The Legend of Billie Jean directed by Matthew Robbins

Andżelika Cała, Piotr Wróbel


Age group: Secondary School
Topic: Fight for your rights (Fair is fair)!

Key terms/notions: gender, feminism, rebellion against corrupted adults, fighting for rights, bullying, bravery, crime.

After the lesson students should:
-be able to summarise the plot of the movie
-understand the problems presented in the film
-apply the problems from the movie to their own experience
-be able to discuss the notions and themes from the film
-express their own opinions about the characters and their decisions

-Group discussion
-Writing a review of the film
-Brainstorming the main problems
-Analysis of the movie
-Filling in the worksheet

The Legend of Billie Jean (movie)
-Photos of the main actors

3 lessons:
lesson 1,2: Watching the movie (2×45 minutes)
lesson 3: Discussion and filling in the worksheet (1×90 minutes)

Lesson (3) Plan:

  1. Warm up: expressing personal opinions about the film; commenting briefly on the most important situations from the movie and the main characters.
  2. Activity 1: The students are divided into groups; they brainstorm the main problems presented in the film (rebellion against the corrupted adults, fighting for rights, bullying, crime, gender issues). Then, they are given worksheets to fill in the first exercise. When they are ready, the groups present the problems they have come up with and compare them with other groups, so that all the groups have all the problems mentioned in their worksheets.
  3. Activity 2: In the same groups, the students write how the problems are solved by the characters and how they (students) would deal with them in real life. Then, the learners present the solutions used in the film by the characters. When they are ready with that, they present how they would deal with those problems.
  4. Activity number 3: The whole class fill in the last part of the worksheet to sum up the outcomes of the decisions made by the characters. The students speculate about the consequences of the decisions they would make.
  5. Activity number 4: The teacher starts the discussion concerning the analysis of the character of Billie Jean. He/she may ask whether the main character is changing as the plot unfolds or whether she is rebellious from the very beginning. Billie Jean might be also seen as a woman who takes over the control (She’s the leader of the group. Therefore, the teacher might ask the students in what way she is in control and whether it is somehow connected with the theme of gender, feminism and rebellion. The learners can also be encouraged to discuss the relationships between Billie Jean and the other characters (e.g. her behaviour towards adults and other teenagers). At the end of this exercise, the teacher may ask if the students think that Billie Jean is a symbol of rebellion for the teenagers who star in the film (if yes, how) and whether she could become their (students’) symbol of rebellion (and why/why not).
  6. Activity number 5: Discussing the morality of the characters (corruption of adults, bullying, bravery/crime). The teacher discusses it together with the learners (lockstep).
  7. Homework: writing a review of the film including a short summary, descriptions of the main characters and problems they encounter. The students will also be asked to express their own opinions about the movie.

Guidelines for teachers:

  • The teacher should make sure that all the students remember the characters and their names (Some students may forget the characters’ name; therefore, it might be helpful to write them under the photos of main characters).
  • Constant monitoring of the students’ work (checking their ideas when they are working in groups; making sure that the students are engaged in the task, not e.g. in having personal chats)
  • Supporting the students by asking leading questions.
  • Preparing alternative solutions to the problems presented in the movie (If it turns out that the students cannot think of any solutions, the teacher should be able to help them and give his/her own ideas or lead the students to these solutions).
  • The teacher ought to make sure he/she has got enough copies of the worksheet



Problems presented in the movie Solutions chosen by the characters Your solutions Consequences of the characters’ actions Possible consequences of your solutions


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