Equity & Diversity

College Offers Lessons Tied to Katrina Documentary

By Katie Ash — January 23, 2007 1 min read

With a $975,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, a team of educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, is developing curriculum materials linked to a recent Spike Lee documentary on the devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought in New Orleans.

“When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” directed by Mr. Lee and broadcast on HBO last August, focuses on four different aspects of the August 2005 storm and its aftermath.

The New York City-based foundation, which underwrote the film, got in touch with Margaret Smith Crocco, a professor of social studies and education at Teachers College, in September about the project. She and her colleagues have crafted a 100-page curriculum to accompany the film.

Titled “Teaching ‘The Levees,’ ” the curriculum will feature an essay about the history of New Orleans and three sets of lesson plans intended for different audiences: high school students, college students, and adults.

Sections on history, geography, civics, and economics are part of the first set, which is tailored to high school social studies students. The college-level set is designed for history courses, while the third set is suitable for adult learners in community and religious groups.

The curriculum book, to be published by Teachers College Press, is also to include a detailed viewer’s guide that divides the film into smaller parts so that educators can easily navigate the four-hour documentary. The package will come with a three-disc set of DVDs. Thirty thousand free copies will be available to educators upon request through www.teachingthelevees.com.

The curriculum book is slated to be available in August, and the full packages are scheduled for distribution in September.

A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week

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