Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Teaching 12 Angry Men

Update (3/25/13): I've fixed some of the links and cut out a request for help which is no longer needed.

So I'm going to show 12 Angry Men in my critical thinking class, but I'm extremely wary of the fact that simply showing a movie in class is a lot like reading the textbook out loud. To avoid this, I've decided to use a tactic called Guided Film Watching, where the students are required to fill out a question sheet while the film is going, and we stop frequently to discuss what has happened so far. Students have enough experience just sitting back and letting a movie sweep over them. I want them to practice working while watching.

The first resource I wanted was a simple character guide, so they can remember who's who and refer to them by number in discussion. A cursory Google search didn't turn one up, so I made one myself. I imagine that I'm not the only one who has looked for such a thing, so I am posting mine here, in hopes that it will show up for diligent googlers.

Second, I've decided to break up the movie into 15 minute chunks, and watch about two chunks a class for three classes, mixed in with discussions the movie, the nature of critical thinking, and Clifford's "The Ethics of Belief." Each chunk will have a question sheet. I've posted the full question sheet here. Questions for the first two chunks are below:

First segment

Chapter 1-3 on the disc, 0-15:46.

1. In the first minute and 13 seconds, the camera enters into the courthouse and follows a few people around. What do you notice about the way the courthouse is depicted? What do you notice about the people the camera follows? Why are we shown these people?

2. Starting at 1:47, when the camera pans over the jury, and going to 10:23, when the deliberations start, we get a chance to see the different jury members in a casual situation. Do any of them stand out to you? Who do you think will be a good jury member? Who won’t?

3. What reasons does Henry Fonda originally give for voting not guilty? Are they good reasons?

4. At 14:20 Juror 10 stands up and gives a speech about "them." "I’ve lived among them all my life," he says. Who is he talking about?

Second Segment

Chapters 4–5, 15:46–30:10

5. Starting at 15:46, the jurors start giving their reasons for thinking the defendant is guilty, starting with juror 1. Which of the jurors seem to have good reasons for their judgment and which don’t?

6. At around 21 minutes, juror 3 gives a speech about children and his son. What is significant about this speech?

7. At 24 minutes, Fonda gives a second speech about why he votes not guilty. Are his reasons different than the first time? Are they better?

8. At 28:50 Fonda introduces his own piece of evidence. Has he been holding back on the other jurors? What has he been holding back?
Some of the questions are long, but the students will have the chance to read them before the segment starts. If anyone stopping by is interested, I'd like to hear what you think of these.


Tanya Alexandra said...

Thanks so much for posting the character guide - I am using this video case to teach Group Processes (for i/o psychology) and really appreciate the resource!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I liked your questions and the structure you've set up for viewing the film. I'm yhinking of doing a similar thing with my class. I was wondering what you meant by "good" in question number two, though? Do you mean effective? Or do you mean good in a more moralistic sense? I just thought it was a slightly misleading word choice?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Glad you liked the questions.

By "good juror" I meant "one that is likely to reach a fair and accurate verdict."

But it would be worth asking any class what they think "good juror" means in this context.

Anonymous said...

Your character guide is not available. Can you please repost it?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I'll try to do that soon. I need to find a new place to host all my teaching materials. I'd like to actually create a whole open courseware page with all my preps.

Anonymous said...


The Thompsons said...
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Anonymous said...


Used the character guide and the questions were very helpful!
Thanks for the resource!

9-12 Speech AB

JC said...

I love your character guide sheet! As a new teacher, it's nice to find other people with resources who are willing to share. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. It is useful...

Erin M. said...

I use this in ENG 101 and ENC 090 as an example of argument/rhetoric and counter-arguments; I LOVE the character guide, very helpful... Thanks so much for sharing!

sophie said...

thank you so much! you're a lifesaver.

i teach 12th grade government, studying the judicial system.

the character guide and viewing questions are awesome!

Anonymous said...

I'm teaching a College Success course, and I am using this to explain group processes and ethics. Thank you so much!!!

Vicki said...

Thanks...I am getting ready to introduce the play to my freshmen English class; this will prove to be a great resource.

Smithee said...

Thank you for sharing your materials. This comes in very handy at the end of the year when I already have a million other things to do. It's always nice to find teachers who are willing to share what they've created.

Anonymous said...

My teacher assigned this in our AP class after we took the AP test on the busiest weekend of the year and I missed the first thirty minutes of it because I was taking an AP chemistry test and I am really really annoyed.
Like if she spent time making her own questions and not just stealing other people's, I might be ok with it, but mostly I'm just annoyed because I think she tries to do the least amount of work possible as well.

Kelsey Mapes said...

Thank you so much! I plan on teaching this very soon to my Junior class and these resources will be a big help to me as a first year teacher.

Federal Farmer said...

Thank you so much for sharing both your material and your thought process behind it. I am trying to build a unit around civic dispositions and justice, so much of your work was of great help. Thank you again!

Barbara said...

Thank you so much for the character guide -- what a great idea, and good on you for making it happen!

Anonymous said...

I have to do this in my grade 9 Ethics class, its a wonderful worksheet if you have a teacher that actually stops the movie and the fifteen minute intervals, and discusses it. But, me and almost everybody in this class missed the middle of the movie due to a test. so we came in as a group of confused 14 year olds trying to watch a movie that was meant for much older people. Teachers always tell us to do our own work, and not to take the easy way out, "even if you enjoy it at the moment you're going to regret it in the future." Just a note to all the teachers out there that are using this worksheet: If you cite this page (which you have to do unless you want to be plagiarizing)the kids will find this cite and will know that you did not create the worksheet. This is NOT setting a good example for your students.

P.S. to whoever created the sheet kudos, its probably been circulated around the world and back. You've got some crazy hard question that are pretty much impossible to answers unless you watch the movie 5 times :)

P.P.S. What grade was this sheet meant for?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

The sheet was intended for freshmen in college. I've gotten a lot of comments from high school teachers and students who have used it and liked it. But 14-year-old 9th graders are definitely the youngest people who I've heard about using it.

Hopefully the difficulty of the question sheet didn't spoil the movie for you. It is truly an American classic!

brookeb said...

Thanks for this! I'm using portions of it for my forensic psych course to help us stay on track with the film.