Watching 'Argo'

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SWBAT identify historical discrepancies in a historical film

Big Idea

Are historical films educational or entertaining?


This unit lasted approximately seven days and was taught jointly in English and U.S. Government classes.  It can be taught in a single class, but it would take ten to fourteen days to complete.  We had several objectives in this unit:

  • Students would read about the historical events presented in the movie "Argo" before they watched the movie.
  • Students would read a newspaper article about the Iran Hostage Crisis and compare that with a news profile of the six embassy workers who escaped looking at the difference in language and tone.
  • Students would watch the movie "Argo" taking notes about what events in the movie are different from the news profile they read. 
  • Students would present on a different aspect of bias an inaccuracy in the film.

Watching "Argo" a Note to Teachers

While "Argo" is a masterfully made movie that depicts the escape of six American embassy workers during the Iran Hostage Crisis, it is rated-R due to language and violence.  The language is gratuitous, and the overuse of the F-word particularly obnoxious.  Depending on your student population and district policy,you might want to get signed permission slips before showing the movie, at the very least offer students who might be offended an alternative to watching the movie. 

Using DICE During the Movie

135 minutes

During the movie at several points, we stopped to have students complete a DICE writing of the movie.  This helps them pay attention and will be useful when they start researching the movie later.

DICE is an acronym for Disturbing, Interesting, Confusing, and Enlightening.  It is a way for students to methodically engage with a text, especially one that is full of facts and ideas. Using DICE students can approach the text personally, recording their reactions as they read. Each letter represents a different, correlative reaction to the text from comprehension to agreement. The idea is that these reactions on close examination can reveal deeper understandings of the text.  DICE is a good way for reluctant readers to engage with the text because it asks only what their reactions are, and the response can be as little as one word. 

In this case, it worked during the film as well which they watched during both their English and Government classes.  Actual student work was collected during the latter, so I unfortunately do not have any examples from the film.