Sunday, July 20, 2008

documentary heaven

One of my favorite blogs for sources, Open Culture, features SnagFilms, a site with a large collection of documentaries for free viewing. This is great news for those of us who teach report-writing and argument-position essays.

Is your class reading Night, by Elie Wiesel? Supplement with a viewing of Paper Clips:

Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee is the setting for this documentary about an extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education. Struggling to grasp the concept of six-million Holocaust victims, the students decide to collect six-million paper clips to better understand the extent of this crime against humanity. The film details how the students met Holocaust survivors from around the world and how the experience transformed them and their community.

Lots of teachers I know include the popular Super Size Me video as a writing topic relevant to teens and college students, to emphasize the horrifying effects of unhealthy eating:

In SUPER SIZE ME, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock unravels the American obesity epidemic by interviewing experts nationwide and by subjecting himself to a “McDonald’s only” diet for thirty days straight. His Sundance award-winning feature is as entertaining as it is horrifying as it dives into corporate responsibility, nutritional education, school lunch programs and how we as a nation are eating ourselves to death.

SnagFilms not only provides a long (and growing) list of excellent documentaries, they make it easy to snag--or embed--the film for viewing directly from your class website or blog. Here's an inspirational story about how a tour of Africa changed the life of soulful singer Alicia Keys. Enjoy.

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