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Hidden Figures of Science Films

School: Glenwood Springs Middle School

City/State: Glenwood Springs, CO

Grade(s): 6, 7

Format(s): Video

Subject(s): English Language Arts

Type of Task: Performance Task

Category: Examples from Curriculum

Project Overview

Sixth-grade students at Glenwood Springs Middle School read the Module 4 EL ELA 6th Grade text Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly while learning about the civil rights movement and the importance of analyzing multiple perspectives through history - before enhancing the performance task. The guiding question that steered learning is: "Why is it important to study the accomplishments of "hidden figures" and others whose stories have gone unrecognized?" We partnered with local film festivals, including Aspen Film and 5 Point Film to show students exemplars of documentary film as a powerful tool for story-telling, perspective, and voice; students got to speak with documentary filmmakers and subjects. In Science class, students chose a partner and a “hidden figure” of science to research. Each chosen scientist pushes the boundaries of representation in science, connecting back to the novel and the guiding question. Students researched their “hidden figure”, contacted their scientist or another expert to interview, wrote a documentary script, made a storyboard, filmed in beautiful community spaces, and compiled all work into a WeVideo, where they began editing to produce a 5-minute documentary. Over the following weeks, students interviewed their “hidden figure” scientists, then created biographical documentaries to honor and tell the story of their chosen “hidden figure” of science while demonstrating mastery of documentary film techniques. To culminate and celebrate, we hosted a cross-grade-level (6th and 7th) Celebration of Learning called the Cougar Cinema, wherein we rolled out a literal red carpet for student-filmmakers to walk as they entered our very own GSMS Film Festival. Each film screening ended in a filmmaker panel where students shared their most significant takeaway from the project and answered questions from family and the community. Finally, students showed gratitude and honored the “hidden figures” they interviewed by sharing their documentaries through an email of thanks.


Link to Hidden Figures of Science Project

Product Planner/Timeline:

  1. Follow EL ELA Curriculum to read Hidden Figures and analyze articles about perspective and civil rights through Unit 2 before enhancing the performance task
  2. Partner with local film festivals to show examples and exemplars of HQ final project
  3. Choose a ‘hidden figure’ of science to research thoroughly and find a means of contact
  4. Write a script
  5. Create a storyboard
  6. Interview scientists via phone or Google Meet: You can view the collection of interviews here. Students wrote questions, and worked on professionalism as they met with scientists to ask questions about science and life.
  7. Work on edits in WeVideo, include documentary techniques: Used film-making structure from the Grade 7 Module 4 documentary project to stay consistent with EL learning and to prepare students for the following year
  8. Celebrate at a Celebration of Learning: Cougar Cinema Film Festival - a multi-grade-level celebration of student-made films



From EL Education's ELA Curriculum G6:M4:U2

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