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Going to the Show: Lesson Plans

Exploring the early North Carolina moving picture theater experience in the early 1900s through the Bijou Theatre, Wilmington, North Carolina's first moving picture theater


Introduction  |   Day 1  |   Day 2  |   Day 3  |   Day 4  |   Final Project  |   Learn More


Day 2: Activity 2

Reading Bijou News Clippings (small groups or independently) As you went through the questions above, there should have been some questions that the students could not answer simply by looking at the picture, but should have piqued their historical interest, and even prompted some additional questions. This next activity will encourage the students to reference a different source to attempt to get answers that address more of their questions, and should likewise, prompt additional questions.

The next activity uses a different kind of source - news clippings, and a few advertisements. You might want to ask some preliminary questions to get students thinking and talking about new paper articles as an historical source, such as:

Read the following essays that provides a brief introduction and background on the moviegoing experience in the early 1900s:

Read the following news clippings related to the Bijou Theatre (http://docsouth.unc.edu/gtts/venue/1171 ):

Proposed theater- Bijou - Tent (Wilmington Star - 11/28/1906)

The Five-Cent Theatre to Open - Bijou (Wilmington Star - 12/22/1906)

Xmas Eve in the City - Immense Crowds Throng Downtown Streets (part 1) (Wilmington Messenger - 12/24/1906)

Xmas Eve in the City - Immense Crowds Throng Downtown Streets (part 2) (Wilmington Messenger - 12/24/1906)

Managers Make a Change that Will Increase the Popularity of Theatre (Wilmington Dispatch - 4/8/1907)"Always going on, never out and never over"

See the New Pictures at the Bijou (Wilmington Dispatch - 4/24/1907)

The Moving Picture Theatres - All Doing a Rushing Business These Days and Are Presenting Fine Programs (Wilmington Dispatch - 7/9/1907)

Illustrated Songs at Bijou (Wilmington Star - 9/17/1907)

Changes Are Now Daily (Wilmington Star - 9/20/1907)

From Wednesday on Bijou Will Offer Daily Double New Bill (Wilmington Dispatch - 1/11/1909)

The Bijou Enlarged (Wilmington Star - 3/18/1909)

At the Bijou, Joyland - color films (Wilmington Star - 10/29/1910)

The Bijou - Bring Children (Advertisement Wilmington Dispatch - 1/18/1911)

The Bijou Collapses - Moving Picture Theatre Gave Way Under Weight of Snow (Wilmington Star - 2/13/1912)

See complete list of articles.

Revisit the questions posed in Activity 1 above....

Student Interpretation
In the last 7-10 minutes of class, ask the students to get out a piece of paper and pencil and freewrite about what they think the moviegoing experience was like for people who attended the Bijou Theatre between 1906 and 1912. With freewriting, the writer simply writes without stopping and without self-editing for the entire time - there is no concern for grammar, spelling, or organization. The writer writes down whatever they are thinking on the question at hand as a way of getting ideas down on paper. (If you are unfamiliar with this technique, there is a good description of freewriting in the Brainstorming handout (http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/brainstorming.html) from the Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.)

Students' reflections could include anything they wish to speculate on - material factors (theater construction, theater amenities) , environment/climate and comfort considerations, who attended movies and what was their relationship (e.g. age, race, income level, parent/child, friends, boy friend-girl friend), relative cost (was 5 cents a lot of money?), when did they attend (consider people at work, children at school), purpose of visit to Wilmington (just to see movie or to do other things, errands, etc.), or whatever else pops into their heads. Feel free to write some of these topics on the board for students to turn to in case they get "stuck" while freewriting. Students can also freewrite on the computer if that is the easiest way for them to write and if you will have time for them to print copies of their work for tomorrow's activity (and/or save copies to disk or server space).

