor Day, No School


Tuesday, September 4: Finish "Princess Bride"


Wednesday, September 5:  Explain Freytag's Model Assignment


Thursday, September 6: In-class writing prompt for "The Princess Bride"


Friday, September 7: In-class writing prompt due


Monday, September 10: "Princess Bride" multiple choice quiz; review elements of fairy tales


Tuesday, September 11: Explain comparative analysis graphic organizer; Begin "Shrek"


Wednesday, September 12: Continue "Shrek"


Thursday, September 13: Finish "Shrek"


Friday, September 14: Begin Disney's original "Cinderella"


Monday, September 17: Finish "Cinderella". Complete and turn in graphic organizer.


Tuesday, September 18: Explain and introduce extended response topic for "Ella Enchanted" and begin movie.


Wednesday, September 19: Finish "Ella Enchanted"


Thursday, September 20: In-class writing prompt for "Ella Enchanted"


Friday, September 21: Finish In-class writing for "Ella"


Monday, September 24: Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton version)


Tuesday, September 25: Practice reading assessment on Classroom


Wednesday, September 26 - Friday, September 28: Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton version)


Monday, October 1: Alice in Wonderland study questions


Tuesday, October 2: Conversation: The Fairy Tale map


Wednesday, October 3 - Monday, October 8"Once Upon a Time" TV series, episodes 1 - 4


Tuesday, October 9:  In-class writing assignment on Google Classroom


Wednesday, October 10: PSAT, sophomores only


Thursday, October 11:Inservice, No School for students


Friday, October 12: Fall Break, No School


Monday, October 15: End of First Nine Weeks; Introduction to Citizen Kane


Tuesday, October 16 - Wednesday, October 17: Citizen Kane


Thursday, October 18: Citizen Kane quiz


Friday, October 19 - Monday, October 22: The African Queen


Tuesday, October 23: Embracing Chaos: Making the African Queen


Wednesday, October 24: The African Queen quiz


Wednesday, November 21 - Friday, November 23--Thanksgiving Break


Monday, December 17 - Wednesday, December 19--Final Exams

Thursday, December 20 - Friday, January 4--Winter Break


Monday, January 7--Inservice, No School for Students

Monday, January 21--MLK Holiday, No School


Monday, February 18--Presidents Day, No School


Wednesday, March 13--End of 3rd quarter

Monday, March 25 - Friday, March 29--Spring Break, No School


Monday April 15 - Thursday, May 2--PARCC Testing Window (longer classes, alternate schedule)

Friday, April 19 - Vernal Holiday, No School


Wednesday, May 8 - Thursday, May 9--Senior Final Exams

Friday, May 10--Senior Makeup Exams

Tuesday, May 21--Graduation