Strategies for Using Not In Our School Videos (Facing History and Ourselves) | Not in Our Town

Strategies for Using Not In Our School Videos (Facing History and Ourselves)

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

Facing History and Ourselves combats racism, antisemitism, and religious prejudice by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

The purpose of this lesson idea is to provide some general strategies for using any of the Not in Our School videos. We encourage you to check out other lesson ideas that Facing History and Ourselves has developed for specific Not in Our School videos and for using the website in general:

Suggested activities: One or more of these ideas, in addition to your own, can be used to create a lesson plan relevant for your students.

Pre-viewing – Before watching a particular video, identify the problem that the students in the video were trying to solve. For example, were they addressing a particular hate crime in their community, gun violence, bullying at school, homophobia, etc?  Then ask students to respond to the following questions:

  • What strategies might students use to address this problem?
  • What are the risks, if any, to taking these steps?
  • What challenges might students confront as they try to remedy this problem?
  • What would “success” in solving this problem look like? How could “success” be measured?
  • What resources do students need to be successful?
  • What might be the consequences of doing nothing?

For additional ways to prepare students to view these videos, refer to the “Preparing for Not in Our School” lesson idea.  

Viewing – To help students comprehend and interpret what they view (and to give you evidence of student learning), here are some ways to structure students’ response to the video:

    • 3-2-1  - After viewing, students can record 3 facts from the video, 2 questions raised by the video, and 1feeling they experienced while watching the video.
    • Text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world – Here is an example of the kinds of questions you can use with this strategy:
      • Text-to-text: What events or ideas from this video remind you of other things you have seen or heard (books, movies, songs, television show, etc.)?  
      • Text-to-self: What events or ideas from this video remind you of something you have witnessed or experienced?  
      • Text-to-world: What events or ideas from this film remind you of something that happens in your community, nation or world?
    • Levels of questions – Here is an example of the kinds of questions you can use with this strategy:
      • Level one: What were students responding to in this video? What action did they take?
      • Level two: What do you think of their response? In what ways was it effective? What else could they have done to address the problem they saw in their school or community?
      • Level three: What power do you think young people have to change attitudes and actions? What gives young people power? What limits the power of young people to create change?
    • Two-column chart. On the left side of a page, students record information presented in the film. On the right side, students record their reactions to this information – a question, a comment, a feeling, or a connection to something they know or have experienced. 


Journal writing: Often a simple prompt such as “What struck you about this film? What ideas are on your mind?” is enough to prompt students’ response. Here are some additional prompts that can be used to spark reflective writing.
  • When viewing this video, what felt familiar to you? What was new or different?
  • What moment in the film stood out for you? Why?
  • Do you see a need for a “Not in Our School” movement at your school? Why or why not?
  • What ideas do you have about what your own school could do to create a more peaceful, tolerant community?
  • What responsibility do you think teenagers have to address bullying problems and/or hate crimes in their schools and communities? Do they have more, less or an equal responsibility to address these problems as the adults in their community?
  • What are the risks of confronting bullying, hate and violence?  What could be done to mitigate (or reduce) these risks? Under what conditions, if any, would you advice someone not to intervene to stop injustice or intolerance?


Student presentations: Assign small groups a video to present to the larger class. Presentations might address questions such as:
  • What were students responding to in this video? What problem were they trying to solve?
  • What did they do? What strategies did they employ? What community or school resources did they draw from?
  • What risks did they take? What challenges did they confront?
  • What do you think of their response?  What did they accomplish?
  • What advice would you offer these students? What could be some next steps these students could take to further address this problem?
  • What more do you want to know about this situation? If you had the opportunity, what would you want to ask the students in this video?
After your students have shared information about their video, they can identify similarities and differences among the various situations presented on the NIOS website: What is the same/different about the problems students are addressing? What is the same/different about the contexts in which they are working? What is the same different about the strategies they have employed?  To help organize this information, students can record ideas on a graphic organizer.

Discussion: After students have had the opportunity to process the video independently or in small groups, facilitate a whole-class conversation. Here are some specific strategies you might consider using for facilitating these discussions:

    • Wraparounds:  Wraparounds give all students the opportunity to share an idea or question before a discussion begins. After viewing a video, you can ask each student to share one thought or question that is on their mind, or one moment that stood out for them.
    • Fishbowl: Fishbowl is a strategy that helps students practice being active listeners and participants in a discussion. Half the class can debrief the video while the other half observes. Then students can switch roles.
    • Big paper: building a silent conversation: You can ask students to record important quotations from the video, or you can ask them to suggest questions the video raised for them. These quotations and questions can serve as the focus of a silent conversation activity.
    • Roundabouts:  In a roundabout, students form two concentric circles facing one another. Students discuss a question with the person opposite them until the facilitator announces that the inner circle should move one space to the right (usually after 3-5 minutes). Then students begin a conversation with their new partner. This process can be repeated for several rounds, and you can use the same question for each round or you can switch questions for each round. Often this is followed by a full group conversation about the ideas shared in the brief conversations.



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