ALEX Lesson Plan

Exploring Explorers

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Traci Hill
System: Shelby County
School: Shelby County Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 2377


Exploring Explorers


Students will create a video in talk-show format about explorers from the 15th-17th centuries. They will utilize books, the Alabama Virtual Library, and the Internet for reference. Groups of students will answer who, what, when, where, and why questions and then use that information to write a script for the video.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
19 ) By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the Grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently. [RI.5.10]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
24 ) Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. [W.5.3]

a. Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. [W.5.3a]

b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. [W.5.3b]

c. Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events. [W.5.3c]

d. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely. [W.5.3d]

e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events. [W.5.3e]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.5.24- Compose narrative texts by introducing characters or a narrator, organizing events in sequence and providing an ending related to the event sequence.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
26 ) With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of the first three Language standards in Grades K-5.) [W.5.5]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
27 ) With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting. [W.5.6]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
35 ) Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace. [SL.5.4]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.5.35- Report on a topic, using a beginning, middle, and end and relevant facts and details; state an opinion about the topic.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
36 ) Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. [SL.5.5]

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 5
United States Studies: Beginnings to the Industrial Revolution
4 ) Determine the economic and cultural impact of European exploration during the Age of Discovery upon European society and American Indians.

•  Identifying significant early European patrons, explorers, and their countries of origin, including early settlements in the New World
Examples: patrons—King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

explorers—Christopher Columbus

early settlements—St. Augustine, Quebec, Jamestown

•  Tracing the development and impact of the Columbian Exchange

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.5.4- Locate North America and Europe on a world map to illustrate journey; identify primary early European explorers, including Columbus, De Soto, and Magellan; recognize that European explorers sailed to America for economic, religious, and personal gain.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 5
R5) Locate and curate information from digital sources to answer research questions.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will utilize books, the Internet, and CD- ROMs to gather information on explorers from the 15th-17th centuries.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Students will need a list of purpose questions, the name of their explorer, and access to the media center for reference materials.

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer with Internet access, video camera, video tape, tripod, informational CD-roms to use for research, scanner and printer desirable


The teacher should have a general knowledge about the explorers that the students will be studying. Carefully group students in two's or three's and assign explorers who have plenty of information about them available. The teacher will need to do an online search and pre-select explorers that have enough easily accessible information so that the students can answer the purpose questions. Work with the media specialist to locate and reserve appropriate books in the library. Preview any websites that students will be using. The teacher may need to do the actual taping of the video unless students are familiar with the equipment.

1.)First, students will be given an overview of the project. Next they will be divided into groups of three, given the name of their explorer, and receive a worksheet with their purpose questions. For example: Who paid for their voyage? When did they travel? Where did they explore? Why did they explore? What made them famous? They will then be taken to the computer lab/library to begin their research.

2.)Throughout the research phase the teacher will check with each group regularly to ensure that they understand the assignment and follow the guidelines that the teacher has set up for the project.

3.)After the research has been completed students will use the information they have gathered to write a script for the video in a talk-show format. The teacher needs to check with each group to make sure that they understand what this means. If possible, she/he should use real life examples to show the students what she/he expects. One student will be the interviewer, another will be the explorer. A third will be the host. He/she will be responsible for researching each explorer and will write an introduction for the guest and his/her interviewer.

4.)When the scripts are completed they will be turned in so that the teacher may recommend edits as needed. After the scripts are edited the teacher may choose to have students memorize the script or make cue cards.

5.)Filming begins after all scripts are turned in and edited. Students who are not in the performing group may or may not be present during taping. That is up to the discretion of the teacher. Students may also want to dress up in the style and period of their explorer.

6.)After filming is complete, students will watch the video as a class so that they can learn about each explorer from their classmates.

7.)Good reference sites for this lesson include:
(Alabama Virtual Library)
Contains a wide variety of research and reference materials, including encyclopedias and periodicals.


Assessment Strategies

Students will be assessed on answers to their purpose questions, written script, and preparation for their performance.


This lesson can be modified by allowing student(s) who already know/can do the Primary Learning Objective to independently research each explorer and be the host for the show. Another way to accomodate these students is to allow them to work in groups of two or three and let them create commercials to be interspersed throughout the show (For example, they can research the astrolabe, bell watcher's kit, or other navigation tool and try to sell it to the audience) or they can create a recruiting segment (For example, Columbus needs a few good sailors to help him discover a western route to India--or something similar to current recruitment commercials.)


Students who need extra preparation or assistance should be with a group of students who can work more independently. The teacher should monitor these groups more closely than other groups.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.