Social Studies

Social Studies (X) - High (X) - POV (X) - World History (X) - U.S. History (X)

Lomax the Songhunter

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In Lomax the Songhunter, filmmaker Rogier Kappers seeks to tell Alan Lomax's story by interviewing friends such as Pete Seeger, combined with archival recordings of music greats Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, and footage of the cotton fields, rock quarries and prisons where Lomax captured America’s quintessential music. Finally, Kappers followed the route that Lomax took so many years ago and traveled to remote villages in Spain and Italy, hearing memories and music from the farmers, shepherds and weavers whose songs Lomax recorded decades earlier.

Al Otro Lado: To the Other Side

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The proud Mexican tradition of corrido music—captured in the performances of Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte and the late Chalino Sanchez—provides both heartbeat and backbone to this rich examination of songs, drugs and dreams along the U.S./Mexico border. Al Otro Lado follows Magdiel, an aspiring corrido composer from the drug capital of Mexico, as he faces two difficult choices to better his life: to traffic drugs or to cross the border illegally into the United States.

Traces of the Trade: The History and Legacy of U.S. Slavery

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This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, which shows one family's journey to come to terms with its roots as the largest slave-trading family in the history of the United States. Classrooms can use this lesson to explore the history and legacy of U.S. slavery and whether or not reparations should be made to the descendants of slaves.

New Muslim Cool: Interpreting Diverse Images of Muslim Life in the United States

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Help increase students' understanding of Muslim culture in the United States with this lesson plan, which incorporates clips from the POV film New Muslim Cool.

Made in L.A.: Examine Labor Practices in the Garment Industry

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This lesson is designed to be used in conjunction with the film Made in L.A., a film that follows the struggle of three Latina immigrants working for fair labor conditions in Los Angeles's garment factories. Note: This film has bilingual subtitles throughout and is fully accessible to English and Spanish speakers. This lesson compares current conditions in the garment industry with those at the turn of the 20th century.

Promised Land: This Land Is My Land, Not Yours

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In 1913, South Africa passed the Native Land Act, which prohibited black South Africans from owning land. The Act was the cornerstone of apartheid, which was instituted in 1948. In 2004, ten years after the end of apartheid, land remains an explosive issue in the country. White landowners and black claimants talk about the land reform process in South Africa.

Memories of a Penitent Heart | Lesson Plan Clips

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Like any good detective story, Cecilia Aldarondo’s Memories of a Penitent Heart began with two things: a mystery and a clue. The mystery was the untimely death of Miguel Dieppa, a young Puerto Rican actor; the clue was a shoebox of decaying 8mm home movies. Although these home movies documented cheery moments like birthdays and vacations, they also prompted Cecilia, Miguel’s niece, to investigate a murky moment in their shared family history: Miguel’s deathbed conflict with his mother, and what had become of Robert, the lover Miguel left behind.

Combining home movies, video and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, Memories of a Penitent Heart is a documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. The intimate film also encompasses defining historic events and challenging social issues, from the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s to the ongoing tensions between social mores, cultural beliefs and LGTBQI rights today. Though the film is an excavation of history, it is also a potent reminder that HIV/AIDS and LGTBQI stigma are not a thing of the past, especially for people of color and residents of rural communities. The conversation about rights and acceptance of LGTBQI people is ongoing, particularly in places where religion is a powerful cultural factor.

Through Cecilia’s journey to recover her uncle’s story, students will explore how we learn about the past and the many factors that can influence—and at times distort—our understanding of history. In the process, they will examine how the HIV/AIDS crisis in particular shaped negative perceptions of the LGTBQI community that persist today, contributing to growth of the HIV epidemic in low-income communities of color, both rural and urban. Using Cecilia Aldarondo’s investigation as inspiration, students will conduct their own research on narratives from their families or communities and understand the broader historic context in which those occurred.

Voices of the Sea | Lesson Plan Clips

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Debates over U.S. immigration policy, and the xenophobia that often accompanies such debates, are once again center stage. Policy debates are often dominated by statistics and stereotypes, both of which can dehumanize those under examination. This lesson brings the personal stories of migrants back into the debate. As a springboard for discussion, it uses clips from Voices of the Sea, a film about a Cuban family divided on whether or not to emigrate. After researching the history or current situation in a nation from which people have emigrated to the U.S. in large numbers, students will write an imagined dialogue between family members considering whether to make the journey. In the process, they’ll consider what motivates people to leave their homes or stay.