Teaching Strategy: Planning a Documentary

Helping students to decide the relative importance of different factors, events or changes

Students plan a documentary by deciding how much time should be allocated to given topics. Students imagine they are planning a one-hour documentary. The teacher gives them a list of topics that need to be included. They plan by labeling and shading a pie chart, by that defining the importance of the topics.

A specific example

Students are creating a documentary on the Berlin Wall. Below are the topics that need to be included. How much time of the one-hour documentary should be spent on each of those? Students label and shade a pie chart and annotate around it to persuade the editor (the teacher!) why she should accept their documentary plan.

  • The background to and reasons for building the Wall.
  • Construction and immediate consequences.
  • The different phases of the Wall.
  • The visits by President Kennedy and Reagan.
  • The fall of the Wall.
  • Facts and figures about the Berlin Wall.

Thanks to Richard McFahn and Neil Bates.

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