Z-Guides are CD-ROMs with questions for either discussion or written assignments , research activities, interdisciplinary activities, memorization passages, puzzles, and hands-on activities to accompany classic movies that have a message. The goal is to promote critical thinking and analysis among middle and high school students as they watch and analyze movies. You might tie these in with historical periods. A chart showing which movies fit into which time period is on the publisher’s website.
It should take about one week to complete the viewing and study of each movie. Students are likely to have to re-watch parts of the movies to be able to answer some of the questions so you should plan to have easy access to the movie for the entire week or however long it takes.
Guides are presented as printable PDFs so you can duplicate student pages for your family. Answer keys are included. Most of each guide’s content is devoted to questions and research. The guide I reviewed had only one crossword puzzle and one drawing activity. While students might view a movie and work independently through quite a few of the study guide questions, I highly recommend discussion and interaction whenever possible since many of the questions could lead into significant philosophical and theological discussions.
The creators of these guides have written other resources for the home education market such as A Noble Experiment, The History and Nature of the American Government that present a conservative worldview, supportive of Judeo-Christian values. However, the Z-Guides are not so direct in their presentation. While they are written from a Judeo-Christian worldview, they do not try to teach that worldview to the students. Instead, they try to help students understand what worldviews are being "taught" through each movie and how that is accomplished with "The Filmmaker's Art" activity in each guide.
Movies for which Z-Guides are available that are suitable for middle school students are Kit Kittredge, Johnny Tremain, and My Side of the Mountain. Movies appropriate for high school students are A Man for All Seasons, Adventures of Robin Hood, Amazing Grace, Ben Hur, Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Cromwell, The Count of Monte Cristo, Driving Miss Daisy, Father Goose, Flyboys, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Inherit the Wind, Jason and the Argonauts, Knights of the Round Table, Les Miserables, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, One Night with the King, The Red Badge of Courage, Scarlet Pimpernel, Sergeant York, Tale of Two Cities, The Ten Commandments, The Hiding Place, To Kill a Mockingbird, and 12 Angry Men.
In our modern culture, one of the most important skills our children should develop is the ability to view media critically, to be able to question and analyze what they hear and see. The Z-Guides make the task easy for busy parents.
The movies are all available for purchase from Zeezok Publishing and were all also available through Netflix at the time the guides were written. Z-Guides are available only through Zeezok as either downloadable files or CD-ROMs.