Activity Guide: Documenting Communities through Interviews and Film | Not in Our Town

Activity Guide: Documenting Communities through Interviews and Film

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)
High School (9-12)

The students profiled in this video acted as documentarians for their local community and its changing demographics, attitudes and experiences. The students used this data to inform their efforts to promote mutual respect and equality in their school. Providing students with the opportunity to research and explore the history of civil and social justice issues in their own communities can be a powerful tool for learning and reflection.


This lesson is part of the Not In Our School Video Action Kit, a comprehensive toolkit featuring films, lessons, and resources designed to motivate students to speak out against bullying, and create new ways to make their schools safe for everyone.
Age-level:                   high school students
Note: This entire process could take place over a number of weeks or months, depending on the extent of the research and field work required.
Ideas for Implementation:
1.     Consider using the video as a prompting guide with either your classroom or an appropriate student group.
2.     After viewing the video, engage in a discussion about ways in which the issues facing Lakewood are similar or different to those facing your school and community. Brainstorm with students the social justice issues that may be present in the community and/or within the school.  This may be demographic shifts, language barriers, economic and housing issues, violence, etc.
3.     Based on the priorities identified, students could continue to research and document their findings:
a.     Meet with and interview local leaders, community activists, local historians, etc to develop a broad picture of the changes and challenges that the community has experienced over time. These interviews could be filmed for use within the class or group to initiate further discussion.
b.     Develop a survey to distribute to a diverse representation of community residents about their attitudes and experiences within the community related to diversity, bias, intergroup relations. Again, findings could inform further discussion and potentially serve as a research paper to share with local leaders about the state of the community.
c.     The above two ideas could be limited to interviewing, surveying school members to explore the history, experiences of their school. Interviews could be conducted and used to create a documentary about the school’s history and current climate. This information could serve to help students and staff members to develop action items related to improving and strengthening intergroup relations going forward.



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