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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Using Disney's "Inside Out" With Middle Schoolers

I love Disney movies!  My first memory of going to see a movie in the theatre was with my mom and sister when I was about 3 to see The Little Mermaid.  Since then, I've been hooked.  I still go to see Disney movies with my sister when they come out in the theatre, but now we also take her 5-year old son (most of the time).

When I saw "Inside Out" this summer, I loved it!  It takes place inside the brain of an 11-year-old girl named Riley.  The main characters are Riley's emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.  The emotions interact with each other and steer Riley through her days, creating memories.  Riley's core memories (important times in her life) create aspects of her personality as Personality Islands.  Riley's 5 main personality islands are Goofball Island, Family Island, Friends Island, Hockey Island, and Honesty Island.

When Riley was young, Joy was steering most of her actions, but in the course of the movie, Riley's family moves away from their hometown and Sadness becomes more prominent for her. Because of a fight between Joy and Sadness, Riley's core memories are lost to the "memory dump" and the two emotions try to save them before Riley loses her personality forever, leaving Disgust, Fear, and Anger to manage "headquarters" and inform Riley's actions in the present.

The movie is touching and really puts an importance on all emotions.  Joy realizes that Riley needs to feel sadness sometimes and that it's okay if she isn't happy all the time. 

After I saw the movie, I immediately started thinking about ways I could use it with my students.  I'm teaching Grade 8 this year, and one of the Health and Career outcomes for Grade 8 is to discuss how personality traits could relate to possible careers.  I decided to show the movie to my kids and have them think about their own personality traits and core memories.  Their assignment was to create a poster to show off their personality islands.

We generated criteria together as a class, with the students deciding they should have at least 3 personality islands and they should have at least one representing important people in their lives, one representing important hobbies, and one representing character traits.  They came up with the marking criteria and created the rubric themselves.

Here are some finished examples:

I think they turned out great, and the conversations that happened around emotions and memories were very interesting to hear.  Have you seen Inside Out?  Have you done something similar with your students?  Let me know in the comments below :)