How It Should Be Done

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Dec
  • 31
  • 2006

While reading Andy Carvin’s summary of the good news about DOPA, a click on “TV for Teachers,” a link I found at the bottom of the page, lead me to a lesson plan. Usually, this is no big deal. But this was no ordinary online lesson plan, this was one that looked like it would actually challenge students and provide some meaningful steps to help them create the final product. This was a lesson plan that should be a model for all other online lesson plans.

Challenging Material

The team of educational consultants working on these lessons put together a solid set of ideas for teachers to follow. Back in December of 2002, Bill Moyers interviewed Albert Maysles, a documentary filmmaker. The lesson plans put students in the position of filmmaker, asking them to make a few observations about Maysles’s techniques and then create their own film in his style.

Thorough steps and several options along the way go far toward providing something that teachers can put in place, feeling good about marching their students down the path toward creating the final product suggested.

Weak Organization

The plan references an episode of Bill Moyers NOW, something only available on VHS. Not that big a deal, but worth consideration. The mention of the NOW episode comes with a link to the ShopPBS store. Once at the store, teachers will have to search for the appropriate episode; instead, that link should lead directly to the episode under discussion.

Skipping the purchase of the video means that I miss the Moyers interview (the only person I like better at interviews is Terry Gross, so I don’t take missing that Moyers interview lightly), but the free transcript sits online, waiting for you or your students to read it.

And if I don’t spend the $30, there are clips of Maysles’s films online. I may not be able to show the students an entire film, but they should be able to get the idea behind the techniques from these clips. Add to that the fact that the clips are available for students to view whenever they want and things are looking pretty good.

The clips are not too easy to find, though. Currently, there’s a dropdown box next to “More on This Lesson” (or “More on This Story,” depending on your current page). The contents of that box change as you go from page to page. To find the link to the Maysles clips, you have to navigate a few pages away from the lesson plan.

There must be a better way to organize all these links. It took me far too much hunting and pecking for the additional materials the planning team has worked so hard to provide.

Still, these plans look to be among the best I’ve found online. Have a look at NOW for Educators and let me know what you find.

P.S. This is post #200. Thanks for reading.

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