The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Too Many Movies

Over the past couple of weeks, my students have been doing some prep work for their second independent research project. The first project was an inquiry for science related to a given animal’s characteristics, ecosystem, and placement in the food web, among other things. The students had three weeks to work and nearly all of them completed the project on time. (Those students who have not yet turned in their research projects have until this Friday, which marks the end of the first quarter. Students reading, take note!)

The second project will be for social studies. Our unit is going to focus on early European exploration of Africa and the Americas. Since this prep work coincided with a couple of doctor’s appointments I had recently, I took a break from my usual plans for substitutes (which is to have the students do what they typically do with me) and arranged for them to watch a couple of videos about the Portuguese and Spanish explorers.

This didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of watching two movies, the class only watched the one about Spanish explorers. I actually wanted the students to watch these movies anyway, since they do a decent job of previewing the accomplishments of European explorers, so over the past week, we have watched the other movies. While watching, the students have had to write down at least five interesting facts that they learned, and then they shared them afterwards.

Today we watched the last movie. As I rolled out my excessively bulky TV cart, I heard something I never thought I would ever hear in my career:

Oh, man, we’re going to watch another movie?!

Guess this picture isn’t as true as teachers generally think:

Of course, nobody complained about watching a movie after we got started. And everyone who shared was able to pick up some excellent points as they learned about European explorers in the Age of Discovery. This will be particularly helpful as we invite a local historian to visit the class next week to share more about this time period and offer tips on conducting research into historical topics!


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