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Documentary Teacher Resources
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Although not a complete lesson plan, this set of emotionally powerful texts could be used in a variety of lessons. From The New York Times' Learning Network site, the resource includes a poem, an excerpt from a New York Times article and a clip from a Sundance documentary. All three texts are about horses, and deal with deeper themes about the human condition. These nonfiction, multimedia texts would make a perfect pairing to a larger unit around a fictional text.
Groups collaborate to create historical documentaries. In this American Civil Rights lesson plan, groups research primary and secondary sources about the events and people pertinent to the movement in the 1950s and 1960s. They then use Windows Movie Maker to create classroom presentations to share with their classmates. Several online resources are suggested here to explore the Montgomery bus boycott, the lunch counter sit-ins, Freedom Rides, etc.
Practice responding to controversial information with the New York Times lesson provided here. Middle schoolers watch a video interview with the director of The Lost Tomb of Jesus. After reading a companion article, they identify the claims and controversies surrounding the documentary. Finally, individuals research and report on Biblical era artifacts and write analytical essays on claims that appear in The Lost Tomb of Jesus.
Students explore oral history and documentary theater. In this genres of theater lesson, students connect stories of personal history to the creation of documentary theater. Students learn what characteristics embody documentary theater and explore the use of theater as a medium to express controversial perspectives.