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Challenge the Challenges

A couple of weeks ago, after students finished reading parts ofТ Beowulf,Т Т I thought it would be fun for them to create storyboards and a movie trailer, capturing the most suspenseful moments, establishing a mood, and generating interest in the story.Т  Alas, English teacher fun is not English student fun!

I knew there would be some resistance.

“We have to create a movie trailer?”



“I don’t know; work with your group and figure it out.”

“I can’t do this.”

Part of learning is learning HOW to learn; we live in a day and age where information and tools are readily available.Т  I explained this to my students with a personal example of my own.Т  Our first-floor toilet had been running constantly and I knew there had to be an easy way to fix it.Т  I wasn’t about to call a handyman.Т  I looked online, found a video on how to install a toilet flapper, made a trip to the hardware store, and replaced it myself.Т  Now what might seem like an easy task to someone else was completely foreign to me, but I did it.

“I’d rather fix a toilet than do this movie trailer,” Karen complained.

Well, guess what?Т  They did it and I think they were pleased with the results.Т  They worked together and found online tools, and when they shared, they were genuinely interested in viewing each other’s.Т  We had a great discussion about the scenes they selected and the mood they were trying to establish (and we shared some laughs!).

Here are some examples:

The Battle with Grendel


Beowulf 2 (clearly these guys had some previous experience with this)

Obviously, none of these will be nominated for any Academy Awards, but I’m proud of them!Т  We need to raise the bar for students (and for ourselves), embracing, encouraging and engaging in challenging situations.Т  Т It forces us to learn how to learn and network with each other.

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