Supplemental teacher background: From the 8th grade textbook, A Journey Through North Carolina, by Pamela Grundy, refer to pages 272-273 for information on wages for child textile mill workers in the early 1900s: page 272: "The young mill worker was 11 years old. She worked at the Crescent Hosiery Mill in Scotland Neck and made about $3.00 a week." page 273: "Nannie Meeds was thrust into this new age of industrialization when her family moved to the textile town of Spray. The Meeds were landless tenant farmers when they decided to move to town and try mill work. Nine-year-old Nannie started on a spinning machine at the Rhode Island Mill. She worked 12 hours a day during the week and 10 hours on Saturdays. She made 25 cents a day."

You can either collect students' freewriting and image analysis worksheets to hand back to them the next day, or you can allow them to keep their materials and bring it back with them - but it is important that they have their freewriting and worksheets available to them during the next sessions.

Activity 2A: Additional News Clippings for High School Students - discuss censorship

Teacher Supplemental Note: These following clippings are related to a film that was produced related to the Thaw-White Trial. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_White:
Harry Kendall Thaw was the jealous millionaire husband of Evelyn Nesbit, a popular actress and artist's model, with whom White had a manipulative sexual relationship when she was 16 (to his 47). During a performance of the musical revue Mam'zelle Champagne at the Madison Square Roof Garden, White was shot point blank in the face and killed by Thaw.

Additional questions for consideration and discussion:

Activity 2B: Optional - Contemporary Street Views
Now that the students have analyzed the Bijou Theatre image, they'll probably have discovered that they didn't convey much about what it was like to live in Wilmington in the early 1900s. To expand their perspective of what Wilmington looked like in the 1900-1910 time frame, you can have them look at the following postcards, taken of N. Front Street.

Students can complete a photo-analysis worksheet, or you can provide them with a questionnaire that includes the basic questions you want to cover.

You can begin with similar photo analysis techniques as you utilized in Activity 1.

This view is looking north on Front Street, taken just to the north of the Bijou Theatre site - imagine walking out the door of the Bijou and turning left, this is what you would have seen (time 1900-1910).
http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/nc_post&CISOPTR=2237&CISOBOX=1&REC=19
front street

This view is looking north on North Front Street, taken a few blocks south of the Bijou Theatre site. The Bijou Theatre would have been located in the distance on the left (time 1906)
http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/nc_post&CISOPTR=2221&CISOBOX=1&REC=3

North Front Street

Based on additional "information" that you can gather from these postcards:

Student Interpretation
In the last 7-10 minutes of class, ask the students to get out a piece of paper and pencil and freewrite about: What they think the theater-going experience was like for people who attended the Bijou Theatre between 1906 and 1912 what they thought life was like in the early 1900s in Wilmington. With freewriting, the writer simply writes without stopping and without self-editing for the entire time - there is no concern for grammar, spelling, or organization. The writer writes down whatever they are thinking on the question at hand as a way of getting ideas down on paper. (If you are unfamiliar with this technique, there is a good description of freewriting in the Brainstorming handout (http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/brainstorming.html ) from the Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.)

Students' reflections could include anything they wish to speculate on - material factors (theater construction, theater amenities) , environment/climate and comfort considerations, who attended movies and what was their relationship (e.g. age, race, income level, parent/child, friends, boy friend-girl friend), relative cost (was 5 cents a lot of money?), when did they attend (consider people at work, children at school), purpose of visit to Wilmington (just to see movie or to do other things, errands, etc.), housing, possessions, wealth, food, environment, relationships (marriage, parent-child relationships, community), lifestyle (work, school, leisure activities) or whatever else pops into their heads. Feel free to write some of these topics on the board for students to turn to in case they get "stuck" while freewriting. Students can also freewrite on the computer if that is the easiest way for them to write and if you will have time for them to print copies of their work for tomorrow's activity (and/or save copies to disk or server space).

You can either collect students' freewriting and image analysis worksheets to hand back to them the next day, or you can allow them to keep their materials and bring it back with them - but it is important that they have their freewriting and worksheets available to them during the next sessions.

Lesson plan created by Lisa Speaker

Introduction  |   Day 1  |   Day 2  |   Day 3  |   Day 4  |   Final Project  |   Learn More