Films That Make A Difference in History Lesson Plans

Showing films or other types of media in the classroom is a great way to bring history lesson plans alive.

By Carrie Jackson


history lesson plans

Showing films, or other types of media provides great ways to make the themes that students have studied in the classroom come alive. By showing your students a film clip or a movie you can enhance student learning, and help those who may be having a difficult time understanding a theme or major concept. In this way, teachers can use films as an additional resource to teaching that can enrich the learning environment.

When teachers are delving into history lesson plans, students can benefit from viewing movies that contain a historical interpretation or perspective. One example of this type of film is the movie "Schindler’s List." This movie is long, but it contains relevant information about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Additional films to support this theme may include a documentary about Anne Frank or Elie Wiesel. Teachers might also want to show documentaries that focus on current issues, such as genocide, human trafficking, and the environment, just to name a few.

While films can be a useful way to support history lesson plans, they are also a great way to generate student interest in language arts. Teachers can use films to show how literary elements in novels are used in movies. William Shakespeare’s play "Romeo and Juliet," the story of two star crossed lovers, has been adapted into several screen versions. After reading this classic play, students can compare it to the film adaptation. Another activity students could engage in would be to recreate a scene as a modern version of the play.

When viewing films in class it is important to provide a guided activity that is geared toward specific concepts taught in class so it's a true learning activity. Previewing the film for its content and relevance is also important in the planning process. Furthermore, it is important to get to consent forms signed by parents/guardians before viewing films, especially if the content is harsh or explicit. What follows are history lesson plans that use film to enhance content learning.

History Lesson Plans:

Comparing Film Adaptations

Students have a chance to review and analyze three film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays. They focus on mood, tone and other elements connected to the arts.

Teaching the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine": A Handout for ESL/EFL Students

This lesson plan is based on the Beatles “Yellow Submarine” song and film. Students participate in various kinds of exercises and essays based on the lyrics and film.

Chinese Wedding in "The Joy Luck Club"

This lesson is taught using the movie "The Joy Luck Club." The lesson has students discuss concepts related to Chinese culture. Students also compare and contrast wedding traditions in other countries.

India: "Bollywood" Movie-Making

In this lesson students compare and contrast the Bollywood film industry with the United States film industry. Students also analyze how the globalization of the Indian film industry may affect India.

Literature Through Silent Movies

Students make a silent film of an Edgar Allen Poe story. This lesson offers students a creative way to demonstrate their understanding of his stories. Students also use technology to demonstrate themes such as mood and tone.




History Guide

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Carrie Jackson