Documentary Teacher Resources
Find Documentary educational ideas and activities
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Students propose and create documentary films depicting a slice of "ordinary" life that reveals something unique or surprising about its subject. They, in groups, make films and present them to the school.
Young scholars are introduced to a project about documentary films. They view documentaries and choose a response project to complete selecting from among journal writing, making an original documentary and/or completing an art project.
Students view the documentary film Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and use a worksheet to record their emotional responses throughout the film. They participate in a discussion about the use of aperture in documentaries.
High schoolers use computer to type a response to what they learned during their documentary film project. They share with the class what they did for their project and ask for questions.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the New York Times provides links to five short documentary films depicting Hispanic themes and culture. Learners can click on each embedded link to view the films, then answer each set of related analysis questions.
Learners are introduced to the three main purposes of a documentary. They view excerpts of films and discuss the documentary as a voice for the voiceless, a presentation of everyday life and an explanation of the process followed to arrive at an outcome.
Students discover some important people in the genre of documentaries. They examine their contributions made to the movement as well. They discover the history of documentaries as well.
Students conduct background research about a Pacific Rim country to develop a premise for a documentary film about the fate of traditional fishing industries in the area.
Students read and discuss an online article as they consider what makes a center of activity in a city or town. They produce a documentary film of the hub of activity in their school.
Young scholars discover the American Revolution by creating a movie in class. In this documentary film making lesson, students research the events that led to the American Revolution by examining images from a slide-show. Young scholars utilize these photographs and video editing software to create a documentary film.
High schoolers identify the point of view used in a variety of documentaries and consider how point of view affects the voice of the film. They watch excerpts of documentaries, participate in discussion and complete worksheets.
Here’s a must-have resource for anyone using The Grapes of Wrath. Everything from guiding question to background information, from photographs to documentary films, from activities to assessments is included in a richly detailed packet designed to show readers the tight relationship between the Joad narrative and the inner or intercalary chapters of John Steinbeck’s acclaimed novel.
Prepare your class for creating their own documentaries. Before they get started, they'll need to know what a documentary is and what makes a documentary compelling. As a class, watch several documentaries from the point of view of the writer, taking notes on a few questions while viewing. Then, come together to create a chart listing documentary characteristics. The resources suggests a documentary titled After the Fall: HIV Grows Up, which is available for free through the documentary's website.
What defines a woman as empowered, and how does this definition compare to the ideas and actions of a group of Muslim women in Syria? After watching a series of video clips from a documentary film about a school for girls in Damascus, learners will discuss gender roles in Syria and how religion can have a profound effect on culture and politics.
Use this general lesson plan guide to inform your instruction surrounding a documentary. The lesson plan is made up of five activities. The activities are intentionally general because they are designed to adapted for specific films. While the lesson plan was originally designed to go with the films on the same site as the plan, they could be used with virtually any film. Additionally, the resource includes a series of questions grouped by theme that could be asked about any film.
Teaching documentary in your class? Inform your instruction with a guide meant to support teachers as they begin with documentary. The resource includes information on what a documentary is as well as documentary modes, elements, and film and media literacy. Instructors can use the included questions and other materials, such as examples of various shot types, to help build their own lessons on documentary.
Young scholars generate their own definition of documetary. They watch and discusss a series of extracts that demonstrate the breadth of the documentary form. Students create a defintion of the term documentary that takes into account the various ways in which the genre is approched and understood.
Learners determine their own perspective on women's empowerment then compare it to how it is seen in Syria. They watch a four documentary clips, discuss what they've seen, then answer two short essay questions. Excellent resource links and good extension activities make this a worthwhile lesson.
Documentary films allow your class to visit new places and gain a deeper understanding of complex issues.
Learners discuss the purpose of city symphonies that were used in the past. In groups, they compare and contrast the social systems of a school and city to create their own city symphony video together. They also write what is known as a treatment in the present tense to introduce the characters and setting. They record their video and present it to the class.