Hollywood or History

An Inquiry-Based Strategy for Using Film to Teach United States History

Edited by:
Scott L. Roberts, Central Michigan University
Charles J. Elfer, Clayton State University

A volume in the series: Hollywood or History. Editor(s): Scott L. Roberts, Central Michigan University. Charles J. Elfer, Clayton State University.

Published 2018

Teaching and learning through Hollywood, or commercial, film productions is anything but a new approach and has been something of a mainstay in the classroom for nearly a century. Purposeful and effective instruction through film, however, is not problem-free and there are many challenges that accompany classroom applications of Hollywood motion pictures. In response to the problems and possibilities associated with teaching through film, we have collaboratively developed a collection of practical, classroom-ready lesson ideas that might bridge gaps between theory and practice and assist teachers endeavoring to make effective use of film in their classrooms. We believe that film can serve as a powerful tool in the social studies classroom and, where appropriately utilized, foster critical thinking and civic mindedness.

The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) framework, represents a renewed and formalized emphasis on the perennial social studies goals of deep thinking, reading and writing. We believe that as teachers endeavor to digest and implement the platform in schools and classrooms across the country, the desire for access to structured strategies that lead to more active and rigorous investigation in the social studies classroom will grow increasingly acute. Our hope is that this edited book might play a small role in the larger project of supporting practitioners, specifically K-12 teachers of United States history, by offering a collection of classroom-ready tools based on the Hollywood or History? strategy and designed to foster historical inquiry through the careful use of historically themed motion pictures. The book consists of K-5 and 6-12 lesson plans addressing the following historical eras (Adapted from: UCLA, National Center for History in Schools).

Problems and Possibilities of Teaching with Film. PART I: BEGINNINGS TO 1620. Debunking Myths in U.S. History: Will the Real Story of Pocahontas Please Rise? Nancy Sardone. The New World, Gender Roles, and Issues of Point-of-View, Anne Perry. PART II: COLONIZATION AND SETTLEMENT. Pocahontas Saves John Smith, Kristin Wolber. Myth Busters: The Salem Witch Trials, Brianna Scatorchia and Nancy Sardone. PART III: REVOLUTION AND THE NEW NATION. The Various Roles of African Americans in the American Revolution, Paul J. Yoder, Katrina Yoder, and Aaron P. Johnson. Contributions of African Americans During the Revolutionary War, Ryan Warriner. PART IV: EXPANSION AND REFORM. John Henry vs. the Machine, Kristal Curry. Twelve Years a Slave: Using Film to Explore Freedom and (In)Humanity, Gregory and Amy Samuels. PART V: THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION. Did He Really Create the Great Lakes? Tall Tales and Their Place in History, Megan Cullen. Portrayals of American Slavery in Film: A Study of Gone With the Wind, Roots, and Unchained Memories, Dennis Urban. PART VI: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INDUSTRIAL UNITED STATES. Women and the Wild, Wild West, James Nunez. The Ox Bow Incident: A Historiographical Lesson in Vigilantism and Due Process, Michael Lovorn. PART VII: THE EMERGENCE OF THE MODERN ERA. Suffragettes Parade for the Vote, Michele Celani and Elizabeth Blackmon. The Iron Jawed Angels and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage, Wendy Rouse. PART VIII: THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II. The Economic and Social Effects of the Dust Bowl, Rebecca Bidwell. “The Greater Good”: Using Flags of Our Fathers for Critical Thinking and Historical Inquiry, Mark Percy. PART IX: POST WAR UNITED STATES. Rosa’s Refusal: Serendipity or Sustained Activism? Eric Groce, and Theresa Redmond. Chicano Power and Youth Resistance: Walking Out for Civil Rights, Tim Monreal. PART X: POST WAR UNITED STATES. Amish Neighbors, Ronald Morris. Exploring The Lives of Others in the Social Studies Classroom: Where Dissent and Technology Intersect in Contemporary America, Rory P. Tannebaum. APPENDICES: Little Round Top, Scott L. Roberts, Charles J. Elfer, and Brian Fahey. Using Film to Analyze the “Seen and Unseen” of the Leo Frank Case, Scott L. Roberts and Charles J. Elfer. Bootleggers, Borders, and the Untouchables, Charles J. Elfer and Scott L. Roberts. About the Contributors.

"The Hollywood or History? approach focuses on comparing selected film clips with primary and secondary sources so that students can reach conclusions about how much the film is consistent with historical evidence and how much of it is creative license. The introduction to the book provides a brief outline of the method in seven steps: selecting films or film clips, developing questions, finding historical resources, creating student scaffolds, enacting the lesson, having students draw conclusions, and debriefing. Repeatedly comparing films with primary and secondary sources in order to judge their accuracy would likely become tedious for students if enacted multiple times over the school year, but, as the lesson examples illustrate, there are many permutations of the core inquiry strategy that keep the pedagogy fresh across multiple films and time periods." Christopher Clark in Teachers College Record

"This book would make an effective text for a professional learning community of teachers who wish to explore how film can be used effectively. The lesson ideas, in this case, could serve as a stimulus for other thoughts about how to go about instruction. Hollywood or History? has many possibilities as a resource and has the potential to lead to further discussion about designing effective learning opportunities." Jason D. DeHart Appalachian State University in Education Review (Read full review)