By Risa Gluskin

For me an icebreaker isn’t an activity that helps students learn each other’s names. It’s an activity that helps them learn that the class will be interesting, inquiry-based, and interactive.

I decided to do something different with my grade 11 World History class this semester. In addition to “Teacher in a Box” (which I wrote about in a previous blog post) I had students watch a ‘mockumentary’ on Netflix. It’s one that caught me in its snare when I first watched it: “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.”

All I asked was for students to watch the film – I said nothing more before they did that over the weekend. However, I did give some alternatives, such as one of John Green’s Crash Course History episodes or Bill Wurtz’s A History of the Entire World, I Guess. Asking students to comment on the reliability of the alternative videos may have also given away the ‘trick.’ That’s alright.

Upon return to class on Monday I listened in as groups discussed the movie – most had the exact same reaction as me: they had to get on Google immediately after it was over!

Basically, I used a movie as a teachable moment: the inescapable lesson was that students must fact check whatever they watch, read or consume on the Internet. Otherwise, they are susceptible to fake news, propaganda, and inaccurate information. We will always have treasures in mind now whenever we consider reliability.

Check out “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” and see how you can get an inquiry feel going in your class.

Risa Gluskin

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