Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Directory of Lesson Plans TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


Ready-Set-Tech: Discovering Mexico
Discovering Mexico

This project is entirely student-driven and integrates literacy, writing, social studies and technology. This project contributes to student learning because it is high interest, standards based, integrates several curriculum areas and results in an exciting product that can be used again and again to reinforce essential learning.   It is easily accomplished and adaptable to all grades and all curriculum areas.

Students created a list of topics and subtopics related to Mexico, this was created based on what the students thought was important to convey to the audience.   Students were then assigned into groups based on one of their topic choices.   Each group was appointed a captain to oversee the production of their groups' work.   Each member was assigned a subtopic to gather information and images.   Each group was responsible for creating the narration, selecting images, music or special effects and transitions or titles.   Certain students were assigned specific jobs (cameraman, audio editors, and iMovie editors) and learned the steps for their part of the project. Once they acquired the specific skills (recording, editing, etc.), the other students handed their work over to the experts who then handed their work to the next student expert.   The computer phase of the project allowed students to work in an area that best utilized their skills.

Laura Sarago

Laura Sarago is a third grade teacher at P.S. 206 in Rego Park, New York . She has been teaching for three years. She received her Master's in Elementary Education from Saint John's University.



Language Arts, Social Studies, Technology

Grade Level:

Materials: Computers with Internet access, a digital camera, LCD projector, iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, and a thumb drive (if available).



Students will:

  • Students will increase their knowledge of Mexico.
  • Students will develop literacy skills including vocabulary development, reading comprehension and fluency.
  • Students will participate in group meetings.
  • Student will improve writing skills including drafting, revising and editing.
  • Students will develop facility of basic video production techniques and using the Internet for research.

Web sites:

There are numerous exemplary websites geared to children that provide information about Mexico; such as the following:

•  Time for Kids Fact Monster www.tfkfactmosnter.com. This is a student friendly website designed for all reading levels.   Students can click on links to read more about related topics.

•  Mexico for Kids www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html . Students can explore this country's history, music, stories, government, and more.

•  World Almanac for Kids Online: Mexico www.worldalmanacforkids.com/explore/nations/mexico.   Another good site that provides details about the land, population, economy, government, and history of Mexico.

•  Enchanted Learning www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mexico .   It is a broad website on the subject of Mexico.   It is designed for students of all ages and reading levels.    Readers can begin at a basic level on each topic and then advance to more difficult information by clicking on links.  

Students also used Google www.google.com   to obtain images for the documentary.              

In searching for material students developed proficiency for discriminating between those sites that were appropriate and those that were not. The students became more skilled at including appropriate facts and details, organizing structure appropriate to purpose, audience and context and supporting media elements; narration, photos, images, music, special effects transitions, and titles. In gathering data for their informational documentary, students did work that helped them meet standards in reading, writing, social studies and technology.

Day One:

Lesson 1
: Create a Script

Goal :   To create a script for an informational documentary on Mexico.

Objectives: Students will:

  1. Develop literacy skills including vocabulary development and reading comprehension. Develop writing skills including drafting, revising and editing.
  2. Participate in group meetings.

Advanced Preparation : The class began the research by writing what we already knew about the topic; a KWL chart.   The students decided what further research was needed.   Students created a list of topics and subtopics related to Mexico, this was created based on what the students thought was important to convey to the audience. Students should be given as a homework assignment to research their topic and find images.  

Materials : Computers with Internet-access, projector (if available), student research and images, storyboard template.

Procedure :

  1. Briefly review the rules of working in groups.   Make a quick chart for students to refer to during the unit.
  2. Explain to students what makes a good narration? (Create a chart)

•  It is natural and to the point so that it is easily understood.
•  Well organized, the information needs to be in logical order, so the listener understands the "story" being told.
•  Appropriately timed, the narrator needs to read at a pace that is not too fast or too slow.
•  Expressive and animated, communicates feeling to the listener.

  1. Students need to map out the characteristics of each clip. The script should include a description, the voice-over that goes along with the clip, and any production notes that go along with the clip. Each group begins to work on a script for their part in the informational documentary.
  2. Teacher circulates to groups and assists where needed.  

Assessment :   Have a group share with the class what they have produced for their storyboard.

Day Two:

Lesson 2
: Mexico, Take 1

Goal : To create a first draft video and to brainstorm improvements.  

Objectives: Students will:

•  Record narration on digital video camera.
•  Gather still images and clips from the internet to support narration (students have already downloaded and saved these in a folder on the computer).
•  Review video and brainstorm improvements.

Advanced Preparation: Train certain students to be technology experts in particular components of the project (cameraman, audio and iMovie editors) during independent work time. The " audio editors" capture the students' narrations. Editors use iMovie to record each student reading aloud his or her assigned sentences. These recordings appear as "tracks" in iMovie that is solid bars that indicate the beginning and end of the recording. These tracks can be edited and moved to adjust the timing of the recording to match the pictures. The "iMovie editors" put the story together.   Have students use iMovie to import and match the recording with the corresponding images or clips. Once in iMovie, the amount of time these pictures appear on the screen can be adjusted by clicking on and "stretching" a graphical representation of the image. The duration of the picture can be adjusted to match the duration of the recording.

Materials: Computers, a projector (if available), digital video camera, rubric, and storyboard.

Procedure :

  1. Establish the rules for using the digital video camera.   Explain that there are technology experts who are going to assist the groups in creating the documentary.   Each group will compose a first draft video and watch the video. They will use the rubric to evaluate the draft and make notes about what they liked or didn't like about the video.   The group will then decide what images they want to add or remove. Students can use Mexico for Kids www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html or World Almanac for Kids Online: Mexico www.worldalmanacforkids.com/
    to find more images related to the topic. Each group will have completed a second storyboard draft.  
  2. Groups will compose a second draft of the video.   This should be the last time they have to record, unless the group is unsatisfied with the product.  

Assessment : Teacher circulates the room and observes students in the editing process.

Day Three:

Lesson 3
: Mexico, Take 2

Goal : To import music and other media elements to support the video.

Objectives: Students will:

•  Include music to support the video.  
•  Decide on transitions and effects.

Materials: Computers with Internet access, iMovie, and Thumb Drive

Procedure :

  1. Students will spend time using Google www.google.com or Yahooligans www.yahooligans.com or any other of the websites to find music to incorporate into the video to support their topic.   Team captains will work with the technology experts on the transitions and any other special effects they want to include in their part of the video. Teacher circulates and saves each groups work onto thumb drive.   Put all the video clips onto one computer.   Have two technology experts work on piecing the video together.  
  2. The video needs to flow smoothly and the audio needs to be clear. The documentary should be no longer than 10 minutes.

Day Four:

Lesson 4
: Showtime!

Goal : To see how the movie does at the box office.

Objectives: Students will:

•  Save the movie to a CD-Rom.
•  Review the informational documentary using the rubric.

Materials : Computer, projector (if available), CD-ROMs and popcorn.

Procedure :

•  Students will view the movie as a class and review the informational documentary with the rubric created at the beginning of the project.  

•  Students will then write a critique of the video explaining why they scored it what they did.   They will also include what they liked about the video and didn't like.  

•  Students can also include suggestions for the next documentary.  

•  Enjoy the show!

Assessment : Mexico iMovie is assessed based on the rubric created at the beginning of the unit and student critiques.


The following NYC/NYS standards are addressed:  

  • Students will read and comprehend informational materials, produce work in at least one genre that follows the conventions of the genre.  
  • Students will use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, promote creativity and prepare a publication.  
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of Mexico, such as the people, the land, history, and culture.


Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before