THE BEST OF TEACH WITH MOVIES
U.S. HISTORY — HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL
TWM recommends these movies as the best of the best in meeting curriculum standards while providing students with stellar educational experiences.
Give us your input! Email your nominations and a description of your reasons, including your experience with the film. Tell us the name of your school and what grades you teach. You might find yourself in print.
Don’t ignore the great teaching opportunities from other movies! Review our extensive Drama index.
Check the list from time to time. We’ll change it depending on your feedback and our experience. It’s an ongoing conversation.
This is the best portrayal of Abraham Lincoln on film. The movie focuses on his efforts to obtain passage in the House of Representatives of the 13th Amendment banning slavery. TWM’s lesson plan for this film covers the efforts in the U.S. to emancipate the slaves culminating in the 13th Amendment and the removal of Constitutional protections for slavery.
This is the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man in New York who was kidnapped and enslaved for twelve years before he was able to get word to his family in the North and be rescued.
In the 1930s, as the last generation of former slaves were passing from the scene, the Federal Writer’s Project sent interviewers throughout the South. Read by famous black actors, the slave narratives paint a compelling picture of American slavery.
This film is both a quintessential Western and an examination of character particularly pointed to the failures of U.S. society during the Red Scares of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The movie itself is an artifact of history, being one of the few American movies as to which the filmmakers had to disguise the political implications of their film in order to get it made.
This film accurately shows camp life, entertainment, and military politics on a U.S. Army outpost in the Southwest during the years after the Civil War. The Apaches are portrayed with respect. The false and dishonorable manner in which the U.S. government treated Native Americans is not glossed over.
The Second World War was not just an armed conflict. It changed America in many ways, and race relations was one of them. This tale of the first black fighter squadron is a good example of that process.
This tale of science, technology, leadership and beauracratic competition in the complex organization developed to create the atomic bomb, is an important story for modern society.
Most people don’t know that in order to get the vote American women suffered imprisonment and torture. It’s not taught in the history books but Alice Paul and the women who picketed the White House developed, the tactics and techniques of non-violent mass action which Mahatma Gandhi was developing independently on the other side of the globe. For picketing the White House they were arrested on false charges and tortured in prison. The scandal that resulted was one of the major factors in forcing President Wilson to support votes for women. This film, a fictionalized account of this struggle, is reasonably accurate in all historically important respects.
This film is a biography of Richard Pimentel, one of the people most responsible for the movement to recognize the disabled as full-fledged human beings. His advocacy was a major factor in passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The film describes life in the U.S. from the 1960s to the 1990s through its music and the efforts to overcome discrimination against the disabled.
The worst abuse of Presidential power was uncovered by one of the best journalistic efforts in U.S. history. This is the tale of Woodward and Bernstein, the reporters who broke the story.
It looked like the assassin of civil rights worker Medgar Evers would get off scott free. This is the story of Evers’ widow and a courageous prosecutor who brought the killer to trial again closing this festering wound of injustice.
This documentary shows the Nashville Sit-ins from the training the students received, through the sit-ins themselves, to the negotiations that led to the integration of restaurants in downtown Nashville.
In the 1950s there was no rival to American technology, or so most Americans thought. But then, the Russians put up Sputnilk and the U.S. was suddenly way behind in the space race. This is the story of America’s first astronauts, the men in the cockpit in the effort by the U.S. to catch the Russians.
Spotlight is an accurate portrayal of the Boston Globe’s groundbreaking expose that broke open a worldwide sex abuse cover-up scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church and tarnished other religious organizations. While reforms have been made in churches throughout the world and billions of dollars paid to victims, occasionally an effort to cover up clergy sex abuse still comes to light. In addition, victim advocacy groups, who have been right about this problem in the past, claim that some religious organizations although asserting they have reformed, continue to resist the changes necessary to fully protect children and women in their congregations. With the curriculum materials in TWM’s Learning Guide students will gain an understanding of the role of the Press in a free society, that even organizations with lofty goals can betray their stated purpose, that all persons (even those who claim a special relationship with the sacred) are subject to the rule of law, and that no one has the right to sexually abuse a child.