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STAFF PICKS

What We're Watching

Dim the lights and get ready to learn with these TT-approved films!

What We're Watching, Black Lives Matter protest
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Our Family: A Film About Family Diversity

Our Family: A Film About Family Diversity, a project of Not In Our Town and Our Family Coalition, features elementary students’ insights about what makes a family. It’s hard not to smile as young people—and their family members—explain how their families are unique. Interspersed between testimonials are scenes of teachers engaging students in lessons about families. An extensive K–5 instructional guide accompanies the film, providing ready-to-use materials, such as discussion outlines and lesson plans. Nathan, a student, summarizes the importance of Our Family when he notes that acknowledging the diversity of families helps “you know how to reach out and embrace everybody.” (8 min.)

elementary school

 

Audrie & Daisy

In Audrie & Daisy, directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk employ powerful visuals to tell the true stories of two girls, ages 14 and 15, who were raped by classmates and, after reporting the incidents, tormented in-person and via social media. One teen survives her ordeal; the other does not. Educators can learn a lot from this documentary, including the critical importance of teaching about consent and digital citizenship. Audrie & Daisy also highlights how finding the strength to speak out can help change the trajectory of an assault survivor’s life and how social media can be a healing tool, not just an instrument for bullying. (95 min.)**

high school and professional development

 

13th

Ava DuVernay’s 13th explores how, although the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (except as punishment for a crime), systemic racial oppression lives on today. 13th specifically looks at how the evolution of racist laws and policies led to mass incarceration, a practice that disproportionately affects people of color—black males in particular. The film documents a century and a half of history, using archival footage, statistics and interviews to contextualize the origins of the prison-industrial complex and to expose the forces that sustain it. DuVernay also examines different avenues through which individuals and groups have organized for racial justice, including the Black Lives Matter movement. (100 min.)*

high school and professional development

 

Our Mockingbird

Our Mockingbird, a documentary by Sandra Jaffe, follows students from two Alabama high schools—one largely white and one largely black—as they come together in 2013 to perform the play adaption of To Kill A Mockingbird. Peppered with interviews of civil rights leaders, Harper Lee experts and actors from the original film adaption, Our Mockingbird shows that theater and Lee’s timeless story can bring students together in a magical way. Our Mockingbird juxtaposes past and present civil rights issues and is a great resource for students and teachers who are interested in the performing arts, literature and social justice. A 37-minute classroom version is also available. (65 min.)

middle and high school

*This film contains content that students may find disturbing. TT recommends that educators preview the film before deciding to show it to students.