Beacon Lesson Plan Library

100 Years...100 Movies

Zerelda Hammer


After students choose one of the top 100 movies to view, they research critical reviews and then write their own reviews.


The student organizes information before writing according to the type and purpose of writing.

The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.


-Tips for Writing Your Report (see associated file)
- List of 100 Movies (see associated file)
- Parent Letter (see associated file)
- Student Product Handout (see associated file)
- Rubric/checklist (see associated file)
- Internet access
- Movie Reviews from newspapers/magazines
- Six Traits of Writing Rubric (optional-see assessment information)


1. Make copies of:
- Parent Letter
- List of Movies
- Student Product Handout
- Tips for Writing Your Report
-Checklist/Rubric and/or Six Traits of Writing Rubric

2. Collect copies of Movie Reviews from various sources


1. Introduce this project by:
A. DiscussingThe American Film Institute (AFI) 100 Years...100 Movies
B. Asking students to review the list and indicate if they've seen any of the movies.
C. Brainstorming elements that would make a film critically-acclaimed and significant or has left an indelible mark upon American life.
D. Providing and discussing review samples

Possible student responses might include:
A. Breaking technological ground, i.e. special effects
B. Influencing topics
C. Historical significance
D. Special qualities in action or production
E. Major recognition or honors
F. Legendary, satisfying, never-fading public appeal
G. Primary example within a film genre, i.e. horror, mystery...
H. Social commentary, i.e. reflects traditional or timely values of culture
I. Escape, i.e. fantasy
J. Identification with character or character plight
K. Vicarious experience of excitement

2. Discuss the organization, content, focus, and support of an essay.

3. Review with students the Checklist/Rubric that is included in the associated file. If you are using the Six Traits of Writing Rubric as well, this is the time to go over it and make sure students are very familiar with this criteria for writing.

4. Assign the student projects:
(Students view a movie, research for background and then write an essay with specific criteria.)
A. Distribute information and parent letter/permission slip along with viewing recommendations.
B. With parent/teacher guidance, students select three possible titles (as part of the decision-making process); students may use websites to help make decision.
C. Students return permission slips with final choices.
D. Students research selected movie background and critical reviews. They may access the Internet for insightful information and reviews of selection. IMPORTANT: Students are searching for support for this movie as an AFI committee choice, that is one of signficance and quality.
E. Students should view the video two times. Students will have to rent their own videos.
F. They should watch once for overall content and entertainment value. During the second viewing, students should take notes on reasons for appeal relating to brainstorming (it may be helpful for parents and other relatives to watch the movie as well to gain other perspectives).
G. Students should begin the writing process (use viewing/research notes). Remind students of the Checklist/Rubric (see associated file) and/or the Six Traits of Writing Rubric by which their products will be assessed.
H. Provide feedback on the rough draft and revision.
I. Follow Student Products Handout for due dates for all parts of project (graphic organizer, rough draft, revised writing, and final copy).
J. Turn in all parts of project for final evaluation.


Students should be assessed on their essays including notes, organizers, and rough drafts. A suggested checklist/rubric is included in the associated file. Although this may count as a summative or formative grade, depending on the students, this one lesson doesn't indicate total mastery since it is so inclusive of language arts skills. Students who need additional help and guidance should receive it on an individual basis in order to create a student product that meets acceptable criteria.

Student essays may be assessed using the Six Traits of Writing Rubric only if students have been using it previously and are very familiar with all six traits identified on the rubric. If this rubric is to be the criteria for the essay, it is necessary that students know this prior to beginning the actual writing and revision of the essay. The criteria will need to be extended to also include the prewriting strategies and revisions.


This independent research project could be modified to be used as a group project or to include an oral presentation.

Web Links

Web supplement for 100 Years...100 Movies
AOL Movie Search Page

Web supplement for 100 Years...100 Movies
American Film Institute Online

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