Lesson Plan: Analyzing Film Footage as a Primary Source, 1960s America

December 20, 2018 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on Lesson Plan: Analyzing Film Footage as a Primary Source, 1960s America

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 This lesson serves as an introduction to teaching students to accurately interpret and analyze historical footage. It draws on famous video footage that is easily accessible through YouTube and other video sharing sites. The purposes of using footage in the classroom are manifold: Firstly, students will gain a more accurate sense of history from seeing historical events as they actually unfolded, rather than being told the information from a lecturer or textbook and then having to envision it playing out in their imaginations. Using video clips in the classroom can also make history “come alive”, adding an entertainment factor and encouraging student engagement. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, an important aspect of history education is teaching students necessary skills to properly interpret and analyze primary sources—and film footage is no exception.

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3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In this lesson, it is assumed that students already were taught how to analyze written primary sources. Explain to the students that, although historians tend to engage more frequently with written documents, film footage is also considered a primary source and should be treated as such. Students may believe that film footage may seem more authentic than written documents, but remind them that film also contains biases and points of view, and these can inform everything in film, ranging from video editing to the direction that the camera is pointing—and even why or whether someone decided to film an event in the first place.

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5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Review the “essential questions” of primary source analysis:

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  • Who is the creator of this source?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the source conveying? (This can include factual information, arguments, perspectives, tones, emotional appeals, etc.)
  • How is this being conveyed?
  • In what ways is this a helpful primary source for our understanding of history?
  • In what ways is this a limited or unhelpful primary source for our understanding of history?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Students should already be familiar with these questions because they already spent most of the semester learning these questions and applying them to written documents.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Ask students how they would apply these questions to film footage. For example, does it matter who was filming the video? Does it matter whether someone sponsored the video? How would a video meant for television be different from a home video? Can a video convey an argument, perspective, or tone? In what ways can film footage help us understand history? In what ways can it be limited?

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Watch with students the following videos. After each one, have a discussion with students about how best to analyze the videos, using the “essential questions” of primary source analysis.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 (Note: Can show clips of some, do some in class over multiple days, or even assign some videos for homework, and ask students to try answering the questions themselves.)

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12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, CBS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEC1C4p0k3E&t=20s

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Walter Kronkite Announcing Kennedy’s Assassination: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuxLSY_xNwA

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Moon landing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkKPt7XGMns

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP4iY1TtS3s&t=213s

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Selma-Montgomery Civil Rights March: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFhcR362RyE&t=777s

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18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Synthesis Assignment:

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Students will write a Document-Based Essay on the theme of: Turning Points in the 1960s in the United States. Rather than the traditional method of using written documents as sources of historical evidence, students will draw on evidence and analysis of at least three of the videos shown in class.


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