Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) examines racial, economic and class issues in contemporary American education in this multipart unscripted documentary series. Poignant and funny, epic and intimate, America to Me spends an academic year at Chicagoland’s elite Oak Park and River Forest High School, allowing its students, families, faculty and administration to tell stories of the pressures and challenges teens face in their own words.
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BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY tells the story of the beloved PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow,” its iconic host LeVar Burton, and the challenges its creators faced in cultivating a love of reading through television. Two seconds into the bubbling synth sounds of its theme song will have a child of the 1980s or ’90s exclaiming “Reading Rainbow!” Such is the beloved nature of the classic children’s literary television show that introduced millions of kids to the wonder of books. Not only did the series insist on having kids speak to kids about their favorite stories, Reading Rainbow introduced the world to one of the most adored television hosts of all time, LeVar Burton. Thanks to his direct, non-patronizing and, most importantly, kind delivery, Burton became a conduit to learning for children of every background – delving behind the pages to the people, places, and things each new story explored.
GIRL RISING journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams. Prize-winning authors put the girls’ remarkable stories into words, and renowned actors (including Meryl Streep and Salma Hayek) give them voice.
Louder Than A Bomb tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare to compete in the world’s largest youth slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. Louder Than A Bomb is not about “high school poetry” as we often think of it. It’s about language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance.
Most Likely to Succeed examines the history of education in the United States, revealing the growing shortcomings of conventional education methods in today’s innovative world. The film explores compelling new approaches at a ground-breaking school in San Diego that aims to revolutionize teaching as we know it, inspiring school communities to reimagine what students and teachers are capable of doing. As we follow students, parents and teachers through a truly unorthodox school experience, the audience is forced to consider what sort of educational environment is most likely to succeed in the 21st century.
“Stressed brains can’t learn.” That was the nugget of neuroscience that Jim Sporleder, principal of a high school riddled with violence, drugs and truancy, took away from an educational conference in 2010. Three years later, the number of fights at Lincoln Alternative High School had gone down by 75% and the graduation rate had increased five-fold. Following six students over the course of a school year, we see staff try a new approach to discipline: understanding and treatment rather than judgment and suspension. Using a combination of vérité and revealing diary cam footage, Paper Tigers shows that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.
Featuring the heartbreaking stories of students across the country who have been pushed to the brink by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve, “Race to Nowhere” points to a silent epidemic in our schools. Through the testimony of educators, parents and education experts, it reveals an education system in which cheating has become commonplace; students have become disengaged; stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant; and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.
RESILIENCE is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. Now understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior. However, what’s predictable is preventable. Physicians, educators, social workers and communities are daring to talk about the effects of divorce, abuse and neglect. And they’re using cutting edge science to help the next generation break the cycles of adversity and disease.
Russian born Irena immigrated to Israel with her son and husband who died shortly after. She faces the challenge of teaching the third grade in one of the most difficult neighbourhoods in Jerusalem where poverty, violence and unemployment are widespread. Using her unique approach, combining uncompromising discipline and love she propels a real change in the lives of her students.
A dyslexic high school student pursues admission to a leading college – a challenge for a boy who didn’t learn to read until 4th grade. Additional accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, experts, and iconic leaders at the top of their fields, help us to understand that dyslexia, a persistent problem with learning to read, can be as great a gift as it sometimes is an obstacle.
ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed-and widely misunderstood-neurological conditions in the world today, affecting nearly 10% of kids and a rising number of adults. But what if having an ADHD brain is actually an asset? A growing number of innovators, entrepreneurs, CEOs, Olympic athletes, and award-winning artists have recently disclosed that their ADHD, managed effectively, has played a vital role in their success. The Disruptors hears from many of those game-changing people about their ADHD, and takes an immersive look at our approach to ADHD that debunks the most harmful myths, and intimately takes viewers inside a number of families as they navigate the challenges – and the surprising triumphs – of living with ADHD.
From the Academy Award-nominated filmmaking team behind THE INVISIBLE WAR, comes a startling exposé of sexual assault on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families.
Weaving together verite footage and first-person testimonials, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education and legal justice, despite harsh retaliation, harassment, and pushback.
Casualties of war rage beyond the battlefield. As ranks of women in the American military swell, so do incidents of rape. An estimated 30 percent of servicewomen and at least 1 percent of servicemen are sexually assaulted during their enlistment, not by the enemy, but at the hands of fellow soldiers. With stark clarity and escalating revelations, The Invisible War exposes a rape epidemic in the armed forces, investigating the institutions that perpetuate it as well as its profound personal and social consequences.
When a child can’t read, their chances of incarceration, homelessness, and unemployment increase. That’s why Oakland-based NAACP activist Kareem Weaver believes literacy is one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time and is fighting for better reading instruction. “What good is winning the right to vote if we can’t even read the ballot?” Fed up with the bleak reading scores in his own community, Kareem files a petition with the Oakland Unified School District demanding change.
This Film is accompanied by a DISCUSSION GUIDE (see below) designed to be as flexible and adaptable to your discussion groups’ level of knowledge on the issue of literacy, the science of reading, and civil rights.