Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Resource Alert: Four Great Videos for Your Classroom!

Kara, in a December blog, announced the film series offered this year titled Through a Different Lens: Immigration and Migration in U.S. History. She also shared the titles and links to each film. Now that the series has ended, I would like to urge any teacher from any district to check out one or all four movies. All four districts had participants, so these movies are most likely already in your buildings! Hunt them down and view them. They are all excellent.

Each movie offers an in-depth look at issues relating to migration, immigration and/or race relations. Since the movies are on DVD’s it’s so easy to show shorter and/or age level appropriate vignettes.

Prince Among Slaves would be an excellent addition to any curriculum dealing with the issue of slavery. Not only is it another personal slave experience, but it also introduces an interesting dynamic of the role of Islam and slavery in the Americas. Students would be fascinated by this true story of an African nobleman kidnapped and sold into slavery. His life in bondage and his ultimate freedom (and its cost) is very powerful.

The Long Walk: Tears of the Navajo would be a great addition to any curriculum dealing with the settlement of the American West, Manifest Destiny, Genocide, and/or Transnationalism. For anyone who read Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder last year, it would be a fabulous companion. Not only did the film discuss the Long Walk (forced relocation of the Navajo), but also the forced educational system and loss of traditional ways after the Navajos returned to their homelands.

Sacco and Vanzetti would be a useful addition to any course delving into immigration, justice/law, ethnicity, etc. While the case of Sacco and Vanzetti is set in the early 20th century, eerie comparisons can be made to justice in the 21st century regarding immigrants/terror suspects, etc.

Made in L.A. is a great example of how we are experiencing history today. This contemporary documentary follows the struggles of a Latino labor movement (led by women) to gain fair work practices. It is eye-opening for students and teachers alike to understand how the cost of goods effects the wages of the workers. Students might be shocked to see “sweatshops” still operating today. For those of us who just finished Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, it was especially powerful to see how little has changed for some laborers.

Each teacher participant created a lesson and will be submitting it by this Friday. Look for some of the lessons to appear on the Encounters and Exchanges site to help you incorporate these films into your curriculum. Scroll down to Kara’s earlier blog to see the covers and get the links to the sites promoting each film. Check them out. If you’re unsure if someone in your building participated, I’m sure Kara could let you know. It’s worth a little detective work.