I am going into my 6th year of teaching civics and I wish I would have incorporated movies earlier. Looking back, I think about the missed opportunities when I could have helped my students make a better connection with the content.
Now that I have my years of experience underneath my belt, it is time to share my wisdom with you!
Before, you jump into showing movies in your classroom please look at your school policy on showing movies in your class.
Civics is a great topic to teach because of the different parts of social studies topics incorporated in the course. Think about it, you teach American history, American government, and world history. The broadness of civics allows different types of movies to be used.
Now for the movies! I will show you movies that I have used in my own classroom and will show you movies I plan to show in my classroom this upcoming year.
I love showing this movie when discussing the civics rights movement and the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, and 24th amendments. This movie is set during the Selma marches and shown through the eyes of a young activist. When I first showed this movie, students were literally getting so angry over the treatment of African Americans who were trying to vote. You will also have the gospel hymns stuck in your head ( your students will be singing them to).
- The movie takes about 2 class periods
- The acting is so good, you will cry
- Students have a better understanding of what happens when citizens rights are violated
- There is violence in the movie
- There is the use of racial slurs used, but this can lead to a conversation on hate speech.
You may be thinking Monsters Inc. is a stretch, but Monsters Inc does a great job at portraying bias, symbolism, and propaganda.
- This movie is kid-friendly. Many of your students have watched this movie and love to rewatch it.
- The first half of the movie is great at showing bias symbolism and propaganda. The second half, not so much.
If your civics course requires geography, then the Wizard of Oz is the best movie to show! I use this movie to review the 5 themes of geography and to teach students how to make a map.
I love showing the originally Wizard of Oz because many students have not seen the original.
- Students love the Wizard of Oz’s story
- The movie clearly shows the geography of the land Oz
- There are no cons!
Honorable mention America the Story of Us: Episode 1
This is the only episode I show in my Civics classroom. I show this during my foundations of the government unit.
Movies I Plan on Showing this Year
I have heard a lot about this movie and how well it depicts the legislative branch.