I rarely go to the movies. I just don’t have time to sit still for that long and not be doing something else like reading or writing or knitting or grading math papers. But when I saw the trailer for Hidden Figures, I knew I had to see it on the big screen. So, I took my 8-year-old to see it opening weekend and we both loved it.
Based on a true story, this movie has something for everyone. It’s equal parts… math, girl power, history, science, civil rights, fashion, design, and inspiration. A stellar cast, amazing original soundtrack, and dual meaning title top it all off.
What’s even more rare than me going to the movies is me allowing my students to watch a movie during class time. The movie was available on DVD right after our students took their algebra state test and my teaching parter, Kelsey Russell, fountain of GREAT ideas, suggested that we show it to our students. We looked online for lesson plans to “justify” spending three class periods watching the movie, but we couldn’t find anything. So I suggested that each student be required to write at least three questions and the corresponding answers per day on a sheet of paper. “Can we write nine questions and their answers all on the first day?” “Nope. But you can write more than 3 questions and their answers per day.” Many wrote on the order of 5-7 per day. This exercise made them actively watch the movie. Of course, I paused the movie periodically to point different things out as well.
And did they like Hidden Figures? No, they did not. They LOVED it. I was astounded that only one or two students per class had actually seen the movie in the theater! They also wrote excellent questions and answers and it was fun for me to see who picked up on what. Some students were more focused on the civil rights aspects, some on the kinds of math they saw, some on the names, dates and locations of everything, and some on the actors themselves. I combined their questions (and answers) with my own and wrote a movie watching guide, assessment, and answers that you can access for free here.
I hope that I have inspired you to watch Hidden Figures, and maybe someday you can share it with your students too!