Movies can be a crutch. Movies can be an awful waste of time. Movies can be pretty darn useful, too.
We have a rule at our school that we can't show more than twenty minutes of a movie at a time. Why did we have to make this rule? Because sometimes there are teachers who use movies to sit back and relax. Unfortunately, everyone must suffer for the fact that there are teachers who abuse the use of films in the classroom.
There are a few times when I use movies in my room. The most useful film I have is Romeo + Juliet. The play is a part of our curriculum for ninth graders, but sometimes the language is a bit dense. I show the movie one act at a time. It's a play. It's meant to be seen. It makes sense. It's also great to show students the artistic license the director takes from the source material. After all, the ability to compare and contrast is still a valuable skill for our students.
Another time when video comes in handy is when we are studying persuasive techniques. What better way to check out persuasion than to watch some commercials? A lot of students love commercials anyway. By teaching them to take apart the different persuasive and propaganda techniques, they can actually become more informed viewers of advertisements.
Videos should be used as a supplement to learning, not the only thing used in the classroom. Using movies too often allows students to check out for the period. Showing too much of a video doesn't keep students accountable for what they are supposed to be learning. The bottom line is that video in the classroom is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a particularly good thing when used correctly.